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is pet insurance worth it?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I apologize if this is an old subject, but what do you experienced cat people think of insurance? I saw one online that was only $11.00 a month and covered thousands of dollars worth of medical procedures. I'm thinking about it because our dog had a melanoma in his eye, and I ended up spending almost $3,000 for surgery. And my friend has a cat with cancer and kidney failure, and has also spend thousands. (Her cat is still alive and doing well 3 years after the diagnosis because of the care.) Any opinions or ideas of good companies?
Thanks,
post #2 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiva13 View Post
I apologize if this is an old subject, but what do you experienced cat people think of insurance? I saw one online that was only $11.00 a month and covered thousands of dollars worth of medical procedures. I'm thinking about it because our dog had a melanoma in his eye, and I ended up spending almost $3,000 for surgery. And my friend has a cat with cancer and kidney failure, and has also spend thousands. (Her cat is still alive and doing well 3 years after the diagnosis because of the care.) Any opinions or ideas of good companies?
Thanks,
Good question! I have been wondering the same thing. Thank you for asking it
post #3 of 21
Both of mine are insured with lifetime cover, so any chronic conditions such as diabetes are paid for every year rather than just for the first year of the condition. There is an excess of £80 (so we have to pay the first £80 of treatment for any condition, insurance pays the rest). The great thing is that my vet deals direct with the insurance company. The annoying thing is that I only got Radar insured on Friday and then he got sick on Monday, I haven't received the policy documents yet and don't know if there's a 'not covered for the first 14 days of this policy' type clause in it (this would be there to stop people taking out insurance because their cat has just got sick).

I have heard though that pet insurance in the US is nowhere near as good as it is here in the UK, so I would wait for input from your fellow Americans before taking the plunge.
post #4 of 21
Both my cats are insured. The package seems pretty good, though thankfully I've never had to use it. I think it's about $18 each a month. But worth the peice of mind. I never want to be told the vet bill will be $4000 and I can't afford it or I'm put in a euthanizing position.

We used insurance a lot with my old cat. He had some fighting injuries and later in life some thyroid troubles. I seem to remember my parents being very happy they had it.

You can't wait too long to insure. I think after 10yrs old they won't start it for you. You get a better rate if you start from kittenhood.
post #5 of 21
It's worth it if it works for you, if your pet never 'uses' it, that's great that they're healthy, but you might feel you're paying out a lot of money for nothing (until you do need it, then...). I would check into discount plans for multipet households, and also into whether your dog with melanoma will be covered ("pre-existing" conditions and all that - the kind of thing getting insce. for people can be a problem about). I personally have not bought any, though checked through the years if things have changed, because up in Canada, it is very expensive, the discount for all our animals is not very good, and our cats, being outside only on leashes, and dogs not being in contact with others (or traffic, etc.) have been less expensive just to deal with on an individual event basis, and we 'save' the money for house sitters or boarding when needed. But that's us :-).
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Epona View Post
I have heard though that pet insurance in the US is nowhere near as good as it is here in the UK, so I would wait for input from your fellow Americans before taking the plunge.
Yes, that seems to be the opinion of many posters on here so I'd get a few more opinions from US posters before you make a decision. I'm in the UK and wouldn't be without it.
post #7 of 21
I have Petcare Insurance and have had wonderful experiences with them. My vet also said that his patients who have Petcare are more satisfied than those who have the other major U.S. insurer (sorry, don't know which that is).

The funny thing is that in general, I think it's better to just put money aside than to have pet insurance, since you end up paying a lot of money, probably more than you'd ever pay for medical care if you have a healthy cat.

But in my particular case, I thought I would get insurance temporarily because my cat was new, and then he turned out to have a heart condition. So Petcare has cheerfully and promptly shelled out about $1500... the expenses have racked up so fast that I've used up about half of my pet's lifetime maximum for cardiac and respiratory illnesses (they divide the coverage cap evenly over five or six illness categories). But happily now that he's had all the expensive tests, it's mostly just medication, which is inexpensive and they will pay for.

I was really surprised... I was submitting numerous claims covered with my vet's barely legible and complicated descriptions, and they didn't reject first and ask questions later, as many insurers would do. They simply paid the claims. Plus the phone service is friendly and helpful.
post #8 of 21
I've been told that a lot of insurance places do not deal directly with your vet, so you need to pay the amount initially and then they reimburse you. Obviously if you don't have the money up front it could be a bit of a problem. Just something to keep in mind.

I've also found that a lot of insurance places have many exclusions for things they don't cover. Some of the places I was looking at did not cover routine shots or regular checkups. One place did not cover if your cat got sick from eating things like human food or string. Obviously this one didn't seem like such a great deal to me after finding that out. It seems silly to me to pay insurance every month and then STILL have vet bills on top of that. Although I am cheap and always looking for a good deal, so you may not want to listen to me on that issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by emmylou View Post
The funny thing is that in general, I think it's better to just put money aside than to have pet insurance, since you end up paying a lot of money, probably more than you'd ever pay for medical care if you have a healthy cat.
This is what I do instead, just set aside a little money for emergencies, whether they be cat related or other. Personally I'd rather save the $20+ I'd be spending every month on insurance and put it somewhere where I'll have easy access to it regardless of the circumstances, rather than pay it and be told that my cat's situation does no qualify for coverage.
post #9 of 21
Having read this, I really do think that UK pet insurance is better! The one I have covers £4,000 of vet bills per year, per condition, as long as you renew it every year without a break. So if one of mine developed a heart problem, I would pay £80 at the start of the treatment, and the insurers would pay for up to £4,000 worth of consultation and prescription fees for the heart problem every year for the rest of my cat's life. Straight to the vet. Which I think is pretty good.

The only exclusion on one of my policies is that because Radar had conjunctivitis before I insured him, he is not covered for any eye disorders for the first 12 months of the policy. However this exclusion will be reviewed if I get my vet to write to them and reassure them that it was a one off problem which is not indicative of ongoing eye problems.

If you are going to insure, it is important to take out insurance when they are young and healthy!
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pekoe & Nigel View Post
I've been told that a lot of insurance places do not deal directly with your vet, so you need to pay the amount initially and then they reimburse you. Obviously if you don't have the money up front it could be a bit of a problem. Just something to keep in mind.

I've also found that a lot of insurance places have many exclusions for things they don't cover. Some of the places I was looking at did not cover routine shots or regular checkups. One place did not cover if your cat got sick from eating things like human food or string. Obviously this one didn't seem like such a great deal to me after finding that out. It seems silly to me to pay insurance every month and then STILL have vet bills on top of that. Although I am cheap and always looking for a good deal, so you may not want to listen to me on that issue



This is what I do instead, just set aside a little money for emergencies, whether they be cat related or other. Personally I'd rather save the $20+ I'd be spending every month on insurance and put it somewhere where I'll have easy access to it regardless of the circumstances, rather than pay it and be told that my cat's situation does no qualify for coverage.

I'm thinking about pet insurance too and at first I was going to just save some money monthly for the pets and then I thought about it. My cats are 1 and 2 they will definitely need costly medical treatment by the end of their lives and when they get old I wouldn't be able to get insurance for them and if the get sick before they get insurance they won't be covered for that condition. Now if I saved the $14 per cat per month plus fees that's like $360 a year I've saved up. So I'd have to save for almost 5 years to get to $2,000, what if either of my girls gets sick before then? What ever I don't have saved must come from some other savings etc and I won't get it back. I mean if you are buying pets that are breed and you know the history you can chance it but my girls were both strays that I got from the Humane Society. Fortunately they gave me 1 month of Sheltercare Insurance (which is just Petcare for Shelter animals) as a free gift for each of the girls. Thank you emmylou for giving me your experience and the advice of your vet, I was already considering Petcare and now I'm definitely going to upgrade my policy.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
I've also found that a lot of insurance places have many exclusions for things they don't cover. Some of the places I was looking at did not cover routine shots or regular checkups. One place did not cover if your cat got sick from eating things like human food or string. Obviously this one didn't seem like such a great deal to me after finding that out. It seems silly to me to pay insurance every month and then STILL have vet bills on top of that. Although I am cheap and always looking for a good deal, so you may not want to listen to me on that issue
That's what I noticed too. I thought about it for the cat and turtle. I've had to shell out $300 when the turtle gets sick! But they ones I saw didn't even cover the visits for when they get sick, and they didn't cover the medicine. Of the $300, $100 was for visits, $150 was for anti-biotics, and $50 was for lab work. Apparently they would have only covered the $50. They don't cover preventative stuff (like yearly visits and vaccines). Basically, all they covered was the cat-got-hit-by-car-and-broke-a-leg scenario. And they only really covered the x-ray and surgery parts of that.

Agreed. Save your money in the bank.
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Epona View Post

If you are going to insure, it is important to take out insurance when they are young and healthy!
Very true. I insured my first 2 cats within a couple of weeks of getting them (got them as 8 week old kittens) and am really glad I did as it's one of those things that it's very easy to put off. I didn't use it until they were 8 years old when Magpie died but as his treatment cost nearly £2000 I ended up receiving back more than I'd paid in. With Jaffa I've just made one claim for a dental. Mosi came with 6 weeks free insurance from the breeder and I continued that policy. So mine are both covered for everything with no exclusions except anything normally excluded (eg vaccinations etc are not included in policies over here and that makes sense to me as they are regular payments you can budget for. If an insurer included them they would just add that amount on to your premium as they are a given cost). Jaffa is covered for £4000 per year and Mosi is covered for up to £6000 per year. Both are per year rather than per condition so they would continue to pay out year after year for a chronic condition. Definitely worth having for me as if I put by the amount I pay into the policy each month it would take me nearly 10 years to save up £1000 which is the minumum I'd want to have put by for emergencies.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeLovely79 View Post
I'm thinking about pet insurance too and at first I was going to just save some money monthly for the pets and then I thought about it. My cats are 1 and 2 they will definitely need costly medical treatment by the end of their lives and when they get old I wouldn't be able to get insurance for them and if the get sick before they get insurance they won't be covered for that condition. Now if I saved the $14 per cat per month plus fees that's like $360 a year I've saved up. So I'd have to save for almost 5 years to get to $2,000, what if either of my girls gets sick before then? What ever I don't have saved must come from some other savings etc and I won't get it back. I mean if you are buying pets that are breed and you know the history you can chance it but my girls were both strays that I got from the Humane Society. Fortunately they gave me 1 month of Sheltercare Insurance (which is just Petcare for Shelter animals) as a free gift for each of the girls. Thank you emmylou for giving me your experience and the advice of your vet, I was already considering Petcare and now I'm definitely going to upgrade my policy.
Yes, I do see your point and in theory it makes perfect sense to me. It's just that the nature of the pet insurance policies I've ever checked out don't offer that much practical assistance simply because of the number of exclusions I've found. I can't justify getting insurance only to find that our particular situation isn't covered. That might just be me though, and maybe I'm just looking at all the wrong insurance.
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for this discussion. It really does sound as if it's better in the UK. By the way, my dog died about 3 years ago at the age of 13, so it would just be for my 6 month old kitten Javier.

Maybe an idea is to talk to a couple of vets and see what they recommend.
I'll check into Petcare that one of you recommended and also talk to my vet. (and a few others.) If I find out anything interesting, I'll post it. The problem is, like with humans, health or illness is so unpredictable. My dog was a purebreed, ate only high quality food, got so much love, exercise, what he would need to be healthy. Who would have suspected melanoma? And now that cancer is more common with cats . . .
post #15 of 21
Both of my kitties are insured with VPI pet insurance. Their annual fee is about $190 which includes the all the health related coverage (I think up to 50K) and the wellness plan (annual shots, physical check up, flea medication, neuter/spay, etc). The wellness plan was a good idea to have since my two kitties that I found were about 3-4 months so they desperately needed all the exams and tests they can get but there are dollar limits. However, it was still well worth it. I think just within the first few months, I already got all my money back. The sucky part is that my vet doesn't deal with the insurance directly so I have to submit reimbursement form. It takes about 4-8 weeks to get your money back.

I'm thinking whether to include the wellness plan again when renewal comes up due since all their necessary shots, and spay/neuter are all done. I think the only shots they will have to get going forward is rabies and maybe do fecal sample lab work which won't be more than 100 total than adding 200 total for the wellness plan.
post #16 of 21
So far I've submitted claims for a number of different things (lab tests, medication, evaluation, a few different conditions) and encountered no exceptions. The only exceptions to my policy are for routine vet visits, vaccinations and deworming. I got the Quick Care Plus for Cats, which is about $15 or $16 a month.
post #17 of 21
I've just recently gotten pet insurance as well...I recieved a "one month free" policy to sheltercare (same as petcare), but after calling the company, I found out that the "free" policy covers basically nothing...so I decided to switch to the intro sheltercare plan and I will be paying ~$14 a month (btw, they charge a $2 a month pay-by-month fee if you don't pay yearly)... I think the amount of coverage is OK for what you pay, but I think that I'll probably end up switching to another plan. IMO, you really only get great coverage with the most expensive plans (i.e. those that are ~$35 a month).

I do think that it is a good idea, but as I haven't had to put in a claim yet, I can't vouch for the company's service...they do let you switch plans and/or cancel plans anytime, which is good.

I think that the company's statement about the service they provide is a good way to look at pet insurance "it's a way to budget for the unexpected"...I can easily afford to pay $15 a month, but there's no way that I could shell out $1500 immediately if my cat had an accident...so seems good to me.

Also, with this company (sheltercar/petcare) you do have to pay upfront and then they repay you (as I understand it)). I didn't know there were any that dealt directly with the vet...maybe there aren't any here in the US yet.

Art
post #18 of 21
You know, another thing I didn't mention is that if I hadn't had the insurance, though I could've gotten the money together, I likely wouldn't have taken the more aggressive approach of the two my vet offered me (the other was to wait a half a year or a year) and gone ahead with the specialist and the EKG. So my cat wouldn't have had diagnosis or treatment until some undetermined point in the future.

I also started with the Sheltercare free policy (which, yes, only covers the most likely problems for new shelter adoptees), and my cat had a mild FLUTD problem in the first month, so they covered it.
post #19 of 21
I am struggling with this right now. Canada is so expensive for pet insurance and when you have two cats the discount is very low. I almost want to get a third cat just to have a better discount hehehe. (My logic is pretty silly). I have looked into PetPlan and they actually look like the better plan, only way more expensive than other insurance companies. It's just that they cover everything if you can afford the monthly fees. They also have other plans to choose from that are cheaper, but with only selected coverage.

I had a cat when I was younger who needed to have a tooth removed. At that time it cost $500. Now it's likely closer to $700... My parents at the time couldn't afford this cost and actually took out a loan from a bank, believe it or not. Then later my cat got diabetes and then something else was going on (I can't remember) and she needed an operation. The cost was way too much for my parents so they had her put to rest Had they had the money she would have lived a bit longer, I suppose. But this is getting too sad to talk about so I digress...

So I am going to get insurance no mater what. I know that $50 a month per cat is not something we can afford. But in the long run, if the kitties need surgeries, teeth removed, etc. we can give it to them.

If I had the ability to save money I would keep an emergency cat fund, but I know I have trouble saving, so this is not an option. Plus, it would be just my luck that the cats would get sick before I have saved enough to cover it. So, yeah, for me insurance is the way. I think I'd rather have the security of knowing my kitty will be okay. It would ease my mind, not having to be extremely cautious and hypocondriatic.
post #20 of 21
I've been thinking of getting Peace covered since he's deaf and I can just see some accidents from that. I called the ASPCA insurance people. The lady I talked to was very nice and explained that even though he was born deaf, any accidents he has would be covered. I haven't got it yet, I'm still in the thinking stage.
post #21 of 21
It sure seems like a small price to pay for those "just in case" moments. When you add it up, it's usually more expensive per year than the yearly checkups themselves, but what if something does happen? My boyfriend's cat just got really sick and the bills were a little over $1,000. He didn't have pet insurance or any money saved up, so I helped him out, but now he does have it. I don't have it, but am thinking about it. I think it is worth it for sure.
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