I am often asked, “what is the best pet insurance.” Pet insurance in general seems to be a controversial discussion. The best pet insurance of 10, or even 5 years ago, is not the one that I would recommend today.

Ten years ago most insurance companies would use the term hereditary condition based on breed.. That is definitely not the case today.

What is the Best Pet Insurance Today?

I still get people who feel too many things aren’t covered, or that the insurance companies are in cahoots with the veterinarians. The last statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

Who Benefits?

The benefit for the veterinarian is that clients are more likely to treat their pet for conditions that in the past they couldn’t afford. This makes the cost of treatment not the concern for the owner, but what is best for the pet and the owner.

What are the Costs?

Consider this – an MRI costs between $3,000 and $4,000 at a referral hospital (and remember, the pet has to be anesthetized for this, which elevates the cost). With pet insurance, after you hit your deductible, you only pay your co-pay.

The cost of treatment is no longer the primary concern of the pet owner, but what is best for the pet AND owner.

What is Covered?

The other complaint I hear is, “they don’t cover anything.” Just to be clear, no insurance company will pay for pre-existing conditions – none. If your dog had a skin infection, that will be considered a pre-existing condition. Insurance companies are likely to call these allergies, which would make any skin or ear infection fall under same umbrella.

Not fair you might say, but insurance companies have to protect themselves from what they feel are pre-existing issues.  Some insurance companies can review your records to see what might not be covered once you sign up for their plan.

No insurance company will pay for pre-existing conditions – none!

What is recommended?

The best recommendation I can make is to get an insurance policy early in your pet’s life. I often say to my clients on puppy visits that your pet is likely never healthier than on its first visit to the vet.

In a lot of veterinary clinics, if the vet gives you a promotional sheet from companies such as Trupanion and PetPlan and you activate that promotion within 24 hours, you’re covered for 30 days of free insurance.

I tell my clients to take the 30 days to look around at other companies. Then if something happens in that 30 days your covered.

…30 days of free insurance if you receive a promotional sheet from Trupanion or PetPlan.

A True Lifesaver

There have been numerous times when this has been a life saver. I can remember one client’s dog she adopted from a shelter – a Dachshund – the dog had a disk herniation and couldn’t walk. The cost of MRI/Surgery and hospitalization was around $8,000. Without insurance this pet may have been returned, or worse, euthanized.

Or the time a puppy ate a foreign body and wound up in the emergency clinic for surgery. Now I know some of you won’t be swayed by what I’ve said here. For those of you, I say that if you’re not going to have insurance, have another plan, because no one wants to have to face the situation of paying for your mortgage or paying for your pet’s broken leg.

If you’re not going to have insurance, have another plan.

I tell my clients who choose not to have insurance to take whatever money you would have spent on insurance and open a savings account for that pet. Then deposit that money in the account on monthly basis. If you never have to spend it, go on a trip to Hawaii with the family. But if you ever need it you won’t be in as tight of a financial bind as you would have been without it.

Choosing the Best Pet Insurance in 2019

There are lots of companies out there and this is not meant to be an endorsement of one particular company. One web site that breaks them all down is Pet Insurance University which offers details on what’s covered and what is not.  It also has a link to reviews and the different insurance company websites.

Also remember, not all insurance is created equal. If one seems much cheaper than another, look carefully at their exemptions and what they won’t cover.

VET TALK

Monthly Vet Tips
Dr. Stacey Kilcullen DVM

photo of veterinarian stacey kilcullen in her white professional outfit holding maltese

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