I have a confession.
Like most people on the internet, I have the entirety of human knowledge at my fingertips, and I usually find myself using it to watch cute pet videos.
Whenever I find myself sucked into the videos’ never ending comments section, I can’t help but notice one piece of advice from well-intentioned pet owners popping up again and again:
Get Pet Insurance.
The line of thinking is reasonable enough. At some point, the experienced pet owners will say, your cat or dog will eat something poisonous, blow an ACL while having too much fun at the dog park, or age themselves into a rare disease requiring expensive treatment.
When that inevitable event happens, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars that you signed up for pet insurance.
As someone who recently adopted a dog, this all made logical sense. Right until I looked a little harder.
Breaking Down Pet Insurance
Now, anytime the masses agree in unison about something, I start raising an eyebrow.
When that something is money related, the eyebrow gets raised a little higher. When that something is money related AND on a topic pumped full of emotions, my eyebrow starts to make Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson proud.
For emotional decisions that humans consistently turn into a financial fail, see:
- Home Purchases
- And, dare I say… insurance for cute, furry animal members?
The trouble is, when it comes to emotional topics, natural human tendency tends to override our system. Midway through a rushing dose of oxytocin, dopamine, adrenaline, and serotonin, we feeble humans lose our logical reasoning and replace it with knee jerk, caveman instincts.
A few enterprising individuals spot this business opportunity, and they wedge themselves right into this market. They’ll happily sweep up our money for as long as we nervously throw it on the floor.
When we find ourselves in these potential emotional money traps, our job is simple. We have to go where no couch potato has gone before: spending 5 minutes crunching the numbers.
So, let’s get crunching.
A Quick Review of Insurance
Before you close out that browser because I threw up a headline so boring it’d make your 9th grade history teacher proud, let’s spend two seconds zooming out on the insurance industry.
Here’s how insurance works:
Insurance companies collect mountains of information about different people (or pets!) in almost every situation imaginable. Then, they hire a team of Actuaries, one of the highest paying college degrees.
These math geeks spend all day every day analyzing statistics, running complex math problems, and then carefully setting insurance premiums high enough to pay your expected claims, plus their huge salaries, AND making the insurance company as much money as possible.
The result? 10 people pay the insurance company $1,000 a year. 9 people enjoy peace of mind for a year, and one person faces a disastrous $6,000 bill.
The insurance company pays the $6,000 bill and pockets the leftover $4,000 as profit. And maybe gives their actuaries a fat bonus for doing such a well-calculated job.
This all sounds like the captian obvious explanation of the century, but it’s worth highlighting.
When people say things like, “I don’t want to pay for that expensive procedure!” they’re implying they’re coming out ahead by carrying insurance. Or that they’re in such good hands that their provider pays out claims out of the goodness of their heart.
Not how it works, amigo.
Insurance companies have carefully stacked the deck against you. Much like walking into a casino, you will lose money if you play the game long enough.
For me, this is motivation enough to save up enough liquid assets to handle emergencies myself.
That said, insurance does provide a benefit… sometimes. Peace of mind is a real service, and if it can be had for a worthwhile fee, maybe it’s worth it?
Let’s take a closer look.
Crunchin’ Numbers for The Money Pup
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a LendEdu for Pet Insurance, so I was stuck manually inputting The Money Pup’s information to each insurance company’s website.
Here’s my first quote:
Wow, a little more than I expected.
Before we start math-ing, let’s speed date a few insurance terms:
- Deductible: How much you’ll have to pay out of pocket, before the insurance company starts paying.
- Reimbursement level: listed as a percentage. How much of the total bill an insurance company will pay.
- Maximum Payout: self explanatory – you’ll be responsible for anything above your plan’s maximum payout.
- Premium: how much you pay each month/quarter/whatever your plan’s terms are.
So in The Money Pup’s plan above, we’re looking at $396 a year, minimum.
Now, $396 isn’t bad for total coverage. Not bad at all…
EXCEPT THAT DOESN’T ACTUALLY COVER ANYTHING.
What Pet Insurance Covers
It might be easier to list what it doesn’t cover.
With human insurance, if I’m insured and I visit my doctor for an annual checkup, I pay my $20 copay and get on my merry way.
With pet insurance, even after paying $396 a year, I’m still on the hook for:
- All exam fees
- Medication (heartworm and flea meds alone cost about $200 per year)
- Dental care
- Diagnostic tests
- I could continue…
Looking back through my records, the first 6 months of dog ownership cost me $1,300, and approximately zero of that would have been covered by an insurance policy.
Now we’re getting into the bread and butter of these pet plans. Surely pet insurance has my back here…
So let’s imagine a somewhat worst case, yet somewhat common vet bill scenario.
Imagine ‘ole Money Pup is having a great time at the dog park, when suddenly I hear him yelp a strange noise I’ve never heard before.
Worried, I take him to the vet, who shares the bad news: torn ACL… One of the most common and costly procedures a pet owner could get slapped with.
Without insurance, the standard doggie ACL repair costs about $3,000.
What do my costs look like under the above policy?
- Total Vet Bill: $2,950
- Office Exam Fee: $50 (not covered, remember.)
- Annual deductible: $250
- My 20%: $540
- Amount Insurance Pays for: $2,160 (80% reimbursement, remember?)
- My annual premium: $396
Total out of pocket cost: $1,186
In the one instance where pet insurance might be useful, you’re still on the hook for more than 1/3 of the bill!
(And the number crunching gets even uglier for any of the cheaper procedures.)
But hey, at least the insurance will help you front the money for those expensive bills.
“Yeah, Pet Insurance doesn’t help there either…”
WHAT?? Show me THAT in the fine print…
The Fine Print
Read through the details of these plans, and you’ll find a unique quirk to pet insurance.
It’s all ran as a reimbursement based system. So if you’re carrying insurance because you think it will help you front the money for an expensive vet bill, I’ve got some bad news for you.
The way pet insurance works, you pay the costs first, then submit all your receipts to the insurance company. They him-and-haw over the payment for a while, investigate any reason they could get out of paying you, then reimburse your claims “as quickly possible.” Which is usually about 2 weeks.
And speaking of reasons they could get out of paying you, prepare to put your lawyer reading glasses on, because these guys have all sorts of weird stipulations included in their fine print:
- Claims from a lack of preventative care. Aka, if It’s been 366 days (not 365) since your last vet visit, you’re S.O.L.
- Pre-existing conditions: Even if they’re from before you obtained ownership.
- Certain injuries within the first 12 months of owning the policy: Now they’re just being cheap…
- Certain bone or joint conditions: Why not?
- Parasites: ???
- Diseases preventable by vaccines and medications. Aka, everything?
Okay, pet insurance is starting to look like a racket. A big racket.
Surely we can do better.
Better Alternatives to Pet Insurance
Yes! We can! There are quite a few better options for insurance against animal disaster:
1. Liquid Assets
Liquid assets still remain the ultimate emergency fund.
Index fund holdings can be turned into cash in less than 3 business days. And while human emergencies like job loss could be more likely to happen at a time when those index fund prices are lower, Fido doesn’t really care what the economy is doing when he decides to eat a poisonous berry.
2. Vet Office Payment Plans
If it’s the upfront costs you’re worried about, we already established how pet insurance does little to solve this problem.
Instead, many vet offices will allow repayment plans over an extended time frame. Best to check before Fluffy is laying on the operating table, though.
3. Credit cards
I know, I know, the big ugly. But even a month of full interest on a big vet bill is likely to be the same or less than your annual pet insurance premium.
4. A Healthy Pet
Seems silly at first glance to include this, but a sad majority of cats and dogs are overweight or under exercised, which leads to all sorts of expensive complications.
If your little guy or gal is fat, step up the walks. Whenever he’s chewing on something, always supervise. If he’s aggressive, be smart in situations with other dogs.
What If I Still Want Pet Insurance?
I won’t totally blame you. Because while The Money Wizard’s job is to crunch the numbers and make poker-faced decisions on those numbers, I also share my animals with Lady Money Wizard, who would happily mortgage everything to save her animals, no matter the cost.
And while I could afford pretty much any animal emergency thrown my way, having to fork over a five figure vet bill could cause some serious relationship strain for me.
So I can relate to the desire to pass off some responsibility to the insurance company. I’ll still self insure for now, but if you do decide to go the insurance route, just promise me you’ll run the numbers and find out how much the peace of mind is really costing you.
My final suggestions?
Choose a company who’s inclusion list doesn’t look like a trollface. Nationwide exclusion’s are pathetic, while PetPlan’s coverage and premiums look to be some of the best.
And remember, we’re protecting against that complete freak-of-nature $25,000 bill, not the run of the mill couple hundred dollar procedure.So adjust the maximum payout higher, pick the highest deductible you can stomach, and lean towards the highest reimbursement percentage possible.
You’ll probably lose money in the long run, but you already knew that. 😉
Let me add another reason for pet insurance. Let’s just say, theoretically, that not everyone in our household would decide to spend $5000 to remove Aunt Sally’s eyeglasses from Fido’s stomach.
Having insurance could be a good investment to keeping someone out of the (now vacant) doghouse.
My policy covers 90% after a $1000 deductible for $150 a year. I hope to never use it, but it limits the exposure to an unexpected expense.
The Money Wizard says
Really good point Stephen, and probably the biggest reason I’d consider pet insurance.
That’s a not a bad rate at all. Who’s your pet insurance provider?
Pets Best. Though after reading your article I probably need to study the fine print. It did go up 10% the second year. I guess because our dog aged?
Shree Ziller says
I had pet ins for 6 months! It’s a scam they just delay you and look for stupid nonsense reasons not to pay claims. Check trustpilot reviews and BBB reviews that is where you learn the truth. Yelp tells the truth also if you put in the headquarters location for your search! We are all being scammed and they are getting away with it. All these online ads about who has the best plan it’s a joke!
From my experience each time your dog eats something that it shouldn’t it counts as a separate incident. Therefore, it would only pay costs over your $1000 deductible and only at 90% or 80% of that cost. If your dog eats a tennis ball next week, then it’s a separate incident and you would have to be over that $1000 for them to pay. A swallowed tennis ball cost me $250 at my vet. If it required surgery I’m sure would be more, but even non emergency stomach surgery (gastroplexy) to prevent flipped stomach is under $1000.
I tried ASPCA pet insurance for a year and I will never do it again. I got the insurance so excited and then my dog tore his first ACL within two weeks. They told me that I had to have the insurance for a year before I could use it on ACL. Then, he tore his other ACL a month later. My cheap surgery for one leg was $3,500. The more expensive surgery for the other leg was closer to $6,000. I was so angry. They did reimburse me at least some money on each visit, but it wasn’t enough to justify the cost. Then, when it was time to renew, they upped my rates, because my ACL dog was in the old dog category and had medical issues (i.e., his ACL issues). I was like nope, not anymore. I think it’s a scam.
The Money Wizard says
Wow, I didn’t even think about them upping rates after a payout. That makes the deal look even worse than it already is.
I paid pet insurance for five years or so, then my dog got arthritis and I submitted a few claims (receiving probably less than $200) and my insurance went from $880 a year to $1667 a year. My dog is 12 but that is why I bought insurance years ago. Now I’m afraid if my new premium is $1667 and I submit a claim it again will double and then who can afford a premium of $3200 a year…just saying.
Shree Ziller says
K am so sorry that happened! We are lucky we got out early but we should all warn any pet owners about this so they don’t get sucked into this!
Oscar Quintero says
I got pet insurance because of my dog’s age. I wouldn’t recommend insurance in his young years but definitely consider it once he is older. Early this year, he became very ill (he ate something he shouldn’t have in the backyard) and took him to the ER since it was after hours. I got a $3000 bill. My insurance covered 90% of it and my deductible was $300. I did get some back. At this stage, I had an emergency fund (which I used for the deductible) but I just didn’t want to use it all. I use Trupanion.
My next question would be Trupanion vs PetPlan. Has anyone had any experience with Petplan?
The Money Wizard says
Trupanion looks to be pretty good. On paper, the terms and exclusions definitely looks better than Nationwide’s, and similar to PetPlan. Trupanion’s rates for The Money Pup were some of the cheapest. Definitely in the running if I ever decide to insure.
The big question then comes down to which company is less shady when it’s actually time for insurance to pay up. PetPlan came recommended by some vet friends of mine, and they seem to get decent reviews online. I’d be interested if anyone else has experience with Trupanion, but it’s nice to hear your experience with them was okay.
PetPlan was good when they were still PetPlan. When Fetch by Dodo took them over, rates shot skyward and the fine print got more complicated with more conditions for coverage and excludable situations. The “anniversary increases” are ridiculous. By the time the dog ages into higher utilization, out-of-pocket becomes cheaper than premiums.
Robert P says
I liked Fetch/PetPlan’s broad coverage for the price, but found a mountain of some of the most horrific reviews I’ve ever seen, mostly about raised premiums and frequent denials of claims: https://www.consumersadvocate.org/pet-insurance/c/fetch-pet-insurance-review
Last week I asked the friendly-sounding Fetch agent (who followed up via e-mail about my requested premium estimate) to respond to this mass of terrible reviews and…he has never responded. 😑
Decided against pet health insurance altogether for reasons mentioned in your superb article. Thanks!
Ways To Build Wealth says
You hit the nail on the head with Howe the stack the desk against you. It’s similar to dental insurances where I like to call them discount plans rather than insurance. What’s worse is pet insurance isn’t partially paid for by an employer although some have added it to there benefits packages as a gimick.
Ways To Build Wealth says
Excuse my typos my phone is crazy glitchy and has a 4 second delay with typing for some reason.
Good post! It can be hard to deal with such emotional issues rationally.
As an actuary myself, I totally agree about how the insurance deck is stacked against policyholders. On average, a buyer of insurance will lose money – so I always self-insure when possible. Pet insurance is especially bad, because it’s such a small policy (compared to life insurance, car insurance, etc). Expenses, which tend to be fixed, are higher as a percent-of-premium paid, so policyholder benefits as a percent-of-premium have to be smaller.
Thanks for the actuary shout-out! I’d definitely recommend the career path for someone who is math-minded. It’s tough work, but you’re right that it’s lucrative and is perfect for reaching FI.
Do you have any advice for someone like me who may be interested in changing careers to become an actuary? Is it possible? I’ve always been great with numbers, match, science, etc through school and now into adulthood. Funny story, my grandmother always told me I should be an actuary. But I didn’t go to school for it! I know, I know, grandmother’s know best. Silly me.
I do have a business degree and currently work an office sales job. It isn’t bad, but I know it’s not my true passion. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!
Excellent post, Money Wizard. I’ve been reading the site for a couple months now and this is my first comment. Looking forward to many more.
I’ve been working for around 3 years in the field – but not a manager so I’ve never hired anyone. I think I have a decent idea about the field, but you shouldn’t 100% rely on my opinion.
First of all – it’s possible. I’ve seen engineers, musicians, and biology majors become actuaries. Can you believe an engineer could do it?
Honestly, it might be hard. First of all – there are the exams. You can have a decent career if you don’t pass all the exams, but you should really shoot for passing all 8-10 exams and getting your fellowship. I’d try the first exam (either Probability or Financial Mathematics) to see if spending the next 5-10 years on exams is something you’re interested in. I suggest ADAPT to study for them.
If you can pass exams, I think the hardest thing to do is get the first entry-level job. From there, you can work hard and prove you’re valuable. There have been a lot of people getting into the field in the past 5-10 years due to publicity about the profession, so it’s harder than ever to get the first job. I’d say to get that job, you should pass 2-3 actuarial exams to prove you’re committed and able to get credentialed, as well as networking.
Also having some insurance background may help – getting a job related to the insurance industry, but not necessarily actuarial, would be a good way to get your foot in the door. Ideally you wouldn’t have to do this, but I’ve seen multiple people who couldn’t get an actuarial job out of college go this route and eventually got that actuarial job. I know of one person currently doing this and she actually is able to help my team with a few projects to get exposure, even though she’s currently a contractor in the legal department.
Feel free to share your email and we can get in touch – I’d love to help as much as I can!
Thanks so much for the reply and the information! Very helpful and honest. I have to look at it some more as it would be a big decision and commitment. To start, I may explore something related to insurance, as you said, and see what’s out there. Thanks again!
Mr. Tako says
Yep, as with most kinds of insurance it’s cheaper to self-insure. That said, it’s not easy to fork over that kind of cash when Fido eats something weird… some people might be better-off emotionally with pet insurance. Especially those who are not good at saving.
It’s also worth talking seriously with significant-others about your end-of-life plan for Fido. While not an easy conversation to have, it’s better than arguing about it later.
Hi Money Wizard,
My husband showed this article to me since I️ work in the veterinary field. We actually do a pet insurance “shoot out” annually to try and help people find a good pet insurance company if they feel it is right for them. I️ included the link in case anyone is interested.
As an update, Nationwide has now stopped covering dogs and cats under a year of age. We kind of knew it was too good to be true when they brought it to us, but for now, they still are doing pretty well. Unfortunately, insurance companies suck and will continue to change the rules on everyone periodically.
We personally still go the route of having the emergency fund for our dog rather than pay for insurance, but to each their own.
Thanks for the great website!!
I had 8 pets insured with nationwide at $135 a month for 10 yrs never used it up until last yr [five of our pets were homeless at different times that we took them in] So anyway … we lost our pet 6- 28-19 after running up a emergencey vet bills up to $4000 worth of test to find out what was going on that they never could find out. My pet ins deductable was $500 So weve submited 3 sets of documented claims and yet still hasnt been approved – 4/6 months later 2 of our cats need surgery to extract their bad teeth – $ 1800 per cat also sent documents provided by veternarian specialist to which again the claims were denied or not approved – i like many believed pet insurance was a good thing to have regardless of a few who explained of their denied claims and like many thought well somethings not right that there is a legit reason why their claims have been denied hmmm – funny how some myself included dont believe in the stories of others based on “that hasnt happened too me therefore it must not be true” – until it eventual does happen to you unfortunately Good luck and God bless to all who love & understand the innocents.of those our father in heaven created.
I totally think there are some valid points here but here’s my experience with pet insurance and why i’ll never not have it…
I have an almost 3 year old Frenchie. I love him to pieces but pet insurance is the best decision I’ve made. Different breed insurance prices vary significantly based on health tendencies so Frenchies are naturally more expensive.
However, a quick breakdown of a few of the medical bills I’ve been handed for my pup (and I’ve under estimated).
(Please people do not judge me for being open and honest as I take very good care of my dog!!)
$1,200 for when he climbed onto a chair in the corner of the room and jumped 3 feet across the air to get onto the dining room table and drank my glass of scotch and became drunk as a skunk. (I can’t make this stuff up)
$2,500 for when he ran through the electric fence and was clipped by a car.
$7,000 for when he .. wait for it.. Ate an acorn and it obstructed his intestine and he needed surgery.
~$4,000 for all the misc other trips and tests for things including Giardia, pink eyes, ear infections, Kennel Cough, and worms (Yes he’s vaccinated every year for everything and still got all these things).
Totaling ~ $14,700!!!!
I understand he is a trouble maker and my last two dogs had insurance one used it a several times and one never did.. MAYBE once for a small thing so I supposes one could argue it was a waste for them.
I now pay $60 a month for him (rates have changed a bit over the last 2.5 years I’ve had him) with 80%/$250 with healthy paws (They are an amazing company who is so nice and easy to work with AND covers hip dysplasia which must insrances don’t -god forbid he ever gets that when he gets old).
Which means insurance has covered (minus annual deductibles) $11,010 of his medical bills while I have paid $1800 in monthly payments and $3,690 in medical bills & deductibles so a grand total of $5,490 with insurance payments and medical bills… that’s still a savings of AT LEAST $9,210 over the last 2.5 years!!!
Again everyone’s unique but I can’t imagine not having it for him.
The Money Wizard says
Great breakdown, thanks for sharing! A rare person is going to come out ahead on insurance. Awesome that it’s you! Although you’re probably ready for your Frenchie to chill out a bit 😉
Interestingly enough…when you do the math, even with ALL the things your Frenchie has endured, you’re only just now reaching the break even point on your expected insurance costs for the lifetime of your pet. Granted, I don’t know how old your Frenchie is now (how many years he has left to drink more scotch and eat acorns) but I think we can agree that you’re a particularly extreme case. Pet owners, in general, are far better off keeping a credit card on reserve for an emergency rather than dumping their hard-earned money down the drain.
Sometimes I feel psychopathic compared to most people with pets. I would not shell out $15000 to save my cat’s life. Our cat recently had to have a tooth extracted because of a congenital problem, and I anticipate more such expenses in the future, so I looked into pet insurance. I found this article because, after studying a quote from “the best pet insurance in 2018,” I googled “pet insurance is a scam.”
I could be convinced that ALL insurance is a scam, but this is particularly horrible. It doesn’t provide coverage for the first 12 months, it’s about 5 times more expensive than I expected ($40/month for a healthy 5-yr-old cat – which is almost as much as I pay for my own health insurance!!!), it doesn’t cover preexisting conditions or routine preventative care, and STILL carries an 20% copay and $250 deductible.
Thanks for this article. You gave me the courage and ammo I need to convince my wife.
Well, kitty, I love you but you better hope your teeth hang in there!
Suzanne Cannon says
No one EVER, EVER talks about the fact that pet insurance is a reimbursement only model. You did *mention* it in your article, but this fact alone makes pet insurance worthless. I say this as a very responsible pet owner who has always taken excellent care of my dogs. I thought I was doing the “right” thing when I purchased a pet insurance policy for each of my dogs in the mid 90s. People laughed at me then because pet insurance wasn’t really a “thing” in the 90s – there was only one pet insurance company back then (VPI – which has since been absorbed by Nationwide.)
After 10 years of paying into policies for 2 dogs, one of them became acutely ill with a life-threatening case of pancreatitis. On a Saturday night. So my only option was to take the dog to the emergency hospital.
My total bill was $4000. I was on the hook for the entire amount upfront. At the time, because this is just how life goes, I was also going through a horrendous divorce and my personal financial situation had gone from being wonderful (married to a physician) to horrible (I had to move in with my mom again in my 40s, I had a part-time job, and was trying to get back on my feet financially.) I simply did not have access to $4000 immediately. Also, using the third-party financing option offered by the vet – CareCredit – wasn’t an option because I hadn’t held any credit in my own name, so I was declined.
And there I was – stuck with a $4000 vet bill that I had no idea how to pay. But I had pet insurance!!! Yay!!
Pet insurance DOES NOT PROTECT YOU FROM CATASTROPHIC OUT OF POCKET COSTS but every veterinarian and pet insurance advocate will recommend it to pet owners as if it is the ideal solution. Most veterinarians don’t have pet insurance themselves so they don’t really know how it works. Most people assume that it works like their human health insurance, where they have an affordable out-of-pocket co-pay and then the insurance company interacts directly with the care provider to settle up the remainder of the bill.
Not so with pet insurance.
To me, the whole point of insurance is to protect me from situations like the one I was in. My financial situation had drastically and suddenly changed. I was temporarily without an emergency fund or a line of credit. If pet insurance had been able to pay the vet directly, at their claimed 80% reimbursement, that would have helped me ENORMOUSLY.
But that isn’t what happened.
By the way, my mother had to help me pay that vet bill so that’s how it got resolved in the end, and I paid her back over time. Many pet owners don’t have the option of turning to a family member for financial help, so they end up being forced to surrender their pet or euthanize.
Neither of these things should EVER have to happen simply because a pet owner doesn’t have all the money upfront, especially when they are capable of paying over time.
I did end up submitting the claim to my pet insurance provider. The reimbursement process took 10 weeks. It is faster now than it was then, but it still usually takes longer than advertised (it usually isn’t a 2-5 day turnaround, especially with larger claims where you will repeatedly be asked to provide further documentation to verify your claim.)
When I finally received the reimbursement check, it amounted to about $1,800 due to the company’s benefit schedules and allowed maximums. That is less than 50%. Not the 80% reimbursement that the company claims.
After that experience, I dropped my policy because pet insurance was really no “insurance” at all.
10 years later I started a company that allows veterinarians to outsource management of in-house installment payment plans. This results in better payment compliance from pet owners, and vets don’t have to spend time acting as a lending institution. My company sets up the contracts, drafts the payments, remits payments to the vet electronically, and provides all follow-up on problem payments, along will full collection services if a pet owner defaults. Our primary goal, however, is to proactively help pet owners stay on track with their payments.
The name of the company is VetBilling, and in addition to managing veterinary installment payment plans, the Pet Savings Account option we offer is a positive alternative to pet insurance.
I started all of this after pet insurance utterly failed me, because it is, essentially, a scam. Its failure to actually *really* help desperate pet owners is probably why only about 2% of pets are insured in the U.S.
Pet insurance has been around for over 30 years. 2% is a pretty dismal market penetration rate. Deservedly so.
So, who is pet insurance for? For those pet owners who can already afford to pay the full upfront cost of a veterinary emergency, and who can afford to wait days to weeks to get *maybe* 80% reimbursed – if all the stars align correctly.
If that doesn’t describe you, then don’t bother with pet insurance. Take the amount you’d pay as a monthly premium and put it into a pet savings account instead.
Thanks for the excellent article. I am looking at the way Veterinarians run their practices and it seems getting people into insurance plans is a great way to keep care costs artificially high. It is also very unsettling that it is basically becoming illegal to shoot Old Yeller or alternatively let it wander off and die, because the Veterinary Associations have lobbied that refusing care and letting nature run its course is neglect and that any procedure (even life-saving) not performed by a Veterinarian must be animal cruelty, therefore you must come to us for all your “high quality veterinary services,” (Like accupuncture for dogs!). I am not saying people should be shooting their dogs all willy nilly or performing complex surgeries, but to say that a dog needs what humans need for medical care is making it so there are no middle options without arguing with your vet. They come at you with the $6000.00-10,000.00 care plan and you have to whittle down for an hour while your dog is held hostage and bot being treated to get the $300.00 care plan that lets your dog live comfortably enough until it dies, or we offer Euthanasia much cheaper for $275.00 (plus a $45.00 fee, taxes, and shipping and handling charges) and you are going to have to come back anyway for that eventually because we half-assed the work we did (Muahahaha!!!).
Editorial side-note: “Hem and Haw.” Antiquated phrase, happens to the best of us!
Please reconsider recommending PetPlan insurance to folks. If you haven’t lived with dealing with them, then please don’t recommend them.
I have had at least 7 pets insured with PetPlan for the last dozen years, and I now unequivocally recommend AGAINST PetPlan. Since they went with a new underwriter in 2017, they deny claims right and left for ridiculous reasons. Their premiums have sky rocketed. Their “deductible” is a scan. For instance…say you chose a $300 deductible, with a 70% reimbursement. And you submit a $1000 claim. One would think that you would get a (let’s assume all claims are valid per PetPlan, which is not likely) $490 check. ($1000, less $300 deductible, then multiply by 70%). No, that’s not how they do it. Instead, they first take 70% of $1000, then subtract your $330 deductible. So, you get a check for $400. Very unlike human insurance deductibles.
They will tell you one thing on the phone, then when you file claims, they pull a reason out of their ***s for not reimbursing you. This has all started with their new underwriter.
In the last 12 years, they have always told me that I can submit a claim anytime during the premium year, so I would save up the claims. Now, they are holding to a 90-day limit on time after a visit to submit a claim. I called and they told me that even though this 90-day requirement has been on the terms for many years, they didn’t enforce it until recently. Yet, they don’t notify us of their new “policy”.
And when your pet gets to be a senior…look out, because your premiums will go through the roof. And then, it is impossible to get other insurance because they are seniors with many pre-existing conditions.
DO NOT get a policy with this company. They will now try to find any way they can to not pay you. I advise that you simply self-insure, save up money each month and sock it away, instead of paying premiums to PetPlan.
Em Grazier says
I’m with pet plan…I have 2 bull terriers insured with them, one ate snail pellets last year and I made a $400 claim. His premiums went up from $100 to $134 a month. My female had a $4000 operation due to eating a collar and getting an obstruction, so I’ll be interested to see how much hers goes up to. They also wouldn’t cover any creams when my boy got an allergy, but did cover the consult. It’s nearly $3000 a year, I think I’ll cancel and just put the money aside
I have had Embrace insurance for one year and the renewal price is 25% higher! I did not file any claims. The company said it is because of his age, he is 9 years old. I spooke with several representatives who said they could not predict future increase amounts. I asked them to give a possibility of the amount. A supervisor and a representative said 25 to 35 % each year. With a monthly premiun of $27.99 and using the 25% yearly increase, at age 15 his premiun would be approx. $104. At 35% increase, age 15 cost is approx. $170 month and age 19 approx. $564 month. My new premium is about $49 month. A supervisor calculated for me by age 15 at 25% increases, I would pay $189 month premium. Pet Plan said their increase is about 10 % and sometimes there will be a big increase.
I have two cats that are 13 and 11 years old. The 11 year old has pre-existing chronic kidney disease and 10 teeth that need to be pulled. I am worried about the older getting sick and both of them coming down with expensive medical treatments due to old age related ailments. At this point, I was wondering what are people’s opinions on whether it would be better to get pet insurance or self-insure?
Pet insurance is all Bullsh**! The older your pet gets the higher the premiums! Now the insurance charges you extra for preventive care insurance, which still doesn’t cover lab work or other costs associated with wellness care exams. After spending over $1560 for one year on the premium payments ($130 per month), I still won’t get reimbursed for the $1600 on the dental work for my 14 year old dog. It was considered a preexisting condition. Nor will they reimburse the full $433 for the initial exam because they only cover up to $50 for the wellness exam. so I just paid $2033 -$50= $1983 for his procedure and PLUS $1600 for the annual cost of the insurance, so at then end I ended up paying $3583 for my dogs insurance and vet bills. I looked into LOTS of other insurance policies and they are all pretty much the same. The only one that looked almost decent was Pets Best which is owned by Progressive, they cover lab work and medications. I do think that it’s best to put money into a separate account each month and pay any emergency with a credit card. Until pet insurance gets better in their coverage and aren’t acting like car insurance policy, then I’ll consider pet insurance coverage again.
pet insurance is a scam…don’t forget to mention the escalated monthly premium as your pet (dog) ages up. my provider is Nationwide, they are the absolute worst. terrible industry, literally doing the opposite of what they pretend to be – no peace of mind, no indemnity in the event of injury or illness