My New Year’s resolution for pet owner’s is going to be to get as many of my patients on pet health insurance as possible. It’s not that I like to spend your money. It’s that I really enjoy practicing high quality veterinary medicine whenever I can. This happens more when finances aren’t the major governing factor. With pet insurance you as the owner have already been making small payments towards Fluffy’s serious illness so after paying a small deductible we can be assured that while good veterinary care is expensive you have already offset the bulk of that expense.
Veterinary health insurance is nothing like human health insurance. There is no haggling over bills, there is none of that getting the bill from us if your insurance refuses to cover services. It is a lot more like having dental insurance. You pay your bill at the time services are rendered (or put it on a credit card or make arrangements with your veterinarian), your veterinarian fills out a form and you submit the form to the insurance company. They then cut you a check for the amount they are going to cover. All you have to do is bring the form to the vet with you and then mail it out when they have filled it out.
Most insurance companies pay a portion of the bill. This ranges between 80-90%. Meaning if your pet is struck by a vehicle and needs multiple long bone fracture repairs, for example, the bill may quickly approach $4,000-5,000 but your responsibility would be between $400-600.00 still a hefty bill but certainly more manageable.
All of the insurance programs available to dogs and cats offer packages that include vaccines, dental care, routine fecals and heart worm testing. For some of these companies this is an extra cost and some companies include them in their base cost. Most of these policies are handled by nationally recognized insurance companies and may be handled by insurance agents in your town, often we find they are handled by insurance agents our clients are already working with. This puts a friendly local face on the policy and makes it that much more personal.
There is a lot of information out there (online) about pet insurance. Much of it has a lot of wording that makes sense to me when I read them but often involves things that I do and use everyday. I always recommend that before you sign onto a policy you bring it in to your veterinarian and have them review it and see if it is worth what you are spending on it. I will often enter in all of the routine, preventative care that a policy covers and then compare the total yearly benefits with the total yearly cost. You are not going to save money on preventative care with pet insurance. You might end up spending an extra hundred or so dollars over the course of a year. This is all worth it, however, if Fluffy is ever to have a serious accident or contract a serious illness.
I’m not going to promote one veterinary insurance program over another. The American Animal Hospital Association doesn’t do that anymore and neither should I.
Less than 1% of my clients have pet health insurance on their pets. It makes a world of difference when something serious comes up. Look at the links, call the company and see if it might work for you. If it does print out the plan you are thinking of and take it to your veterinarian. If they think it is a good fit for you bring it to an insurance agent that deals with the carrier and see what they can do for you. It might actually give your veterinarian the power to save your pet’s life someday.
Have a great year everyone!
Thanks for reading!