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Another thing to bear in mind is that if your dog was unfortunate enough to have a recurring illness they need a repeat prescription for, most companies will rack up your monthly payments. I was paying £90.00 per month for one of my dogs. I excluded the condition from his insurance and now I buy his tablets on line.
This is why you need insurance from a company who will only raise rates based on cost of vet care and not based on claim history. And why you need to ask what the highest increase per year can be.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
That's good info! I've been researching different companies that have been suggested, and apparently my vet has an insurance program, but I'm not finding much info online so I have to make time to call the companies and talk about it.
 

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I'm in the middle of figuring out which plan to go with for my dog. For those of you that have insurance, would you say you're happier with an annual deductible or a per condition deductible?

There are so many choices and options- picking one is hard.

**ETA: So Far Healthy Paws seems to be the best deal in terms of monthly premiums vs. coverage...
 

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I'm in the middle of figuring out which plan to go with for my dog. For those of you that have insurance, would you say you're happier with an annual deductible or a per condition deductible?

There are so many choices and options- picking one is hard.

**ETA: So Far Healthy Paws seems to be the best deal in terms of monthly premiums vs. coverage...
I like annual deductibles. Per condition deductibles can reset every year and the idea of "condition" is subjective.

I have Healthy Paws. The customer service is great and the reps are very friendly and helpful.
 

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Thanks... I looked at Trupanion, Embrace, Pet Plan, and Healthy Paws. Trupanion didn't even have my breed listed so they were out immediately. The other three did, though, and the range between the high and low for similar coverage was about $30. I figure with a bully breed, I need to go ahead and get on this with the potential for HD, and since all policies have a 1 year waiting period to cover HD, it's something to just do sooner than later. Her parents had good hip scores but you never know... she has that bully swagger and sometimes I wonder if it's normal or not. Plus, she is just so exuberant and prone to accidents from playing too hard with other dogs, running into things, scratching her eyes, etc. Sometimes I feel like I need to wrap her in bubble wrap!!
 

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Fortunately my dogs haven't had any major issues other than some infections, etc. that needed vet care. When we got Kane we got a free one-month trial of pet insurance. I ended up needing to take Kane into the vet because he had severe diarrhea and stopped eating. The insurance wouldn't cover any of it.

For both my dogs to be insured was going to cost almost $100 per month. Way too much on the off chance they might need to go to the vet and the off chance what they need will be covered. Plus I'd still have to pay deductibles.

For now I'll just pay as needed and as they start to get older I'l start putting money away in a separate account for vet bills.

IMO insurance in general is a huge waste of money, playing on our fears of worst-case-scenario.
 

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IMO insurance in general is a huge waste of money, playing on our fears of worst-case-scenario.
I used to think the same thing. Until I ran into a situation where I had to give up my lease to afford vet bills and move back home, or I had to put my dog down because I couldn't afford treatments.

I hope that never happens to you, but believe me, if it does, you'll think differently.

It also really depends on what breed you own, so blanket statement-ing it isn't very helpful. Sure, if you own a healthy breed, putting the money aside may be best. If you own an unhealthy breed, or a giant breed, unless you have thousands of dollars saved up for emergencies, you're foolish to not have some sort of coverage.
 

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I feel similarly about insurance in general but that's the whole thing about it... when you need it, you're dang happy to have it. Our last dog went to the vet maybe 5 times in her 15 years of life. It wasn't an issue for me then. My dog now is just balls to the wall, super active, no restraint, and prone to scrapes and injuries. She'll be 2 next month and she has already been to the vet twice as much as our last dog! So in my case, I very much see a need for it because it wouldn't surprise me in the least if she impaled herself on some object, broke a leg running full out, or some other freak accident. It's worth $35/month for some peace of mind.
 

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I agree - I don't think anyone who has ever had to euthanize a dog because they couldn't afford a life saving treatment would speak negatively of insurance. Your dog gets hit by a car, needs exploratory surgery on top of fixing a shattered hip, broken leg, needs to he hospitalized for days and oh yeah, it was in the middle of the night so you had to go to an emergency vet so everything cost twice as much.

Where I am, something like that can easily cost upwards of 8-10k. I read a go fund me about a dog who got heat stroke and ended up with 15k of medical bills. Yes, insurance does play on the fear of worst case scenarios.... because they do happen. When it comes to my dogs, I'd rather not roll the dice. If I did and lost my dog for it, I wouldn't be able to forgive myself and would probably not get another dog.

If I absolutely couldn't afford a decent plan, ASPCA has affordable plans. My parents can't afford a fancy plan with amazing coverage, but their 2 dogs (6 year old Akita mix, 10 year old Great Pyr) are covered for $40 a month total. Grace is $18 a month and Maya is $22. They chose a high deductible and 80% coverage. It's exactly enough to save them if there was an emergency, high cost situation, not something you would use for a $200 vet bill.
 

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It also really depends on what breed you own
This is true. If you know you're likely going to have a lot of issues it's probably worth it. Personally I've never owned a dog like that.

I think it also depends on your financial situation and how stable you are. If I were single, making minimum wage, pet insurance probably would be a good idea since I wouldn't be able to afford a large vet bill.

For me, if absolutely necessary I COULD put a large vet bill on credit and pay it off over time. I COULD get a personal loan if I needed to. I know these options are available to me in a dire emergency, so spending $1200 per year on insurance I probably won't need isn't worth it to me.

This reminds me of another thread a while back about how much you would spend to save your pet. It all depends on the situation and the person making the decision.
 

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This reminds me of another thread a while back about how much you would spend to save your pet. It all depends on the situation and the person making the decision.
Insurance means that I don't have to decide on vet care based on how much I would spend to save my dog. It completely erases the issue of money and instead allows me to focus on if I SHOULD spend money to save my dog, or what's in my dog's best interest.

Adding up Loki's vet bills (a giant mix breed), I spent over $20,000 on him in his lifetime. $12,000 or so was for cancer surgery and treatments. The other $8,000 was just random injuries, ear infections, illnesses, etc. A $50 per month insurance payment with a $200 deductible over a period of six and a half years would have saved me $14,800.

I've spent about $12,000 on Atlas on skin problems and him being trampled by horses in the last six and a half years. My dad's dog Maggie cost him $2,000 before we had to put her to sleep at the age of two and a half because we couldn't justify spending $10,000 on a double hip replacement with a questionable chance of success.

So far, on Titan's insurance, I'm $2,000 in the black because of his two eye surgeries and how much I've saved.

Maybe I've been very unlucky with my dogs. And maybe my dad was unlucky with his. But I will never again put myself in a position where my financial state effects the decisions I'm making for the health and well-being of my animal. I've learned my lesson the hard way, and I try to allow other people to learn from my mistakes so that they don't repeatedly put themselves in financial jeopardy in order to be able to provide adequate care for their dogs.
 

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I've learned my lesson the hard way, and I try to allow other people to learn from my mistakes so that they don't repeatedly put themselves in financial jeopardy in order to be able to provide adequate care for their dogs.
This. I've been there, too. I've been there with a life/death situation, and I've also been there with the difference between a dog being able to hear or being 80% deaf by age 6.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, it's not mandatory to have pet insurance, but people should also know the difference that having it can make.
 

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I've had insurance with one company or another for over 14 years with three different dogs. And because I think it's important to have it and know what you're getting I've written many posts on this board on the subject, primarily about Embrace and Pet Plan, which I've had, and Trupanion and Healthy Paws, which I've considered and not used for reasons I explain.

Anyway, the emphasis in these discussions is always on expense, savings vs. insurance vs. hoping for the best. Which is fair enough. But after all this time I've discovered another reason to have insurance, which is never discussed and which I find is important to me.

See, maybe it's living in the "Big Apple" (NYC) but I have trust issues with many vets, and given the prices they charge for *everything* here, I'm concerned my suspicions might keep my dog from getting the best care if I had to use my savings instead of insurance for an expensive condition. The vet I use for most things works for the Humane Society and he's all about keeping costs and expectations reasonable. He's seen me through the last days of two cats and a dog, and I trust him because I know he's not about the money.

But he has his limitations and sometimes he's not available on short notice so I have to take my dog to one of the nearby "for profit" vets. The bills are always astronomical and I've learned I have to ask a million questions or they'll just take the dog to the back and present me with a four figure invoice. The worst of these vets don't even like to answer a lot of questions and their attitude is "you want the best for her, don't you?"

Now just because their care costs as much as a nice vacation and I often don't like the vet very much personally doesn't objectively mean that the dog is not in good hands. After all, competition among these local Manhattan vets is fierce and they all graduated from the best schools and have years of experience.

So insurance allows me to make decisions without being swayed by sticker shock or a poor bedside manner. If I had to rely on savings (and I have enough for most emergencies) I might walk out and that wouldn't do my dog any good because I wouldn't be at that particular vet if I didn't feel the situation was urgent or my regular vet had told me he couldn't handle it.

And to make matters worse I've lost two dogs to chronic conditions of long standing that never got better no matter who I saw or what I spent. If the insurance hadn't covered me after the $200 deductible I'd be carrying a poisonous resentment. Insurance has allowed me to be more philosophical and tolerant. By the time my last dog had been with Pet Plan for 8 years, he was ~11 yo and I was paying $80/month for him. But his final treatments cost almost $3000 for which I was reimbursed, wiping out three years of premiums. Sadly, the surgery that was recommended did not take and he was so bad afterwards that I had to let him go three months later. But at least I'm not carrying a grudge because the vet didn't "cure" him.

Just my two cents.

PS - I didn't see www.petinsurancereview.com mentioned in this thread. I find they are a very reliable guide to the pros and cons of the many companies offering insurance.
 

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OK OK ya'll talked me into getting insurance for Finn (and maybe Suri if it's not ridiculous at her age). I get a work discount with VPI. Anybody know anything about them?

ETA: and apparently a union discount for Union Plus. Anyone even heard of them?
 

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I get a work discount with VPI. Anybody know anything about them?
VPI is deceptively cheap but you get what you pay for. The biggest problem with VPI is that unlike most insurers they do not pay on the basis of "reasonable prevailing rates" for your area but on the basis of a published schedule. I have found their reimbursements to be about 30% of what I would actually pay and there are other restrictions on the policies iirc that also disqualify them (e.g., "congenital" conditions). If you are determined to use them I think you can get the appropriate payment schedule ahead of time.

The only companies I would recommend without hesitation, based on coverage, cost and customer service are Pet Plan, Healthy Paws, Trupanion and Embrace, in that order. The prices they each charge seem to vary wildly for the same pet and I'm not sure why. Pet Plan and Healthy Paws cover the most and are less expensive. Expect to pay a lot more if you own a breed known to have genetic health problems (which they do cover) such as giant breeds, English Bulldogs and dogs prone to hip dysplasia.

You can find out more about all these companies at www.petinsurancereview.com. But I would stay far away from VPI.

(I see that since Nationwide took them over they seem to have a *much* more expensive plan that reimburses more like the companies I prefer but premiums are on the high side and considerably more than those of Pet Plan and Healthy Paws, who have a much better reputation.)
 

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Eh it's only a 5% discount and probably not worth it. I actually filled out everything for Healthy Paws but I need to take him to the vet first so I didn't actually sign up yet. Plus, if I say someone referred me I think they get money, so someone who has Healthy Paws PM me with your info!

I can't make much sense out of the review site. Maybe if I switch to desktop view. . .(yes much better. The mobile view is weird and confusing)
 

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Eh it's only a 5% discount and probably not worth it. I actually filled out everything for Healthy Paws but I need to take him to the vet first so I didn't actually sign up yet. Plus, if I say someone referred me I think they get money, so someone who has Healthy Paws PM me with your info!
I think you'll be happy with Healthy Paws. My only problem with them is that although their deductible is yearly rather than per incident, which is good, they never pay for the vet exam, which if you're taking an animal with a chronic illness in frequently, adds up. Pet Plan always pays for the vet exam after the per incident deductible is satisfied. One thing that makes people go with HP rather than PP is that PP always charges 20% co-pay for anything done at a specialist or teaching facility, so cancer treatment, for example. could cost you a lot out of pocket. On the other hand PP is one of the very few companies that pays 100% after the deductible (depending on the state) while the most HP will pay is 90% (minus the exam fee).

It's more important to me to know that once I pay my $200 deductible *everything* is going to be reimbursed (from a "normal" vet) than to worry about a 20% co-pay on a specialist bill. Frankly, although PP pays up to $22k a year on my plan (I don't think HP has any limits) I would only run up such large bills if I had to use a specialist for a very serious condition. I'm not sure I would put an older pet with cancer or kidney disease through $22k worth of treatment.

One big difference between HP and PP is hard to pin down. PP definitely starts to increase your premiums a *lot* once the pet is over 7. HP claims they do not raise premiums based on age but only on changes in the prevailing rates in your area. But anecdotally it's clear that HP premiums *do* go up but it's not clear why, when or how much.

I went into this difference in the two companies in excruciating detail in a thread here some time ago, hoping someone with HP could enlighten me about the increases but no one came back to me with an answer. So I decided to stay with PP, mainly for the 100% reimbursement including vet exams.

You'll see that on the review site HP and PP are the two top choices and are very close in the scoring. They are also cheaper than Trupanion or Embrace. So I don't think you can go wrong with either one.

(One thing you *must* do as soon as you sign up with any company is request the policy be "underwritten." This means an adjuster will pore over your medical records before you started and decide if you have any "pre-existing" conditions they are going to exclude, either temporarily (kennel cough) or permanently (luxating patella). If you don't want unpleasant surprises after you've paid them for several years, do this. And be prepared for them to misinterpret the records in their favor; they do make mistakes but I've found that if you are polite and persistent and in the right they will come around. Customer service is very good at both companies.)
 

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Hmm. My vet doesn't do notes under most circumstances (if a test is done he'll put the results of that test---"heartworm negative" or whatever---but he doesn't put random stuff like "dog is healthy, maybe could lose a few, talked about nutrition" etc. that I've heard some vets do). Should I ask him to make some detailed notes? He's an old farm vet and very basic. Or should I just take Finn to the fancy hospital in the city from the beginning? Will they insist on having more medical records than "heartworm negative, gave rabies shot"?
 

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Hmm. My vet doesn't do notes under most circumstances (if a test is done he'll put the results of that test---"heartworm negative" or whatever---but he doesn't put random stuff like "dog is healthy, maybe could lose a few, talked about nutrition" etc. that I've heard some vets do). Should I ask him to make some detailed notes? He's an old farm vet and very basic. Or should I just take Finn to the fancy hospital in the city from the beginning? Will they insist on having more medical records than "heartworm negative, gave rabies shot"?
You should use the vet you are most comfortable with and if the dog is healthy and just getting routine care, then the notes can be casual. If the vet diagnoses an illness, then the notes become more important. The companies want the backup for whatever is on the invoice. So if you are making a claim for testing, they'll want notes on whatever symptoms prompted those tests. Etc.

What I was stressing is that you should always submit notes along with any invoice to avoid delays. And then follow up with a rep to make sure the adjusters have what they need and understand what they have. If the vet's notes don't give them what they need, they will eventually call the vet and work things out, professional to professional. But all that takes time.

If the claim is straightforward, all the notes are there from the last claim to the newest, and they match the invoice(s), then Pet Plan will usually pay within two weeks of submission.
 

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One thing that makes people go with HP rather than PP is that PP always charges 20% co-pay for anything done at a specialist or teaching facility, so cancer treatment, for example. could cost you a lot out of pocket.
I went with HP because the 20% specialist co-pay is just not acceptable for me. I have insurance for big expenses, like cancer, heart problems, eye problems, hip displasia, cruciate tears, bloat, etc. *Every single one* of those conditions would be taken care of at a specialist's clinic.

One big difference between HP and PP is hard to pin down. PP definitely starts to increase your premiums a *lot* once the pet is over 7. HP claims they do not raise premiums based on age but only on changes in the prevailing rates in your area. But anecdotally it's clear that HP premiums *do* go up but it's not clear why, when or how much.
Not sure the last time you talked to an HP rep was, but I spoke to a very helpful lady when I signed up who informed me that the premium can increase by 3-11% per year. Their average increase is somewhere around 5%. I'd much rather have a standard and defined increase than just "premium increase by age of dog". I know someone who is making over $150 a month premium payments because of the age-based increase and she's stuck with PP because if she switched her dog's condition would be considered pre-existing and a new company wouldn't cover it.

Different plans exist because they meet different people's needs, so everyone should decide what their priorities for coverage are and which company suits those needs. HP fulfills all of my insurance requirements very well :) And I know quite a few people who are happy with Embrace and PP, so there's no "right" answer.
 
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