Most of the pet insurance companies now allow you to customize your policy by selecting among several different annual/per-incident maximums, deductibles and copays. You no longer have to choose from 4 or 5 policies that the pet insurance has pre-designed.
Here are some general guidelines you can apply when designing a policy that will limit your out-of-pocket costs, especially when faced with a large claim, and yet fit into your budget:
1) Choose a policy with the highest per-incident/annual maximum (preferably with no per-incident maximum) that you can afford. You buy pet insurance for help with large bills that you would have trouble paying for out-of- pocket. While it's true that most claims you'll file are going to be for smaller bills, when selecting a pet insurance policy, consider a worst-case-scenario. Ask yourself, "What if I had a bill that was $10,000 or even higher?"
Some companies have policies with no upper limits (no lifetime, annual or per-incident limits). Others offer annual maximums from $2,000 to $22,000.
2) Choose a policy with the lowest deductible you can afford - especially if it is a per-incident deductible. Deductibles will usually vary from $0 to $1000.
3) Choose a policy with the lowest copay you can afford. Copays usually range from 0% to 40%. Since you'll pay a copay (unless you have a policy with a 0% copay) with every claim and it is a percentage of the total bill, try and keep this low.
4) When trying to get a premium that fits your budget, select a higher deductible first. The deductible is a fixed amount - you know what this is and it's expected. If it's an annual deductible, once you spend that amount on covered expenses in a policy year, you'll won't have to pay it again with subsequent claims. If it's a per-incident deductible, you know you'll pay it for every new condition that it diagnosed and treated.
If necessary to achieve a premium you can afford, increase the copay next. Although the percentage is known, the dollar amount can't be predicted and planned for ahead of time because it will vary with the size of the claim.
Lastly, you can lower your annual maximum. In my opinion, this should be changed last when looking at priorities because you want your policy to cover that worst-case-scenario above all else.
Because pet insurance companies are building more flexibility into their policies, pet owners have more choices to consider. By custom designing your policy, you are able to pick a policy that exactly fits your pet's needs and your budget.
The Policy Selection Worksheet in the Pet Insurance Toolkit will help you make some of these decisions by automatically calculating your out-of-pocket costs. Here's a screenshot from a page on the Embrace page.