Whole Dog Journal's Blog August 23, 2017

Pet Insurance: Thank Goodness I Have It

Posted at 03:40PM - Comments: (33)

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, life with dogs is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get.

In early May, my adolescent Pit/Lab-mix, Woody, started coughing and gagging dramatically. It seemed like he had something stuck in his throat, and though I looked in his mouth and throat I couldn’t see anything. It called for an immediate trip to the veterinarian.

With me holding Woody and a trained eye, the vet was immediately able to see the problem: Woody had some foxtails in his tonsils. This grassy plant is the bane of dogs in California; its long, pointed awns readily stick to flesh and start to travel inward, drawn by the microscopic projections on every surface of the filaments that trail the sharp seed. I’d guess that half the patients in the waiting room at the veterinary hospital were there for foxtails (in their paws, ears, and other places).

The vet put Woody under general anesthesia for a few minutes, and extracted the foxtails that she found in his tonsils, and more she found jammed into his gums around his farthest-back molars. He had evidently eaten a bunch of grass, probably in an effort to settle his tummy after getting into my chicken coop and eating a bunch of cracked grain. (I later found a poop in the back yard that was almost entirely undigested corn and other grains, and the upset-tummy/grass-gorging scenario is my best guess.)

About four days later, a huge lump appeared overnight on Woody’s cheek. Given the fact that the vet had just removed foxtails from Woody’s molars, I thought it entirely likely that he had another foxtail in his cheek, perhaps one that traveled from his upper gums. Back to the clinic. The vet agreed with my guess. She closely examined the outside of Woody’s cheek and the inside of his cheek and gums, and lanced the lump from inside, but couldn’t find the sort of entry hole or track that foxtails usually leave. He didn’t have a fever and there were no other signs of infection, so she said we should just watch the lump for a while.

While I was watching Woody’s lump, I noticed that Otto had developed a slight cough. Oh my goodness.

It wasn’t the gagging cough that Woody had displayed when he had the foxtails in his throat, but it was persistent. Back to the vet we went.

The vet looked in Otto’s mouth and throat and listened to Otto’s lungs carefully, but couldn’t see or hear anything amiss – and of course he didn’t cough while we were there. She suggested a “senior panel” – a very extensive blood test that would give us more information about his general health. Given that we live in heartworm country, even though Otto has been on heartworm preventive medications, I felt good that the blood test included a heartworm test.

The heartworm test was negative, and his other blood test results were unremarkable. More watching and waiting.

About a week later, with Woody’s lump still quite large and Otto’s cough getting worse, we went back to the vet.

A different vet saw Woody. He aspirated some fluid from the lump and said it was full of pus. He thought it was likely there was a piece of foxtail in the lump, after all, and recommended cutting into the lump and exploring it. As it turned out, he never found a piece of foxtail, but removed the tissue inside the lump and sent some of the material to a pathologist. The final diagnosis was panniculitis: inflamed tissue likely caused by trauma. Given that Woody plays hard with his dog friends, the idea that he knocked his face on the corner of a coffee table or something made perfect sense.

As for Otto, this time I was prepared: Because he hadn’t coughed for the vet in our last visit, I had spent the week grabbing my cell phone and attempting to record every instance of Otto’s cough. I had a few examples ready to show the vet. Of course, this time, he coughed for the vet as if I had trained him to do so. His lungs still sounded clear, however.

Diagnostics this time: An x-ray of his chest and an abdominal ultrasound, looking for any masses and checking to make sure his organs all looked like they were the right size and in the right place. Everything looked normal except there was one surprise: the x-rays revealed a pattern that suggested Otto had pneumonia in one lobe of his right lung. It was surprising in that he had no fever and no other symptoms (such as crackly-sounding lungs), just the cough. One theory we are considering: perhaps Otto has a small amount of laryngeal paralysis, common enough in older dogs, and he aspirated some water while drinking or swimming, and this set the stage for the pneumonia to develop. The vet recommended a two-week course of an antibiotic (Clavamox) and a follow-up x-ray.

The Clavamox made absolutely no difference in his cough, and the follow-up x-rays looked even worse. The veterinarian recommended a bronchoscopy – under full anesthesia, putting a flexible instrument with a camera down his throat and into the lung, looking for anything unusual. (This would also help determine whether some laryngeal paralysis was present.) Most helpfully, the instrument can also send tiny bits of saline solution into the parts of his lungs that look inflamed and then suck the fluid back up, thus gathering some cells that can be cultured (a bronchial lavage). This could help us identify exactly what is causing the pneumonia and tailor an antibiotic regiment to the culprit. The only problem was, the next day the procedure could be scheduled was the day before I was leaving for an out-of-state vacation. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving Otto after such a serious procedure; I wanted to be able to watch him for any potential, subtle signs of adverse effects from the procedure (the lung can get punctured and greater infections and problems can result).

Instead, we opted for Plan B: another course of antibiotics, but this time, using one of the “big guns” – a strong, broad-spectrum antibiotic called Baytril. Otto could take the antibiotic while I was gone (he stayed with my sister and her husband), and we’d follow up with another x-ray at the end of two weeks.

The follow-up x-ray, thank goodness, looked better, though not completely clear of the inflammation caused by pneumonia. The vet extended Otto’s prescription for another week, and we’ll take another x-ray when this course of antibiotics is complete. If there is still inflammation, we may well do the bronchoscopy and bronchial lavage, after all.

Three vet visits for Woody, five so far for Otto, with more to come . . . getting a good pet insurance policy was the best thing I did last year. It has given me so much peace of mind to know that whatever tests we need to run, or what medicines are prescribed (that Baytril is expensive!), I can easily afford it. The plan I signed both dogs up for is called Whole Pet with Wellness, offered by Nationwide (formerly VPI). I pay $58 a month for Woody, and $122 for Otto. After a $250 a year deductible for each dog, the policy pays for 90 percent of each allowed veterinary bill my dogs have incurred. We blew through the deductible in the first visit for each dog – but that means that I pay only 10 percent of each bill for the rest of the year. That means I’m breathing much more easily, and, I hope, so will Otto. I’ve heard him cough just once in the past week, and we will return to the vet for another follow-up x-ray later this week.

Comments (33)

I'm having a hard time figuring out how an insurance company that pays out as described, and reimburses 90% of actual billed charges, makes a profit, or even stays in business. Human insurance, as we know, pays providers at discounted rates negotiated with the providers on their list. Vets are apparently able to refuse to accept anything but full billed charges. As more people get insurance and the third party pays mosts of the cost, vet bills will continue to increase, as will premiums. Seems like only the wealthy can afford to have pets. No wonder there are so many animals left in shelters.

Posted by: Chandra | August 26, 2017 11:22 AM    Report this comment

After careful research, I got Embrace insurance right after I got my 2 year old rescue dog. They have been excellent so far. Embrace was the only company (that fulfilled all my other requirements) who offered a $500.00 deductible. Plus a discount for paying the premium all at once. The others offered a $250.00 or a $1000.00 deductible with nothing in between and no one time premium payment discount. I've already met my deductible and now everything's covered 90%. They pay very quickly especially now that I have direct deposit. Totally worth it and I thank God every day that I decided to get it. Because you just never know. My last dog had to have a $6000.00 hip replacement surgery not to mention all of the other little things that occurred throughout her lifetime. I estimated I spent about $30,000 on Veterinary care on her, so when I adopted another dog, it was a no brainer - I got the insurance. Just check it out and ask questions. Most companies are very happy to answer any concerns you have.

Posted by: IrishGirl | August 25, 2017 11:40 AM    Report this comment

I have been very disappointed in my pet insurance Petplan. I had a lab that needed two acl surgeries along with cancer twice so the first thing I did when I got my puppy (actually even before) was research pet insurance plans. The first problem we had was Lyme disease: not covered although they would cover for goodwill (probably since they knew the cost would rarely be over the deductable) if I could show a receipt for every preventative I used. Understandable, but since there had been no suggestion that I keep all receipts coupled with my vet not carrying the preventative we decided I should use, it was bought from several different pet companies, they were unavailable

Posted by: Alice R. | August 25, 2017 7:45 AM    Report this comment

I got insurance through Healthy Paws when I adopted my shepherd-husky mix. They've been fantastic: easy to file claims, prompt repayment. They even paid 80 percent of the cost of acupuncture treatments when she got Lyme disease. I highly recommend them!

Posted by: kjcasa | August 25, 2017 6:58 AM    Report this comment

Excellent article and comments. As a pet parent, I have had pet insurance for my dogs for about the last 6 years, after a second dog was diagnosed with cancer and the treatment was another $4000 (thank goodness for Care Credit). That's when I started looking into insurance. I originally had 24 PetWatch. Horrible experiences with them! Impossible to actually speak to anyone on the phone, questionable coverages, and repayment time was on average 3-4 months. I did some research and made some calls and chose to go with Nationwide, and I've been very happy with it. I am, however, still using the scheduled payment plan, but now I am considering changing. But, they have been very easy to work with and the reimbursement has been very timely, usually about 3 weeks. I also do animal rescue, and each of our adopters is offered 30 days free insurance, with Petfirst, courtesy of Petfinder.com. I would really appreciate hearing anyone's experience with Petfirst. Pet insurance is a very good idea. It's affordable and it gives peace of mind, when headed to the vet. My rescue does a lot of surrender prevention work, helping owners to keep their pets. Many many times, an owner's inability to pay very high vet bills is a factor in why they are considering surrendering their pet. It's a reality. Pet insurance monthly premiums are often much more do-able for people. We highly recommend it, to owners and adopters.

Posted by: cajunbiker | August 25, 2017 5:46 AM    Report this comment

You do articles on other topics
I think this would be a great
issue to do a report on to
help people find out which are
good and who are not. If you
read the comments from some of
the people you'll notice the
frustration of trying to figure out
who is good and who is B.S.


Posted by: Lenny T | August 25, 2017 2:53 AM    Report this comment

In response to Vicky M: You might want to look into Care Credit. It's a credit card for human and pet healthcare. My vet recommended it and I used it for several years when my former husband and I had three dogs and a precarious income.

Posted by: califgrl | August 24, 2017 7:20 PM    Report this comment

BTW: There is now a trade group for pet health insurance: NAPHIA. They maintain a useful list of insurers that includes a breakdown of those that are offered through a different brand than the insurer's own. Search for North American Pet Health Insurance Association and then click on "Find Pet Insurance" at the top of their site for the list.

Posted by: Gina Spadafori | August 24, 2017 2:12 PM    Report this comment

So we had 4 dogs, 3 at the same time. The Golden was born with chronic renal failure and was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy latell in his life. The ACD had a hemangiopericytoma (sp?), CRF, and seizures and was severely attacked by an attended dog. The Mini Schnauzer also had CRF (yes, I was beginning to wonder what I did wrong or that we were cursed!), pancreatitis, and also developed seizures as his renal disease progressed. We did not have pet insurance. I did not keep track of just how much money we spent because these dogs were our responsibility just our kids were, but I know what we spent was astronomical.

We adopted another dog not long after the last of out 3 died, and the first thing I did was get pet insurance. I have used it twice for her so far in the 4 years she's been with us; once for a back issue and the second for gastroenteritis, both were quite scary, but there were no worries of cost. We do have to pay up-front, use the app and send picture of itemized bill. Check comes within probably 3 weeks. No nit-picking on their part over anything and they were so helpful with everything. The insurance plan we chose has a hundred dollar deductible per incident, pretty much covered the balance in both cases. We have Pet Plan and so far are quite happy with it. It is such a huge relief knowing we don't have to worry about huge vet bills for accidents, illnesses, or diseases!
Things HAVE changed radically in the world of pet insurance. Do your homework and find one that fits your situation. There are unbiased websites that do the comparisons for you.

Posted by: 3grrrs | August 24, 2017 1:39 PM    Report this comment

Great article! I have 7 dogs all insured, 5 with Trupanion & 2 with Nationwide. My experience with Nationwide has been horrific-my dogs are seniors, 12 yrs old & have been insured since 4 months old on the only policy they had-scheduled benefits-so I am now penalized for being responsible when my senior dogs need insurance the most. As for Trupanion-absolutely wonderful-have 2dogs with IVDD both had $10k surgeries, physical therapy, medical boarding & acupuncture-all paid for at 90%, have another dog with lymphoma, chemo & acupunture covered & another dog with spondylosis & finally, the baby with anxiety disorder all treatments covered & I receive reimbursement within 5 days. Will never have dogs without insurance again.

Posted by: Mamafrenchie | August 24, 2017 1:37 PM    Report this comment

I have had all my dogs on pet insurance. First I had VPI (Nationwide) and unfortunately, it was that darned benefit schedule policy, but it covered some of my Scottie's lymphoma treatment. Then I switched the rest of them, because they were still young enough, over to PetPlan. Pops then had emergency gallbladder removal AND a tumor on his adrenal gland that also had to be removed. Cost? $14,000. PetPlan paid his policy maximum of $10,000. Thank God. Then Posey jumped off of our spa into a muddy back yard and broke her hock (ankle bone). Cost? $7,000, and I only paid the deductible and 10% of that. Knock on wood my other dogs are fine, but I would never ever be without pet insurance.

Posted by: Lunalf | August 24, 2017 12:34 PM    Report this comment

I have three labs, ages 12, 8 and 2. All have insurance, all different companies because, as was pointed out, it has changed over the years. My oldest guy has had surgery to remove a ball from his stomach, gets rehab and acupuncture for severe arthritis, and most recently had his spleen removed. All covered and reimbursed by his insurance. My 8 year old had knee surgery, and gets rehab and acupuncture for a back injury. All covered and reimbursed by a different company. My youngest has insurance but has been healthy. My dogs will ALWAYS have insurance.

Posted by: Mary Susan | August 24, 2017 12:19 PM    Report this comment

I've had good and bad experiences with pet insurance. Our first insurer was Trupanion and we had to take them to small claims court to get them to pay for our Berner's acl surgery. Do NOT use Trupanion!! We not have PetPlan and have been pleased with them. Haven't needed them, but they have been responsive to questions, and very easy to reach.

Posted by: 03dogmom | August 24, 2017 12:19 PM    Report this comment

Someone asked about reimbursements, and I'm sorry, I should have included that in the blog post. I've been reimbursed for each visit within two weeks of filing each claim. Yes, you have to "pay up front." I put the bills on whichever of my credit cards is farthest from the due date, and I have the 90% reimbursement in my checking account to pay the bill in time (without accruing interest). Nationwide has a relationship with Vitus Vet, which has a phone app you can use to file each claim within minutes; just take a picture of the bill (I do it as I leave the vet clinic, so I don't forget) and click through a few questions on the app. I signed up for auto-deposit, so the funds are sent directly to my bank account. I really am astonished at how easy it has been so far. Nancy Kerns

Posted by: Nancy Kerns | August 24, 2017 11:30 AM    Report this comment

I have Pet's Best insurance and have been happy with it

Posted by: trace | August 24, 2017 11:16 AM    Report this comment

The article about Pet Insurance Pro's and Con's is very interesting. Can you recommend a pet insurance company. Perhaps you can do an article on which would be the best pet insurance like the pet food article.

Posted by: duckie@baywoodhotels.com | August 24, 2017 11:04 AM    Report this comment

Hi folks! I've worked as a veterinary medical writer at Nationwide for three years, but before that I was a syndicated pet-care columnist and the author of 17 books on pets and their care. (What can I say? They made me an offer I couldn't refuse that includes going to all the big veterinary medical conferences!)

I've had pet health insurance for a long, long time. Mostly with Embrace (excellent), but with Nationwide since we introduced the Whole Pet With Wellness plan Nancy references. It is the simplest and most comprehensive plan, covering 90% of almost everything after a $250 annual deductible and with no annual cap. What's not covered? Pre-existing conditions (no pet insurance covers them), medical waste, taxes, acts of intentional cruelty/fraud by the owner and acts of war. That's it. Complementary and alternative treatments, covered. Behavioral medicine, covered. Prescription diets, covered. Veterinary rehab post-surgery, covered. Heartworm and tick/flea meds, covered. Hereditary breed-related conditions such as certain cancers, covered. Veterinary dentals, covered. etc., etc.

Pre-existing conditions are always where the rub is, with any company. But I switched over adult dogs and appealed a couple of not really pre-exists and I have no exclusions now. I know (and get complaints from) others who didn't win their appeals but when I personally asked for internal review, I felt the company's decision was the right one in most (but not all) cases.

Anyway, about the "I had it, nothing was covered" comments: If you haven't had pet health insurance in the last two-three years, things have really changed. Companies like Nationwide, Embrace and Healthy Paws have changed everything, and these plans really do cover your pets. I had $22K in cancer care for one of my dogs, which I never could have managed without coverage. Another had $8K (TPLO and, later, speen removal for cancer), covered. The old VPI plans all had "benefit schedules" that paid based on what the company thought the bill should be, rather than what it actually is. Now, Whole Pet With Wellness is a "percent of invoice" plan, which is an entirely new ballgame. (The old benefit schedule plan is still available, and because it's far less expensive per month people still buy it. Personally, I wish the company would drive a stake through its heart, and I never recommend it. I recommend only Whole Pet With Wellness, of our plans.)

Go to these good companies and read the plans. Unless you are putting thousands of dollars away, you will NEVER self-insure for a major veterinary issue such as 10 months of chemo. Most people can't even self-insure for cruciate lig repair -- typically $4K for TPLO, with and 80% chance the other knee will blow soon, another $4K.

But above all, don't base your decision on what USED TO BE. The competition in this industry has changed it so much you wouldn't believe. It's even easier to file: For Nationwide, you open an ap, snap a pic of the invoice and tap "send." The money is direct-deposited in your account typically withing 7-14 days.

Yes, I know this all sounds like an ad, and I'm sorry. I'm not in "sales" at all -- I write up veterinary medical studies based on claims data. But I knew a good plan when I saw it, and I have been a happy customer.

Posted by: Gina Spadafori | August 24, 2017 11:01 AM    Report this comment

Have had Trupanion pet insurance and would highly recommend them. Similar to others, they reimburse at the 90% after the deductible and their checks arrive one week after the claim is posted.

Posted by: glfndhd | August 24, 2017 10:44 AM    Report this comment

I have two Rough Coat Collies, I had insurance (different companies), for many, many years - all of my fur babies had insurance.

One company that I have no problem with is Petplan. Both of my Collies have been insured with them since puppies. I submit claims for allergies, one needed acupuncture, X-Ray, MRI --- all covered. My policy is 90% reimbursement after $300.00 annual co-pay. My one dog that needed X-Ray, MRI, Acupuncture - all thru specialists - went thru that $300.00 co pay in the first visit!!

Each claim I submitted --- I got 90% of the entire bill paid to me.

Of course --- no preexisting issues covered. That is why I get insurance as soon as I get the dog (in my case all were puppies), with clean bill of health.

So the noted pet insurance gets my vote 100% -- no matter what condition to this date, they covered 90% of the bills, no nickle and dime issues for me. Will stay with them.


Posted by: Collie | August 24, 2017 10:39 AM    Report this comment

I'm glad I found this blog. To the owners of Woody & Otto, how does your Insurance Plan work ?? After reading what happened, I'm gonna check into some insurance plans. Right now (knock on wood) my dog "BabyGirl", 4-1/2 yr old JR Terrier/Beagle mix is very healthy. I called my vet to see if or what insurance plans they accept...NONE !! YOU PAY ALL EXPENSES UP FRONT and then I file Insurance Co. for reimbursement. I ask vet what if something happens and it's a matter of life & death and say the bill would be around $1,000 which maybe I didn't have that much cash at the time, would you still not treat her and let her die ???? Answer: YES, NO OTHER CHOICE. That response sounds like ANIMAL CRUELTY to me. NOW I'M SCARED. I'm elderly and on low income disability. I don't have that kind of cash on hand. Can you please give me some advice as to what I should do. Like I said she is very healthy and I take extra good care of her BUT if something major were to happen I don't know what to do. NEED ADVICE PLEASE !!!

Posted by: Vicky M | August 24, 2017 10:37 AM    Report this comment

Wow I'm so surprised to see so many negatives about pet insurance. I have had the exact opposite experience. After going through IBD with one dog and cancer with another and no insurance, I had spent a whopping $30K on vet bills. And I'd do it all over again, but would rather have not had that additional stress on top of dealing with the medical side of things. I learned my lesson and got insurance and it has been a life saver, several times over. Another dog got cancer, this time I had insurance. Unfortunately I had bought the mid-range coverage and we blew through it very quickly. But I had zero issues with getting payment on any claims. This time around, with three dogs, I got a much better plan with Trupanion. We have a $150 deductible per incident, there is NO limit on claims and they pay 90% after the deductible. One of my dogs developed PRA and his various meds and supplements run almost $300/mo. Trupanion pays 90% of it, within a week of submitting the claim. Right now they are paying me more than I am paying them. I would never be without insurance again. The last thing I ever want to do is have to make a decision based on money.

Posted by: kissgirl | August 24, 2017 10:35 AM    Report this comment

I could go on and on about my disgust for all insurance, especially pet insurance, but that's not the purpose of my comment. If you haven't already, be sure to put Otto (and Woody, if he's had antibiotics) on a good quality pet probiotic supplement. All those antibiotics will screw up his GI tract for sure, especially since he's older.

Posted by: JanC1955 | August 24, 2017 10:34 AM    Report this comment

Just to counter some of the negative comments, I bought PetPlan for my two rescues within a few months of getting them, before they had pre-existing conditions. While PetPlan has significantly increased their rates recently, the insurance has been amazing for us. One of my dogs has glaucoma and degenerative hip disease and *everything* has been paid for -- and it's been a lot, likely over $10,000 over the past few years. Yes, filing claims can be a hassle but once you get it figured out, it's great. It's one of the best financial decision I've ever made. YMMV.

Posted by: FishOutOfWater | August 24, 2017 10:19 AM    Report this comment

Many years ago a friend of mine had insurance and I thought she was crazy. But when I got my GSD my vet told me to get it. I'm so glad I listened. After a year of "trial period" I enrolled my 3 mini poodles as well. Like everyone, money can be tight at times, but when it comes to my dogs there are no limits. I was beginning to wonder if it was worth it, as 4 dogs are expensive. Then one of my poodles ate an acorn (yep - acorn) and ended up in the emergency room. I won't go into the details but the ER vet messed up the surgery and my dog ended up septic and was in and out of the ER, our regular vet, and a different ER. Embrace Insurance was a God send. I would have paid all bills anyway, but it was wonderful taking the financial side of it out of the equation. Sadly, my dog didn't make it. I would never be without insurance.

Posted by: Maureen NH | August 24, 2017 10:11 AM    Report this comment

I carry insurance on my Husky and 2 cats. I fully understand that I am dealing with an Insurance company in this case Nationwide (formerlyVPI) and they can be difficult. My rationale is that it will defray any large expenses. The tactic of saving enough to cover pet medical expenses rarely works out. As with human medical insurance you pays your money and take your chances. Given the low level of regulatory rules on these policies in each state, you are at the mercy of the company. Changes though, allowing class action suits vs arbitration, if not killed by the current administration, may provide some leverage to consumers. Best advice though, do everything in your power to protect your dog or cat.

Posted by: yachtboy | August 24, 2017 9:57 AM    Report this comment

Soon after I got my rescue pup, I bought a pet insurance policy from Embrace pet insurance. I was interested in a catastrophic policy not one that covered the normal routine visits to the vet. I got one from Embrace that has a $1000 deductible, Maximum coverage for any one year was $10,000 beginning cost was about $15 per month and was guaranteed renewable annually. Didn't have to make a claim for 9 years by which time I was paying just under $19 per month. Unfortunately, my beloved dog suddenly came down with an autoimmune disease. His immune system was attacking his red blood cells. In an effort to try to save him we tried everything, including two blood transfusions. Unfortunately it didn't work. I miss him dearly. Because of the pet insurance I was able to go the whole mile in trying to save him. Embrace paid for everything after the $1000 deductible. When I get another dog soon, I will definitely get him a pet insurance policy. Probably with Embrace. They were wonderful and gave me no problems with my claims.

Posted by: jeh5897 | August 24, 2017 9:57 AM    Report this comment

I've also had positive experiences with Nationwide and have the same plan for my 6 year old Berner. He's had 4 mast cell tumors that have all required surgery as well as quarterly staging by his oncologist and treatment by an allergist. Nationwide has covered most of the expenses. I've only submitted my detailed vet bills for reimbursement and have not had any issues being reimbursed though it does take 4 weeks or so.

Posted by: bernermom | August 24, 2017 9:51 AM    Report this comment

After having paid $8,000 for a very successful brain tumor surgery for one of our dearly departed Goldens back in 2008, and waiting too long to get pet insurance for our current 6 year old Golden (who developed an auto immune disease at 5 months of age costing us over $6,000 for her initial occurrence of meningitis), I learned my lesson. Our other Golden girl, who will be 2 in October, has pet insurance and of course has been quite healthy. I don't care. All of our future furry kids will never be without it. She has Healthy Paws which at the time I enrolled her, was one of the few I could find that had an annual deductible as opposed to a per occurrence deductible. I pay about $43 per month for 90% coverage after a $250 deductible.

Posted by: Bella and Breeze's Mom | August 24, 2017 9:48 AM    Report this comment

I know lots of people that love their pet insurance but I never had a good experience with it. Ultimately I ended up just starting a savings account for accidental/unforseen vet visits and it's worked wonderfully as there's nobody to say 'hey that's not covered under your policy!' (or dare I say a "pre-existing condition"). Last year my large dog blew both knees and needed two TPLO surgeries to the tune of almost $10k (deemed a pre-existing condition which is ludicrous as the dog was born with two perfectly fine CCLs).... . He's only 3 and very lively so there was no getting around it. He had the first in July '16 and the second in December '16. Unfortunately in January '17 my senior dog became very ill. After spending two weeks at the emergency vet (and ultimately losing her) I had another $5k vet bill. When you have multiple dogs (I have 4), you realize that they will get hurt or sick when it's inconvenient, but that doesn't absolve you of your responsibility to care for them. My savings didn't cover all of the vet bills, but it sure helped!

Posted by: JoesMom | August 24, 2017 9:34 AM    Report this comment

The topic of pet insurance, which company, and then how much coverage is one I've wrestled with for years-and have yet to pull the trigger! So, thank you for addressing this topic. I always look forward to your articles, and feel like I personally know Woody and Otto! My boys are Indy, a 4 yr old English Mastiff, and Ollie, a 3 yr old Bulldog. I wonder since I didn't start with insurance when they were younger, how much more insurance would cost, starting at these ages now? Indy has chronic allergies and Ollie has seasonal alopecia(would love a WDJ article on alopecia in dogs!). On one hand now that neither are puppies any longer, would the cost of insurance be prohibitive at their ages, and with each having a chronic issue, but this is the time in their lives when you almost expect to begin seeing more costly problems. I'd love to know/understand how you came to choose your insurance company and policy. Thanks again for another interesting article.

Posted by: Raji | August 24, 2017 9:32 AM    Report this comment

You may want to hold off judging how wonderful pet insurance is until you see what sort of hoops you must jump through to get reimbursement for all these vets visits. I have my own horror stories about our experience with what was supposed to be the best company out there and everyone I know who tried pet insurance had similar experiences with various companies. Very few people I know ever actually got reimbursement for their pets medical expenses because we all gave up after months of trying. I hope it is not the same for you but the odds aren't great.

Posted by: YIKMDLF | August 24, 2017 9:32 AM    Report this comment

We had the full premium insurance package for our Dane and Mastiff with the wellness package, that actually cost us an additional $500 per year per dog to be used for a maximum of $500 of preventative wellness care. The only claims we made were for the wellness component and yet our premiums with OSPCA Pet insurance continued to increase exponentially every year. Because they kept drastically increasing the premium without any justification we simply cancelled the premium. We pay for a wellness package with our Vet and keep our own money aside in the event we have major problems. I have considered looking into other pet insurance providers but we are currently self insuring.

Posted by: HemiCinder | August 24, 2017 9:03 AM    Report this comment

Had insurance and got rid of it. Just a way to separate you from your money. They would pay for NOTHING.

Posted by: dorpmuller | August 24, 2017 9:01 AM    Report this comment

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