Pet Insurance Information

by Patricia

Does anyone have some good pet insurance information?

I live in Florida and I was wondering if anyone used pet insurance? We have 2 cats and our pit mix and we were just told that our dog may need knee surgery in the future (he is 1 1/2 years old). I'm just curious if anyone knows of any good pet insurance groups.

Also, do these insurance groups cover basic needs (such as flea/heartworm preventative and annual appointments)? I think it may be worth the cost since we have 3 pets.


Gale's Reply:

Hi Patricia:

I've been doing quite a bit of research in this area lately for a pet insurance information website that I'm working on. So, hopefully you'll find some of this useful. I'll respond to the last part of your question first.

Most pet insurance companies will allow you to purchase additional wellness coverage that covers routine care if you want it. But, it's not automatically part of the policy unless you request it and pay an additional premium.

Adding a wellness rider to your pet insurance policy will not save you money in most cases. Studies have shown that you will generally pay more in premiums for wellness than you would paying out of pocket for routine care.

Nevertheless, many pet owners like the convenience of spreading the expense out over the course of a year. And, they are willing to pay a little extra for the privilege.

So while wellness coverage is optional, I believe that accident/illness coverage (sometimes called comprehensive coverage) is important for most pet owners.

A recent Wall Street Journal article quoted a study that found that 50% of Americans said they either "probably couldn't" or "certainly couldn't" raise $2000 within 30 days for an emergency expense.

The article had nothing to do with pet insurance information. But, it's sobering to realize that $2000 is a modest expense for a pet that needs surgery or an emergency procedure. At the end of the day, it's not about saving money. It 's about peace of mind.

Of course, if you have the financial abilily to cover unexpected vet expenses out of pocket, you may not need pet insurance. It's an individual choice. But, it is definitely something you should decide
about BEFORE you need it. No insurance company will cover a pre-existing condition for a pet.

Which brings me to the fact that you've been told your pit mix MIGHT need surgery down the road. If this has been noted in his medical file by the vet, you may not be able to find coverage for this particular ailment due to the pre-existing clause that all companies have.

If your primary motivation for considering insurance was this possible future surgery, you'll want to investigate to see exactly where things stand with regards to what kind of documentation has been made of his condition up to now.

As far as individual companies, in the comparisons I've been doing, I look for (among other things) consumer friendliness, a pay out schedule based on actual costs or reasonable and customary vs. a benefit schedule and as few loopholes as possible. Three companines that have risen to the top of my list are: Embrace Pet Insurance, Healthy Paws and Trupanion.

Most companies will provide you with a sample policy to review and/or a grace period during which time you can cancel and receive a refund. Be sure you read any policy you are considering carefully. And, ask questions about anything you don't understand.

You may also want to consider Pet Assure. This is not an insurance program. It is a discount program that allows you to receive a 25% discount on veterinary services across the board. No exclusions. No pre-existing clauses. No claim forms.

You must use a vet that is in their network of service providers in order to receive the discount--kind of like a HMO for humans. While it is marketed as an alternative to insurance, it can actually be used in conjunction with insurance to lower the cost of your share of the vet bill and at the same time conserve any payout limit your insurance policy may have.

The Pet Assure program also partners with local and online retailers to offer member discounts on other items like pet food. If your vet is not a member of the Pet Assure network, you can ask Pet Assure to contact them about becoming a network provider.

Good luck. I hope this helps you in your search for pet insurance information.

Comments for Pet Insurance Information

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Jun 08, 2011
I wouldn't keep a pet without it!
by: Deb A

We currently have two dogs (one a very active border collie mix) and two cats. I have insurance on all of them through Trupanion and wouldn't give it up for anything. We've had to file two claims so far. Both were handled quickly and efficiently. Having a very active dog I would rather pay the monthly premium and know that I'll be able to get 90% of my bill back than to have to worry how I'll pay for treatment.

In your case, due to the pre-existing condition issues, I'd call and talk to the company and see what they say. It might be better for you to just put away the monthly premium in a savings account and have the money available when you need it in this case.

Jun 08, 2011
Banfield Wellness Plan
by: Mike R

We use Banfield wellness plan for our dogs through PetsMart and we are very happy with it. They have different plans available for different needs and budgets.

Jun 08, 2011
by: Patricia

Thank you for all the information! I wasn't even sure where to start, but this information gives me a place to start researching. I can look and see what my vet has recorded, otherwise it may be a good idea just to save a little every month in case he does need a procedure later down the road.

I've heard both good and bad things about knee surgery. Some people say it was the best thing for their pets, while others say it didn't help as much as they wanted. I'm sure it's just like anything else where depending on the pet or the vet it may turn out differently.

There are a lot of things to consider. Thanks again for the help!

Jun 20, 2011
Pet Assure fan
by: Leah

Hey Patricia, I have the Pet Assure program that Gale mentioned. I definitely recommend it. It's extremely simple to use and I saved tons of money already

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