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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Does anybody know of a good, high-deductible pet insurance policy? Almost every provider I find is geared more towards 'Wellness Plans', which seem like a ripoff. I don't care about routine care - I've already priced that into my annual budget, and expect to pay that out-of-pocket anyway - but want actual insurance for emergencies or major illnesses.

Thus far, the only policy that meets my needs is from Embrace. They seem to be getting decent reviews, but I was hoping to pick the forum for some first-hand experiences, as well as possible alternatives.

The problem with insurance is that you never know how good your company is about paying claims until it's too late to change companies.

UPDATE: I found three more providers with high-deductible plans:

Trupanion

Purinacare
Pet Secure

Pet Secure seems to be Canada only, and I refuse to investigate Purinacare because its website doesn't work in Firefox. Trupanion also seems to be getting decent reviews, but has higher rates than Embrace.
 

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I think pet insurance as a whole is a con, but there are many people here who disagree with me. I'd be happy to go over my math again on why it's a con if you like.
 

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The problem with pet insurance is that it is reimbursed to the policy holder. That means whatever cost is involved is paid by the owner upfront to the vet and then the insurance company will reimburse it. You also should know what the vet charges and what they reimburse might be two different amounts.
 

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ASPCA is pretty well known and might be worth looking into http://www.aspcapetinsurance.com/ . I was actually thinking of going with a wellness plan for my pet simply because they are indoors and I can't think of too many emergency situations they could get into. Of course now that I've made this statement <sighs>
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hulk, here's how I crunched the numbers.

The best plan I see so far is from Embrace: $500 deductible, 10% Co-Pay, $10,000 max coverage - for about $200/year including taxes. That sets my break-even point at approximately $722 in emergency expenses in a given year

(c-500)*0.9 = 200
0.9c -450 = 200
0.9c = 650
c = 722

The plan is good if my expected cost c is greater than or equal to $722. The expected value can then be defined as a conditional probability function:

E(X) = (X1*P1) + (X2*P2) + .... (Xn + Pn)

Where P is the probability of incurring expense X.

Alternately, you could define it as the integral of a continuous probability function P(X) along 0 to 10,000; either way, we're talking about the total area under the curve.

Obviously, the insurance company has a team of highly paid actuaries telling them that given my dog's age, breed, and living conditinos, E(X) <= 722. I would have to assume that this is a bad deal for me; if it weren't I doubt they'd be selling me a policy.

The thing is, though, the insurance company can spread its risk across a few thousand policies, whereas I am a sample size of 1. A $200 annual fee is negligible, but even a small risk of a massive emergency expense is too big a weight to bear. It's the same reason individuals should be gradually shifting towards safer investments as they get older - the impact of random variation increases as the investment window gets smaller.
 

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Hulk, here's how I crunched the numbers.

The best plan I see so far is from Embrace: $500 deductible, 10% Co-Pay, $10,000 max coverage - for about $200/year including taxes. That sets my break-even point at approximately $722 in emergency expenses in a given year

(c-500)*0.9 = 200
0.9c -450 = 200
0.9c = 650
c = 722

The plan is good if my expected cost c is greater than or equal to $722. The expected value can then be defined as a conditional probability function:

E(X) = (X1*P1) + (X2*P2) + .... (Xn + Pn)

Where P is the probability of incurring expense X.

Alternately, you could define it as the integral of a continuous probability function P(X) along 0 to 10,000; either way, we're talking about the total area under the curve.

Obviously, the insurance company has a team of highly paid actuaries telling them that given my dog's age, breed, and living conditinos, E(X) <= 722. I would have to assume that this is a bad deal for me; if it weren't I doubt they'd be selling me a policy.

The thing is, though, the insurance company can spread its risk across a few thousand policies, whereas I am a sample size of 1. A $200 annual fee is negligible, but even a small risk of a massive emergency expense is too big a weight to bear. It's the same reason individuals should be gradually shifting towards safer investments as they get older - the impact of random variation increases as the investment window gets smaller.
I have petplan.... 200 deductable per incident/illness. No fee schedule. Up to 8 grand a year in benefits. No exclusions on my dog.

I only have this on my ACD. The other dog and cats don't have it.

Oh and coverage is at 100 percent after the deductable. I am paying I think 51 dollars a quarter for this.
 

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I didn't go that in depth as you did. I looked at the numbers a bit more practically. The average vet costs per year from all the sites I looked at is somewhere between $100-$400. Now, I used my dog Zero as an example since Brutus is too old to qualify. Zero is 1.5 yrs old, healthy and a cocker spaniel. I figured that I probably would not buy insurance to cover a routine, annual vet visit, but I would want insurance for emergencies (hit by car, ate something he shouldn't have, etc...) They quoted me at the site 22.50 a month with a $500 deductible and coverage of up to $10,000 for accidents and illnesses w/a 10% co-pay. This basically means that if Brutus talks Zero into playing in the street and Zero gets hit by a car that I'd be out $500 out of pocket right off the bat. Now, that $22.50 a month is going to cost me $270 a year in premiums so I'm also out that money. Let's say Zero does get hit by a car and the cost is $2,000 to fix him (I pick this number at random as I have no clue how much it costs to fix a dog who's been hit by a car). I'm out $770 up front (premiums + deductible) and another $150 (10% of the remaining $1500). So that's $920 I had to spend to avoid spending the $1,080 the insurance company picked up. To me, that's not worth it. I have to pay $270 a year anyway, plus routine vet visits come out of my pocket. (If I take the plan that does pay for routine visits, my premium goes up to $38 so I'm now paying $450 a yr in a year where my dog is healthy and requires no emergency care. That is definitely a bad deal.)

I advocate saving money up and I think you come out ahead. If you just stick $100 a month (that's only $25 a week or $5 for every working day of the week) in a savings account, you end up with $1200 for a doggy rainy day fund. Now, if Zero gets hit by the same car I have $1200 laying there just to deal with canine emergencies. Can I get $800 from my regular rainy day fund? Sure, not a problem. I've saved that much money just in not paying premiums.
 

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Why are you both figuring in such high deductibles ? I pay $ 26.50 CAN per month. That is $ 23.42 a month in USD. I have great coverage on my policy and it is a $ 100.00 deductible.

It's also great to say " I'll put 25 bucks a week into a rainy day dog fund " but most people don't .
 

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I went with PetPlan (gopetplan.com ). I pay a $200 deductibile, costs (because of my dog's breed) around $600 a year, no co-pay, and covers up to $20,000 a year. They pay back actual cost and do not use customary charges (ie, what they think it SHOULD cost in your area rather than what it did actually cost). Oh and they also do not add exclusions once a claim is made nor do they exclude hereditary conditions (hip dysplasia and the like). So say one of my pups is diagnosed with hip dysplasia next year but at first it only needs supplements, that is covered, then say the next year we need a full hip replacement, that is covered as well. With many plans (all but Embrace actually) they do not cover hereditary conditions, and many also exclude a condition when the plan renews if you have a claim with it.

So figure I need to spend $800 a year per pup to make back the money. Well, Carol already cost me $1200 in emergency fees for an illness and I've only had her a month, so I'm ahead of the game right now on her, lol.

In my case I went with big coverage because I have two giant breed pups, which means things like bloat, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia are very real possibilities, even with parents that are all OFA certified. The Greater Swiss pup is also of a breed where splenic torsion is very common. I don't ever want to have to weigh cost vs. my pups life. I keep a credit card just for emergencies so I can cover the upfront cost and then the insurance will reimburse.
 

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Why are you both figuring in such high deductibles ? I pay $ 26.50 CAN per month. That is $ 23.42 a month in USD. I have great coverage on my policy and it is a $ 100.00 deductible.
That's $318 a year CN/$281.04 USD
Hulk was stating $270 a year and JohnnyBandit was stating $204 a year. Seems on track to me.

In general, I'm with Hulkamaniac; I don't think pet insurance is worth it in most cases. If I ever get a dog that's a breed with a high incidence of HD or other genetic disorders, and I can find a pet insurance company that covers those kinds of things, I might consider it. But for now I just have a savings account and an unused high-limit credit card.
 

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I went with PetPlan (gopetplan.com ). I pay a $200 deductible, costs (because of my dog's breed) around $600 a year, no co-pay, and covers up to $20,000 a year. They pay back actual cost and do not use customary charges (ie, what they think it SHOULD cost in your area rather than what it did actually cost).
I am also with petplan, having used both Embrace and Petcare, and am very happy with them so far. I also have a $200 deductible with $20,000 a year maximum and no copay (except for services rendered by a teaching hospital or specialty facility - 20%). Benji has had a few minor problems since we got the insurance and we took him to the very expensive vet nearest us since my regular vet can't always see us right away. We paid a total of $610, for which we were responsible for $400 and received $210 back (quickly). So the net we paid for the insurance so far is $95 with six months to go in the coverage year. Not bad.

Petplan charges much less for small mixed breed dogs like Benji than large purebreds. And coverage in smaller cities with lower vet costs is much less than in New York. I got a quote for the same dog and coverage in Omaha NE and it was 1/2 what I pay: $150 for the year.

I can't get out of a vet office for an ailment for less than $150 so the insurance is well worth it to me. I'm weighing whether or not to renew with a $100 deductible. The lower deductible adds $175 a year to the premium so you'd have to go to the vet at least twice to benefit. Since Benji has seen the vet three times so far this year, and we didn't get the last charges reimbursed because they came to less than $200, we would be $75 ahead if we had taken the lower deductible.
 

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It's also great to say " I'll put 25 bucks a week into a rainy day dog fund " but most people don't .
You're right that most people don't, but that doesn't change the fact that they're better off if they do. Most people don't save enough for retirement and I have friends who don't even bother, but that doesn't mean they aren't better off doing so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I won't list the amount, but I've already got cash set aside that will cover a vet emergency. I'd just rather not spend it even if I've got more than enough stashed away.

I like the high deductible plans because I really don't care about small (<$500) expenses; I already built that into the price of a pet before I decided to adopt. I don't expect to spend $5,000 on emergency surgery, but won't hesitate to do it if I have to. I would just spend $200 to hedge against a low-probability, high-cost event like being hit by a car, or pesticide poisoning, etc.
 

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My dog was hit by a car in April. We spent approximately $1500 on this event. Didn't have pet insurance, but had the $ to cover it (we were fortunate).

What I found out was this - (sometimes more important than pet insurance)... How good, REALLY GOOD is your vet?

Let me explain. I have a vet that I took my dogs to once per year for their annual shots. No big deal, right? They were nice enough and priced within competition. When my dog got hit (hit and run) I was so distraught (nothing you ever expect) and would have emptied my savings account to care for him. The vet - I found out later - was WAY overpriced for his services! (I am grateful to him that he saved my dogs life - he gets that much out of me). But, my neighbor (who used to work for his practice for 13 years) told me to "watch out" that his prices are way out of line.

I like to give everybody the benefit of the doubt and took her words as her opinion. I continued taking him there (every day for a couple days after) to have him checked out. He needed hip surgery - the doctor quoted me $900+ for surgery (on top of the money already spent). He also had a broken front paw and a fractured pelvis (the hip was out of joint and needed the surgery).

I took my dog in for surgery on the planned day and the doctor called to say that he didn't feel "right" doing the surgery because he thought my dog had nerve damage and wanted us to go to see a "specialist" for this. I was heartbroken because he made me believe that I may have to put my dog down. Needless to say - I cried my eyes out that night.

Then, I thought - what the heck - I'll go to my neighbor's vet office (she works at this one) and get a second opinion. So, I called the next day - went in and met a WONDERFUL vet who did an exam and said "there was NO WAY - 100% certain that my dog did not have nerve damage". He also wondered why the other vet didn't splint his broken front paw. He did my pets surgery (for HALF of the charge!) and now my little guy is running all over the place (still recovering - but certainly not put down!!).

Moral of the story (sorry it's long!) is to not only "think" you have a good vet - but to KNOW you have a good vet. Ask around - I heard horror stories from people who took my dog to the first vet and only praise on top of praise for the new vet. Just because you found a vet and take your dog to it once a year doesn't mean it's a good vet - no matter how "friendly" they are there.

Just another thing to think about that goes along with good insurance.
Lessons learned. :)
 
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