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I'm considering buying pet insurance for a couple of [healthy, aging] dogs. There are several options and many opinions on the various plans I've looked at so far (and it is getting to be information overload).


Would be interested in hearing feedback from anyone who has gotten/considered it and whether it was worth it (and which plan).
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Hi. I work in the veterinary industry and have handled all the most popular carriers and policies. I can say unequivocally that Purina (Yes, the food brand) offers the best value policies. They are also the most generous in benefit payments.

http://www.purinacare.com/plan_overview.aspx
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Re: NSR - Pet insurance, anyone?
tpring wrote:
Would be interested in hearing feedback from anyone who has gotten/considered it and whether it was worth it (and which plan).
It is worth it if a). You get the policy when they are young so that no Preexisting conditions can be excluded. b). Your older dogs have been healthy and never diagnosed with a chronic condition that would be excluded.

In the link above there are 3 options. Avoid the "Accident only" policy and choose one of the other options. Preventive care plans (covers shots, heartworm tests, etc) will be more expensive per month.

If I had an older dog with no preexistings I would probably choose the plan w/o preventive care. Then you just decide how much of a deductible is affordable to you. The monthly cost of the plan is not very high and is certainly worthwhile if your pouch gets sick.



(Disclaimer - I treat my pets like they were my kids. So, my perspective may be a bit skewed compared to the average pet owner.)
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Re: NSR - Pet insurance, anyone?
Birdsnest wrote:
tpring wrote:
Would be interested in hearing feedback from anyone who has gotten/considered it and whether it was worth it (and which plan).
It is worth it if a). You get the policy when they are young so that no Preexisting conditions can be excluded. b). Your older dogs have been healthy and never diagnosed with a chronic condition that would be excluded.

In the link above there are 3 options. Avoid the "Accident only" policy and choose one of the other options. Preventive care plans (covers shots, heartworm tests, etc) will be more expensive per month.

If I had an older dog with no preexistings I would probably choose the plan w/o preventive care. Then you just decide how much of a deductible is affordable to you. The monthly cost of the plan is not very high and is certainly worthwhile if your pouch gets sick.



(Disclaimer - I treat my pets like they were my kids. So, my perspective may be a bit skewed compared to the average pet owner.)
Would you advise otherwise for felines?

Multiple pet discount / preferred rates?

Is the Purina plan accepted by all veterinarians or are there some exclusions by certain physicians like I've experienced with MetLife and certain physicians in the dental field who opt not to participate in the MetLife dental plan.

Thank You very much!
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The Purina plan is "excepted" (read - handled) by all veterinarians, but understand that all pet insurance (not just Purina) is a reimbursement based product. You will pay the vet and then be reimbursed by the carrier. This too is where Purina excels in that their average claim is processed within 3 business days. It usually takes USPS longer to get you the check, than it does for them to pay the claim.

Cats have a lower average lifetime health cost than canines. But, IIRC it is only on the order of 10-15% lower. I think the monthly insurance premiums would reflect some of that metric.

I don't know if they offer multi-pet discounts.
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FWIW
Just another view, not necessarily mine, from Consumer Reports.


Ask vets about costs. If your pet is prescribed a medication that's also given to humans, compare the vet's price to the cost of filling it at a drugstore, supermarket pharmacy, or big-box retailer. If you're shopping for a new veterinarian, call a few offices nearby and ask what they charge for an annual exam as a gauge of other costs. It can range from about $35 to $46, according to a 2008 national survey by the American Animal Hospital Association.

Skip pet insurance. Our analysis has found most pet owners are better off saving money in an emergency fund.
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Good review IMO
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I'd say that's a pretty poor review. One dog as an example? *Sigh*

Here's what I see, regularly - Dogs and cats with treatable medical issues are euthanized because the cost of surgery or treatment exceeds the owners threshold of acceptable expense. I've never had a client with pet insurance opt for humane euthanasia over a manageable illness b/c of cost.
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post deleted by Salima
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First, I do not have pets because my schedule keeps me away from home much too long to leave a pet alone and I think it would be cruel.

Second, I always thought pet insurance was a waste of money. However, last week I was talking my sister who told me they have insurance for their dog. I was surprised because my sis and her hubby don't have a lot of extra money so I asked why they have pet insurance. She said the monthly premium is affordable, covers routine check ups, and if something significant should happen to the dog they'd be better able to afford treatment. In essence, they are paying upfront for treatment.

That reasoning made total sense to me and I feel it would be tragic or them if they were forced to euthanize the dog because they couldn't afford the treatment. As Salima points out, "...for those of us who do not want pet insurance, we need to be diligent in saving $ for pet care... ."

Just thought I'd share another opinion and maybe someday, I too will have to make the decision to get pet insurance. Someday.
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When I adopted my Italian Greyhound puppy six years ago, I did a fair amount of reading about the breed. Of note was the fact that, as puppies, IG's have very delicate legs which are quite long. They also think they can fly. Their natural instincts allow them to leap and frolic without problems. However, if you pick one up and somehow lose your grip, a broken leg is likely to be the result. Caution was also urged if the dog sleeps with you because you could roll over and break a leg. The cost to repair a broken leg was quoted to be $2,500 each. That is ten grand on all four corners. I did not buy health insurance, although I considered it.

Needless to say, I was extremely careful and, to this day, I do not pick my dog up. I am also very careful in bed because he is right there, preventing any connubial bliss that might otherwise occur.
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I made a little financial review after spending and obscene amount of money on a 10 y.o. cat who suffered acute kidney failure due to poisoning.

I figured there was a 50/50 chance my other cat(s) would succumb to some covered ailment, and I would be out of pocket the money to pay for medical expenses. Buying an insurance policy was a 100% chance I would be out of pocket for a similar amount of money, over the expected lifetime of the cat.

I concluded the option of pet insurance on my younger cats was little more than a "pay now, or pay later" situation. I chose to pay later and buy another scooter.
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What about Pet Carrier insurance???
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A common trend found also...
After a particular heart wrenching experience, I looked into pet insurance. Granted that this was two years ago, I would expect the policies for the plans to be about the same. what i found was:
Many of the pet insurers would restrict coverage for pre existing conditions.
Many of the insurers would write a new policy each year.
Thus if your policy was for January - December and your pet was diagnosed with an ailment in November. That ailment would be EXCLUDED upon renewal in January. So your pet is struck by a car, or eats a sock, or whatever.... if the course of treatment is not concluded within the policy time period, you are back on the hook.

There are a few policies that will cover "Pre-Existing" conditions but typically it is at a premium.

Just my 2 cents, hope it helps.

Chris
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Re: A common trend found also...
Crispy wrote:
Many of the pet insurers would restrict coverage for pre existing conditions.
They all do, and always have.
Quote:
Many of the insurers would write a new policy each year.
Thus if your policy was for January - December and your pet was diagnosed with an ailment in November. That ailment would be EXCLUDED upon renewal in January. So your pet is struck by a car, or eats a sock, or whatever.... if the course of treatment is not concluded within the policy time period, you are back on the hook.
In twelve years working in veterinary medicine I have never ever seen such a thing. I would certainly expect a client would have said something to me by now if this actually happened. I wouldn't think such a a thing is even legal. Do you have a link or reference for that information?
Quote:
There are a few policies that will cover "Pre-Existing" conditions but typically it is at a premium.
Again, no carrier that I am aware of covers preexisting conditions. That is why I referenced starting a policy on young and healthy pooches above. This avoids the preexisting conditions issue.

Dont misunderstand either... I am not an insurance salesmen. I run a veterinary hospital and do accounting/consulting for some other smaller facilities. I'm just a proponent of seeing the wee critters properly cared for. (However a pet owner chooses to do so.) Many of our clients seem to be trending away from debt/credit, and are opting for pet insurance more often than in the past. The vast majority of them seem very content.
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Bird
Many of these policies are/were not true insurances, or are simply operating in the grey area of the insurance regs of at the particular state they are selling in. You will find that many companies have specific policies to each state or area or avoid certain states altogether.
That said, I am not an insurance salesman or benefit in any way from pet insurance industry other than the fact that I have purchased coverage. The plan I chose included "Pre Existing" coverage. Although I was insuring a puppy and there wasn't enough time to have had any diagnosis to be pre existing, I chose the policy in most part because it included this feature. Having looked at several plans at the time as well as complaints and issues for each, the overriding issue was the fact that the animals were covered for the year of their policy, but upon renewal, the illness became preexisting and was no longer covered. Given the particular concerns that I was fearing, Hip/Elbow displaysia, it was the best piece of mind being offered. Unfortunately, loving a breed that has been described as a "cancer magnet" can also bring about certain realities. Hopefully I will never have to make such a decision between treatment and costs, but if I do, I would like to not have finances be the one of them that gets the most attention.
I really doubt that anyone would mind, but out of the respect I have for this board and its member I will avoid posting the name here. I would be happy to PM you the name if you would like.
Chris
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I've done a better job of pet nutrition over the years. Simon (canine) was raised on B.A.R.F. Lots of fresh bones, chicken parts, offal, and fresh veg.
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Crispy wrote:
Although I was insuring a puppy and there wasn't enough time to have had any diagnosis to be pre existing, I chose the policy in most part because it included this feature. Having looked at several plans at the time as well as complaints and issues for each, the overriding issue was the fact that the animals were covered for the year of their policy, but upon renewal, the illness became preexisting and was no longer covered.
Chris,
The point I would make is that what your describing is certainly an exception. In my experience, and not to sound dickish... but *I think* my experience is pretty decent. (I've worked in NYC, Louisiana, Colorado, and Texas.) I have never seen a policy canceled at years end, or rather, have coverage exclusions added at a renewal. VPI, Purina, ASPCAPI, etc, etc... I have processed claims for all the nationals on behalf of our clients, and never seen what you are describing. Shameful that such a thing could occur. I have seen one particular "3-letter-company" squeal like a pig with every big claim submitted, but even they generally come through with a push and a shove after some back and forth. FWIW.
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UTC quote
No offense taken (or meant by me either)

I work for a physicians group, and when it comes to issues with insurances, I have seen my fair share. I usually like to hear what people are complaining about and look for a common trend. I do my best to try to remove any emotion and decide whats what.
2 years ago this seemed to be the common trend.

Here is a quick snag from an Illinois site.... but this is what I was finding at more than several sites when I was looking....

"If my pet develops an ongoing condition, will my pet be covered?

The bad news is that most pet insurance companies handle chronic or recurring illnesses either by limiting your payout or by excluding them in subsequent years.

When a policy renews some pet insurance companies treat all the illnesses that occurred in the previous year as if they were pre-existing conditions. This will probably come as a shock as most people do not expect a health insurance policy to work this way.

When you compare pet insurance plans ask how a long-lasting condition would be handled, whether the reimbursement on the condition would be limited, and whether any chronic conditions could become pre-existing."

The devil is in the details.

It is refreshing to know that this seems to be the exception as you have experienced.


-Chris
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UTC quote
NightWing wrote:
I am also very careful in bed because he is right there, preventing any connubial bliss that might otherwise occur.
Our new IG puppy has taken up nocturnal residence in our bed. We will have to be careful not to roll over our pup.
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