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Pet Insurance- who has it? (First time cat servant to be)

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
I have been reading these sad stories about cats eating toys, yarn etc and having expensive surgeries so it's got me thinking I need to consider insurance when I get my kitten next month.

How many people pay for a policy? Do they normally cover surgeries for intestinal blockages etc? Do you recommend a particular plan?

Also, I've read hair bands, paper clips, rubber bands etc are very dangerous. As a first time cat owner, are there any toys I should avoid? I know some people rave about Da Bird etc but are they really safe?

Thanks for your help.

(If this is posted in the wrong section, I apologize).
post #2 of 30
I looked into getting insurance for my horse and I need to shop around more companies because what disappointed me was that the ones I looked at required that I pay the bill in full before they'd reimburse me for it.
post #3 of 30
I do have insurance - It covers all illnesses and accidents - It can reimburse me, or pay the vet directly. they pay 80% of the bill, and I pay 20 - it covers RX, cat scans, tests, cancer, etc. The premium for Lucky is a bit more than $16/month - I am SO glad I got it; I don want ever to be in a position of not being able to take care of her... the company is called Pets Best Insurance.
post #4 of 30
Not quite 15 years ago I sold insurance (to people, not to pets) and what I learned is that insurance is not a money choice, insurance is an emotional choice. In other words, you don't buy insurance to profit from it, you buy insurance because it makes you feel safe. Remember that insurance companies are in business to make money, so they are taking in more money than they're paying out. Now, whether that applies to you individually - whether they'll take your money and you never get any back, or whether you get back more than you paid - is strictly a matter of probabilities, and the insurance company underwriters are very good at estimating these probabilities, so that the probability favors them taking in more than they pay out, over all the policies that they write. So, for you individually, it's a matter of whether or not you're comfortable with the probabilities. Are you comfortable with taking the risk yourself? Or would you feel safer with paying the insurance company to take the risk?

Once you've estimated your risk tolerance, then you can look at the money, and that's simply a matter of can you afford to pay the medical bills yourself? If no, then can you afford to pay the premiums? Yes to the first question means you probably don't need the insurance. No to the first and yes to the second means you probably should buy the insurance. No to the second means you can't afford the insurance and heaven help you if you have a big expense you can't afford either.

I've done business with two different pet insurance companies and in the end I decided to go without. It's tough paying those steep premiums and not getting anything back, knowing that I could pay for the big expense if I really need to. So, getting stung a little bit each month wasn't worth covering the chance of getting one really big sting.

Good luck, best wishes, and Merry Christmas.
post #5 of 30
Very well written, Coaster.
post #6 of 30
Coaster's got it exactly right.

One important question is, what would you do if you were one of those few people who had a sick pet who could create a huge vet bill? If you simply don't let vet expenses get too high, then you'll never be one of those few people who the insurance company gives money to, and you shouldn't buy pet insurance. If you could be one of those owners out there with huge vet bills, then you go to the decision matrix Coaster describes.

I decided not to buy pet insurance because I "knew" that I wouldn't spend a huge amount of money on my cats. And then, last year, I spent $2,300 to have string removed from Athena's stomach and for followup care. However, I still don't have pet insurance, and I don't plan to. I did financially survive that blow, and I'd rather keep my recurring expenses (like a monthly pet insurance bill) as low as possible and save for emergencies. Cash is very flexible, insurance isn't. If I save money, it can help me in any type of emergency or unexpected situation, not just pet health problems.
post #7 of 30
Originally Posted by Enuja View Post
Cash is very flexible, insurance isn't. .
I like that way of putting it. May I use it?

My main objection to pet insurance is that they don't yet offer catastrophic insurance. If I could buy insurance at a low premium with a very high deductible, then I'd be more interested in it.
post #8 of 30
Wow, I did not know that low premium, high deductible pet insurance didn't exist. That really surprises me, as catastrophic costs seem like the only real reason to get pet insurance.

Of course you may use that line!
post #9 of 30
I picked up PetPlan over Thanksgiving for my Cat. They have some pretty nice plans, with a flexible deductible/coinsurance system.

The most affordable is 80% covered (Up to $8000), $250 deductible for about $80 a year (~$7 a month).

You can push the coinsurance to 90% or 100%, or have a $100 or $50 deductible. That can push the cost up to $90 to $120 for the year.

It's endorsed by the Humane Society, and has some pretty good reviews from a Pet Health Insurance review site.

You can compare other Pet Health Plans from other companies from that website as well.

Just some things to note:
-They only accept pets 8 years and younger, but will cover older pets as long as you get them in before that age.
-Deductible applies per medical illness. So if you bring your pet in for a broken leg, then for UTI, they will have separate deductibles.
-It doesn't cover preventable illnesses. So if your pet is missing rabies shots, and he catches rabies, then it won't be covered.

There's a 30 day money back guarantee, so if you don't like something about it you can cancel it and get your money back.

If someone wants a copy of their policy, send me a PM and I can forward it to you.
post #10 of 30
We had pet insurance for about a year and then decided the price per month wasn't worth the deductible and hassle of getting your money back from the insurance company. We had to pay up front then request reimbursement. We decided that putting X amount of $ away per month for emergencies was the best way to go. By putting X$ into a savings account each paycheque is better than the pet insurance IMO.
post #11 of 30
I think insurance is a lot better in the UK than the US - yes, you have to pay and then get the money back, which is the only downside, but my vets bills have averaged £1000 per year for the past two years, and the bulk has been for one cat - the insurance company have paid all bar 15% of it. I do recommend it to anyone who adopts a cat from me - we do have companies here that will insure cats over the age of 8 (my two are 16 and 18.5) and their payout is good. They even paid out for Mabel despite only owning her for 5 weeks, so I have had the better deal again, even though i have never claimed for Molly, despite paying 2 years worth of premiums for her.
post #12 of 30
I do not have it and have paid over 2000 to try to save a cat.
Thats why my Care Credit is full.
Coco does not qualify and either does Meeko because she almost died at 3 months.
We did reasearch it when Stripe had Crf but it was not worth it.
The money you pay per month is more then the vet bill in the long run.
post #13 of 30
Originally Posted by merindah View Post
Also, I've read hair bands, paper clips, rubber bands etc are very dangerous. As a first time cat owner, are there any toys I should avoid? I know some people rave about Da Bird etc but are they really safe?
I don't have pet insurance, because like many I don't see the value of it, but I can help answer this question.

Some cats get into trouble, others don't. Right now there's probably two or three hair ties and a plastic milk ring on the floor - my cats steal the hair ties to play with and have shown no signs of trying to swallow them (they're the slightly larger bands, though). Rubber bands are kept put up, as with anything else that could be a problem.

Tomas will eat string, again I keep this put away but he found one last year... it was on my pajama pants laying on the bed. Luckily he had only chewed the string off and not swallowed it.

Da Bird is more of an interactive toy. You need to put it away when not playing with your cat, otherwise at the very least your cat will destroy it and eat the feathers. Feathers, if smaller and undyed, are not a serious problem if a cat eats them. Toys with buttons, bells, little balls, ears, eyes, string tails, etc need to be modified. Avoid cheap and poorly made toys.
There are also members in the market place that make handmade toys. These will be very safe and you'd be supporting a fellow cat lover (or cat slave, however you want to see it). If you're creative you can also make your own toys.

Beware plastic, such as plastic bags and tape. Cats are notorious for trying to chew up plastic bags.

And that's pretty much it. Cat proof much like you would baby proof a home for a toddler and just pay attention to your cat's habits. You can avoid most problems this way.
post #14 of 30
Wise advice. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of insurance. And a pound of insurance is worth 80% cure and 20% copay.
post #15 of 30
Oh & look at what's excluded in those. There are A LOT of exclusions in the fine print, from what I understand.
post #16 of 30
Well, depends on the company and the policy. Generally pre-existing conditions can be assumed to be excluded, but exactly what constitutes a p.e.c. is up to each company to define, so you really have to ask questions and read the fine print.
post #17 of 30
The pre-existing conditions are very tricky. I have Vetinsurance for my dog and always seem to have problems claiming from them!

I just submitted a claim this month for a dermatologist appointment because my dog has been itching a lot. We found out via this consultation that she's allergic to dust mites and cat dander. Well, Vetinsurance denied the claim because they said it's pre-existing--the vet we saw in 2003 made a small note in her file that my dog was itching back then. That was totally UNRELATED, two very different and separate problems, but yet just a vague symptom itself can cause a lot of other issues to be pre-existing.

For example, IF my dog had mange in 2003 and she was itching and this time around, she developed household allergies, they can classify them together since "itching" was present. I'm going to give it a few more months to see how it goes. I might cancel. No matter how many times you read the fine print, sometimes it's really up to the insurance's discretion on how they want to interpret it.

Furthermore, someone I spoke to who used to work for a pet insurance company has said that for some companies, pre-existing can just mean if it has happened before, not necessarily BEFORE you start buying insurance. Example: your insurance policy starts in January 2009 and that same month, your cat is diagnosed with dry eye. The insurance covers for that claim, but then later that year, your cat has dry eye again. Well, guess what? It's happened before, so it's pre-existing, so they won't cover it.

For the company I use, they're not that tricky, but still, they all have to make money somehow.
post #18 of 30
I think it really depends on what you can afford to pay. I do have insurance, for one reason only: If something happens to Lucky, and the bill is $2000, lets say; I could pay the $400 for the co-payment, but I could not pay the $2000... I can easily afford paying the $17.00/month premium... But if I have an emergency with her, I would most likely not be able to afford it... And I don't want to EVER be in a position where her life depends on $$$ I don't have...
Yes, I might pay these $17.00/month and never have a problem... That would be great! In this forum alone I have seen soooo many cats that got sick and the bills were on the thousands... I have seen people not doing tests on their cats because they can't afford it... For me the $17.00/month is a very small price to pay for peace of mind and her health.
My Insurance will also pay the hospital directly, if that is my choice, and if that is the arrangement with the vet.
post #19 of 30
In some countries Insurence is 1 more coverage ... 2 less$$ for premiums...

I have care credit for my er fund... no interest plans and ease of use
post #20 of 30
Here's a link to the Bronze Policy I got from PetPlan.

$80 a year (~$7 a month)
20% Co-pay
$200 Deductible per illness/accident
Up to $8000 per year.

Again, you can adjust the Deductible and Co-pays but that will lead to higher price. You also get a discount from the Humane Society by using code SPD20002, and a further discount if your pet is microchipped.

They have a nice page that gives you a price quote as well, where you can compare the plan types, and options.
post #21 of 30
Care credit is being cancelled in Canada at the end of January so it isn't an option up here.

I do have insurance on some of my cats, not all. Scully had insurance when we got him and while it had never been used (he had never beem to the vet since he was a kitten) and the premiums over several years went into the insurance company's pocket - we have made good use of it over the last few years and charged probably close to $10k to it and got back over $8k after deductibles.

Autumn came with shelter insurance and when I told them I didn't want to keep it up they offered me a great deal with guaranteed premiums so I kept it up as she was on the streets for several years and is (statistically at least) more likely to have problems than my indoor since kittens cats.

The others dont but they have never had to go without a needed vet visit, if we don't have the money on hand, it goes on our credit card.
post #22 of 30
I checked into insurance for my cats, but the cost was prohibitive. They're both rescues, and Forest has cerebellar hyperplasia (which doesn't effect his health...it just makes him walk funny...but try to tell an insurance company that ). Instead I've established an emergency savings account for my pets. I contribute $50 a month to it so I have a little cushion in case of an emergency. I don't use it for checkups and other normal vet expenses, just for emergencies (like when Forest swallowed the string last summer ).
post #23 of 30
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the comments. I appreciate your opinions
post #24 of 30
No problem, that's what we're here for. Opinions, that is.
post #25 of 30
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
We decided that putting X amount of $ away per month for emergencies was the best way to go. By putting X$ into a savings account each paycheque is better than the pet insurance IMO.
This is what we are doing, it just makes more sense to us.
post #26 of 30
That's probably the best choice for people who can afford to take the risk of an unexpected vet bill before there's enough in savings to pay for it. It might mean putting it on a credit card instead of paying out of the vet savings account. But for someone who's comfortable taking the risk for the first few years then there's no need to pay an insurance company to take the risk for you.
post #27 of 30
There are downsides to that - I took Mabel on last year, she had been in a rescue for over a year, and other than snottiness, no apparent health issues. I lost her 5 weeks later to intestinal lymphoma, and her bill was either just over or just under £200 - the insurance company paid all bar £50 of it, there is no way I would have been able to save that kind of money that quickly. Some of my previous cats have cost £1000 in one year, again, the insurance has paid the bulk, but I couldnt have afforded to save that kind of money, especially as it was that amount 2 years in a row (and that was just on one cat, didn't include anything the others might have had)
post #28 of 30
I looked into pet insurance when I got my girls but decided it was not a good deal, too many loopholes and the premiums goes up as the animal ages. My two had issues right off the bat that could be called "pre-existing" or genetic, and so were not covered. You need to read the fine print, exclusions and all the other stuff carefully.
post #29 of 30
I have VPI pet insurance and was very fortunate that I started the policy before my cat was diagnosed with diabetes, because the glucose curves and other tests were very expensive, and VPI would not have covered her in the first place if the diabetes was pre-existing.

Yes I do have to pay the bill up front then submit for reimbursement but over the years it has been worth it. Some years not so much financially but definitely emotionally.

Just be careful to understand what is covered -- you might assume cancer is covered but it isn't for me. In fact now that my cat is older, I cannot even get the "cancer rider" added in to her policy.
post #30 of 30
I do have pet insurance and love it! It is through the Banfield Pet Hospital inside PetSmart, and I have no deductible, pay $16.95 a month for the Basic Plan, (there are 3 plans), and I do not have to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed. What I do have to pay is for any medication or preventive meds, like fle meds, heartworm prevention meds, etc. There are a few other things the basic doesn't cover that the other two plans do cover, but for now the Basic is enough. It covers the office exam, all lab work and vaccinations, etc. However, it does not cover any x-rays that may need to be done; that is covered under the 3rd, (best) plan. This is just a few examples for you to ponder!
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