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Readers Respond: Is pet health insurance worth the expense?

Responses: 23

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Insurance for pets has been available for 20-plus years, but for most pet owners, the concept of pet health insurance is still relatively new. The variety of coverage plans, while encouraging, are often viewed with confusion and even suspicion as far as actually reducing the costs of pet care.

Do your pets have health insurance? Have you had to use the insurance for your pet's care? See what others have said about pet insurance. Please share your thoughts about pet health insurance, and offer any tips that you may have.

Please note: questions or responses to others cannot be published. Share your experiences

Yes, it's worth the peace of mind

Yes, it is worth it if you get the right insurance plan. I purchased pet insurance for Milton and Molly from Healthy Paws and they are fantastic! I recommend getting quotes from several companies and doing research. I bought insurance and one month later, Milton cut himself quite badly. He needed surgery, stitches and hospitalization. They reimbursed my claim at 80%, after a $100 deductible. I may never use the insurance again. But it is there if something unforeseen happens in the future.
—Guest MiltonandMolly

NOTHING BETTER THAN TRUPANION

I work in the vet industry, and Trupanion is the only company I see pay claims. Most are looking for every reason not to pay claims. I have seen Trupanion pay out thousands. They are amazing to work with, and they just added a package no one can compete with. My dog needed hydrotherapy outside our practice which would have cost me $89 a session. I get back $80.10.... I tell all of our clients about Trupanion.
—k9lovers

Get it... I wish I had

I just had to put down a 6-month old puppy that was hit by a car b/c I was looking at upwards of 10K in surgery and rehabilitation costs. It was the hardest thing I have had to do... putting her down was in part to save her the pain, but also in part b/c I didn't have that kind of money to spend. I know that there are many others out there that have had to do this as I just did and it is incredibly sad. This was more painful to me than losing my dog of 11 yrs - I knew that was coming and there were no choices. Here I had a choice and I had to make a horrible one. I won't get another dog for a bit, but when I do, I will get the insurance.
—Guest Paul

Another Option to pay Medical Bills

Find out which policy you would like to purchase and what the monthly premium is. Then, instead of purchasing the policy, FAITHFULLY bank the premium amount every month Do not - repeat -do not - skip a month of paying into the account. Advantage: The money is still yours until you need it, and you won't have to use your charge chard as much with its outrageous interest rate. If you can't pay the entire bill, check with the vet about a time payment plan. Try to get it to be interest free or have a lower interest fee than your credit card. If the vet wants plastic, so be it. But at least you can pay down some of the bill from your special account. You must be very disciplined about this process...never miss paying into the account or paying your vet promptly. We've had almost 15+ cats and have always paid the bill when the service was given. Remember: the insurance companies are in this for the business; why not give yourself the money instead?
—Guest Barb C.

Embrace, Embrace, Embrace -The way to go

I had only been with Embrace not even 3 months when my golden got pancreatitis and we almost lost him. It was over a weekend so he was at the Emergency clinic and then the following Monday at the vets. The bill was close to $3000. We paid it and In the end all we ended up having to pay was the deductible and may be a few more dollars. Embrace's check arrived before my credit card bill came due. This was 6 years ago. I was absolutely amazed how quickly they paid; no questions asked. With another golden prior to this one, I had pet insurance with a company and they were good too but they stopped selling in FL. After them I tried VPI. VPI is the worse. They use a fee schedule. Do not go with a company that pays via a fee schedule. I now have two goldens, one just turned 7 yrs and the other will be 6 yrs in October. Embrace has the best customer service people too. I must have talked many times with the same rep before finally settling on Embrace. They're the best!
—Guest dywfl6

Trupanion not good after all

I had my dog insured with Trupanion since when he was 3 1/2 month old. I had 6 claims one was within the 30 days (I have not claim this one in Trupanion added it when I faxed them all the records for the dog) the claim where anywhere from $12, $15, $22, $30, $70 to $425 (this last one for X-Rays) and they spread over a period of 4 months from the initial insurance date. All of the claims where rejected Trupanion saying that all of the problems he had where pre-existing conditions therefore the is no payment for the claims. When I called to cancel the policy they did not wanted to cancel it and it took me 2 days of calling to finally have the policy cancelled. I have spent more time to cancel the policy than to sign up. This is a company you should steer clear from it. All the best and keep your pets safe.
—Guest Pet Lover

Over 10 years & still on the fence!

All my pets get insured when I adopt them. My cat Kizmet had a BAD eye infection at 6 months old & it saved me money about $400.00. After that I continued to pay over $100.00/year in premiums & never had a claim. When Kizmet turned 10 years old for BASIC Coverage they wanted $300/year! I just couldn’t justify it & cancelled the policy. Go figure my luck 6 months later she was diagnosed with the beginnings of Kidney Failure. Do I regret my decision to cancel the policy – no! 2 years ago I lost my insured 8 year old cat Karley to a brain tumor. I was going through bad financial times then. Within 3 days of vet & ER bills I spent close to $500.00 & drained all my savings. My mom had to pay to have her put down for me. I got maybe $200.00 back about a month later. That $200.00 did Karley no good at the time when she was sick. Having insurance does not open up your bank accounts & create more money available to spend on your pets health care. You still have to live within your means.
—Guest shannonspetsitting

Yes to Good Providers - READ FINE PRINT

I had the AKC Pet Insurance and it was a horrible experience with a deplorable provider. I would never recommend this provider to anyone. When you need to utlize the illness portion of this policy they deny the claims. I had the most enriched policy and it was useless. I lost my sweet boy and the AKC even denied euthanasia which was deemed medically necessary, they denied 3 hospitalization. My suggestion is to Self Fund or check out other providers, the AKC was the worst choice I could have ever made. I thought with the name AKC it was good. It is good for the “GOTCHA” Gimmick – look out for the fine print clauses — many in the AKC. I never thought the AKC would stoop so low, but that is what my experience has been. I have cancelled the AKC and now with a fabulous provider who is NOT THE AKC and WOW what a difference when you are with a creditable providers
—Guest Chloe

Pet Insurance? Definitely!!

Reading some of these comments really hits home because I had the same problems when I was with VPI (8 or 9 years). I tried several of the other companies and was given the run-around with them, too. I can't even tell you how high my vet bills have been over the years with some crazily severe illnesses with my cats, and dealing with the pet insurance companies compounded all the stress because they had horrible customer service and seemed to have no interest in the welfare of the pets insured with them, or their clients who pay the premiums. Around the time I was at my wits' end I learned of Embrace and they became available in my state just as I was adopting a new cat. They are the "Dream Pet Insurance" company - I couldn't ask for more, and am so grateful they came onto the scene. And I think they've influenced some other companies, because some are now working to improve in order to compete. They care about my cats (and me, who pays the premiums), & customer svc is top rate!
—Guest Liz

Fee schedule vs. billed charges

I opted in favor of pet insurance after losing my last Berner girl. As I get closer to retirement I want the security of knowing that $$ will not be the major deciding factor in making veterinary care decisions for my berners. Evaluating the pet insurance choices was a bit overwhelming but I've been very happy with my choice and their claim processing. One huge consideration not mentioned in the post today is whether claims are reimbursed by "fee schedule" or on the basis of the billed charges. Several of the big companies I looked at use fee schedules and at least for California they were grossly inadequate in coming even close to the cost of procedures and care here. 70% or 80% of a fee schedule amount vs. the actual billed charge can be a huge difference in reimbursement and out of pocket cost.
—Guest Kathie

Do Your Homework It can be great

I am very disheartened with what I thought was a respectable insurance provider. The AKC has only provided disproportionate premium increases and not provided a practical product. You pay over a $1,000 dollars in annual premiums on the Wellness Plan; yes they will reimburse you after the deductible for heartworm, annual shots. This does not offset the despicable reimbursements (if any) being with the AKC insurance. They lose submitted claims, the customer service is rude, they pay on a fee schedule which is something unrealistic, and won’t cover hereditary conditions or arthritis, and the processing of the claim is sluggish. The frustration you undergo is incredible being with this provider. I have cancelled this insurance and so glad I did. Now my sweet baby is covered with Embrace, a provider that actually provides customer service, GET THIS even hereditary conditions, arthritis, allows you to customize the plan, reimbursements not based on a fee schedule. Embrace has been FABULOUS
—Guest Dean

AKC Pet Insurance was only an Illusion

I had the AKC Insurance. I was solicited when I got my pup through AKC. How could I go wrong with the AKC. In every way! They have these loop holes to get out of paying claims "per incident" watch out for that. My pup was hospitalized they denied diagnostics, RX's, treatments. Even denied euthanasia. They throw everything into that "per incident" when it factual was not. They had deplorable customer service, lost claims. I thought I had creditable coverage for my pups and clearly it was all an illusion as my experience is with the AKC. They don't cover hereditary illness, arthritis, diabetes, and various other illnesses as well. As I said only an illusion of coverage while insured with AKC. I switched my other pups to Embrace who allow you to customize the policy to your needs and have exceeded every expectation. Pet Insurance is important but you MUST do your homework and research so you don't end up like I did while I was insured with the AKC.
—Guest Dan

Heard of pre-existing condition?

I got my puppy Italian Greyhound 2years ago. She fell from my lap the first day I got her and broke her leg. I didn't have insurance yet and pay the full expenses. Then a week later,I thought it would be a good idea to get an insurance and I did. One week before taking off Lalyla cast ,she broke her femur head ,she was just an active puppy and jump from our sofa. Surgery $ 3000. I felt terrible for Layla but thought at least I had insurance now. After several letters, I was chock to learn that they will not cover the expenses for preexisting condition. They probably try to avoid paying when things happened. Why would I need an insurance that never cover anything just because they are skilled at it ?
—Guest Nicole Teper

vpi insurance

I got my dog from humane society. he is a clumsy little mutt, and broke his leg jumping around first wk. I had decided to purchase insurance. Had it since 2005, went to use it cause my dog's pin in his leg dislocated. Would not pay due to pre-existing. That is the only reason I bought ins. Save your money and invest in flexible spending account for dogs!!
—Guest lauren

Pet Insurance & Vets Exploit Pet Owners

Pet insurance is a crap shoot. So what's the point? The point is to catch you in "gotcha" marketing with an expensive procedure you would never have approved (do you want to keep you house or you want your dog to live forever?) and a huge bill that it turns out—once it’s too late—that you're not covered for. Even the staff at my vet’s tries to make me feel cheap if I don’t automatically approve shockingly expensive advice without question. It looks to me as though the veterinary college and insurance companies are working together to make pet health care as expensive as possible and insurance a necessity. After all, there’s no government body looking at what’s reasonable as far as pet health care goes, and the more they charge, the more you need insurance, and so on and so on…it’s a really unhealthy situation.
—Guest DogMum

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Is pet health insurance worth the expense?

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