WARNING: VERY LONG POST
ONLY READ IF CONSIDERING PET INSURANCE.
INTENDED TO BE HELPFUL
I recently saw a post asking ￼For recommendations￼ on PET insurance. They wanted to know if anyone had a good recommendation. After going back to copy something that I posted mid November, 2019, I was unable to retrace my steps and find the person‘s post to respond to it. So I am Making a public post in all my pet-related groups in hopes that that person will see what I post, and perhaps benefit from my research.
To all admins: If you deem this post inappropriate for your group, feel free to delete it. To the pet Loss grief groups I am a part of, I realize you have just lost your beloved fur child and may not currently need this info. However, considering the fact that many of us have more than one fur baby and that you may now be considering insurance for your remaining family member, especially if your rainbow bridge baby had no coverage and you went up to your neck in financial hardship trying to do all you could to save him or her, you might find this information beneficial. Or, if in the future you open your heart to another, you may choose the pet insurance route this time around. (That was my circumstance.....I lost my heart dog to illness. He was a rescue with pre-existing conditions and a few years on him, so I did not have pet insurance. Thousands of dollars later, four months after his passing, I got another fur baby....and this time decided to acquire insurance.
I spent over a month researching 16 different insurance companies, comparing every possible situation.
Here’s what I found.
You must read the fine print. Firstly, companies handle deductibles in a variety of ways. Some require an annual deductible that must first be met, before any expenses are covered. Other companies require a per condition deductible. Most companies offer you a range of deductibles to choose from, beginning at zero dollars all the way up to $1000. There are some companies that will only pay for accidents and illnesses, and will not cover well care for routine care such as dental’s, vaccinations, spays and neuters, blood work that is done prior to spay and neuters. The theory with these companies, is that if you choose to have a pet, you are already planning for well care and for those incidentals that come with pet ownership. The premise is that it is the unexpected illness or injury that will send you to the poorhouse.
One of the reasons you must read the fine print is that many of the companies I looked into state that they cover “Usual and Customary” veterinary charges. What this actually means is that they have a predetermined amount that they have decided is reasonable. That is the amount that they are willing to pay. The problem lies in that most vets charge above and beyond that amount, so whatever amount your vet bill is above what they consider is reasonable, You end up having to pay. Furthermore, many insurances also exclude breed specific health concerns. For example, boxers tend to have a high incidence of cancer, so some of the insurances exclude cancer in boxers.Likewise, Italian greyhound puppies are known for their frequency of leg breaks. Some of these insurances exclude leg breaks for the first two years of the puppy’s life. Labrador retrievers commonly have problems with hip dysplasia, so many of the companies will not cover that. So if you are considering insurance, be sure to check what their exclusion policies are.
Almost all of the insurance companies, with rare exception but for a very few, will not pay your walk in fee. That is the charge that your veterinarian bills you for the initial exam when you walk in the door. Insurance companies consider that that is a cost that is an expected one, And generally they will not cover it.
The other really important issue to consider and to ask about, is what the company considers their Pay out Cap. Some companies have a per-illness Cap, some have a yearly￼ cap, and some have a lifetime cap. That “Cap” is the total amount that they are willing to pay out for your pet. Once you reach that Cap, they will not pay one more cent and you are left with the rest of the bills... be that for that illness, that year, or your pets lifetime. This is an important consideration in the event your pet suffers from a very high cost disease, such as cancer or an ongoing costly chronic condition.
All of the insurance companies boast that their’s is the best, or highlight the most positive and lucrative part of their coverage. Almost none of them go to the lengths to explain the difference between actual vet bill pay out versus usual and customary payout.￼
I literally called five different vet offices asking what their actual charges would be for various illnesses, conditions, surgeries, and hospitalization fees. None of them fell in line with the usual and customary charges that the insurance companies said they were willing to pay. All of them quoted charges that were significantly higher than what was considered usual and customary.
So beware. This jargon and type of payout can really hurt you in the long run and I would recommend that you not go with any insurance company that only pays usual and customary fees.￼
After much research, I narrowed down my choices to four companies: Trupanion, Nationwide, Healthy Paws and Pet Plan. They all had certain attractions/hindrances. Of those four, I then narrowed it down to two: Nationwide and Trupanion.
I chose Trupanion.
One thing I liked about nationwide is that they had a well care plan. It was their most expensive plan, called whole pet. If you purchase this plan then they did not pay usual and customary, but rather paid on the actual bill. They also covered routine care, vaccinations, dentals, Etc. the problem, however, was that the price for this policy was exorbitantly expensive. If you sat down and actually figured out what your vaccinations and dental’s and well care costs for heart guard, flea and tick meds etc. would add up to be in a year’s time, the extra amount they charged for the whole pet policy came out much more expensive than what those things would add up to be if you paid for them out of pocket. Additionally if you did not get that most expensive plan, then they resorted to paying usual and customary fees, but had no lifetime cap. Regardless of not having a cap, the fact that they would only pay what they determined it was reasonable for any given situation, did not appeal to me.￼￼￼￼￼
Initially I was attracted to the fact that they paid for well care, but after doing the math and crunching the numbers I realized I would end up paying more for my insurance than what those items would add up to be and one of the things I clearly wanted was an insurance that did not have any sort of Payout restriction In the event my pet ended up ever having a serious Chronic illness or a situation where his bills mounted skyhigh.￼￼￼￼
I ended up choosing Trupanion for several reasons. The first was that they did not have a monthly, yearly or lifetime Pay out. The second was that they paid on the actual vet bill and not on usual and customary terms.￼￼
As with most other pet insurances, they do not pay for well care. So things like dentals, vaccinations, spay and neuter’s, heartworm testing, flea and tick medicine’s or heartworm medicine’s, are not covered.￼
￼They have a unique deductible situation, that can be viewed as both positive, or negative, depending on how your pets health plays out in the first several years of his life. Rather than having a yearly deductible that covers all health situations, they have a per illness\per symptom deductible. For instance: if your dog breaks a leg, you would first pay your given deductible for the leg break. Then any charge that ensued after you paid the deductible for that but was related in anyway to that leg break, would be covered for the rest of your pets life. That’s right: that wasn’t miss speak. Any charge related to that leg break, after you paid the deductible, would then be covered FOR THE REST OF YOUR PETS LIFE (as long as you stay insured with them). Now, say three months later your pet develops bloody stool and diarrhea and you take your dog into the vet, Trupanion would once again charge you a brand new deductible for that condition. You would have to pay the deductible that you agreed on in your policy again because it was a “new”condition, unrelated to the leg break. After that deductible is met, you would also have to pay the walk in exam fee. After those items were were paid/met, Trupanion would then pay out the percentage of payout you signed up for (either 70%, 80% or 90%) of the remaining actual veterinary costs of that visit￼￼.
From that point forward, anytime that your dog presented with bloody stool related to whatever the condition was that was determined was wrong with your pet, he or she would be covered with no additional deductible for the lifetime of that condition and lifetime of your pet. ￼￼
In the short side, if you happen to get unlucky and your pet has eight things different from each other that happen during that first or second year, you will end up paying eight separate deductibles, which could be daunting depending on how much deductible you sign up for. So short term, That could really put a pinch on you initially. But if you are planning to insure your pet for your pet’s lifetime, then this is actually quite a good deal. Yes I’m paying a deductible for each condition. But if the condition reoccurs in anyway in the future, you never have to pay another deductible for that condition as long as your pet lives.￼
(Whew! That was a long oration, wasn’t it!!!)
I have a new I.G.puppy. I was terrified he could break a leg—the main reason I insured him.
Thus far, he has not broken a leg. (Knock on wood). ￼
But I want to report that indeed, I have had to use my insurance on my little Enzo already. And not in a small way.￼
With Trupanion, there is a five day waiting period before a person can make a claim in relation to an accident. There is a 30 day waiting period before a claim can be made for an illness. Very shortly after my 30 day waiting period was fulfilled, my little boy began having seizures. He was only four months old. I am now in the process of trying to find out what is wrong with my pup. This has required some very expensive testing and the costs are mounting. My vet bills and emergency animal hospital bills and diagnostic testing bills and blood work bills have come close to $5000 already. Without insurance, I would have had to put my little boy to sleep.￼
I can report that Trupanion has lived up to its claims. Even though my little Enzo had seizures just days after my insurance kicked in for him￼, Trupanion honored the timeline that they promised. Every single interaction I have had with their claims department and their customer service people has been nothing short of stellar. Submission of claims is very easy, and they are paying the percentage of actual vet and hospital bills that I had agreed-upon with them in my policy. They have shown care, compassion, concern, and a willingness to spend as much time on the phone with me as needed. On several occasions I have submitted estimates for things that needed to be done, And within 48 hours they came back to me with approval of those estimates. Some of my bills have already been paid, and some are still in the queue. But I am extremely pleased with how they are handling my situation and I am very convinced that my research paid off and that I chose the company that was right for me.
Everybody’s situation is different and people have different things that they hold as important. But for me, Trupanion was the right choice.
I hope this information is helpful.￼￼￼￼￼￼￼
Below is what I posted in mid November in my Facebook groups. If any of you have a need to discuss your situation or ask questions about my insurance experience, feel free to PM me. I will try to respond to you in a timely manner. Please be aware that I am dealing with a sick puppy right now, so it could take me a while to get back to you.
- - - ￼
￼￼￼ Decision made. Action taken. As of 7:30 this evening Enzo, also known as Zo Zo POP, is covered by Trupanion Pet Insurance. $0 Deductible, Added Recovery and Complimentary Care Ryder. 5 day Accident waiting period/30 day illness waiting period. 90% payout of actual vet bills for accident or illness. We need to Bubble Wrap him until Sunday, Nov. 24th and keep him illness-free until December 19th!
After realizing how much of a dare-devil, risk taker, and fearless personality he has, we decided being safe and not sorry was worth the peace of mind.
This little man is worth his weight in gold.