We all love our pets dearly and if we could, we would keep them forever. But things do change sometimes and things don’t always happen the way we expected or hoped. Having to move, for example, may mean that your new place does not allow pets, and you don’t have the time to look for another place because your new job starts the following day. Marrying someone or having to stay with someone who is allergic to pets would most likely mean you’d have to find someone who is willing to adopt your baby.
Whatever the reason, if the time does come that someone else will have to adopt your pet, one of the most important things that need to be done is to make sure that the pet insurance is transferred to the new owner. How fast or easy might depend on the insurance carrier and their guidelines; but yes, this can be done!
Why is it important to transfer pet insurance right away?
- Missing a payment means no coverage. When a premium payment is missed, the policy is terminated which means there will be no protection for your pet effective immediately. The more this is delayed, the more likely that both parties will forget about it altogether--especially if the original owner and the new owner are not really in touch with each other all the time.
- It may be more expensive to have to re-apply for pet insurance. If the policy gets terminated and the new owner would like to reinstate the policy, a new application will have to be forwarded and oftentimes, the new premium could be higher. Why is this so? The pet is now older and naturally, the insurance carrier takes on more risk. At the same time, if the pet’s health isn’t as good as before, then an increase in the premium would likely be something to be expected.
- For your peace of mind. As the original owner, you surely would want the assurance that whatever happens, your dear pet will get the medical attention it needs in case of illness or an accident. And if you’re the new owner, of course, you’d also want your new pet’s safety and the security that if it does get sick, paying the veterinarian’s bill won’t be an issue. Why do we get insurance in the first place? So we don’t have to worry about unexpected expenses when an accident happens, right? And unless you get the pet insurance transferred, at the back of your mind, you’ll always be worried about having to deal with unwanted expenses.
Guidelines for transferring pet insurance
- Visit the insurance carrier’s website. The insurance company might have the step-by-step procedure for transferring pet insurance ownership in their FAQ’s. If they don’t, it’s best to contact customer support to get all the information you need.
- Different companies will have different sets of guidelines. This will range from just having to submit a form which includes a declaration of the pet’s ownership and the new billing information, to having to provide proof of ownership and the previous owner’s consent as well.
Because these documents will have to be signed by the new and the previous owner, all the more reason to get this done as soon as possible to lessen the chances that the new owner can no longer get in touch with the previous owner.
Reminders for the new owner
If you are the new owner and don’t really know much about the pet and pet insurance in general, here is a list of things you need to do:
- Ask the original owner of the pet insurance policy.
- Take note of when the coverage took effect (the start date of the policy/contract) and when the premiums are due. Remember that missing a payment will mean no coverage for your new pet and could also mean higher premiums should you have to get a new policy.
- Read the policy very well and take note of the coverage and any exclusions. The exclusions comprise of stipulations in the contract where you would not be able to make a claim--this means the insurance company will not pay for the expenses nor make any reimbursements. For example, most companies would not allow you to make a claim within the first 48 hours of the policy’s effectivity. In a similar manner, many companies would not approve claims if your pet gets sick and the symptoms happen to have had started showing within the first 14 days from the time the policy was in effect. Among other things, find out if the coverage includes dental treatment, pre-existing conditions, and euthanasia/burial.
- Ask the seller about the pet’s history or any condition it may have--i.e., anxiety, trauma, etc.--and make sure you know if your pet is under medication or if it needs to see the veterinarian on a regular basis. If available, then ask for the booklet/notebook that contains the list of vaccinations and any other pertinent information about your new pet’s health.
- A change of ownership can be stressful for your new pet. So, try to keep as many things the same as possible--like the food, mealtime and walk schedules, and even bath frequency.
- Find out if your new pet has a microchip. If so, then you need to have the information updated.
- If you have something planned for emergencies or evacuations, you’d need to update it to include your new family member--of course, this means also preparing its own kit.
- If you won’t be available to attend to your pet, you’ll have to make arrangements so that its needs are met especially if medication needs to be taken at specific times of the day.
- Pay attention to your new family member’s personality and communication style so that you know right away if there are any changes in behavior that might signal a need for medical attention.
Having a pet around means having someone who loves you unconditionally. It has also been shown that having pets help relieve stress. But it also means a huge amount of responsibility. It’s like taking care of an infant or a toddler for the rest of its life. So, whether you happen to be the new or the previous owner, it is your responsibility to ensure their needs are met and this includes making sure that their pet insurance policy is transferred to the new owner in a timely manner and is kept in place to avoid undue stress in case of illness, accidents, or emergencies.