Wow. Awesome idea Kerry! I had looked into pet insurance a long time ago when we first brought Killian home and like T. Shark found it all a little, well, one sided. The ones that do cover things like preventative care are a total rip off - the ones that carry you through the bad times only have amazing high deductibles... no real middle ground that I could see.
Regardless - I think I'll be creating a jar fund here. For the "just in case"!
Well... everyone has to make their own decisions based on what ever they feel comfortable with. We all love our fur babies and care for them according to what we feel is best for them. Everyone will have a different opinion of pet insurance based on their own personal experience or perceptions.
While I have not yet needed to use my pet insurance my mom has. She also has PetPlan and has used it a few times in the past few years... most recently just two months ago. Within 3 weeks of filing her claim... she received a check for the full amount of the vet bill... minus her deductable. It should also be noted that they paid the actual fee the vet charged... not what they think the vet should have charged according to a pre-determined fee scale.
I hope I never have to use my pet insurance.... and I am confident in my choice based on research and my mom's experience.
I have wellness plans for my animals from Banfeild the pet hospital on the west coast so it's not the type of insurance being discussed here but for 69.00 a month all 3 of my pets get their yearly shots and a full comp. exam with dewormer every 6 months and all other office calls are free with 10% off of the bill. oh and cody the 8 yr. lab gets a once a year teeth cleaning. they have different wellness plans based off of age and services you may or may not want. The corgi's because they are young are 1 step down from cody which means no teeth cleaning.
I was just reading about Banfield from an employee there - did you know that your dog doesn't need ANY shots every year? Every three years is more than enough. This particular employee was substantially ticked off that she was not allowed to adhere to well-accepted vaccine guidelines but had to advise them for every year.
I know Banfield pushes its plans, and I don't have any problem with an owner buying one, but you should know that your dog needs an exam once a year, rabies every three years, ONE parvo-disemper booster after they're a year old (and none thereafter), and in this area we do a yearly heartworm-lyme-ehrlichia-anaplasmosis check. Isolated pets in a normal household don't need to be wormed if a yearly stool sample is negative.
My yearly visit is about $75 per dog; that's an exam and the heartworm-lyme test. As with almost all vets, that yearly visit counts as my one office call and any other visits do not have the office call as part of the bill. If I'm concerned about worming I pay $12 for Panacur from the pet supply store (that's all you're getting at your exam, I guarantee - you probably get a pill, right? That pill, Drontal, is just the same as the Panacur I buy plus praziquantrel for tapeworms, which is unnecessary for most dogs and super cheap anyway).
So for me five dogs is $375 a year to get basic vetting; every three years add another $10 per dog for rabies. You're paying over $700/year for three dogs. Banfield is the biggest chain in the US for a reason - they have a cash cow in the yearly exams and "wellness plans", unlike non-chain vets who rely on normal appointments.
Or, if you want to look at straight costs: If I went and bought them retail, a rabies shot is about $8; a combo (distemper, parvo, corona, adenovirus, lepto; the most common combination shot given at clinics) shot is $4. A Drontal tablet is about $5. The vet clinic is getting them even cheaper than I can. That's why Banfield is so willing to give shots and wormer - it sounds to the owner like they're getting something, but the cost to the clinic is minimal.
What you're really paying for when you get that annual exam is the time of the vet and the office staff. That's fine with me; I love my vet and want her to get paid and her expertise is worth a huge amount to me. But I would not be thrilled with paying every month for it.
I like Kerry's idea. The vast majority of pets that myself or my family owned over the years would never have needed the insurance. Add up the premium amounts and spread it over all those dogs and cats and I'm guessing that the insurance would not pay for itself.
Moreover, many pet treatments are surprisingly cheap compared to their human counterparts. When my cat was wheezing after we moved, she got two x-rays and it only cost about $50 for the two of them. Bloodwork to check her kidney function and the like on another visit was not even necessary but was only $11. She is going to start chemotherapy now and it's less than $20 a visit.
It's true surgery can be expensive, but a few years worth of premiums should cover the cost. Just my opinion and others may see it differently.
I too have spent a lot of time looking at insurance and was left unsatisfied with any of the plans. Most have a per incidence limit anyway that seems rather low to me. Of all the ones I looked at, I liked Pet's Best the best, but I decided just my emergency fund was sufficient. I keep a large chunk of cash in my freezer for emergencies (under the waffles because I doubt a theif would ever think to look there), both pet and human. I also have a Care Credit account for when/if the bill goes over what I have on hand. It is like a credit card and can be used at any vet office that accepts it, and many do.
Thank you to all who have responded! My husband and I had "sticker shock" when we got the vet bill for two sick stray cats we took in. I joked that the bill for Cleo and Caesar would have been the same as a trip to Greece. I think the jar method is the way to go, one for the vet fund and one for the Greece fund! My research did show that Pet Best has a good rep for fast payment.
I have VPI (petinsurance.com), and I am very happy to have it. I added the cancer rider for Bertie, and his premium is about $350/annually. Insurance is always a gamble -- if Bertie lives to be 15 (or more, I HOPE!), I'll have spent $5250 on it over his lifetime. I have already received at least half of that back in reimbursements, and he's only 5. They have a $50 deductible per diagnosis (so for instance, when he had lyme, once I paid that deductible, I did not have to pay it for re-occurance and a second does of antibiotics when we went back on multiple visits). Bertie has had severe viral GI distress 3 times in his short life, and for each stay in the hospital, with drugs, xrays, IVs, etc., the cost was between $600 and $800. VPI paid about 80% of each stay -- so for me, it's been well, well worth it. They have only denied a claim once, but once I responded with complete medical info, I got a check within 2 weeks. If he hadn't been sick, sure, I would be out that premium $$$, but I'm very glad I have it.
We have a plan called United Pet Care. It's not insurance but a discount plan. It's much more affordable than insurance (costs about $10/month) and there are no deductibles, co-pays etc. Office visits are a set, discounted rate, booster shots are free as is an annual exam and everything else is a % discount. You have to choose a participating vet or you can help your existing vet enroll if they are interested in doing so. With Finn's cryptorchid neuter we save over $150. United Pet Care isn't offered in every state but you can go on their website and check, otherwise there may be other similar plans out there.