Pet Insurance???

I love the internet!

Long gone are the days of yellow pages and wondering if you are making the right decision.

Google is my search engine of choice.  I Google at least 20 times a day.  It’s so fast and it yields such wonderful results!

Lately I have been preparing for the puppy.  So much fun!  I have Googled a number of topics and read a ton of reviews.

Do you ever feel like you get too much feedback!?!  It hasn’t been so bad with the puppy searches, but I can drive myself crazy with hotel reviews for a vacation!  (http://www.tripadvisor.com/ is very addictive!)

My first big Google was “Pet Insurance” and various versions that included “do I need”.

I tried to keep an open mind… but you know what they say about Research.  If you look hard enough, you can find the evidence to support your results.  🙂  (Does that make my PhD friends mad?  Sorry, love you!)

I should start with a disclaimer:  I’ve been down this road before.  But, it was before my Google addiction.  We purchased VIP pet insurance for Daisy when she was a puppy.  I bought the policy the first week she was home.  It was annoying.  I had to fill out forms and mail them in and wait for the snail mail to return the “decision” of VIP.  Some vet visits they gave us our portioned reimbursement, some visits they gave us the run-around.  Nothing too unusual when dealing with insurance companies.  Then came the kidney diagnosis… congenital means no coverage in insurance language.  Those bills were quickly rejected and we were directed to the teeny tiny fine print.

My response to VIP… Cancel my plan.  Only, it sounded much more angry.  🙂

I originally dropped the insurance because I was mad about the fine print.  We bought insurance in case she had unknown health problems and when we discovered she did, they said no.  They really only covered broken bones, ear infections, well-visits.

A few months later I had a meeting with a financial adviser to discuss my long-term savings plans. (read – boring)  I am not a financial person… just thinking about it makes my eyes glaze over!  As expected, my mind wandered during the meeting to happy thoughts… Daisy.  I decided to ask him about the value of pet insurance.  His advice was to put the monthly payment into a savings account instead of with the insurance company.  He said we would make money on the interest and if we needed a big chuck for an emergency vet visit, it would be there.   He did qualify this with the assumption that at a certain cost we would put a dog to sleep versus pay $10,000 for chemo treatments.  He said you could save $6,000 over the life of your pet not paying the premiums for insurance.  Knowing Daisy was not covered for anything related to her congenital kidney problems, it was decided that we would not look for another company for pet insurance.

Fast forward to last week.  I was wondering if anything has changed in the last 6 years with pet insurance and their practices.  Enter Google.

I found that a lot more companies have joined VIP and that pet insurance is a multi-million dollar business!

Overall, the reviews tend to agree that if you can not afford the cost of repairing a broken leg or a swallowed toy you should consider insurance.  The benefit of insurance is affordable monthly payments that should cover your pet when they have an unexpected trip to the vet.  However, the reviews agreed that there is A LOT of fine print and that many companies are over complicated and confusing.  I also found supporting articles that if you can afford an unexpected vet visit, you are better off saving the monthly premiums and forgoing pet insurance.

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Insurance/AssessYourNeeds/ShouldYouBuyPetInsurance.aspx

http://articles.cnn.com/2007-10-24/living/pet.insurance_1_pet-insurance-pet-owners-pet-health?_s=PM:LIVING

I read a million articles.  Some from the actual pet insurance companies, some from vets, pet blogs and some that I thought were unbiased reviews.  The two above I lumped in the unbiased category (MSN and CNN).  I could be wrong but the articles written by the pet insurance companies, and even some veterinarians, rub me as a little self-serving.

This is a very personal decision and, ultimately, I do not think there is a wrong choice.  We make choices every day.  The idea is to make an informed decision you feel comfortable with, knowing you can live with the outcomes.

I’ve decided that we will not get pet insurance.  I’m all too familiar with the fine print and I’d rather keep my money, hope for the best, but know that we have the ability to treat the unexpected. Many people get pet insurance for peace of mind.  Unfortunately, pet insurance doesn’t give me comfort because they used an out clause on us when we had a problem.

To each his own.

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2 thoughts on “Pet Insurance???

  1. We purchased pet insurance when we first got Otis…And quickly learned that it did not work for us! Although Otis doesn’t have a congenital condition, he was diagnosed with IBS (no – I’m not kidding), motion sickness and also had several parasites when we first brought him home from the shelter. We were taking him in at least once, sometimes twice a week, for vomitting and diarrhea in the beginning. The first appointment or two was covered and then – Bam! We were told we had reached the “Cap.” Also, we took Otis in once when he decided to jump off the couch and hurt his leg (which was fine). Six months later, he was running through the house, took a corner too close and hit the same leg on a wood post. We thought he broke it and took him in for an x-ray. Even though it was an unrelated injury, they would not cover the cost because they said it may be related to the first leg injury and was now a “pre-existing condition.” Several hundred dollars in x-rays later, we decided to cancel our policy.

    It’s such a hard decision and you want to do what’s right for your baby. Like you, we are lucky to have the ability to treat problems should they arise (but hopefully not). 🙂

  2. Rachelle,
    I’m not totally surprised to hear your story, but the “pre-existing condition” excuse on Otis’ leg is horrible! Nice to know I’m not the only one to make the decision to leave the pet insurance business. Our new vet suggested a few and I quickly explained our story and that I would not be getting insurance. He actually agreed that a lot of patients have similar stories.

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