Kim asked me what I think about pet insurance. Me? I love it. It means people who would normally be unable to afford an emergency surgery or illness are able to get their pet treatment.
Most veterinary clinics don’t offer payment plans. We all wish we could. The problem is not that we don’t want to deal with it, but that they never work. There are too many people who renege on it and ruin it for everyone else, so the only way we can stay in business is to be paid at the time of services rendered. Insurance has saved many lives.
The other reason I like it is actually something most owners probably dislike. I really don’t have anything to do with it. There is none of that craziness human MDs have to deal with, no coding and negotiated reimbursements and arguing with medical billers. You pay, you fill out the papers, you get reimbursed. I just sign off on what we did.
The disadvantage to that is of course that you still have to have the money available to pay, even though you are reimbursed. I can’t speak as to the positives and negatives of individual companies since I don’t work with them much at all, but I know I have heard some grumblings about reading fine print. Be very aware of the exclusions- many insurance companies have a list of breed related conditions they will not pay to treat, regardless of its medical indications.
I’m not sure how beneficial it is for preventive care, but I see its greatest value in emergency treatment and catastrophic illness. If I didn’t have this job already, I would definitely be looking into it. The feedback I have heard is definitely quite positive as a whole.
Anyone here have pet insurance? What do you think of it? Would you do it again?
Annette Frey says
We have health insurance for Starlet and although it just about balances out every year with what we need and what they pay (we do yearly exams and full labs and u/a b/c I go by the safe rather than sorry book) w/minimal required vaccines (and titers as appropriate), heartworm meds and tick protection at minimal dosing.
After spending, well I can’t tell you, you would pass out, $ xxxxxxx on Lambchop, who never had insurance, for us it’s a “just in case we ever really need it” thing. I even get the extra cancer rider. If I remember correctly, Ana (our chat guest last night( gets double cancer riders b/c her rotties are more prone to get bone cancer.
It’s like making sure you have at least catastrophic insurance if you’re ever really sick, but with most dog policies, it will cover some of the basics too.
Lisa W says
I read once that, if you have a fairly healthy pet, you’re better off putting the money into a savings account rather than insurance.
That being said, we have had insurance for Sophie, who is now a little over 2 years old, since we adopted her. I have to say that I agree with the idea of having it only for emergencies/catastrophes, though, as I haven’t found it to be worth what we pay into it for everyday stuff. I’m going to back hers off to a “catastrophe” type of policy and that’s what I’m going to get for Oscar (4 months) too.
I also have to say, though, that it would have been nice to have had insurance on Bailey (although of course it would have had to be a special “cancer” policy — more expensive) as her care during her last 6 weeks cost us about $5000. We were lucky that we could do it, although it caused a bit of a strain. (And I’m lucky to be married to a guy who didn’t begrudge a penny of that even though she was “my” dog.)
Annette Frey says
We always tried doing the “money in the bank” route with Lambchop but he never let us save hardly any. He had Addison’s disease, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (mind you he lived in NYC), a history of pancreatitis, chronic renal failure, extramedullary plasmacytoma (rare to have once, he had it 3 times!), rare seizures throughout his life brought on by any extreme fear situation (like when the FBI raided the apartment next door with 50+ agents!), and what else, I’m sure I’m missing some things. You get the picture.
There was no insurance when he was younger. They started it right after he turned 8 but the cutoff was 8 years old. Then when he was 12 there was no cutoff but we thought we wouldn’t really need it now. Yeah right! That was before the tumors, CRF, Addison’s and both tick diseases! He lived until almost 15 years old (big dog) and died of old age!
The day after we brought Starlet home I:
1) Started transitioning her to a raw diet
2) Purchased health insurance
Why didn’t I do it the DAY we got her? It was a Sunday!
I guess I am too paranoid now. Do you blame me, lol?!
Lisa W says
Same with Bailey as far as insurance not being around when she was younger, and then she “aged out” of any reasonable premium. In addition a lot of her health issues would have been pre-existing and thus not covered anyway.
But with your experience, no I don’t blame you one bit for getting on board immediately!!
One thing that I didn’t like about the health insurance is they don’t often pay what it actually costs for a surgery. When we looked, the coverage seemed low. For example, if the vet charges $1400, insurance covers $600, you are out the monthly payment and $800. Maybe the coverage has changed. I didn’t realize it was more reimbursement-type coverage.
Annette Frey says
It depends. There are so many now and they’re all different. My friend who has the double cancer coverage (which btw, is only around $7/per each) said it paid off hugely covering a lot of her dogs that had bone cancer.
I, too, purchase pet health insurance. After having a beloved older cat hospitalized with renal disease followed the next year by a beloved kitten who died of FIP, I see it as “better safe than sorry”. It doesn’t cover as much as I’d like, but covers enough to make the premium cost worthwhile. It also means I won’t likely have to euthanize a pet solely due to $$, and that in itself is priceless (for me).
I have PetPlan insurance on my pup since vet or no I couldn’t afford a HBC or parvo. I’ve thankfully yet to make a claim, but $200-some/year bought me a $12K policy with no exclusions. I gives me a little peace of mind knowing that while I’d prefer he not get parvo, not get hit by a car, not jump out of the kennel at the hospital and break a leg… if it happens, I won’t have to choose between rent, student loans, and treating him. I also like petplan because from what I can tell it’s not “$100 for this diagnosis, $250 for that diagnosis,” like VPI. You have a policy limit and a deductible. You pay everything up front, send them the bill, get reimbursed for the whole shebang minus deductible. Between savings account and credit card, I could pay everything up front if needed for just about whatever hits him, the reimbursement would help replenish savings and pay off that credit card bill.
Good to know. I had VPI and it felt like a crock.
Ashley Harlow says
Great info! I looked into getting my pug insured earlier this year as a puppy since I know they have many health problems but are just so loveable! I signed up with Vetinsurance and they are great and already covered one of my claims. They even let you choose your own deductible and cover 90% of the bill. My pugger got a tumor not long ago and treatment is covered for his whole life. It’s definitely worth researching all the companies and seeing what works best for you, your wallet, and your pet.