Pet health insurance...does anyone here...?

jannaz_gwDecember 20, 2012

Does anyone here have it? Is it worth the cost? Easy or difficult to submit claims?

I'd value your opinions. We're thinking of buying it, but would like to hear from people who've had some experience with it first.


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Yes, we have Trupanion. As they say NAYY...

Weve had it for over 2 years, after my daughter's dog was diagnosed with lymphoma and underwent chemo. That experience cost just about $10,000 US, and made us realize that there are now so many medical treatments available for our pets that we'd hate to be caught on the "too expensive to be able to afford" dilemma.

At the time we had a 12 year old and an almost 7 year old dog. The premium is based on age and neuter status and deductible amount, which you can choose. We chose $1,000 deductible per illness; our feeling was that we would be able to afford that amount to expend to keep the premiums lower. As I recall, our premium was cabout $45/ month for both dogs.

Several months after, our older dog became ill. after several doctor's appointments and tests, it was determined that she was diabetic. With Trupanion, you pay the bills as they come, but then submit a form, which the doctor or vet's office fills out, to Trupanion. Once the bills submitted meets the deductible (office visits themselves are not covered, nor are well-visits or shots, but any tests, meds or special foods are) Trupanion pays 90%of the covered charges, including her insulin and syringes.

Shortly after the diabetes diagnosis, Katie had additional difficulties which required her hospitalization in a specialized hospital with all the attendant MRIs, ultrasounds, X rays and meds. This hospitalization alone was over $4000, but with the insurance, I only had to pay little more than $1000- it was considered a new illness as it had a new diagnosis.

More recently, my daughter's cat was diagnosed with a thyroid problem. After her dog,s illness, my daughter took out insurance on her older cat and eventually her new dog. My daughter has a $500 deductible, but her bills for the thyroid diagnosis ar now covered, as well.

It was wonderful to be able to say to the doctors to go ahead and do whatever she needs without having to worry about the cost.

I am a proponent of insurance for our pets. It has become an economic necessity if we want to provide quality care for our pets.


Here is a link that might be useful: Trupanion

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 1:36PM
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yes, we have it on our 2 14yr old furgirls (VPI vet pet insurance), they have had it all their lives. It has become about $100 ea month for the two. I will admit my DH has said for a few yrs we would be better off just saving that $$ aside then paying VPI. BUT My Sandy did end up needing major surgery last Jan for a huge tumor on her spleen that turned out to be non-cancerous! We spent about $5000 and got back about $4000. you do have to pay the vet up front, few if any take insurance. For me it's peace of mind but unless you have lots of health issues it may not be worth the $$. ~ liz

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 2:24PM
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I have Trupanion. I pay $121 a month for my 3 cats with a $250 deductible, though I am thinking of raising that to bring the monthly cost down. Now that I think about it, I pay more for their insurance than my own!

It's really hard to say. You could easily end up throwing away thousands of dollars by never using it, or you could save yourself a lot of financial hardship and heartache if a pet develops a problem. I suppose that's the nature of insurance though! You just never know.

It's worth it for me for peace of mind as I am the type that would bankrupt myself to save a pet.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 3:50PM
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I have Trupanion for my 2 year old lab and so far it has come in very handy. I pay $42 a month and that includes coverage for hip dysplasia which labs are prone to. The claims are processed very quickly ( one week) and coverge is 90%. I wish I had it for my previous labs.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 4:19PM
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I'd be more apt to consider it if it covered annual check-ups, tooth cleaning, shots, etc. Although, now that our almost-13 Westie requires prescription canned food at $2.75 a day... No, it's still not a good deal at this stage.

None of our four Westies had extensive problems until they were within a year of the end of a normal lifespan. (One died at nine of an inoperable cancer of the tongue.) I wouldn't want to fight a natural death for an animal any more than I want it myself.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 11:27AM
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I haven't considered insurance for The Boys, (Harry and Sam) but they get far better health care from a more caring medical team than I do. There's no treatment or care they've had that I think the insurance would cover or save any of the bottom line expense.

They have the yearly exams, all the shots, flea and tick protection meds, and other visits as the needs arise. Harry takes a daily joint pain supplement and Rymadyl (sp) on occassion.

Harry had a minor surgery a few years back to remove a fatty lump on his skin. It was benign and hasn't returned. He's had his teeth cleaned a couple of times. The last time we had his hips x-rayed while he was under to check on the progression of his arthritis. He's "normal" for his age and activity level.

He's had antibiotic treatments three times for various infections - double pnemonia, food poisoining (Yes; we learned dogs can get food poisoning. It wasn't anything from our house.), and a "sore toe" infection that spread up the lymph nodes of his leg.

For such a wild and healthy dog, he has had a few issues! LOL He had to go under another time after wedging a 1" diameter, 2" long piece of dried cattail stem way up his nose. We couldn't even see it, but he kept sneezing and shaking his head and had snot pouring out until we could get him in the next morning. The vet cracked up laughting once he "found" it.

Sam had to be put under so the vet could clean and close a deep and long tear on his chest wall. He got it running through old, coiled barbed wire fencing at about 100 mph. Wire fences encountered on his 3X week wild prairie runs/hunts, of 10 miles or more, has been his biggest problem.

We take care of the daily upkeep needed for two extrememly active hunting dogs. Ear cleaning and bathing is a constant task. They get the best food. But there's no way I could afford a major cancer treatment for them. Financially nor emotionally. I could not explain to them why they were in the pain and I couldn't bear their pain and confusion.

My boys know I love them. If we're fortunate they'll go out many, many years from now - while out hunting on the open prairie with Papa, at a full run, and with some trophy held high in their mouths.

I pray daily that they live long, healthy lives. I know they're happy. If the time comes that they are in untreatable pain and I must have the vet intervene, I will find the strenght to let him do it.

I'm sorry for all the spelling errors; I've been under the weather myself - and the vet says he's not allowed to treat me, insurance or not.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 12:28PM
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We have Trupanion - but we are Canadian. Trupanion used to be a Cdn. company called Vet Insurance - that was trying to move into the U.S. - but in the end bought a U.S. Company and now is headquartered there. We took out the insurance when our dog was 15 months old - we initally did not take it out because the plan DID NOT (at the time) cover hip dysplasia. Now the plan does BUT NOT for existing clients. Imagine paying premiums for 6 years and your dog develop dysplasia - you are not covered, but someone who signed up 35 days before is. People were very annoyed but with pets who were 6 years old, up the creek. Originally deductibles were not part of the plan. Now of course they are. Our original premiums were $32.00 a month plus our Cdn. taxes. Now they are $75.00 a month - and the increase to $75 happened before we ever had a claim - which did not happen until May of 2011 when our dog developed what was thought to be conjunctivitis but was really an ulcer in the making that in turn became an abscessed cornea. He is a white dog with perfectly clear eyes so we caught the problem day one. We had our most recent appointment with the board certified eye specialist in Nov. of 2012. The "crud" of course is still in his eye. So in addition to our monthly premiums of $75 we have been seeing the eye specialist every 4 months for nearly 1 1/2 years - this after constant treatments with our regular vet. NOTE - RECHECKS ARE NOT COVERED. So if the bill is say $125.00 plus taxes - we receive about $22.00 back (taxes are not returned). I wanted surgery at the beginning - used to have Dachshunds who had full body back surgery - and this happened with my 2 special guys - so I felt cursed. It would have been far cheaper. In retrospect, we would have been far further ahead to have had a bank account for our guy based on his excellent health until the eye problem. Cost wise this has cost us thousands. I called Trupanion after the most recent e-mail regarding adding prescription food, behavior modification etc. to the plan to ask how much this was going to cost us - even though we won't be able to use it. Our dog does cost us a lot of money with check-ups, vaccines etc. - plus dentals. His dentals usually run about $1,200 - and of course are not covered. Many people at the specialist's office have pet insurance and all feel the same. I did call when I heard about the addition of hip dysplasia - our dog does not have it - and asked if it could be added for existing clients whose dogs have never exhibited any signs of the health issue - and who have not submitted any claims. They said they were looking at grandfathering it, but didn't. Also watch the hospitalization issue - although these days you are lucky not be sent home the day after heart surgery. If you are hospitalized for 4 days, the plan will pay for boarding of your dog - EXCEPT my husband and I are both shown as our dog's owners. Since he wouldn't be in the hospital - he could be travelling - at work - visiting me in the hospital etc. - Trupanion would not pay since he would be available to care for our dog - and vice versa. This happened to someone else. So put the insurance in one person's name and hope. Our dog will turn 9 next April - so obviously we are not about to cancel the policy. He will also most likely be our last dog. In the event that the worst should happen and he die prematurely (his breed often lives to be 18) and we did get another dog, it would be a senior dog and we would not take out insurance or go to extreme measures. Each person has to decide what to do. Our breed of dog is known to be healthy if you adopt a standard size as opposed to one that has been mucked about with so that the dog weighs 5 lbs. as opposed to 25 lbs. And this has been the case. Every day I check his eyes - next appointment will be in 6 months, unless something happens. I do believe in pet insurance - BUT - not when they change the plans to attract new customers and leave the existing customers out in the cold. In Canada we do not have the variety of plans offered in the U.S. so I would do some checking. Look at the LIFETIME COVERAGE of a condition (much like kids' braces); the annual MAXIMUM per condition - some plans will pay say $1,000 annually for a broken leg - but a broken leg will cost you a lot more than $1,000 to have fixed - that type of thing - as well as the regular deductible and any breed specific deductibles and general deductibles. Also, exactly what is covered - and if they stop covering certain illnesses whether you will be grandfathered - not necessarily so as my vet found out with her pet. Our dog is more likely to develop Patellar Luxation or tear an ACL - so far so good - and supposedly we would be covered since he does not have a prexisting condition.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 1:34PM
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Wow. Thank you all for the most helpful information. I'm going to print it out and have DH look it over. Both our dogs are getting old and developing all sorts of health issues. At a minimum of $200 almost every time they see a vet, we are very concerned about our ability to pay.

From what you all have said, I'll need to look very closely at any plan before deciding.

Many thanks,

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 12:17PM
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One thing to keep in mind is that I haven't seen any plans that cover pre-existing conditions, so if your dogs are developing health problems already, any chronic ones or repeat ones won't be covered. Mine requires vet records for the previous 18 months and they ask the vet if it is a new condition or if it had developed already.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 3:05PM
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