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Thread: Pet insurance

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Pet insurance

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    Sorry if this has been covered before, but I didn't have any luck searching.

    Does anyone have pet insurance?

    I've decided to go with VPI for insurance for my new puppy (see "Show Us Your Pets" thread) and can't decide what kind of coverage to get. This is the first time I've had a dog young enough and well enough to be able to buy insurance. My other five cockers have all had serious and expensive long-term health issues (e.g., kidney disease, cancer, cruciate ligament repair, heart/blood pressure problems requiring expensive meds) but I can't decide whether to cover more routine vet visits also.

    For complete coverage, it's $47/month.

    If I leave out spay/neuter (which my vet will give me at a discount), dental cleaning, and urinalysis/kidney testing it's $37/month.

    If I leave out routine care (flea/tick/heartworm meds, fecal testing, biannual vet visits, vaccines, routine blood work) it's $25/month.

    Any advice? I'm inclined to go with complete, but I hold out hope that this will be the one dog I've had who won't be at the vet twice a month.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    I have no pet insurance experience, but I do believe I helped put my vet's kid through college with my two cats. Despite having no experience, I'll still venture an opinion. I'd be inclined to go with the complete too. The extra $10 a month, for me at least, would have paid for itself in the money I spent on dental care for my one cat.

    Hopefully folks with experience will chime in. In the meantime, I saw the picture and your puppy is adorable, congrats!
    You too can help me fight cancer, and get a lovely cookbook for your very own! My team's cookbook is for sale Click here to order. Proceeds go to our team's fundraising for the Philly Livestrong Challenge!

  3. #3
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    I think you're better off by creating a separate account for the rainy day puppy/dog fund. Somebody is going to be making money off yours. And only portion of the money you spend for the insurance will be going for the vet bill. After a year, you've spent $300 on the cheapest plan. Okay so there is the spay/neuter. (but if you include that then its $564. Typical charge for spayneuter can range anywhere from $25-$250). Shots are additional $100 or there abouts for the first year.

    In just the first year alone, you can see that insurance is planning on making about $200 off of YOU. And most likely, your puppy will not need an expensive medical care the first year. A $2,000 vet bill in the first year is far less than 1 in 10... so the $200 that you give to the insurance and nine others like you will give the insurance company the $2,000 but they are betting that none of you will have that $2,000 vet bill. So they will be pocketing the money. They are there to MAKE MONEY.

    Over the years, we have fostered many high risk kittens. Kittens separated from their mother and protection afforded by the mama cat's breast milk. We've had to bottle feed the kittens... Of all the kittens we've fostered, we have had only one occasion, where our vet bill was in $2,000 range. The kittens were in intensive care/isolation for about 4 days. And one other kitten whose front leg was snapped (broken). They all pulled through and are happy loving cats. I think we've fostered over 40 high risk kittens by now may be more... from which we have had 2 incidence where we had a very large medical bill, about $3,500 in total. Spread this over the number of kittens and it comes out to around $100.00 per kitten per year. And these are high risk. not your average pet.

    On a regular puppy or cats the chances of having a very large bill would be much much lower.

    So, what it comes down to is this, can you afford a $2,000 vet bill if something terrible happens and are you willing to take that chance? If you can handle that $2,000 vet bill (very unlikely) then you would be far better off to squirrel the money away in the rainy day puppy/dog fund.

    Oh BTW, you can easily accrue $2,000 into the rainy day fund within a year or two. And just like health insurance for people they have disclaimer and other clauses which will limit their payout. Routine shots are most likely not covered. When they get old and have a chronic thyroid (somewhat common occurance in large breed dogs) these are not covered. Rimadyl for doggie arthritis are most likely not covered. (We also fostered dogs and have two of our own).

    If you have a pure bred, the risks are going to be bit higher.

    With our years of experience in fostering both dogs and cats, we've come out much better by creating our own rainy day fund.

    Just a disclaimer on my part: your milage may vary.

    just my 2cents.

  4. #4
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    Sep 2007
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    We had VPI for our dogs. They reimbursed us for some pretty expensive care and never gave us a problem about it. It's been a few years, but based on that experience I would recommend them.

    We didn't bother with the preventive care coverage. It didn't seem worth the extra premium. I think the place to start there is to consider how much it would cost you to pay for those services out of pocket (which is going to be different for every vet), vs. the premiums, vs. how much would be reimbursed by insurance.

    The premiums will go up as your puppy gets older, but you're not locked into any plan either; you can always drop the preventive care coverage later.


    Edit (simultaneous post with smilingcat): between the autoimmune blood disorder our one dog had (as motley a mutt as they come) and the trauma care I still have a hard time talking about... you're looking at more like $5-10,000 for something catastrophic. Just FYI. When we had VPI, the different plans also had different levels of maximum coverage, too.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 09-25-2009 at 06:36 AM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    403
    Hi - I have my horse insured, and until my dog was ridiculously old, I had him insured through VPI. I have had the horse insurance work out well for me ($8000:colic surgery+1month hospitalization cost me closer to $1000). The dog insurance didn't benefit me cost wise, but I would do it again for the next dog. Here's why: it's insurance. I would hate to have to euthanize my animal for something that is 100% fixable, but very expensive. I would either have a serious savings account for the next puppy or insurance (let's face it, puppies get into bad doggy situations). The insurance helps me sleep at night. I wouldn't have to face the question of debt vs patching up my dog. This is just my reasoning. I am sure everyone has their own opinions on this, but this is how I arrived at purchasing insurance for my animals. Just an aside, VPI was perfectly fine in my opinion.

  6. #6
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    Smilingcat, I agree with you in theory. But my last three dogs had many $2000/month vet bills, not $2000/year, and while I can "afford" it, it's at the expense of bolstering my savings and retirement accounts. I'm spending over $150/month for EACH of my current dogs' medicines.

    If Sammy follows the health path of my previous dogs, I'll come out ahead paying insurance premiums. But it's a crapshoot, and I'm not a big fan of insurance in general.

    Thanks for all the thoughts. I'm leaning away from routine coverage, because as I read more about it, I found the max it will cover is $400/year. It's the big expenses I want to have covered, I think.

    I'd love to hear about other folks' experience and ideas. Thanks again!

  7. #7
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    In my case, hindsight is 20/20. If I'd known two years ago what I was headed for at the end of 2007 and all through 2008, I would have insured my cats in a heartbeat. I spent almost $6k for the older cat who had renal failure and ended up euthanized, over $3k for one kitten that I adopted who got an almost fatal infection and spent three weeks going back and forth to the vet, then almost another $3k on the other kitten who had trench mouth that took a year to clear up. I'm still trying to pay off my credit card from all of those vet bills.

    Of course, now that the kittens are entering adulthood and seem to be healthy, I'm less inclined to shell out a monthly premium. It's a tough choice, because you just don't know when something's going to come up.
    "How about if we all just try to follow these very simple rules of the road? Drive like the person ahead on the bike is your son/daughter. Ride like the cars are ambulances carrying your loved ones to the emergency room. This should cover everything, unless you are a complete sociopath."
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  8. #8
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    I almost bought insurance with my previous dog when she was young (I think it was VPI, too) but opted not too. Funny thing was, I'd first learned of if when she was already in the hospital having surgery for swallowing a needle! I figured that was my $$$ payout for this dog, so chances of it happening again were slim. She really didn't cost me much (except preventative care) until she was diagnosed with Lymphoma when she was MUCH older, so I'd made the right choice.

    When we adopted a new young puppy from the shelter, we thought about insurance again but opted against it. So far, it's paid off... It was really strange to go from basically weekly vet visits with the old dog to once a year visits with the puppy! I started to miss all the people at the vet! Honestly, our two dogs don't even have a vet yet here in OR. They are happy, healthy dogs. Ahhh, youth! Insurance would have been a serious waste of money for us.
    My new non-farm blog: Finding Freedom

  9. #9
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    At one point I added up the "well dog care" and compared it to what VPI would pay vs. what I'd paid VPI -- the preventative coverage wasn't worth it. They were lifesavers when my first corgi, Rikki, had lymphoma. I had opted to buy the Cancer Rider a couple of years before, it really came in handy, and I didn't go bankrupt.

    Chloe is covered too, thankfully I haven't had to use it a lot. They covered all of her specialist visits when she had corneal ulcers, and the different xrays she's had over the years.

  10. #10
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    Don't forget your Home Again chip. That is money well spent!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by kermit View Post
    Don't forget your Home Again chip. That is money well spent!
    You know, I've been irritated by the fact that you have to pay $15/year to keep the Home Again active. Two of my previous dogs were microchipped at a charity event to benefit a rescue, and it was a one-shot fee and registration. So I'm not sure I want to go with Home Again, just on principle.

    Is there a reason to go with Home Again over Avid?

  12. #12
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    Not familiar with Avid, I know from my dog trainer friends and vets, alot of Home again dogs have been located and returned home successfully. Yeah, it is a little expensive, I learned the hard way that my guy's had expired. Now I am more careful to keep track and renew. I have had nightmares about losing my dogs, that chip gives me piece of mind that if they get lost, I can find them.

  13. #13
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    Hi,

    The cat rescue group I belong to uses AVID. It's a one time payment provided that the information doesn't change. If you move or phone number changes... and you want to update it then its a small fee. Forgot how much it is. No annual fee.

    Yes, I did get a call for one of my foster kittens. He was killed by a car about 3 years after being adopted out. . I got a call at 4 in the morning from the emergency vet. So AVID does keep their records straight. And I had to call his mom. She didn't even know that he had gotten out. First time out... She was heart broken and me too. He was a special boy. Sad way to find out but their system does work.

    We've also recovered another one of our foster cats. His adoptive famliy dumped him in Palm Spring. Family lives in Redondo beach. Again it was like 4 years between micro-chipped, registered and being picked up. Animal control in Palm Springs contacted us.

    There been other instances too. We haven't had any problems with Avid. On the information, you can supply secondary contact information in case they can't get hold of you.

    Hope this helps.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    az
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    40
    My dogs have AVID chips but I also have them registered at
    24petwatch.com. It's free to register and to change information with any chip. I had their tags engraved with their AVID number and the 24petwatch phone number and web address. I do foster kittens with our humane society and they use 24petwatch.

    Kathy

  15. #15
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    Jan 2007
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    Seattle, WA
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    We have four Avids and a Home Again. Our vet uses Avid, the rescue shelter from the 5th uses Home Again.

    I wonder if you could ask your vet re insurance? I know it breaks their hearts if they have to euthanize just due to expense of treatment. I believe our vet has pet insurance information in the office only I never really looked at it much. I'm sure that a vet could say whether or not they think it's cost effective. Also, our vet is pretty nice about giving us discounts on things. With the economy being what it is, I am sure they are seeing people not come in as often as before. We do things like bring cats in on the same day for vaccinations or we see a vet tech if there is no reason to actually consult with the vet.

 

 

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