Author Topic: who does pet insurance?  (Read 5393 times)

Midcenturymater

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who does pet insurance?
« on: February 14, 2016, 01:31:21 PM »
Has anyone any thoughts on whether this is a smart thing to do.
We got a rescue pup. Insurance would be 28 a month but we would have to pay the first $250 plus 10 per cent.
That sounds like a lot to me on top of 350 a year in premiums.

It seems crazy the cost of vet procedures over here compared to the UK. Honestly if we find out we have to spend 5000 on our dog( seems to be standard for certain problems) we probably accept our dog has lived out its natural life. 
It seems here people happily fork out a fortune to keep their dogs going against all odds.



MsPeacock

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2016, 01:51:17 PM »
I have never purchased it. Under normal circumstances my vet bills are less than $250 per year. Illness is rare and mostly a late life issue, in my experience with my pets. End of life care decisions can be difficult. However, my cats have lived on average about 18 years before this become an issue and even if in the last year I spend $1000 on vet bills I am still ahead of insurance costs.

GhostSaver

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2016, 03:21:52 PM »
I had always assumed that pet insurance was a scam.

However, I got offered a job at a reputable mutual insurance company with a group that prices the pet insurance not too long in the recent past. They aren't just randomly screwing people: they're going off of an in-house actuarial model with a profit margin and overhead on top.

Like most insurance products, if you can afford to self-insure, you will come out ahead on an actuarial basis. That's probably the way to go if you can tolerate it emotionally. BUT that means you have to be able to rationally assess the dog's vet bills, it's prospective quality of life, etc. and be willing to put the animal down sooner rather than later when life-threatening health issues arise. I love my dogs a lot, but they have both made it to over 10 years old without major vet bills. If they get likely-terminal (and expensive) health issues now, I will make the decision to have them put down. Paying for aggressive cancer treatments on an old dog doesn't make sense to me. Not only is it financially ugly, but the dog can't understand why he's suffering. And the odds are that you won't face the expensive stuff until they're old.

Primm

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2016, 03:30:37 PM »
I've never purchased either. Maybe I'm just lucky, but we've always had rescue dogs / cats and have only had two major issues, just before Christmas when our 12 year old moggy got bladder stones and cost us $1000 but died anyway, and the dog who got a paralysis tick about 15 years ago and cost us $1000 and died anyway. That's $2k of vet bills (insurance doesn't cover the regular immunisations etc. here anyway) for 30 adult years of pet ownership. I'd say I'm ahead of the game.

KMMK

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2016, 03:32:33 PM »
If you have a good emergency fund you don't need it. But be aware that one foreign body ingestion or cruciate injury can cost thousands to fix, and aren't things that people generally feel comfortable euthanizing for. Yes, over all, the insurance company has to make money, so the average person pays more in premiums than they get back in claims. But, especially with a new animal you don't know where on the bell curve you'll end up. If you get unlucky you'll be happy to have the insurance.

Zikoris

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2016, 04:08:13 PM »
No - my cat is 11 years old and healthy. He's smart enough to not eat pieces of metal or whatever, and I only buy pet-safe non-toxic cleaning supplies and stuff like that. He doesn't go outside, so his chances of injuring himself or getting in a big fight are pretty slim. He could end up with something terminal eventually, which I'd deal with by trying to give him the best quality of life possible, then having him put down when he started to suffer from it. Aside from costs entirely, I'm not sure it's the kind thing to do to subject a teenage cat to surgeries or painful treatments - it seems like all you're doing is prolonging their suffering in many cases.

Midcenturymater

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2016, 04:28:10 PM »
Thanks. That was our feeling on it too then I got chatting to a vet friend and she was pro insurance. My husband pointed out her world view is colored by the cat she sees sick animals every day.

I think we just save the money every month so we can pay for it when needed.

Nate R

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2016, 04:38:13 PM »
We've had to make those tough calls recently.

My 2 year old Australian shepherd went through a vet visit, surgeon consult, CT Scan, surgery/recovery, and lab work. He got a large tumor removed from his chest. Cost us about $7K for all that. We (a week after surgery)  found out it's a very aggressive cancer, and he's on a bout of chemo now that will cost us about $1400 for the full treatment. He may live a full life, but chances are he won't make it a few more years.

After the surgery I looked at insurance for our other dog, but the rates quoted just didn't seem like it was worth it to me, ESPECIALLY since the coverage limits I was seeing were like $5K.

So, even after having to make the decision whether to spend my OWN money, and then seeing the cost of insurance, I'm not about to buy insurance for our other dog. And I didn't have $7K in cash laying around, either, so it wasn't "painless" spending.



sol

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2016, 04:39:19 PM »
Thanks. That was our feeling on it too then I got chatting to a vet friend and she was pro insurance. My husband pointed out her world view is colored by the cat she sees sick animals every day.

Her world view is also colored by the fact that insurance pays her to provide medical care that animals wouldn't otherwise get.  Of COURSE vets are pro-insurance.  Their entire business model is built on appealing to your emotional side to get you to pay thousands for medical care instead of $50 for euthanasia. 

I'm a pet person.  I grew up with dogs and cats and I have dogs and cats now.  But the local animal shelter is FULL of animals that will be euthanized if they are not adopted, and I cannot in good conscience pay thousands to extend the suffering of a sick animal to which I have provided a loving home, knowing that that decision means some other young healthy animal will needlessly die.  So when my animals get old and sick, we say goodbye, we grieve, and then we save a new animal instead.

I was sort of afraid, when I read this thread title, that someone here would actually say they had pet insurance and liked it.  I was relieved no one has (yet) fallen for that scam, or at least that no one has (yet) admitted to it.

JustTrying

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2016, 07:10:40 PM »
I cannot for the life of me figure out how pet insurance could be worth it unless you have an extremely stupid pet or a pet with a chronic illness. Most pets will not fall into these categories.

Our dog is 6 years old. 3x she's had health scares (illnesses that required us to see a vet). Even when she had the health scares, the vet bills were still low enough that we would have lost money on pet insurance.


Midcenturymater

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2016, 07:55:41 AM »
Yes
...and you pay the first $250 plus 10 percent so really it is 28 times 12 plus 250 plus a year...

I was just surprised a friend who is a vet suggested we do it...she said if anything develops in the pet later you can't get insurance at that point.

I just think people spend more on vet care here than in the UK. We had decided against it then vet friend was very pro insurance which made me reconsider it.
Thanks for confirming my first feeling on it.

oldfierm

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2016, 08:23:20 AM »
If I ever got a purebred dog again, I would get the pet insurance to go with it.  They tend to have inherited chronic illnesses - I spent a fortune on my rescued Chihuahua over the course of her life.  Mixed breeds, however, have a nice thing called "hybrid vigor" going for them and in my experience have been much less expensive.  I recently rescued a lab-hound-thing-mix and didn't even consider pet insurance.

Oh, also, if I got a small dog again I might consider insurance for the "dentals" aspect as well.  That damn Chihuahua had to have her teeth cleaned twice a year, which is more common for small dogs.

ketchup

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2016, 08:30:34 AM »
It just doesn't pencil out.  The best pet health insurance is keeping your pet healthy with exercise, attention, and non-crappy food.

Fire2025

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2016, 03:34:08 PM »
I have emergency coverage.  $28/month I pay the first $150 and they cover the next 90%.

I have been lucky in the past, 2 dogs each living to about 18 years old with very few med bills.  But I still opted for the insurance this time around, for this reason:

I have had two friends with young dogs find themselves with $5,000 and $8,000 dollar vet bills.  One was a torn ligament and the over was a ruptured disc.  The person with the same insurance I have, paid $885, plus 336.00 in premiums.  The insurance has now paid for itself.  She and I will pay about $6100 in lifetime premiums, she has already saved $7115.00, so from here on out the insurance is basically free, and that was one injury.  And all further injuries, related to this injury, will be covered in the future.

The friend without insurance, paid $5,000 and her dog now has a pre existing condition, so all health insurance will be more expensive and/or will not cover any back issues with her dog. 

Once I can afford total self insurance, and I know the premium money would go to long term investments, and not to saving for vet bills, then I would and will self insure.   Just my 2 cents.

mtn

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2016, 03:44:45 PM »
My neighbors would have probably liked it. Their dog was a Lab, and not stupid--but golly did it have a lot of issues through the years. The "dad" was an accountant before he retired and tracked every expense they've ever had for anything. His "DOG" spreadsheet in excel added up to over $55,000 for the first 10 years (it lived to 13), and he said he stopped tracking it after that. That didn't include any training, food, or kennel costs.

Granted, the "mom" took the dog in whenever it sneezed, but you don't get to $55,000 by going in for a checkup every time.

That is probably one of the few cases where it would have made sense.

pk_aeryn

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2016, 09:26:07 PM »
It's a bit of a scam.  I had a friend with a policy from a very reputable company. He paid his premiums for a year, then his dog broke his leg and had an illness that next year.  The next year the company dropped him.  Basically, if it turns out your pet needs multiple years of expensive treatments, they will drop you.  They will only keep pets on that they are making a profit from. It's not regulated like human insurance.

Larabeth

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2016, 11:18:41 PM »
I had it for Elsa's first year.  It paid for a lot of her shots and her spaying.  But then I redid the math and realized that after the first year it would no longer pay for itself so I dropped it.

Keep in mind, I rescued her privately and had to shoulder the cost of the vetting/spay privately.

I actually came out ahead, but if you're getting a rescue animal through a foster organization, they handle all of that and then the insurance is not worth it at all!

Tami1982

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2016, 08:17:01 AM »
I think we just save the money every month so we can pay for it when needed.

Pet insurance has been worth every penny for me.  In six years, they have paid out far more than I have paid in. (I did the math.)  But you are basically betting on your pet being ill. 

I am very low income (under $20,000) and there is no way I could come up with the $2,000+ my pet needed multiple times.  So I feel that as someone who knows that paying $2,000 or even $500 would be very big financial blow, that for me to be a responsible pet owner I needed insurance.  I can come up with that monthly fee.  But even if I had put that amount in an account from the moment my dog came home, I would be nowhere near what they've paid out for me.  It would be different if you had a larger income and significant savings.

The savings account is a common argument, but all it takes is one incident to deplete it.  (If I had put $28 a month in his account it would be negative so many dollars now, LOL)  I also never want to have to make a decision regarding the welfare of my pet based on cost.  That's an emotional thing, but it's worth the money to me to go to the vet and say, "Do whatever is necessary."  If we were purely logical we'd let them go if treatment cost more than euthanasia, and adopt another dog as there are many who need homes, but most of us don't think that way.

I have had Nationwide pet insurance (used to be VPI) for his entire life.  He is six now.  You can choose from a $100 or $250 deducible.  I always choose $100 because we go often enough and the difference is about $7 a month. (7x12 = $84 annually vs $150 in deductible, made sense to go with lower deductible to me,) with 100% payout up to the limit of the policy.  I have the Major Medical policy.  They usually reimburse within two weeks.  They will not drop you no matter how many claims you make, and your rates will not increase based on claims.  Rates only go up as your pet ages.  There are age brackets.  No lifetime limits, but $15,000 annual.

You basically either end up super grateful you have it after a chronic illness or expensive incident, or resentful because you have a healthy dog that doesn't need vet care. 

I attached an overview of my claims just to give you an idea.  The amount on the left is what I submitted.  The amount on the right is what they reimbursed.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2016, 08:24:35 AM by Tami1982 »

Spork

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2016, 11:35:22 AM »
I had it many years ago. Every claim I made was rejected for one reason or another. I had it one year on two dogs. I never renewed.

BTH7117

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2016, 08:34:14 AM »
We have two rescue mutts and the cost of insurance never really seemed to add up to a net win for us.  I echo the poster who stated a well-maintained emergency fund is the best insurance for a pet, which is unlikely to ever result in a financially cataclysmic medical expense.  Our emergency fund was created with the dogs as one consideration.

I've found that the combination of healthy dog food, a disciplined owner and leashed exercise to be enough.

EDIT: I forgot to include this article, which does a pretty good job going over the pros and cons: http://www.vox.com/2015/8/10/9123013/dogs-insurance-should-i-buy
« Last Edit: February 18, 2016, 08:37:24 AM by BTH7117 »

Midcenturymater

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2016, 07:30:39 AM »
Thanks so much.
Ours is a hybrid...has some Chihuahua in her but looks more like a Jack Russell.
For now we will hold off.
But I accept it means if anything goes wrong that requires extensive treatment we will have a hard choice to make.
I g it chatting to an owner at the vet and she has three dogs and no insurance. In all her time the worst that happened was a dog broke her leg.....it cost her $600 prob the same as a,year of premiums and your deductible. That does not add up to me.

Cassie

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #21 on: March 05, 2016, 01:57:29 PM »
WE have 4 old rescue dogs and the vet bills have been awful.  Vets are also expensive on the WEst Coast. The dogs were not old when we got them and they still had plenty of bills.  I don't how how much the insurance would have paid if we had gotten it. WE got the first one 11 years ago. None had anything like cancer but one for instance had an infected anal gland and meds would not clear it up and he was bleeding rectally. We finally had it have it removed to the tune of 1k.  Things like that have happened all the time. I estimate in the past 11 years where we have had usually at least 3 dogs that we have spent 30K. As they go the doggie heaven we will only have 1 or 2. My friend in Texas pays a third of what we do for vet bills so it really makes a difference where you live.

KittyZero

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #22 on: March 05, 2016, 10:05:40 PM »
I wouldn't not be getting rid of pet insurance. Our dog who is an Australian Shepherd has had problems with her hind leg for nearly 2 years. All up it has cost us over $3000 and we are not even at a diagnosis yet. She is only 4. And puppies get in to trouble! We've been able to claim 80% of this back AND we have no excess. All up we have won out. And with looming MRI's and potential surgery, I expect we will be even more in-front.

I think for the most part, you WILL probably be spending more money long term if you go the insurance route. But I have never had to think twice about the care given to her - when we are given options the vets always look at you wincing about the price, but our response has always happily been "Do whatever you need to do, we have Pet Insurance". I think worst case scenario...an illness/incident could run you in to the thousands. If this happened to you would you be in a position to answer the same way? Worse yet, if you had two of these incidents in a row, would your answer still be the same?

Will I think differently when I have thousands upon thousands upon thousands saved? Probably. But for me the insurance is worth keeping around.

katstache92

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #23 on: March 07, 2016, 10:08:55 AM »
I don't do pet insurance... but the past 6 months makes me wonder if it would have been worth it.

Cat 1: Potential urinary blockage = ~$1,300 + expensive prescription kidney food for the rest of his life.  Cause of that: congenital defect.

Cat 2: Originally thought it was a giant tumor, took her in to figure out what it was, since I didn't feel I could condemn her without knowing what I was dealing with.  Turns out it was a polycystic kidney and could be removed and that would be that.  I just got her home on Friday, vet bills so far = $3,900.

So, my two rescue mutt cats could have turned out okay, but instead have cost me basically a Roth contribution (don't worry I'm still going to contribute, it's really coming out of the vacation money, sigh.)  After all of this I would probably still self insure, but I'm not sure I'm going to be getting any more pets.

ShortInSeattle

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2016, 12:55:31 PM »
We had pet insurance for a long time because when we were young we had a $1500 vet bill for a cat and it freaked us out. Our policy was non-cancellable so long as we kept it in force. We did get some payouts from the insurance over the years, $250 here and $400 there.

Eventually though we did the math and figured out that it would be better to take that $$ and save it up in a kind of pet emergency fund than to give it to the insurance company. Self-fund in other words. Especially as the premiums increased right as our pets were getting older.  Insuring 15 year old cats is expensive.

So I wouldn't do it again. I'd self fund unless I was living so close to the bone than I literally couldn't afford to deal with an emergency. And if that were true I suppose I wouldn't have a pet.

SIS

Midcenturymater

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Re: who does pet insurance?
« Reply #25 on: March 08, 2016, 09:02:49 AM »
Thanks. My husband just got his annual bonus. It us going into a savings account marked dog ...it is maybe 4 years of pet insurance payments. I think we will take the risk.she is a mutt and we will find the most economical vet around. I g it chatting to a guy who moved his family from the mid west and he said the only thing cheaper here on west coast us vet care as there are more vets.