Is Pet Insurance Right For You?

| December 12, 2013 | 2 Comments
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Does pet insurance make sense for your retriever?

Does health insurance make sense for your retriever?

My Experience

Pets of all shapes and sizes have surrounded my entire life and I must admit that I have never had insurance for any of them, until recently. My family and I have always paid out of pocket for our animals’ medical needs, even the emergencies. But this is not always the most effective or reasonable way to pay for your pet’s medical expenses. Perhaps the yearly boosters are not that bad but the unexpected medical emergencies are usually the ones that leave you either wishing you had insurance, wishing for more money, or leaving you with some hard decisions to make. Medical treatment for any pet (especially large dogs) can add up quickly and it was with the ownership of my current puppy, Indy, that I made the decision to invest in pet insurance. In the past my family and I had to make difficult decisions because a treatment or procedure cost too much and we could not afford it. Part of being a good owner is setting the money aside for emergencies but sometimes those emergencies are more severe than expected and those are the situations where insurance can really help you out.

In writing this article I want to express to you, the readers, how I came to my opinion of pet insurance and it is perfectly okay for you to have a different opinion. Pet insurance can be a little different for everyone and your opinion of it can really be affected by the number of animals that you have and your own personal situation. Every insurance company is different in that some will cover certain illnesses or physical ailments and others won’t. Some companies will only cover the small things, like vaccines and check ups, while others will cover catastrophic accidents and illnesses. The process of finding the right pet insurance for Indy and myself was a bit stressful to say the least. I only say this because at around six months of age Indy began to limp on his back right leg. I could not figure out how he could have hurt himself as he didn’t play hard and slept a majority of the day. His limping was inconsistent though so I had a hard time figuring out exactly where he hurt or why. Because his limping did not cease, like any responsible owner, I took him to the vet. But to my horror the vet, whom I had been taking Indy to for the last few months, told me that I would need to spend a minimum of $500 just for x-rays and examinations. The vet surmised that Indy had torn a tendon or fractured his knee, which would need surgery right away. Before I knew it I was being signed up for a $3,000 surgery I could not pay for! I had to put the brakes on. I left the vet thinking to myself, ‘why didn’t I get pet insurance?!’ and I felt like was being so unfair to my dog. Fortunately, I sought a second opinion of another vet and discovered that Indy had Panosteitis, something comparable to really bad growing pains, and something that he will out grow over time. This was also something that could be managed with limited physical exertion and a low protein diet. The end cost was not that much but it put in perspective why having insurance can help out in some situations. If Indy had, in fact, needed that surgery I would have had to make him wait until I had saved up enough money, possibly letting the problem worsen. After this experience I spent a lot time researching and investigating the various pet insurances that are offered.

Do Your Research

A good website to visit that provides a ranking system and the prominent aspects of a handful of insurances is Consumer’s Advocate. Another good place to start is the Pet Insurance Review. But I highly suggest that you don’t just take a websites ranked advice at face value. Take some time to go through the insurance companies, discover what kind of coverage they provide, compare them, and investigate the options for reimbursement and deductibles. I felt that it was extremely important to find an insurance company that would cover the big costs as well as the little ones. As well as a company that would cover an issue multiple times not just the first and I wanted to be able to use the veterinarian of my choice. That was really important to me because I was discovering that there were definite differences between veterinary hospitals so I definitely wanted to use a vet that was the right fit for my dog and me. Pet insurance companies will take claims from any licensed veterinarian. I also wanted to find an insurance company that I could afford without feeling like I was shortchanging my opportunities to provide Indy the kind of medical care that he could potentially need. I took the time to read reviews and I read a lot of them because some of them seemed to good to be true and others seemed like their author had a personal vendetta against the company. After scouring the reviews and investigating monthly costs and benefits, I settled on Pet Plan because I could get full coverage for Indy. It is important to know that pet insurance is essentially treated like property insurance so paying out of pocket will still be necessary, but by submitting a claim you are entitled to reimbursement.

Breeders Need Not Apply

Something that I discovered throughout my process of investigating insurance companies was that the system is not set up to support breeders, shelters, or any other kind of organization that has a potentially large number of dogs. Pet insurance is designed for the pet owner with one or two animals. It never covers existing conditions either, which I found to be frustrating because people may look for insurance with the hope that the company will help cover a current or looming issue. That was the reason that I began to look at insurance so I would imagine that others would do the same. With some effort though, I did find the right kind of insurance and I feel that the best kind of insurance is the kind you hardly end up having to use. I feel better knowing that if anything happens to Indy, I will be able to give him whatever he needs and I won’t have to worry about writing the check to pay for it. What is important to draw from this is that pet insurance is truly for the big and unexpected medical emergencies and it is the right thing for you if do not want have to make the decision of either going into financial debt or saying goodbye to your loved one.

Join The Conversation

Tell Us your opinion and/or experiences with pet insurance.

Category : Health, Veterinarians

Misha Abbenhouse

About the Author ()

Being surrounded by the Great Northwest for the entirety of my life I have come to really enjoy the outdoors, loving the rain almost as much as the fleeting sunshine and all the activities that come along with it. I've always loved animals especially those of the equine and canine variety. My intense interest in dogs led me to start writing about the adventures that Indy, my black lab, and I shared. Aside from animals, I love to read and write and college really fostered this love and I now find myself being able to couple my two great loves of writing and dogs.

Comments (2)

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  1. Mary says:

    Great article – I too went through the stress of finding pet insurance. Took me several years, I was afraid of being ripped off. I now have two labs (4 years and 2 years) insured with EMBRACE. After many calls I found this company to work best for me. They also offer a 2 months free trial, which I will send home with puppy owners with my upcoming litter. No obligations, and claims made during the trial will be covered, as long as the pet is insured during the trial period. The big thing I found – make sure to ask a lot of questions, even twice, even if the answers are obvious. Understanding exactly what is covered will prevent disappointment.

    • Thank you so much for your comment! That’s great to hear that you took the time and found the right insurance for you. I also think it’s great that you made the effort to support your litter with insurance when they head out to their new homes. You’re right, when looking for the right insurance and coverage, one really can’t ask too many questions.

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