Author Topic: Pet Insurance?  (Read 2017 times)

Sugaree

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Pet Insurance?
« on: June 08, 2022, 10:11:32 AM »
Pet insurance?  Yes or no?  Who has a company that they are happy with?

So, the last time I shopped for pet insurance was about 10 years ago.  At the time it seemed so scammy and there were so many restrictions (especially when trying to insure a 3 year-old Golden Retriever with unknown vet history) that I just decided to self-insure.  And that worked out well enough even after we added a youngish Lab a couple of years ago.  Unfortunately, I lost my Golden boy in February to acute leukemia.  It was just one of those things where there was nothing that could be done no matter how much money I could throw at it.  Diagnosis to having to let him go was a matter of days. 

Fast forward to today and a 5 month old Great Dane puppy has unexpectedly joined my pack.  So, now I have a Dane puppy and a 3 year-old Lab.  I'm very much considering insurance, at least for the Dane.  I ran the numbers of what we spent last year on the Golden and the Lab and what I'm being quoted for the Lab and the Dane.  I would have spent about $75 more dollars with the insurance (after deductible, co-insurance, and general preventative care that isn't covered by insurance) than I actually did.  But I realize that insurance is there for when you really need it and if there had been anything that we could have done to give my boy a few more good months then I would have. 

GuitarStv

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2022, 10:44:58 AM »
I don't think it's worth it.  The costs that you will pay over the lifetime of the pet will exceed the amount you get from the insurance to help the pet.  If you're in a financial position where you can handle the occasional vet bill/expense, then there's no reason to get insurance.

SunnyDays

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2022, 10:52:39 AM »
I've had 2 dogs that I didn't insure, because I had the money to pay for whatever came up.  One was a Golden that died of cancer (had to put her down after only 2 days of symptoms - no amount of money could have saved her.  Goldens are prone to cancer.)  Haven't insured my current dog either, and she has a polyp in her bladder that may need to come out.  Again, I can pay for it.

However, I did have insurance on 2 horses, and ended up collecting on one that had to be put down due to severe colic.  I got her value, but again, no amount of money could have saved her.

I've never really run the numbers, but it's mostly that I just couldn't be bothered, because there are too many restrictions and not enough payback in my opinion.  For what you get, it's not worth the hassle.

KYFIRE

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2022, 11:11:13 AM »
I'm sure this will elicit a lot of different responses but I can give my experience below. 

TLDR; I think it can be worth it if you have a younger animal with no existing issues and you know that you would pay regardless if you had insurance or not.

We got insurance through Healthy Paws for 2 of our 3 dogs (one was a bit older and they do cost more).  One thing to remember is they will want a full history of each animal and won't cover previous conditions.  I think the cost was ~$45/month for a ~7 year old mix and 5 year old boxer at the time.  The mix had no previous condition and the boxer had some small issues.  After paying for basically a torn ACL on him we got the insurance as we knew there probably would be more to come and I knew my wife through do anything to help him.

Anyhow, fast forward.  First attempt to use was on the boxer.  He had a random cyst on his chest that just exploded one day.  It really wasn't a big thing but of course my wife freaked.  Insurance wouldn't accept as in the past he had some skin issues that really were nothing comparable.  It wasn't a big cost and wouldn't push us over deductble anyway so we stuck with it.  Then couple years later he started having some issues.  Had a seizure and became lethargic.  After  little investigating they found he had encephalitis.  To get this diagnostic it took a bit of testing including a CAT scan and spinal tap.  This starts racking up costs.  Now normally, treatment is pretty good but he just didn't get better.  So more treatments including hyperbolic oxygen chamber treatments.....yeah my wife was willing to try anything (I don't blame her, he was her dog and I might have done the same for mine).  So costs kept going up.  Once we hit the deductible though, insurance pulled through and covered the rest.  Even if I added up all the premiums, they easily paid more than those.  I think in the long run over $8k they paid on just that one incident.  Unfortunately he didn't pull through but they covered everything up til the end.

With the other dog, she only had small issues until she passed rather suddenly so insurance didn't kick in yet but they did work with me to try to cover what they could.

Catbert

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2022, 11:30:17 AM »
You need to consider what kind of vet care you'd want to provide and whether you could afford to provide it.  For example, for me I would want to provide on-going care for chronic conditions and can afford to provide it.  I would not want to put an animal through chemo or any invasive (expensive) tests to extend their life without curing it even though I could afford it.  So no pet insurance for me.

If I had a healthy young animal that I would want to do everything to keep alive but couldn't afford it, I would consider pet insurance.

Sugaree

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2022, 11:40:59 AM »
You need to consider what kind of vet care you'd want to provide and whether you could afford to provide it.  For example, for me I would want to provide on-going care for chronic conditions and can afford to provide it.  I would not want to put an animal through chemo or any invasive (expensive) tests to extend their life without curing it even though I could afford it.  So no pet insurance for me.

If I had a healthy young animal that I would want to do everything to keep alive but couldn't afford it, I would consider pet insurance.

It's really the puppy that I'm concerned with.  He's still young enough to not have any pre-existing conditions and he's a breed that's likely to be both short-lived and expensive when and if something does go wrong. 

I may get the insurance for a couple of years while building up a larger pet emergency fund that will take the place of the policy after awhile.

Cassie

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2022, 01:52:06 PM »
My friend has collected more in premiums than she has paid through the years. I took 2 of her dogs and kept the healthy paws pet insurance. They offer 3 plans and I took the cheapest. They pay very quickly. So far itís not been worth it but my dogs are now 8 and 5 and Maltese tend to have expensive issues so I am keeping it. Vets here are super expensive. For instance if your dog ruptures itís ACL it was 6k to fix it 5 years ago.

PoutineLover

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2022, 02:24:45 PM »
I've chosen not to get insurance because it's fairly expensive for plans that cover a lot, and there's no guarantee that whatever issue does come up will be covered. I have a young puppy and have thought about what type of care I would or would not cover, mostly based on how serious it is, what his expected quality of life would be, and how likely he would be to survive. The calculations will change throughout his lifetime, but I would be able to cover most general accidents and I would have to seriously consider whether it was worth treating something like cancer. In the meantime, I keep up with preventative care, vaccines, exercise, dental care, and nutrition.

Xlar

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2022, 02:30:09 PM »
Statistically the insurance company is making money from the insurance plans and so you will, on average, come out ahead by self insuring. If you have some hidden information that the insurance company doesn't have that mean you expect your costs to be much higher than the average then go with the insurance. As mustachians it shouldn't be a problem to save those insurance premiums yourself?

The main reason to have insurance (for anything) is if the maximum downside is higher than you can cover. See MrMoneyMoustache himself for his take on insurance: https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/06/02/insurance-a-tax-on-people-who-are-bad-at-math/ (Note he takes it a bit far for the average person with his take on health insurance, but remember that his resources and therefore, maximum liability he is able to cover is also much higher)

Fresh Bread

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2022, 08:34:28 PM »
Statistically the insurance company is making money from the insurance plans and so you will, on average, come out ahead by self insuring.

I came here to say similar, in that some insuring pet owners come out on top, some lose $. If you have $15k spare in the bank, I wouldn't get it. If you don't have that, get the insurance because it's not just hard on you but hard on the vet staff too to put down a young dog with a serious but treatable injury.

If have a breed that has known issues then maybe it could be worth it, but then wouldn't the insurance company know that too and charge more?

I don't have insurance but I've got a cross breed terrier and apart from needing dentals eventually they are pretty hardy types. She'll get arthritis too eventually because her legs are a bit squiff but as long as I keep her weight low and don't over exercise her I can put that off as long as poss.

Also because I don't have insurance it's possible the vet doesn't suggest extra diagnostics etc? I often wondered about that as I've heard of people getting $1k scans for what was most likely an ear infection. There was a news article recently about unnecessary vet costs.

Sibley

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2022, 03:29:07 PM »
With medical or property insurance, there's a number of laws and regulations that govern the insurance company and provide some protection for consumers. From what I can tell, there generally isn't specific regulation for pet insurance, so you might have odd problems because of a gap in consumer protections.

Some info on pet insurance from NAIC: https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/publication-pin-op-pet-insurance.pdf

I don't have pet insurance for my cats. I am not a "do anything and everything" person for my cats - I consider quality of life to be equally as important as quantity of life, and treating many of the big problems will negatively impact quality of life, even if its successful.

startingsmall

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2022, 08:41:32 AM »
I'm a veterinarian, but I'm no longer in clinical practice and pay for my pet's care like any other client.

I don't have pet insurance.

I think it's a great idea in theory. If you saw the news story about the emergency clinic in Maine with the owner-surrendered foreign body dog, it's not difficult to see the level of stress that can potentially be prevented by pet insurance. But, pet insurance has a lot of limitations and it isn't a cure-all. There are a lot of things that aren't covered (pre-existing conditions, anything that could be considered a genetic condition, etc.). And, while pet insurance is really valuable in emergencies, it typically serves as a means to reimburse you and that reimbursement may take a while.. you still need to come up with the money yourself in order to pursue treatment, which can be tricky in an emergency.

We have enough in savings to cover the level of veterinary care that we'd be willing to provide for our pets. If I was the kind of person who might pursue a $20k treatment and I didn't have that much money in savings, I would consider pet insurance.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2022, 09:08:22 AM »
I opted against pet insurance when I adopted a 5-7 year old yorkie in 2021.

Turning the insurance down turned out to be the right choice, despite Puppy Boiís subsequent $18,000 cost the first year. Insurance wouldnít have paid for the two chronic conditions he was diagnoised with, or the medication and daycare I used to help him with his separation anxiety.

Heís cute as hell, though. Heís my favorite person.


Sugaree

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2022, 01:08:19 PM »
I'm a veterinarian, but I'm no longer in clinical practice and pay for my pet's care like any other client.

I don't have pet insurance.

I think it's a great idea in theory. If you saw the news story about the emergency clinic in Maine with the owner-surrendered foreign body dog, it's not difficult to see the level of stress that can potentially be prevented by pet insurance. But, pet insurance has a lot of limitations and it isn't a cure-all. There are a lot of things that aren't covered (pre-existing conditions, anything that could be considered a genetic condition, etc.). And, while pet insurance is really valuable in emergencies, it typically serves as a means to reimburse you and that reimbursement may take a while.. you still need to come up with the money yourself in order to pursue treatment, which can be tricky in an emergency.

We have enough in savings to cover the level of veterinary care that we'd be willing to provide for our pets. If I was the kind of person who might pursue a $20k treatment and I didn't have that much money in savings, I would consider pet insurance.

I did see that story and I have...feelings...about the owner who surrendered the dog. 

In the end, I opted to insure the Dane, but not the lab, with the goal of building up the pet emergency fund to levels that I would consider sufficient.  I did it this way for a couple of reasons. First, the Dane is still a baby and doesn't have any pre-existing conditions as far as I know.  Second, he is the one who is more prone to expensive conditions (I'm specifically worried about bloat, though I'll likely have his stomach tacked when he's neutered in a year or so).  I did choose a policy that supposedly covers hips and other genetic conditions, so we'll see.  But, as I said, the ultimate goal is to build up a war chest specifically for the vet bills. 

Fresh Bread

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2022, 02:31:20 PM »
Sounds like a great plan!

I saw a vet tv show once where a young Dane with bloat was euthanized because the owner couldn't or didn't want to pay and there was a young vet that was badly affected. I didn't know you could tack the stomach, that would reduce the stress for you considerably!

englishteacheralex

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2023, 01:19:47 PM »
Bumping this up in case folks have additional opinions.

We just adopted a kitten from the humane society. They had a deal where the first vet's visit at a VCA vet was free, so we booked an appointment and I took her yesterday. Wow, the full bill would have been $435! Thankfully the deal with the humane society got that bill down to $70 for the visit (they had already spayed the kitten for free), but holy smokes, that was a lot more money than I was expecting.

I've never owned a pet as an adult, but the visit to the vet felt like going to the mechanic or the dentist. So many things that the kitten needs according to the vet. Tests, shots, all kinds of things. If it's $300 every time we go to the vet, maybe pet insurance would pencil out?

I trimmed her claws a couple of nights ago after watching many Youtube video tutorials. That went pretty well, so I don't think we'll need the vet for that. We can afford to pay for routine treatment for her out of pocket and we're of the philosophy that once a treatment was $2k or more we'd choose to euthanize her.

Seems like we just need to suck it up and pay out of pocket for routine care. Two questions, though:

1. Does vet insurance pencil out?
2. Is the vet supposed to be this expensive? Sheesh!

innkeeper77

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2023, 01:41:58 PM »
1. Does vet insurance pencil out?
2. Is the vet supposed to be this expensive? Sheesh!

1. I would have lost money on all of our previous cats (we have had cats since moving out as adults years ago) but an emergency fund is a necessity. However, we got our first dog a couple of years ago and decided on insurance. Even if I keep it another ten years it will break even with what it already paid out.... We decided to keep it for the dog due to going outside and having significant additional risks, but forego it for the cats. We also believe that for a animal that can't communicate many treatments are less ethical than euthanasia, so that cuts down on our expected end of life expenses for them. YMMV.
2. Not really... that seems like a lot for a kitten unless they did a LOT in one visit.

Thankfully cat claws are easy to trim! Dog claws much less so in my experience. Dogs are much less mustachian than cats I think....

GuitarStv

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2023, 01:59:52 PM »
I looked very long and hard at pet insurance before getting our dog.  At least in this area and for our dog, it's not worth it . . . the coverage for conditions doesn't cover enough for the price they want.  But we have no problem dropping ten grand on our dog in a year in case of a serious problem.  If your budget is tighter, then pet insurance might start to make a lot more sense.

FWIW - even with insurance you should be expecting to pay the vet a fair amount.  Routine maintenance, vaccines, flea/tick stuff, spay/neuter, ear and teeth cleaning . . . that's usually not covered by insurance and can add up every year.

Sibley

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2023, 02:09:06 PM »
Bumping this up in case folks have additional opinions.

We just adopted a kitten from the humane society. They had a deal where the first vet's visit at a VCA vet was free, so we booked an appointment and I took her yesterday. Wow, the full bill would have been $435! Thankfully the deal with the humane society got that bill down to $70 for the visit (they had already spayed the kitten for free), but holy smokes, that was a lot more money than I was expecting.

I've never owned a pet as an adult, but the visit to the vet felt like going to the mechanic or the dentist. So many things that the kitten needs according to the vet. Tests, shots, all kinds of things. If it's $300 every time we go to the vet, maybe pet insurance would pencil out?

I trimmed her claws a couple of nights ago after watching many Youtube video tutorials. That went pretty well, so I don't think we'll need the vet for that. We can afford to pay for routine treatment for her out of pocket and we're of the philosophy that once a treatment was $2k or more we'd choose to euthanize her.

Seems like we just need to suck it up and pay out of pocket for routine care. Two questions, though:

1. Does vet insurance pencil out?
2. Is the vet supposed to be this expensive? Sheesh!

Kittens need more because they're babies, so you do all the kitten shots (multiple visits), test/treat for worms, etc. It tapers off by about 6 months. Ongoing, you'll have annual visits for checkup and shots and flea treatment costs. Beyond that, it's as needed - illness, accidents. As they get older, you'll have more visits because they're older, or if there's chronic illness involved. Pretty much like people.

My experience is VCA is more expensive than other vets.

SunnyDays

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2023, 02:14:16 PM »
I've never bothered with pet insurance for my dogs or cats - I've never done the math, but I doubt it really pays.  Maybe if I couldn't afford reasonable treatments, I would consider it.

Vets are expensive for sure, but some will also do unnecessary stuff.  Question everything, get the vet to explain why it needs whatever they're recommending.  There are a lot of vaccines in the first 6 months, but after that annual shots and checkups are usually all that's needed.  Once cats are older, they can get 2 year rabies shots, which cuts down on the cost further.  Of course, if illness crops up, that's more expense, especially since emergencies always seem to happen after hours.  Make sure you know where you can go in the middle of the night or weekends.
Keep the emergency number on the fridge, because when you're in a panic, that's the fastest place to find it.

Also, with your cat coming from a shelter, it should be somewhat cheaper than mine were, since they were strays and came with some issues like ear mites and worms.

hollaynia

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2023, 02:15:42 PM »
I don't know how things are in Hawaii, but in the Chicago 'burbs the VCA is significantly more expensive than other local vets. A typical annual visit for us at local vets is <$200 but was over $400 at the VCA (I have two cats and took one to VCA before switching to another local vet for the second cat). I've had cats for 20 years and do not consider pet insurance worth it.

GuitarStv

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2023, 02:25:16 PM »
I will also second that VCA is more expensive than other vets.  The clinic we used to go to was taken over by VCA and quality of care decreased while the prices went way, way up.  We since switched vets.

Cassie

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Re: Pet Insurance?
« Reply #22 on: November 06, 2023, 02:52:44 PM »
Pet insurance doesnít cover anything routine, preventive care or dentals. VCA is a group of dentists that are buying profitable vet clinics nationwide and basically ruining them. After all the experienced vets quit they hire new grads and teach them to upsell services. I left a practice I went to for 20 years and followed my good vets.

Vet prices vary by location and Reno is now as expensive as California. My sister in Chicago pays a third of what I do. My Maltese has a major heart condition and I still have paid way more in premiums than what I have received. I will not buy it again.