Infinite Malady Dog
April 3, 2012 1:42 PM   Subscribe

Pet Insurance: is it still a racket when there is something constantly wrong with your pet?

Apple, with whom you are all probably quite familiar, has landed herself at the vet's yet again. This time she's got a mechanical obstruction -- nothing she ate, thank god -- that's been making her puke. Two weeks ago, she developed a benign mass on her neck and an unrelated case of allergies. A few weeks prior, a mild case of cherry eye (that may have just been an irritation.) Oh, and yesterday's x-rays revealed that her lungs are scarred, probably from the infection she had when Animal Control found her, which "isn't good" according to the vet. My girlfriend grew up with and around dogs, and she says that the frequency with which ours needs to go to the vet is somewhat alarming.

I know most people say that pet insurance is a scam and you're better off just putting some emergency money in a jar every month. I guess that works when your dog's troubles aren't paying your vet's mortgage (although, to be fair, he's a great vet and often doesn't charge for certain things) but we're starting to think there may be something to the idea. We take good care of her and will go to the vet no matter what; it would just be nice if it were a little less expensive.

Should we even consider some sort of pet insurance? Any reliable companies? Your experiences? Anything?
posted by griphus to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, I think I may have left out the relevant details that she is a puggle, three years old and an adult rescue (we got her last summer.)

Also, my girlfriend has taken to calling her "Lemon."
posted by griphus at 1:46 PM on April 3, 2012 [7 favorites]

No pet insurance company that I am aware of covers pre-existing conditions. I would say that in your dog's case you would be better with a savings account and/or CareCredit. Pet insurance isn't a racket (depending on the company) but they do look for reasons to deny claims like any insurance company does, and with such a long history already I would be surprised if it was worthwhile for your pup.
posted by biscotti at 1:48 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I recently investigated pet insurance for my kitty. Because he has asthma and a scary growth on his lung. I looked at several. None will pay for preexisting conditions. So worthless for me at this point. Possibly also worthless for you at this point since many conditions have now been discovered and are preexisting.

However, on the whole, they're less scammy than they used to be in the past. My vet recommends some (but we rolled our eyes. How stupid.)
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:52 PM on April 3, 2012

I really like the ASPCA, and have insurance through their insurance partner. And no, it isn't a scam. It may be worth it, given the track history, to insure Apple.
posted by bearwife at 2:13 PM on April 3, 2012

Just my two cents:
I have PetPlan insurance for both my cats. Costs about $250 per year per cat.
When my cat had a run-in with a lily petal and was hospitalized for 3 days, the insurance paid almost all of it within a week. We had to fill out just a single form, and the vet's office sent their yearly checkup records when we asked. I was actually really surprised that it actually worked out.

Saved us $700.
posted by Cygnet at 2:15 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

P.S. NO pet insurer is going to reimburse you much more than 2/3 of your bill, often less. What vets charge and what pet insurers list as "reasonable and necessary" vet charges are different. I don't bother insuring for routine care, it isn't worth it.

You also won't get coverage for the preexisting lung problem.

However, Apple sounds accident and health condition prone. So pet insurance may well make sense for you.
posted by bearwife at 2:21 PM on April 3, 2012

The thing I found with pet insurance is there may be a very high TOTAL amount they'll cover, but there are very low limits for each TYPE of illness/injury, so if your pet is the type that gets the same problem over and over again, it's not worth it. Also as mentioned, no pre-existing conditions.

I got lucky, the one year I bought pet insurance the dog had a once-in-a-lifetime illness and the rabbit broke a rib. I can't believe that I picked the one year it paid for itself several times over. But, I dropped it and thank god, because I would have lost money every year since.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:33 PM on April 3, 2012

I dont think pet insurance is a scam at all. I have had it since it was first invented and wouldnt have an animal without it. I have always stuck to Petplan- I live in the UK. Basically when I look at pet insurance cheapest is definately not best. My first cat went for ten years with no illness at all and then suddently got cancer. Its bad enough having an animal you love that is sick without worrying about the bill. He ended up at the Royal Veterinary College and had to be put down. The cost was 3000 pound which was paid with no quibble. I have had three other cats, of those two have been healthy and I had not had to make a claim, however one of them got lymphoma and I made the choice not to go for chemo. He was put down four weeks later. I have a third cat has pancreatitus, a cardiac murmer, diabetes and a dodgy kidney! He is now ten and had had this since he was two. The cost? Ten thousand pounds. Yet he lives a near normal life and has to regulalarly see a consultant as he destablises periodically. He has to have two injections a day and a special diet. I know that pet insurance is not as popular in some countries as it is in the UK. I watched a programme once about the hostility of US vets to the idea when it was first promoted. The woman who invented pet insuarnce was called Patsy Bloom or something, I remeMber her as she always sent us letters edged in pink! She went over to the US to promote the idea and was amazed at the reaction of the vets.
With any insurance you pay a premium and the thing you are insuring against may HOPEFULLY never happen, but I can assure you that, when it does, you are bloody glad you have got insurance. I couldnt bear the thought of not having insurance now, it would worry me to death as I just couldnt afford the cost of treatment these days, so much can be done for animals now, and things can be investigated without worrying about the cost of tests, which can really mount up.
posted by Chickenbrain at 4:39 PM on April 5, 2012

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