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HealthyAssurance by petMD

Healthy Assurance's mission is simple: To provide pet owners with unbiased, reliable, helpful, and timely information on pet insurance from a veterinarian’s perspective. And what better veterinarian to write this blog than Dr. Kenney, a small animal practioner and author of Your Guide to Understanding Pet Health Insurance

Is Pet Insurance Really Worth It?

In their latest study, Consumer Reports concluded that pet owners with mostly healthy dogs or cats will not receive back in reimbursements what they pay in premiums. But, pet owners with dogs or cats that have major illnesses or chronic diseases that result in large or frequent claims are more likely to benefit from pet insurance. Is a study really needed to figure that out?

It is true that most pet owners who purchase pet insurance will not receive back in benefits what they pay in premiums. Pet insurance companies have to take in (premiums) more than they pay out (reimbursements). Otherwise, they couldn’t stay in business. But, this is true with virtually every other type of insurance you buy.

Then why buy pet insurance? You purchase pet insurance for the unexpected major or chronic problems that you would have trouble paying for out-of-pocket, like a fracture that requires surgery, gastrointestinal foreign body, Cushings disease, diabetes or arthritis. I often tell pet owners that pet insurance isn’t for the $150 urinary tract infection, but for the $3500 fracture repair, etc.

In the study, Consumer Reports compared premiums with reimbursements, from puppyhood until Roxy was ten years old. But many of the chronic and costly diseases that pets get occur during their senior years. Remember, if your pet lives long enough, it is inevitable that he or she will develop one or more chronic diseases that can usually be managed successfully with either surgery or medication — sometimes over several years. Cumulatively, this can sometimes add up to a significant expense.

Trupanion was the only newer company that they included in the study, and they reimbursed the most when compared to the other three companies. I think it would have been interesting to see how all of the newer companies would have fared in the study.

Consumer Report’s overall recommendation is that pet owners should open a savings account to pay for their pet’s healthcare expenses instead of buying a pet insurance policy. People who have lost sight of the primary purpose of pet insurance usually make this recommendation. I addressed this in a previous blog post.

Is the decision to purchase pet insurance always just a matter of dollars and cents? I think not, because many pet owners who purchase pet insurance realize that it’s possible they won’t ever be reimbursed the amount they pay in premiums. They do it for the peace of mind - knowing that they will be able to treat their beloved pet just in case something unexpected and costly does occur.

If we could just get Consumer Reports to use their crystal ball to forecast for pet owners who may be interested in purchasing pet insurance whether their pet will be mostly healthy or not — now that would be really helpful!

Dr. Doug Kenney

Pic of the day: like a new cat (after surgery a few weeks earlier) by Shira Golding

cat after surgery, pet insurance, is pet insurance worth it, pet emergencies

Comments  12

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  • Pet health assurance
    06/30/2012 02:45am

    This is a great article to know about the pet insurances. Most of the people love to have cat and dog. They love pets as a family member. So, it is necessary to have best plan to cover the expenses reacted to the security of act or dog. Thanks for providing this helpful information.

  • Pet insurance
    03/21/2013 04:55am

    Pet insurance is good for unexpected accidents and illnesses. They can get expensive quickly, so it's nice to have insurance to cover the costs. Pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions, so if your pet is already sick or injured, it is unlikely that pet insurance will cover the costs to treat it.



  • 03/08/2016 01:35pm

    Not necessarily true, pet insurance does cover accidents, the very reason for having the insurance. You have to shop around and see what the insurance companies will and will not cover or perhaps pay a higher monthly premium. Some cover cost of teeth cleaning, nail clipping, regular check ups

  • Pet Insurance
    05/22/2013 09:31am

    I have little knowledge about pet health insurance. Anyone can tell me details about this. What are the terms of policy of pets insurance? How pet owners claim his money? This is really interesting news for me. And thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful post.

  • pet insurance
    06/19/2013 03:16am

    Pet insurance can be pretty expensive but can cost you even more if you don't have it due to the high medical care cost at the hospital. Some owners will go as far as buying pet life insurance for their pet.

  • 07/12/2013 01:52am

    Yeah, some people will buy [url=https://www.nber.com/buy-pet-life-insurance/]pet life insurance[/url] for their pet. A lot of people's love for their pet is really unconditional.

  • 08/03/2013 09:01pm

    I found the best Insurance Company, its Fleet Insurance http://www.fleetinsurancequote.co they are very co-operative and understanding. I love there services.

  • Pet Insurance
    03/08/2016 11:49am

    Purchasing pet insurance for my Shih Tzu at just about 3 years of age has been one of the best decisions I've ever made! Over the past 3 years (he's almost 6 now) We have used or Healthy Paws (the best company in my opinion) several times! My dog had a very unexpected ruptured disc in his neck and the surgery to fix him was almost $4,000!! With my pet insurance, I ended up paying only around $350! I know of many people who have had to put their otherwise, healthy pets down because they couldn't pay for such a surgery or other procedures. I pay a premium of $43 a month withe $100 a year deductible at a 90% reimbursement rate and it's paid for itself several times over! I never hesitate having any tests done or getting meds because I know it's covered. Another thing to consider looking into is Care Credit. I use this to pay for any vet bills, interest free, then use my insurance reimbursement to pay it off!

  • INSURANCE RIP OFF
    03/08/2016 02:48pm

    IF YOUR PET IS ESSENTIALLY HEALTHY WITH NO KNOWN SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEMS, PET INSURANCE A WASTE OF MONEY (PUT MONEY ASIDE YOURSELF BY MONTHLY BILLING YOURSELF). HOWEVER, IF YOUR PET (BREED) IS INCLINED TO A MAJOR HEALTH PROBLEM PET INSURANCE IS THE WAY TO GO "IF" IT WASN'T BOUGHT FROM A REPUTABLE BREEDER GUARANTEEING THE HEALTH OF THE ANIMAL. WHEN BUYING INSURANCE, MAKE SURE IT COVERS PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS AND READ THE FINE PRINT. THE YOUNGER THE PET IS INSURED, THE LOWER THE COST; BUT AS THE PET AGES THE COST GOES UP. E.G. I HAD 'PETPLAN' FOR YEARS WITH A PREMIUM OF C. $450 AND AS ZOE GOT TO BE ABOUT 8 YRS OLD, THE PREMIUMS STARTED TO GO UP, AND UP, AND UP UNTIL SHE WAS 10 AND THE PREMIUM WAS OVER $750 A YEAR. I HAD TO DROP IT. MORAL OF THE STORY IS: AS THE PET AGES THEY FORCE YOU OUT BY CHARGING HIGH PREMIUMS, JUST WHEN ONE NEEDS IT THE MOST. AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED, PETPLAN IS ONE BIG RIP OFF COMPANY. OTHER COMPANIES ARE CHEAPER, BUT THEY DON'T INCLUDE OFFICE VISITS AND LIMIT REIMBURSEMENTS. PET INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE A GROUP THAT SHOULD BE REGULATED FAR BETTER THAN THEY ARE NOW.

  • 03/08/2016 09:14pm

    JollyJim,
    Couple of points I'd like to make. You started off your comment with the word IF. That's the thing none of us know for sure. A seemingly healthy dog this morning can be in the emergency room tonight with a life-threatening illness that will cost thousands of dollars to treat. Yes, it happens more than you might think - I see it all the time as a vet. If all of us could predict the future, insurance wouldn't be needed at all.

    A savings account is good, but not INSTEAD of pet insurance. It may take years to become "self-insured" by building up enough savings to cover those unexpected and expensive accidents and illnesses. Pet insurance helps bridge the gap in the meantime. In other words, the best plan is to have both savings and insurance and allow them to compliment each other.

    As your savings builds over the years, it can also help with the problem of rising premiums. Yes, premiums will go up and may eventually reach beyond what you are comfortable paying (budget). What's good about Petplan and almost every other company is you have the option of downgrading your policy by choosing a higher deductible and/or copay or lowering your annual maximum to bring the premium back down into your comfort zone. Of course, this will mean a little more out-of-pocket whenever you file a claim, but if you've built up some savings, it will allow you to absorb those costs.

  • Pet Insurance is fraught
    03/08/2016 05:56pm

    Pet Insurance can be quite expensive for the average pet owner when you consider you never receive full reimbursement of your vet fees. That aside, pet insurance is fraught when one considers that insurance companies are self regulated and as such can be very difficult to work with. My wife and I have been having a lengthy dispute with our former pet insurer (which operates under a well known name of an animal association) we found was hopeless in paying its claims. So much so I stopped paying the fortnightly premium and cancelled the policy but they continue to request payment which I have refused. The other problem is once you have entered into taking insurance the company according to their PDS can continue to take payments over a 12 month period regardless and there's not a whole lot you can do about it. In my case I cancelled the fortnightly debit from my bank account. I will never pay the insurance company's premiums that they continue to request.

  • 03/08/2016 09:31pm

    Pet insurance companies aren't self-regulated, but are generally regulated by each state's Department of Insurance. Any changes to the company's policies or rates have to be approved by the state's DOI.

    If you haven't already done so, I would report any disputes to the DOI and possibly the BBB to try and reach a resolution.

    There are several steps you can take to make sure you buy a policy from a company that best suits your needs and will pay out expected reimbursements. I've put together a Pet Insurance Toolkit (petinsurancetoolkit.com) you can get to help you do the research necessary to make a good decision.

 

About Healthy Assurance

  • Dr Kenney, DVM
    Lisa Radosta, DVM, DACVB

    Doug Kenney practices small animal medicine and surgery at Houston Levee Animal Hospital in Cordova, Tennessee. He has a special interest in wellness care...

    Extended Bio

 
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