My first experience with pet insurance was a bust. The dog above and on the right (in the headlock) got ringworm on her nose when she was 2 years old. This dog was the love of my life and I had pet insurance for her. The medication she required was expensive, even for a vet, but when I submitted the claim only a very small amount of it was covered. I was disappointed, and eventually let the insurance go.
10 years later, this same dog was diagnosed with a tumor in her bladder. By the time the tumor was finally diagnosed by ultrasound, it was too late for surgical removal, our only other treatment option was chemotherapy. With trepidation, we decided she was too healthy, and too dear not to try it. She responded miraculously after the first treatment, so we continued monthly trips to NEVOG for another 14 months.
Just like most pet owners, I had to budget the cost of her care. I applied for Care Credit to cover some, and since the costs were spread out over months we managed it.
If I had had my old pet insurance, which paid out by a schedule, the most I would have been able to recover for her care was about $500.
If I had one of the newer pet insurances the numbers would have been very different.
Lets say I decided to get her the least expensive insurance from Trupanion when she was 5 years old. at $25/month that’s $300 per year. $300 x 5 years is $1800. Trupanion covers 90% of illness, minus the office visits and your deductible. So $6000 (total cost of her care)-$1000 (my deductible), – the cost of office visits, (14 x $50 = $700) = $4300, x .90 = $3870 would have been covered. Lets also minus the $1800 I spent over 5 years, still $2070 ahead. Oops, we also need to minus the $300 continued cost of pet insurance during her illness. So, about $1770 ahead still, as a conservative estimate.
Beyond the numbers, having a good pet insurance like Trupanion, or Pet Plan, would have saved me hours of worry over the finances of her care. And the return on my investment would be more the longer she was treated.
So you say, well, that’s nice Dr. Francis, but I would NEVER put my dog through chemotherapy, if my dog got cancer, I would just put her to sleep.
I assure you, I had the very same belief. I was sure that if any of my pets got cancer I would humanely euthanize. Then I found myself in the oncology office, with my daughters, looking for some hope. You really never know what life is going to bring you. There are many treatable illness that dogs get from allergies to arthritis where pet insurance can help defray the costs, especially over the long term.
Recently I signed up both of my dogs for pet insurance. Yeah, I got the least expensive one with the highest deductible, but with the company I choose I know if I need it the is no schedule of fees, and if I need it I will get the return on my investment. So do the numbers, and then, if your pet gets sick, at least finances will be one factor you do not have to weigh when considering diagnostics and treatment options.
Our hospital does not get any commission or kickbacks from promoting our favorite pet insurance. But as one pet owner to another that I am hoping you will overcome any prejudices you have about pet insurance and at least investigate it.
Rachel Francis (with Pickles, yes he has insurance!)