My thoughts on pet insurance after a lot of research... - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-19-2012, 01:23 PM Thread Starter
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My thoughts on pet insurance after a lot of research...

For my dog, a purebred 10 month golden puppy:

90% coverage with 10% copay
$250 deductible (you can call to adjust your deductible higher or lower if you want)
insurance is in affect after 5 days of purchasing insurance, 15 days for genetic illnesses
Optional plan includes all genetic diseases including hip dysplasia, therapeutic treatments, acupuncture treatments related to a medical problem, and behavior modification training if your vet says it is related to a medical illness
$46/month premium for the regular insurance + optional insurance plan ( a minimum of 7% increase every year to your premium)
regular insurance is $34/month + $11/month for the optional insurance to include genetic diseases related to the breed

Healthy Paws:
90% coverage with 10% copay
$250 deductible (deductible amount cannot be changed at any time. Once you choose this amount, it stays this way for the lifetime of the insurance)
insurance is in affect after 15 days purchasing insurance, 12 months for hip dysplasia to be covered
covers all genetic diseases including hip dysplasia
$36/month premium with a 7-11% increase every year.

up to 100% coverage depending on your deductible
In our case, if we went with 90% at $250 deductible, the cost would be $39/month premium
yearly premium increase can be up to 15%
If your pet needs to be referred to a specialist, PetPlan only covers 75%

We ruled out PetPlan because the cost is comparable to Healthy Paws, but its specialist coverage is less. I am lucky to be located to UC Davis so the vet care there is really excellent. I would want to take our dog there, but that means it would be covered at 75% The biggest reason I went with Healthy Paws over Trupanion is not because it covers more. It has very similar if not the same coverage to Trupanion (if we include the optional insurance from Trupanion). As we know, goldens are prone to hip problems even with clearances and if you're buying insurance, you're trying to prepare for the unexpected anyway. No breeder will guarantee NO hip issue in their line. It's that over a 10 year period, Trupanion has the potential to go up by a LOT more.

After speaking with representatives from each company multiple times and asking them different scenarios about vet rate increases in the last 10 years for my area, I realized Trupanion's premium can double in a year or two. Theoretically, both companies do NOT increase their premiums due to the age of the pet. For example, if you bought insurance now when your dog is 1 year old, it is still cheaper than if you enrolled your dog 2 years down the road. But, if you enroll your dog now and the cost of veterinary care goes up in your area (which you can't' predict), it will most likely be higher each year anyway.

Trupanion was not ready to send me a certified letter to guarantee that veterinary care cannot be expected to exceed 11% each year. Healthy Paw did.

Why we decided to buy pet insurance:
If my dog lived 10 years, and IF there is an increase of 11% every year (that's the max Healthy Paws would increase in our case), we would be paying $7600 in insurance over those 10 years. It seems a lot, but say your dog goes in for an obstruction, x-ray and surgery will be at least $3k. Even the healthiest dog will need some sort of treatments toward the end of its life. For us, owning a young dog is wonderful. But it also means she will have the potential to run, jump, eat things, get into accidents that we can't predict. If in 10 years, she got into 3 accidents, that can be the equivalent of our 10 years insurance premium, if not more. If she ended up needing hip surgery, it's $8k per hip, $16k total, more than double what we'd be paying for in insurance.

We have money in our savings to pay for any surgery so unlike people who can't afford to pay, we will never put our dog down due to any illness/surgery needs . That means it is better for us, personally, to get insurance for our peace of mind. We never want to be in a spot where we would say, " We have the money, but do we want to spend it on surgery or should we still go to Spain, France, take an extra 2 months off for maternity leave, remodel the bathroom, etc.?" Ellie is our family member and if we have health insurance for ourselves, we are buying insurance for her.

Another interesting thing I found in the definition of "pre-existing condition"... for all the insurance companies, this doesn't mean a diagnosis only. It means that if your vet ever noticed that your dog's hip or legs need to be checked, it can be considered "pre-existing". Say you took your dog to the vet and everything looks great. But your vet noted down that your dog is walking funny on her left leg. No x-rays or exam were done, but it was mentioned/noted down for check up the next time you're at the vet. Later down the road, your dog needs to have surgery on that leg, none of the companies would cover the surgery because it is considered pre-existing condition related to the limping leg. Before you buy any pet insurance, check with your vet to see what she/he noted down. ANYTHING can be argued for pre-existing. The nice lady at Healthy Paw told me this and made me ask my vet three times to look over all of Ellie's medical records. This is why it is important to insure your pet as early as possible (this is my opinion of course!) so that there won't be any loophole for the insurance company to find and the premiums are lower to begin with. $36/month is like a dinner out each month. Some people spend even more!

Everyone's situation is different though. You have to look at your situation and say what you would do if your dog does end up needing surgery for something major. S/he may never need it. But that's similar to human medical insurance. It's peace of mind. You won't ever need it looking forward, maybe only in hindsight.

I hope this post helps someone in deciding about pet insurance!

“If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.” ~ Winnie the Pooh

Last edited by Serawyn; 02-19-2012 at 01:53 PM.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-19-2012, 01:38 PM
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Great post

I purchased pet insurance for my puppy when he was only a few months old. I wanted to be prepared for the worst, and hope for the best, I guess.

I went with Pet Plan and have been very happy with them.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-19-2012, 01:44 PM
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Lola( 17 months old) is the first dog I ever got pet insurance on. I went with the PetPlan Gold. I took the higher deductible- so it runs about $39.00 a month. After having Lola for 6 months now( I adopted her at 11 months old)- I have not had to use the insurance thank goodness but..... I see the trouble she can/ could get into.... eating ANYTHING she finds on the floor etc. Perhaps more than any other dog I have ever had! A golden thing? Maybe. I would tell anyone with a Golden that insurance would be a comforting thing to have on your dog. It is for me!
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-23-2012, 02:17 PM
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My Golden has Healthy Paws and we've never had any issues with them. Like Serawyn mentioned, the people on the phones are always extremely helpful and you feel like they're actually trying to be there for you, versus being annoyed by your calls.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-25-2012, 06:00 PM
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Thanks for the info. It was really helpful and I went with Healthy Paws for my 1yr old Female Golden!
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-25-2012, 06:18 PM
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Thank you, I just signed up for Healthy Paws!
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-25-2012, 06:22 PM
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After having VPI since Brooks was a puppy, I got PetPlan a little over a year ago. PetPlan's second year premium was about 25% higher than the first year's premium-they told me it was because they changed underwriters.
I filed for reimbursement for Brooks' thyroid medicines and exams/testing related to that diagnosis (which occurred a couple of months after I got the policy) and there were no problems.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-25-2012, 06:53 PM
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Ignutah, why did you leave VPI? Did you have problems with them?
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-25-2012, 07:38 PM
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-25-2012, 07:42 PM
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Thank you for the research. I was leaning towards Healthy Paws also for our 12 week old girl. Even though her lines have all of their clearances the breeder stated there is no way to guarantee she won't have any problems. It's nice being close to Davis, probably the best vet care in the country, our primary vet office in Vacaville has 3 of their graduates working there.

Last edited by nparker; 03-25-2012 at 08:00 PM.
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