As the cost of veterinary services continues to rise, it is a good idea to at least consider purchasing pet insurance. My brother's yellow Lab needed surgery on both of his knees at the age of 5, and it cost about $3,000.00 per knee. My neighbor's dog needed disc surgery which cost about $8,000.00 and one of my client's dogs needed spine surgery which was $9,000.00 for the surgery and thousands more for rehabilitation. These amounts can place a strain on a family's budget and even have some families facing some very tough decisions.
When I brought home my first dog, Brittany, a Dalmatian, I didn't really research the available pet insurance options. Luckily Britt lived a relatively healthy 15 years and chronic health concerns were not an issue until the last year or so of her life. However, it was then that I learned first hand what Britt's health insurance plan really provided, and more importantly what it did not cover. The biggest surprise was that each year the plan issued a new policy, and any condition Britt received treatment for in one policy year was considered a pre-existing condition in the next policy year. So, if she had developed a chronic condition or cancer, etc., the longest period of time that the plan would pay would be until the end the current policy year. Moreover, the plan had a yearly deductible and then only paid 80% of the preset amount for a particular veterinary service, not the actual cost. It also had caps on the amount it would pay out per incident as well as per policy year.
So, when I brought home my English Golden Retreiver, Storm, I really did my homework about the available pet plans. There are so many plans to choose from and it is a chore to compare them because they all offer different types of coverages. The best place to start is at www.petinsurancereview.com, that's where I began. They summarize the coverages of all the plans and rate them as well. In order to know which is the best plan for you, you first need to know what services you really want to cover. Do you want coverage for routine care, everything, or just the big expenses.
I decided that I just wanted coverage for the situations where the veterinary care could become very expensive. I selected the 3 plans I felt were the best and then called each basically interviewing them about their coverage. I eventually decided to purchase a plan from Trupanion, and here are the top reasons I selected them:
1.They offer one all inclusive plan for only accidents, injuries and illnesses;
2. They cover 90% of the actual veterninary bills no matter how many claims you submit;
3.The coverage amount per incident and per year and for the life of the dog is unlimited, they do not cut your coverage once a certain dollar amount is reached;
4.The coverage does not renew every year, so if there is a chronic, ongoing condition or illness, they will provide coverage for the treatment for the life of the dog;
5. You can adjust your monthly premium by choosing a dedectible ranging from $0 to $1,000.00, and the deductible only has to be paid one time per type of illness for the life of the dog;
6. They offer coverage for hip dysplasia for an additional cost;
7. They cover any service that is used to diagnose or treat the illness or injury, for instance, blood work, x-rays, MRI, special food, etc.
8. The premium does not increase as my dog ages. You are locked into the age bracket price at the time you enroll. However, it can increase due to inflation I was told. I enrolled Storm the day I brought him home to lock into the lowest rate.
9. In light of the benefit, the premium seemed reasonable. I chose a $0 deductible with the hip dysplasia coverage and the premium was $41.23 a month. Without the hip dysplasia coverage it would have been $34.99. With a $50.00 deductible it was $39.95, and with a $100.00 deductible it was $37.93. But the deductibles go up to $1,000.00, so you can probably reduce your monthly premium by a lot if you go with a much larger deductible.
There is a one time $25.00 set up fee, and from the date of enrollment a 5 day waiting period for accident/injury, and a 30 day waiting period for illness.
I hope this takes away some of the mystery of pet insurance and helps you to make an informed decision on the behalf of your family and best friend. Feel free to forward this article to all of your pet loving friends and family, the more people that are informed the better. For all you cat lovers, Trupanion also offers plans for them as well. If you decide to go with Trupanion, tell them I sent you...maybe they will throw me a bone.
Mark T. Freeley, Esq. - www.NorthShoreInjuryLawyer.com