Author Topic: Pet Veterinary Insurance  (Read 5276 times)

BrooklineBiker

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Pet Veterinary Insurance
« on: December 07, 2014, 07:05:12 PM »
Hi everyone,
I have a 10 year old rescue dog and wish to make sure that I am financially covered for veterinary bills.  Pretty much all of the local vets that I have found are very expensive. Would pet insurance be a good investment? If yes, what companies do you recommend? What do they cover? Are they widely accepted by vets?
Thanks!

KMMK

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Re: Pet Veterinary Insurance
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2014, 08:36:03 PM »
Firstly, no insurance is a "good investment" nor should be considered an investment. For all insurance companies the average person pays more in premiums than the company pays out in claims. That is how they pay their overhead, stay in business, and meet industry regulations.

But insurance can be useful if there is a chance of having a large enough bill that you are willing to pay, but can't pay out of your emergency fund. Insurance can help even out your expenses, and if you have a large bill, yes, you can be paid significantly more than your premiums, in some situations.

With an older dog there are additional concerns - any current or foreseeable medical conditions will be considered pre-existing and will not be covered. There are also waiting periods. Also for older pets the premiums and/or deductibles will likely be higher. And some companies may not cover a dog that old at all.

For which companies, without knowing what country you are in, recommendations are impossible.

What do they cover? This varies widely - things such as pre-existing conditions, breed, and the specific policy terms and conditions will affect this. Mostly accident and illness coverage - most things that most vets will do will be covered by most policies. Some cover routine procedures as well, but you'll pay a higher amount of premiums and/or a higher deductible to compensate for this, so it's often not worth it.

As far as vet acceptance, it's not really the same as human health insurance (in the US as far as I know - I'm Canadian so it's different also here). Vets don't have any say in what insurance company you use; they just want to be paid. Usually you pay the vet, then the insurance company reimburses you, less whatever co-pay, deductible, and not covered items. Sometimes the insurance company can pay the vet directly, but again, the vet just wants to be paid. If the insurance company is willing to pay they are fine with that.

Bottom line: If it's really cheap it probably won't cover much. Try to get the sales rep to tell you the fine print stuff - in what situations will they deny a claim? Are there breeds or procedures they never cover? And think about your own finances and how much you would be willing to do for your dog. If you have a decent emergency fund, I'd just rely on that. And would you pay thousands for something like cancer treatment? What about chronic diseases? Can you afford a few hundred dollars in medications each month? If you are the type of pet parent who would go all out treating their animal it's more worth it. But if you have a limit, regardless of insurance coverage, and can afford some unexpected stuff it's less worth it.

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Pet Veterinary Insurance
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2014, 09:07:25 PM »
Firstly, no insurance is a "good investment" nor should be considered an investment. For all insurance companies the average person pays more in premiums than the company pays out in claims. That is how they pay their overhead, stay in business, and meet industry regulations.

But insurance can be useful if there is a chance of having a large enough bill that you are willing to pay, but can't pay out of your emergency fund. Insurance can help even out your expenses, and if you have a large bill, yes, you can be paid significantly more than your premiums, in some situations.

With an older dog there are additional concerns - any current or foreseeable medical conditions will be considered pre-existing and will not be covered. There are also waiting periods. Also for older pets the premiums and/or deductibles will likely be higher. And some companies may not cover a dog that old at all.

For which companies, without knowing what country you are in, recommendations are impossible.

What do they cover? This varies widely - things such as pre-existing conditions, breed, and the specific policy terms and conditions will affect this. Mostly accident and illness coverage - most things that most vets will do will be covered by most policies. Some cover routine procedures as well, but you'll pay a higher amount of premiums and/or a higher deductible to compensate for this, so it's often not worth it.

As far as vet acceptance, it's not really the same as human health insurance (in the US as far as I know - I'm Canadian so it's different also here). Vets don't have any say in what insurance company you use; they just want to be paid. Usually you pay the vet, then the insurance company reimburses you, less whatever co-pay, deductible, and not covered items. Sometimes the insurance company can pay the vet directly, but again, the vet just wants to be paid. If the insurance company is willing to pay they are fine with that.

Bottom line: If it's really cheap it probably won't cover much. Try to get the sales rep to tell you the fine print stuff - in what situations will they deny a claim? Are there breeds or procedures they never cover? And think about your own finances and how much you would be willing to do for your dog. If you have a decent emergency fund, I'd just rely on that. And would you pay thousands for something like cancer treatment? What about chronic diseases? Can you afford a few hundred dollars in medications each month? If you are the type of pet parent who would go all out treating their animal it's more worth it. But if you have a limit, regardless of insurance coverage, and can afford some unexpected stuff it's less worth it.
Hi Kestra,
Thanks for responding. I live in the USA outside of Boston, MA. The dog is a male neutered coonhound. He has only 2 pre-existing conditions: anxiety (he is a rescue dog from the countryside who lives in the city) and acid reflux. I would go hard to keep him healthy. Does that information shape any recommendations?

KMMK

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Re: Pet Veterinary Insurance
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2014, 09:31:30 PM »
In that case you'll want a higher level plan- not the cheapo one. Make sure to ask about renewing limits vs lifetime or dollar capped limits. You want renewing or unlimited. Make sure they cover exams (there's one company here that doesn't). For specific companies, sorry I'm only familiar with Canadian providers but I'm sure other members can give their recommendations.

The_path_less_taken

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Re: Pet Veterinary Insurance
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2014, 09:55:31 AM »
.
[/quote]
Hi Kestra,
Thanks for responding. I live in the USA outside of Boston, MA. The dog is a male neutered coonhound. He has only 2 pre-existing conditions: anxiety (he is a rescue dog from the countryside who lives in the city) and acid reflux. I would go hard to keep him healthy. Does that information shape any recommendations?
[/quote]



I've never purchased pet insurance. There's a thread somewhere  here with people who used to work for Banfield saying don't get theirs though.

And while I am NOT a vet, I do have a dog with presumably acid reflux/stomach issues. The local vets gave up on her...despite trying 11 different foods to see if it was some sort of allergy, and all of the anti-vomiting shots and pills...she'd lost one third of her body weight.

The only thing that helped was DGL. (deglycerinized (sp?) licorice...saw it on Dr. OZ when Dr. Weil was doing a an interview) I'm getting it at a health food store but it's probably cheaper online. I had bought it for me to try and get off of Prilosec and it worked...figured it was worth a shot for the dog as well since the vet said it couldn't hurt.

Again: I am NOT a vet. But a bottle is about ten bucks versus the hundreds I was spending on prescription crap that left the dog vomiting with bloody bowels.

Not sure about the anxiety...my dog with seizures takes a lot of meds and one of them is valium...so possibly valerian root might help. Of the 'nervous' dogs I've rescued, the best thing seemed to be tons of exercise with other dogs.

Good luck!

starbuck

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Re: Pet Veterinary Insurance
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2014, 11:21:05 AM »
Thanks for responding. I live in the USA outside of Boston, MA. The dog is a male neutered coonhound. He has only 2 pre-existing conditions: anxiety (he is a rescue dog from the countryside who lives in the city) and acid reflux. I would go hard to keep him healthy.

(I assume this is a new to you dog.) As far as anxiety, that's kind of a murky area. My own dog was terrified of her own shadow, and what helped her ease up was lots of socializing (slow at first.) We took her all over the place, in the car, to the farmers market, and on lots of walks and hikes. She's still a nervous nelly about some things (really big dogs, low pressure weather systems, smoke alarms) but she's lightyears better from the additional exposure. She'll never EVER be 100% well adjusted, but that's okay. Her owners aren't 100% well adjusted either.

The animal shelter I work at had one hound dog that was so filled with anxiety (wouldn't eat, nonstop barking for HOURS) they ended up medicating her with doggy Prozac. With a sporting dog, I'm sure lots of scent work and outdoors time would ease the anxiety over time.

(I'd highly recommend the Blue Hills on the south shore for hiking if you've never been! Nice and quiet in the winter, loads of trails, very well maintained.)

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Pet Veterinary Insurance
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2014, 07:56:25 PM »
Hi everyone,
Thanks for the responses. I wish to repeat my request for specific insurers and people's experiences with them.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Pet Veterinary Insurance
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2014, 08:48:56 PM »
Pet insurance is a terrible idea. Yes, vet bills can be high, but insurance is expected to cost more. That's how insurance makes money. Pet insurance usually has a lifetime cap anyway, so it won't even cover you if it's something serious but treatable comes up. If you're mustachian, you should be able to cover a modest vet bill for a broken leg, infection or whatever. And if you couldn't afford it or thought your pet would not be able to lead an enjoyable existence even after treatment, you'd just put them down and not incur any expense.

Don't insure against something you can afford.

studentdoc2

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Re: Pet Veterinary Insurance
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2014, 09:10:10 PM »
When I adopted my Great Dane, I opted to buy pet insurance. I wouldn't buy pet insurance for a smaller dog or a mutt, personally, but for my 140-lb beast, the cost of surgery/anesthesia/treatment is often significantly more expense than for a smaller dog. We also have three cats, none of whom have pet insurance.

In my research experience, most pet insurance is pretty terrible. Pre-existing conditions are never met, and with very, very few exceptions, neither are conditions they call genetic -- breed-specific conditions. With that said, I originally opted for VPI and was pretty happy. About six months ago, I did more research and came across Embrace Pet Insurance, which is one of the few companies that doesn't seem to have genetic restrictions. We opted for a high-deductible plan that runs us $26/mo. I've never had to use it, but I'm very happy with the level of coverage.

Best of luck!

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Pet Veterinary Insurance
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2014, 05:12:13 AM »
Hi everyone,
I want to belatedly thank you all for your responses. This has been really helpful to me and my family!

poorboyrichman

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Re: Pet Veterinary Insurance
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2014, 06:05:17 AM »
I would consider self insurance.

I am currently throwing 100 a month in to a fund for the dog and I still have a basic plan (13 a month covers up to 4k bills in a year for any given condition) while I'm saving up my own emergency fund as I don't want to go in to debt.

We are mustachians after all, while vet bills could conceivably be in the thousand's, these shouldn't be hard to pay in cash. Taking out insurance for such small sums of cash is throwing money at the insurers.

Before I converted my ways to the mustache I was paying 45 a month for life long conditions cover, which may have been worth it if pooch got seriously ill at a young age and had a life long condition, but the chances are slim. As always, judging whether insurance is worth it is anyone's guess as you simply never know.

So for a typical pooch living 15 years, I would have wasted 8100. Even if I did need to claim for some horrible disease, there would be no guarantee of ever being paid out and I may still have to dig in to my own pockets if some silly term and condition was not met.

By dumping 100 in to a fund for pooch, I should have plenty of cash within a short frame of time and have enough in my emergency fund to cash flow the rest. Once I have 1000 in the fund I will cancel the basic insurance policy. If doggy gets sick and dies of old age, I will be sad but I won't have lost 8100 of my hard earned monies to an insurance company.

Besides, it's wrong to prolong the life of a really sick dog because you'd be sad if he went to heaven. If my pooch has incurable cancer/requires serious surgery and a poor quality of life, I wouldn't claim on insurance just because I can. sometimes it's better to let go. And in the event that pooch lives a happy disease free life and you didn't take out silly 45 life long cover, you're 8100 richer. If you kept paying 100 in to the fund, well that buys you an 18000 headstone for ole' floppy ears.