First of all, a disclaimer: I work for Embrace Pet Insurance in Cleveland, Ohio.
Veterinary care is expensive. But the things that veterinarians can do today are simply amazing.
One thing I wanted to talk about was the different ways you can look at pet insurance. Some pet parents look at pet insurance as a way of paying for vaccinations, office visits, spaying/neutering, and other everyday things. Other pet parents though look at pet insurance as a way of protecting against high veterinary bills and "economic euthanasia."
The second group - those who look at pet insurance as more like "catastrophic" coverage - are going to get better value out of pet insurance than the first group. To understand why you have to go back to first principles: what is insurance for?
Insurance is for the unexpected, expensive things that can happen. Routine care is neither unexpected nor, in most cases, is it expensive. Insurance doesn't work properly when applied to routine care, the economics get out of whack and you - the pet parent - end up paying for this in the form of higher premiums than necessary.
Another common thing we find is that pet parents think of pet insurance as a form of savings. No insurance product is a form of savings really. Insurance is just a transfer of risk from you to the insurance company. Looked at in this way you can see that pet insurance is not going to save you money, you buy it because you want peace of mind and because you want to be able to pursue any course of treatment to help your pet if, God forbid, something should happen.
So what is "good" pet insurance? The answer is a plan that protects your pet against all of the nasty, expensive stuff that you can't plan for. Many pet insurance plans offer this to one degree or another but there are some 'gotchas' that you should be aware of.
For example, I always recommend that pet parents ask the following questions:
1. Does the plan cover congenital and hereditary diseases? You want these covered, even for mixed breeds, because sometimes it's not clear what is and isn't hereditary and you want to know when you claim that this sort of thing will be covered. Embrace Pet Insurance and other companies cover congenital conditions provided they are not pre-existing when you sign up.
2. Does the plan cover chronic and recurring illnesses? Some plans consider things that happened in your first year of coverage to be pre-existing in the second year.
3. What is and is not covered? Is it clearly stated on the company's website or over the phone? The last thing you want is to make a claim and only later find out that the company considers your condition not covered.
4. Are there per-incident limits that effectively cap the amount you could receive back? For example, some plans have a $3,000 per-incident limit. If you had a claim for $5,000 with one of these plans then the most you would get back would be $3,000.
5. What are the rules around pre-existing conditions? Are they excluded permanently or temporarily?
6. How long does the company take to pay claims?
7. Does the plan reimburse claims based on a benefit schedule or the actual veterinary bill? If you choose a plan with a benefit schedule you should understand that you may not get very much money back as the benefit schedule can cap your reimbursement for certain diagnoses at amounts less than you'll commonly find, especially in metro areas. Try to find a plan that reimburses you based on your actual veterinary bill or a "usual, customary, & reasonable" (UCR) table.
One thing I encourage all pet parents who are interested in pet insurance to do is read reviews and testimonials from real customers at http://www.PetInsuranceReview.com
. This is a good website to get the skinny on every plan out there.
So armed with these questions and by doing some homework of your own, you can make an informed choice and get a plan that's right for you and your pet.
Embrace Pet Insurance