After vowing to never spend more than $1,000 on a pet, a friend of mine recently spent more than $8,000 to treat cancer in his dog. When I saw him afterwards, he sheepishly said, “I know I said I would never spend near this much for a dog, but our family loves him, how could I not? “
I often hear pet owners say they wouldn’t make financial sacrifices if a pet needed expensive vet care. Yet, over the years, I’ve seen that they often do the opposite. It seems the reality of their pet being ill or injured quickly becomes a high priority – and everything else takes a back seat.
We often hear from pet owners who are considering switching to Pets Best Insurance from another pet insurance provider. We’re always happy to welcome new dogs and cats into our family, and want to share the top 5 things we recommend you keep in mind when choosing a new pet insurance provider.
1. Check Out Their Customer Service
Take a few minutes to check out the provider’s website and do a little investigation. Do they answer the phone quickly? Is it easy to find contact information, and do they offer a live chat option? As a customer, will you be able to manage your account online?
The way you’re treated as a prospective customer speaks volumes about how you may be treated after the sale. Be sure you like the experience they offer, because it’s a sneak peek at how your relationship will be with the provider throughout the life of your policy.
2. Understand How Your Reimbursement is Calculated
Veterinary fees can vary widely due to your pet’s size and age, not to mention complications, severity, where you live and how your pet responds to treatments. In other words, when it comes to pet care, one size does not fit all. You want a predictable and reliable method of payment for your claims – ideally a flat percentage of your actual vet bill – and not a benefit schedule or fixed amount depending on the diagnosis or treatment option, which will usually reflect lower prices than what you were actually charged. Whether you choose a plan with 70%, 80%, 90% or even 100% reimbursement after a deductible, be sure that the reimbursement level is based on your actual vet bill.
3. Consider Your Pet’s Health History
If your pet has a serious or chronic condition, before enrollment or when switching to another pet insurer, remember, pre-existing conditions typically will not be covered. If your pet has a chronic or existing condition, be sure to inquire about future coverage before enrolling.
Most plans, however, like Pets Best Insurance plans, will allow for “curable” pre- existing conditions (like a broken leg) to become eligible for coverage in the future. One minor or inexpensive medical condition for your pet shouldn’t discourage you from enrolling or switching to a better pet insurance plan, since your pet will still likely be covered for future accidents and illnesses. Be careful, though, because some plans have extensive waiting periods, even for conditions Pets Best Insurance considers “curable”.
4. Look for Fast Claim Payment
Choose a company that has a reputation for paying claims fairly and quickly. Your veterinarian or a friend who has pet insurance can be a good source.
Pets Best Insurance processes most claims within 5 business days, and current turnaround time is just 18 hours. You can mail, fax or email your claim, and we offer free direct deposit reimbursement.
5. Don’t Fall for Perks You Don’t Need
If a pet insurance plan is too robust with benefits you’re not likely to need, you may be paying too much for coverage. And if the plan is too expensive, you may be tempted to drop it after awhile. (According to Murphy’s Law, your pet is likely to face a problem soon after you drop coverage.)
Be realistic about whether you really need the benefits you’re being sold – no pet owner needs a $1 million limit, for example. Ask your veterinarian or work with a knowledgeable sales representative if you need help figuring out just how much coverage you need, and which plan will be the best fit. If you’re using an insurance agent, choose one on salary instead of commission. The latter may be inclined to sell you more coverage than you need.
Dr. Jack Stephens is a veterinarian and president of Pets Best Insurance, a provider of pet insurance for dogs and cats
Pet cancer is the most expensive medical condition in pets. Just as with humans, cancer develops in many pets and is very costly to diagnose and treat. And while it can strike at any age, cancer is much more likely to develop in older pets.
Thirty years ago, it wasn’t common to treat cancer in pets. But little by little, pet owners began to choose treatment and see that their pets’ quality of life could be restored. Today, more pet owners choose to treat their pets when cancer strikes. Diagnosing and treating cancer is costly, but in many cases, treatment can cure cancer and certainly extend a pet’s life.
About Our New Cancer Plan
Accident and illness insurance plans offered by Pets Best insurance have always covered cancer. So why did we start offering a Cancer Only policy that covers any malignant cancer in pets?
When Cassie, a 7 year old Labrador Retriever, became lethargic and was unable to keep food down, she was rushed to the emergency room and underwent an enormous amount of tests to determine that she had a possible gastric ulceration. Cassie’s condition was extremely critical – she lost large amounts of blood and didn’t respond to immediate treatments. Facing a risky surgery, the owner was told that Cassie’s may not survive. During this time, the Dr. also discussed the option of euthanasia, but Cassie’s owner decided to go ahead with the surgery because she was a Pets Best Insurance customer. Cassie underwent surgery on the 28th of July to remove the gastric ulceration and required multiple blood transfusions in the process. She was very weak and required nearly constant care over the next five days, plus more tests, monitoring and additional blood transfusions, but she eventually healed enough to stand and walk on her own.
Due to the complexity of the operation and the constant care Cassie received during her treatment, the vet bill totaled more than $18,000. Cassie’s dog insurance policy was limited to a maximum of $7,000 after meeting the deductible, which Pets Best Insurance reimbursed her owners. Unfortunately, they were still left with more than $11,000 in vet bills.
Some consumer reports compare pet insurance to buying an insurance warranty for your washing machine, dryer or other appliance. They also sometimes compare premiums paid for a hypothetical 3-5 year return. Unfortunately they miss the point when it comes to the value we place on our pets and the very rational for pet insurance. Here are a few reasons this comparison just doesn’t stack up:
1. First, cat and dog insurance, like any insurance plan, is designed to reimburse you or help pay for something you might otherwise not be able to afford. Pet insurance is not an “investment,” per se. Insurance, in general, is for future unknown events that may happen. Pet insurance, in itself, was created to help pet owners afford care for unexpected accidents and illnesses that often cost owners thousands of dollars, or more.
With a pet insurance plan an owner may “hit the jackpot” in terms or reimbursement, when a serious illness or accident befalls their pet, where they could receive thousands of dollars in benefits. On the flip side, a pet may not have an immediate need for pet insurance for years. You just never know.