The reality of having a dog in my life soon is really sinking in. I’m already researching foods, training, beds, and toys again since I’ve been out of the game for a while. More on all that to come. The biggest thing on my mind lately is pet insurance. It’s certainly come in handy in the past. And with active dogs or even young/mischievous cats it’s probably a good idea to invest.
It works a lot like health insurance for humans except that you pay out-of-pocket up front, then get reimbursed for all or a portion of the costs after you submit a claim. There are many different plans and exemptions for pre-existing conditions and all that malarkey that comes along with insurance. It’s really difficult to decide which one will be right for you. I’ve used VPI with some success. While it was frustrating at times (seriously- I have to FAX something??! what the hell is a fax machine??!!)* it’s definitely worth it in the end for all those times your cat gets into something she shouldn’t or your dog runs into a rock and breaks his foot or you want to be rewarded for actually putting your pets on heartworm preventatives. All of those are true stories, by the way.
The trickiest part is deciding which insurance to choose and which plan works best for you. VPI offers varying levels of coverage for both cats and dogs and I think offers a multi-pet discount. There is even a cancer option for older pets or those who are overly cautious. Their rates are pretty good but I found the overall coverage somewhat lacking. After some research, it appears as though they have revamped some of that but I’m still a little skeptical.
The other plans I’m evaluating are PetPlan, ASPCA, Embrace, Healthy Paws, and Pet’s Best. The guidelines I’m using to compare prices are: annual deductible of $100, coverage for emergencies and illness, and 90% reimbursement. Any other features are an added bonus like money or discounts for heartworm medications and annual vaccines. I’d also like to keep my monthly payment between $25 and $35. I immediately eliminated Pet’s Best because they only have per-incident deductibles and I prefer annual deductibles. With the number of times you could be at the vet per year, you may as well just pay the whole thing if you have to meet a deductible each time. ASPCA was too expensive for the amount of coverage they offered and they only reimbursed up to 80%. Embrace definitely seems to have the best coverage but is also the most expensive and actually prices itself out of my desired range. VPI doesn’t have a percentage for coverage, they have a highest amount covered and this is where I think the problems/confusion starts. You think you’ll get reimbursed for, say, $400 but then they only reimburse $100 and you can’t quite figure out why. And you could go back to them and figure it out but since you’re already dealing with a sick or injured pet, it gets to be too much work and you just give up. Because I have the chance to test out a different insurance, I’m going to. VPI is quite economical though at around $25/month for injury & illness coverage.
So far, I’m really liking what I see from PetPlan. They have a website that gives you a lot of information, too which makes it seem less shady to me. For about $33/month, it meets all my requirements plus adds in a few perks like a discount for enrolling online (among others) and a subscription to fetch! magazine. The other contender is Healthy Paws. For about $36/month, it meets all my requirements AND it doesn’t have a cap on claims. It’s also pretty highly rated on Yelp and I like that it’s more customer service oriented than the other ones. They’re a newer company but often times that helps in the long run because they can actively respond to their customer’s feedback and make improvements when needed. I’ve added some screenshots of my quotes so you can see how they stack up against each other.
I have about a month to get it all sorted out and will post about which company I end up choosing. Please add a comment if you have any good or bad feedback to share. The health and safety of our pets is always a top priority and decisions like this can be so stressful!
*kidding. I’m old enough to know.