Pet Insurance - YES - this is a real thing, and a very important one at that! However, we have found that researching the topic and finding a reputable company with a product that is right for you can be overwhelming. There are so many companies touting that they are “the best,” “the most economical,” or “the most trusted.” But how can we be sure these claims are true? Which company is the best for you and your fur baby? If you have ever dealt with a “human” insurance company, you know how complicated things can be. Without proper research and guidance, you may end up with too little coverage OR paying too much for coverage you do not need.
First things first - any type of Pet Insurance does provide you with the peace of mind that your pet is protected should the unexpected happen. All pet owners know that things can go wrong at a moment’s notice. We can all easily picture any of the following common scenarios - Fluffy jumps off the bed and now she is limping, she sticks her nose in a beehive, she eats a bone off the street etc., etc.… Suddenly you are rushing your precious baby to the Veterinary Emergency Room and if you don’t have pet insurance, you better be ready to whip out your credit card because MRIs, X-Rays, IVs and Oxygen Cage Care will cost a pretty penny. However, no price is too high for your best friend who you can not imagine letting go of and we all want to be able to make a humane decision for their care based on what is best for Fluffy and not how much it costs.
As we shared earlier, when we researched pet insurance plans, we found an overwhelming number to choose from and the language was often intimidating and confusing. Because we know the value and importance of a good pet insurance plan, we are going to try to simplify some of this information for you. The bright side of having to sift through so many dog insurance plans on the market is that there IS a plan to suit your needs and budget, provided that you can make heads and tails of the plethora of information. In addition to standard routine care plans, there are even plans that cover accidents, illnesses and advanced medical care for things such as cancer - so a good insurance plan can give owners much relief.
As with most purchases, the first thing to consider when signing up for pet insurance is your budget. Unfortunately, this is a not as straightforward as it seems. The cost of pet insurance varies depending on what is included in a policy, co-payment and deductible as well as gender, age and breed of your pet. Policies can also factor in your geographical location and the cost of veterinary care within your region. Thus, what you really need to consider is what you are paying now for care or what expenses can come up in the future (i.e. surgery, medication) vs. what you would pay for a monthly premium.
We have found that the best way to educate yourself is to visit a pet insurance plan website and input different scenarios to determine what the overall costs might be. Let’s use Eva’s boy Oliver as an example. We arbitrarily picked Trupanion Insurance Company and input the following description – male, Labrador retriever, 8 years old and living in the 11215 zip code (Park Slope and surrounding area in Brooklyn New York). We then got three different quotes depending on our preferred deductible. For a $0 deductible, the monthly premium is $379. However, if we were willing and able to pay the first $200 of the vet bill, the price decreased to $219 per month. For a $700 deductible, the monthly cost for Oliver would be $120 per month.
We then manipulated the quote by using a different zip code and the prices completely changed. For example, when we input our Countryside Dog Camp zip code for Union Dale, PA (which is located in Northeast Pennsylvania - literally in the middle of nowhere) and kept all other variables the same, monthly cost with a $0 deductible dropped from $379 to $257 per month. For a $200 deductible the premium decreased from $219/month to $149/month and for a $700 deductible it went from $120/month to $82/month. By the same token, if we could magically make Oliver younger, the monthly premium was less expensive. Likewise, if he was a different breed, the monthly cost would also decrease since Labradors are known to have certain health concerns such as hip issues and seizure conditions.
We hope that our exercise was helpful for you to understand how and why the cost of pet health insurance can vary. Now the question is - what company has the best ratings and anecdotal evidence proving follow through and pay-out when your furry child ends up with a hefty veterinary bill?
Looking at ratings of various companies according to Consumers Advocate and Pet Insurance Review, Healthy Paws has the highest ratings. This information coincides with reviews from a sizeable closed dog owners Facebook group that Eva belongs to. Many dog owners in this closed adoption group have Healthy Paws Insurance for their dogs and they are satisfied with the coverage, cost and service. According to this group and to online reviews, Healthy Paws responds quickly to claims and pays out fast and without much fuss. The rates are reasonable - even better than several of its competitors - and the coverage is generous. Available plans cover most situations except for pre-existing conditions, preventative or routine care, spay/neuter and office visits/examination fees. Petplan, Nationwide and Petfirst are other insurance companies that rank high both according to Consumer Advocate and the closed dog owner Facebook group.
In closing, the best advice that we can give is to visit the websites of these top ranking insurance companies and input different scenarios for your pet as we did. Do your research, ask questions, read reviews and then sign up for pet insurance! It will give you great peace of mind and financial relief should the worst happen.