As humans we don’t give a second thought when it comes to insurance, whether it be for our health, our car or our home. So why would our pets be any different? Though pet insurance has been around for awhile a lot of individuals still do not know a lot about it. So, this week we are going to break it down with some numbers and go over things to consider if you are in the market for a pet insurance provider.
Pet insurance has been around longer then you probably think. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) the first policy was written by Claes Virgin in 1890. Now at that time he was more focused on horses and livestock. However, thirty-four years later in 1924 the first dog in Sweden received insurance coverage and that was soon followed by a policy in Britain in 1947. Now I am sure we all remember Lassie; I mean who doesn’t. Whether you grew up watching him or have had your parents tell you stories you probably at least know of the name. Did you know Lassie was the first dog in the United States to be issued a pet insurance policy that was issued by Veterinary Pet Insurance? Fast forward twenty-five years to 2007 and the NAPHIA was founded in order to establish and maintain universal and professional standards for terminology, best practices, quality and ethics in the pet insurance industry.
Now I will admit prior to adopting Lily I really did not understand pet insurance. I had heard of it, like I am sure most people had, but I wasn’t knowledgeable on how it could protect me. Now looking back I wish I had discovered it sooner. There are a few things you should be looking for when it comes to finding the right pet insurance company. Now one big thing for me was my out of pocket expenses. Most insurance for pets is a reimbursement program, meaning when something happens you pay everything up front at the vet and then submit the claim for your money back (minus the deductible you choose). For this reason, I have chosen to go with Trupanion, they pay the vet directly, minus my deductible (I pay that to the vet). One big difference between insurance for people versus pets is there are no in network or out of network vets. You can take your pet to any vet you choose. You will also what to see if the companies you are looking at have a cap on what they will pay out. My very first company I was with when I adopted Lily had an annual cap of $5,000. Now I know that probably sounds like a lot, but if you have ever been through anything serious with your animal it really isn’t a lot. Look at the picture below it will give you a rough estimate of just some of the situations that can add up to a lot money.
A lot of companies out there will provide you insurance with no cap, including the one I have Trupanion. That way you can sleep better at night knowing if the worst happens you are well prepared and won’t find yourself in a financial hardship choosing between taking care of your pet or other household obligations.
Now let’s break down some of the other items to consider with pet insurance. Most if not all companies will have a waiting period. Meaning that so many days, depending on the company, must pass before your coverage begins. This is especially important if you are switching companies, make sure you are still covered by your old provider while the waiting period for the new provider is in effect. Keep in mind there may be different waiting periods for different circumstances; one for illness and one for injury.
Also, as with insurance for people, pet insurance companies will not cover any pre-existing conditions your pet has. This is very important and for this reason it is crucial to insure your pet as early as possible. Most of us probably assume that nothing will happen to our pets till they are much older, but that isn’t always the case. If they develop anything early on and you have waited to get insurance, they will not cover any current illness or disease. Also with pet insurance the majority, if not all companies, will not cover your routine visits (check ups, vaccines, annual exams). Some might include dental cleaning, but once you have narrowed the field down to a few companies you can read right on their website what items they will cover. Of course if there is any confusion you can always call directly.
You will have deductibles for pet insurance, just as we do for ourselves. You will be responsible for the deductible regardless of the situation. But there is also something else you will be responsible for and that is the co-pay. Consider this example. Say Daisy has swallowed a foreign object, as stated above we know that runs about $3,000. Daisy has coverage with a $500 deductible and 80% reimbursement (meaning her co-pay is 20%).
$3,000 expenses – $500 deductible = $2,500 x 80% (reimbursement level) = $2,000
So, for the above example you will basically be responsible for $1,000 and you will get $2,000 reimbursed back by your insurance company for Daisy. Now I know being responsible for $1,000 is still a lot, but also keep in mind as your pet ages things can happen, just as with people when we age. Below I will give you a real-life scenario.
Before Lily came into my life, my parents and I had rescued two chihuahuas, a black one named Morgan, pictured on the left and a white and brown one named Snowy, pictured in the middle. They loved going for rides in their stroller.
Unfortunately, we were not aware of the importance of pet insurance and how it could have saved my parents thousands in the long run. Morgan and Snowy unfortunately have recently passed with the last few years, both from cancer. Here is what we went through.
|Cypress Creek (xrays to find cancer)||$345.38|
|Pasco Animal Hospital||$91.96|
|Cypress Creek (infected glands)||$177.65|
|Blue Pearl Heart Test||$849.00|
|Cypress Creek EKG||$110.00|
|Blue Pearl Annual Heart Test||$688.00|
|Cypress Creek Blood Test/X-rays||$409.00|
|Blue Pearl Cancer Test||$3188.82|
|Blue Pearl Chemo (2 Treatments)||$578.40|
As you can see above the expenses racked up pretty high and fast between tests, x-rays and treatments. Just a little over $10,000 and it was all out of pocket, no reimbursement by anyone. This is why I stress pet insurance or some other back up to be ready. I love Lily more than anything and I do not ever want anything to happen but unfortunately it isn’t a matter of if it will happen, but when it will and being prepared to save her life.
Now if you are considering a pet insurance company, according to Consumer’s Advocate here is a list of the top ten insurance companies of 2019.
- Healthy Paws
- Pet Plan
- Pet First
- Prudent Pet Insurance
- Pets Best
- ASPCA Pet Health Insurance
Healthy Paws is rated the best overall company. Here are some benefits to being a Healthy Paws customer:
- #1 rated company for customer satisfaction
- A+ BBB accredited with over 97 out of 100 rating
- Comprehensive illness and accident coverage
- Unlimited lifetime benefits and no claim caps
- Annual deductible
- Free mobile app and no claims form to fill out
If you still feel unsure about pet insurance, it is okay. There is much information and choosing the right company for your pet can be difficult. You may choose one and find a better one later. That’s okay too. If you rather not go the route of insurance at least be well prepared if someday the need for surgery arises. I cannot stress enough the importance of making sure you don’t find yourself in a financial hardship by getting a loan you cannot afford or a second mortgage on your house just because your beloved pet is very sick. Instead of buying a policy on them, pretend you have. Take what you would have spent monthly and save it. Most policies average between $35 and $50 each month (depending on the age of your pet and other levels of coverage you choose). Take that money and open a savings account at your local bank and just forget it is there. Hopefully when the time comes to use it, you have built up enough to help your pet out.
Bottom line is that the value of pet insurance depends on the level of illness and injury claims you make. “If you use it, it has value. If you do not use it, it doesn’t.” -NAPHIA
Consider this final picture below of just a highlight of things we have discussed when it comes to finding insurance if you should choose this route. Keeping our pets safe is our number one priority and everyone is different. You need to choose not only what is best for your pet but also your family. No matter what you choose, just have a plan and stick to it.
Please comment below your thoughts and as always you can send myself or Lily a message at firstname.lastname@example.org