What is Your Take on Pet Insurance?

by Rebecca on May 4, 2014

Pet InsuranceTo be completely transparent, I used to think that pet insurance was a big rip off.  In another life I was an equine veterinarian, and I loved having patients who were insured- I never ran into issues dealing with an insurance company about a horse.

When I switched to small animal practice this was not the case at all.  I found myself having to fight with the insurance companies to get owners reimbursed.  It seemed like there was always a loophole the insurance company had in order to get out of paying.

Because of my bad experiences, I have always been anti pet insurance.  My interview with Andy Roark got me thinking that we REALLY do need to be better at innovating and growing as a profession and maybe pet insurance could be something that would be beneficial to pet owners and to us!

I still believe that having a pet emergency fund is the best way to go but I have been wondering if I need to revisit my old beliefs about pet insurance.  What I do know is veterinary care is not going to get any cheaper and the profit margins in veterinary medicine are not high enough to think we are headed anywhere but to higher costs for pet care. At some point, even though owners want to do what is best for their pet, they may not be able to afford the best options available.

Would more pets being insured lead to better care for them and ultimately more business for your hospital as well? Is pet insurance something that would allow for owners to better care for their animals and be able to do things that they may not if they were paying strictly out of pocket?

As a mobile veterinary surgeon, I never have to deal with pet insurance companies, so I certainly do not have all the answers.  I want to know what your experience is with the many pet insurance companies that are out there.  Do they create more headaches for you and your staff or do you find it beneficial? Do we need to be discussing pet insurance with our clients more often or do you already? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

 Do you think pet insurance can benefit pets and owners as well as your hospital?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie May 4, 2014 at 7:38 pm

I believe that pet insurance definitely has its place. It should be as insurance, meant to cover unexpected expenses, not routine preventative care. At our clinic, we do not have a large number of clients who have insurance. Of those who have it though, it has been a God send when they have been faced with the decision to pursue treatment of their pet. We see a large number of trauma cases, from HBC, to gun shot wounds, to some very nasty dog fights. For these pets, pet insurance would take the cost of care out the the equation of whether to pursue treatment or not. Also it would allow owners to pursue care at a high care 24 hour care facility if needed.

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rebecca May 4, 2014 at 7:56 pm

I really think this is a good option for a lot of people! Thanks for sharing!

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Billy May 5, 2014 at 3:49 pm

In the United States, less than 1% of pet owners currently have insurance for their pet meaning the other 99% do not. With the little presence insurance companies have had in my 10 years of practice, I certainly have been able to help a strong majority of my patients despite the rising costs of veterinary care. I think we sometimes focus on the extreme cases when we think about the need for pet insurance. We have all had or heard about the $3k, $5k, or even $10k+ case and we are thankful when these owners have pet insurance and cringe when they don’t. The insurance companies and all the business gurus tell me I should be in favor of pet insurance. Would the human doctors agree with them? What about the dentists? At the end of the day, I’m torn about the need for pet insurance. However, when I do make a recommendation for pet insurance, I prefer Trupanion as my first choice.

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Emily Dorsett May 5, 2014 at 6:49 pm

I think pet insurance is better run than human insurance. I like the person pays us upfront and then gets reimbursed by the company directly after the fact, with very little paperwork on my end. It cuts us out as the middlemen and it ensures needless tests aren’t run (like in human medicine) because “insurance covers it” so why not? Of course the downside is that clients have to be able to cover the initial upfront cost and not everyone can. But overall, I think it’s an excellent option and a lifesaver when faced with catastrophic injuries or illnesses.

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Billy Richardson May 11, 2014 at 8:11 am

Emily, I wasn’t around when health insurance started, but I have to wonder if it seemed like a good idea too. But now look at how health insurance has evolved. There is no doubt pet insurance would be helpful, but at the end of the day pet insurance is still a business. With less than 1% of pet owners using pet insurance the companies have no power. But if we all drink the kool-aid that could change rather quickly. I do not think a company like VPI has my practice or my client’s experience as a priority…..at least I would not trust the insurance company tacticts for the future.

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kristina May 26, 2014 at 7:41 am

I believe that if you really care about your pet and ever you faced some medical emergencies with your pet then it would be easier to understand about pet insurance and it’s importance. So, pet insurance is really worth for money that you pay for the pet insurance as in this way you can get the best treatment for your pets without paying any money in any medical emergencies as it cover overall protection for your pets related to health or some accidents. And I recommend, all pet owners to make sure their pets are insured.

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rebecca May 26, 2014 at 8:29 am

Kristina- thanks for commenting. I believe that it is the unexpected expenses that really are so damaging rather than the annual exams, etc. I too am becoming a supporter of pet medical insurance. I have done a lot of reading about Trupanion and spoken to a number of vets who are using it and they as well as their clients are very satisfied!

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kristina June 14, 2014 at 4:54 am

Yes, exactly…but what here more important to make people aware about the pet insurance and the importance of having a pet insurance. Many, firms and the govt. already launch programs and advertise for the same but still very less % of population go for pet insurance.

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