Friday, November 8, 2013

The Search for Pet Insurance

I was hesitant to adopt my foster dog because of the timing. Well, that, and money. Let’s be honest: Maisy’s vet bills in September alone topped $7000, an amount that would have been out of my reach had you guys not helped me. Your donations made it possible for me to pay for her care. Even so, things have been tight, so getting another dog… well, not only did it feel irresponsible fiscally, but I was also concerned ya’ll would think I was taking advantage of your kindness, or that you’d think I didn’t really need the help.

(Ed. Note: In the time between when I wrote this and when it got posted- often a delay because I don't have internet service at home and have to go to the library, and because I schedule several posts at once- someone did indeed raise this concern. Please know that I examined my finances very closely before I even agreed to foster. Although $7000 in one go was not affordable, the day to day expenses of a second dog is with a few modifications to my budget.)

Regardless of whether or not it was a good idea, Pyg is here to stay. With that decision made, I decided that I needed to protect myself from huge vet bills again in the future. I needed pet insurance. Getting it for Maisy is pointless; she has a pre-existing condition on practically every body system there is. But Pyg doesn’t.

I started my search by asking ya’ll on Facebook which company you use. I got four answers: Trupanion, Healthy Paws, Embrace, and PetPlan. I called around for quotes, and quickly got overwhelmed. Deductibles, limits, exclusions, co-insurance, on and on.

I did some internet research to learn about my options. I decided there were a few things I absolutely wanted: a plan that covered the vet exam fee (some don’t, surprisingly enough, and that was a pretty big portion of Maisy’s care!), prescription drugs, payment based on the actual vet bill, not a schedule, and specialist consults (including a veterinary behaviorist, which I sincerely hope I do not need). I also looked at whether the deductible was per year or per incident, what the annual and lifetime maxes were, and whether or not complementary/alternative approaches (including PT/rehab) were covered.

I chose PetPlan, largely because the premium vs. benefit schedule worked out best in my favor. Of course, the next step was to choose my coverage level. I chose the Gold Plan, which has the highest annual coverage (it covers up to $22,000/year). Then, because I’m a dork who loves charts, I used the calculator on their website to figure out how much of the bill would be covered if the bill was $500, $1000, or $5000 and based on the size of the deductible ($50, $100, or $200) and the reimbursement rate (80%, 90%, or 100%). Here, maybe this will help explain what I mean:

Next, I got a quote for each of those combinations. They ranged from about $18/mo to $43/mo. I didn’t want to pay more than $20 to $25/mo, which narrowed my options quite a bit. Then I looked at that first chart and decided that at that price range, I would get the best coverage with a $200 deductible with a 100% reimbursement rate. This is honestly not what I was expecting to choose, so I’m glad that I made the chart!

Now, is this the right coverage level and premium amount for you? I don’t know. I also don’t know if this is the right company for you either, but I’m hoping that by sharing my decision making process, you will be able to make decisions about what you need and want.

Finally, I just want to say that I loved working with Fabrice over at PetPlan. I asked him a ton of questions, and took up a lot of his time. He was patient with me, and explained everything in great detail. I can honestly say that the customer service I received from was amazing. (If you decide to use PetPlan, you should call him. He’s extension 2411.) And no, PetPlan did not pay me to say this. I just had a great experience.


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

I am very happy with Vito's Pet Plan. I did chose a $100 deductible though so it would cover more of the little illnesses and smaller weird crap Vito seems to get.

Catherine Mellor said...
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Betty Rose said...

If you are looking for a good pet insurance comparison site, then you should take a look at Pet Cover Direct