Pet Health Insurance
by Cindie Farley
If you’re like most people, the term “health insurance” is a scary one. But without it, terms like “medical bills” and “bankruptcy” are even scarier. An injury or major medical event sustained by any member of a family is devastating both financially and emotionally, and that includes those to our pets. Sadly, some pets go without medical care or get euthanized for financial reasons. Fortunately, however, obtaining insurance for them is easy and fairly inexpensive.
When I decided to shop for insurance for my dog, Gus, I didn’t know what to expect. As a mixed-breed herding dog, he’s always been healthy and at age ten is still very active. I’ve been lucky, living on a rather tight budget, that he has had no vet bills other than immunizations and routine check-ups. However, as much as I don’t want to think about it, his health and well-being will most likely start to decline in the next few years. I don’t want him to go without the medical care he may need, so the cost of insurance for him would be worth the peace of mind for me.
There are a number of companies that offer pet insurance. I did some research and got feedback from several friends who have insurance for their pets. Hopefully, this information will be helpful to those of you who are on the fence about pet insurance.
VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance) was established by veterinarians in 1980 and is recognized as the oldest and largest plan in the U.S. It has several plans that cover accidents, injuries, conditions, and illnesses including cancer. The economy plan starts at $14.00 per month, and the comprehensive plan, which also covers hereditary problems, starts at $18.00 per month. Coverage for routine care starts at $12.00 per month. This is available for any age dog. I was not able to get a medical plan for Gus because I would be enrolling him as a senior dog. However, VPI does offer an injury plan for senior dogs, which for Gus would be $11.90 per month.
My friend got coverage through VPI when her Lab was a year old. She pays $30.00 per month, which covers everything including the routine care. Her premium has not gone up even though her dog has had numerous issues requiring veterinary treatment. Her reimbursements have been in the range of 65 to 80 percent after a deductible. Submission of claims is easy and simple, and overall she’s been very happy with VPI.
Pets Best is another good company and has excellent credentials and ratings. They are one of the few companies that do not reduce or cancel coverage as pets age. Plans covering accidents, injuries, conditions and illnesses including cancer range from $16.00 to about $70.00 per month. Rates and plans are determined by a variety of factors clearly outlined on their website, and include limited coverage for burial or cremation, behavioral problems, and alternative treatments. They also offer routine care coverage for an additional $22.00 per month. I would be able to get a full-coverage plan for Gus (excluding routine care) for about $45.00 per month.
My friends who use Pets Best have been very pleased with the service and coverage for a number of pets, including a dog they adopted at 14 years old. At his first vet appointment after adding him to their policy, a heart murmur was detected. A $500 cardiology work up was covered by the insurance. He is now on a monthly heart medication that would have cost them $50 per month without insurance, but they only pay $9 per month for their share.
Another plan worth looking into is through Best Friends Animal Society. Each policy sold supports their mission to help save homeless pets. Plans start at $28.00 and they guarantee acceptance of all dogs between 8 weeks and 8 years of age.
Choosing pet insurance is different for everyone, but the ideal time for any pet is when it first joins your family. You can minimize or avoid the pre-existing condition dilemma and age restrictions, and secure a lower premium.
When researching pet insurance, consider whether the company has a benefits schedule and check the exclusions list and reimbursement schedule. Ask a lot of questions! A good resource for comparing companies is www.petinsurancereview.com.
An excellent source for ratings on the largest pet insurance companies is petinsurancereview.com’
close with concept of not having to euthanize a pet simply because can’t afford vet care. Carie: some dogs’ lives can be saved because sometimes go without medical care or get euthanized for financial reasons.