Author Archives: Hadley Rush

Who Is Actually Buying Pet Insurance?

By: Dr. Jack Stephens

Who Is Actually Buying Pet Insurance?

In one of my previous posts, I talked about the myths of pet insurance that we learned from our recent series of pet owner focus groups. The pet owner focus groups also told us in these sessions who they thought would buy pet insurance, and the results may or may not surprise you.

We found that:

The Pet Owner Perception of a Buyer Is Someone Who:

1. Considers the pet part of the family.
2. Sees the cost benefits of insurance.
3. Has had experience with the cost of veterinary care.
4. Is a first-time pet owner who is concerned with the unknown expenses of veterinary care.
5. Is a high-income, well-educated, sophisticated purchaser.

People Who Actually Purchase Insurance Are People Who:

1. Consider their pets part of the family.
2. Are professionals who see the value of insurance.
3. Are pet owners who want to budget for their pets’ care.
4. Are primarily women who make the actual purchase.
5. Purchase insurance for their puppies and kittens (which may or may not reflect first-time ownership).
6. Have previously experienced high veterinary costs for a pet.
7. Have a pet who already has a medical problem.

As you can see perceptions and reality were actually very similar regarding the value of obtaining pet insurance, that is, those who are buying and the core reasons they purchase insurance.

Typically a pet insurance policyholder lives in a household where the pet is a family member, the family has experienced a high veterinary expense in the past and now wants peace of mind and protection for their pocketbooks. Pet owners also want their coverage to be broad, yet reasonable in cost and payable monthly, so it fits into their budget.

Of course there are other factors that pet owners take into consideration before purchasing, such as the level of customer service of the company, few plan exclusions, how quickly claims are paid, and options that provide for routine care, to name a few, but these are usually a concern only after they have made the initial decision to buy pet health insurance.

Once a pet owner has made the decision that pet insurance may be right for them, then they begin to seek out information about pet insurance and the different types of plans available. Most pet owners will use the Internet for information, but many will turn to their veterinarian or the pet hospital staff regarding their final decision. If in doubt, ask your vet or their staff for their recommendation. They’ve heard all the stories and can direct you to a plan and company that’s right for you.

When You Want More Than Just Accident and Illness Coverage

With so many pet owners concerned for the health of their pets because of the recent pet food recalls, we thought we’d take a moment to share with you the benefits of our BestWellnessTM coverage.

In designing our Pets Best policies, flexibility, affordability and choice were important to us. Because of this, we chose to break out accident and illness coverage from wellness care, which includes check-ups, routine visits, specific routine tests, vaccinations and teeth cleaning, to name a few.

Many of you have elected to take advantage of this coverage, and it has been well received. We are glad to be able to help cover these expenses, because we know from experience that catching problems early leads to a higher rate of success when it comes to treatment. And while the cost of wellness care adds a few extra dollars per month to your premium—around $20—owners who take their pets to the vet regularly are recouping the cost of the premium and then some.

The recent pet food recall is a perfect example of how having BestWellnessTM can benefit pet owners and continue to provide that peace of mind we talk about so often. While the medical expenses of a pet who has become ill from the tainted pet food are covered at 100%, we are not able, because of insurance laws, to cover checkups for pets who aren’t ill, unless they have wellness coverage. Pets Best customers who have BestWellnessTM are able to submit claims for those tests and exams and be reimbursed for their expenses up to policy limits.

If you’re not sure whether or not you signed up for BestWellnessTM along with your accident and illness policy, or if you have any questions about what your policy does and does not cover, please call us at 1-877-738-7237 or visit us online at A detailed explanation of benefits is also available online or by calling 1-877-738-7237.

Exceeding your expectations is one of our highest goals. Our hearts continue to go out to every family affected by the recall, and we would also like to thank everyone who took the time to write during this time. We are thankful that we are making a difference!

More Treats Added to Recall

By: Dr. Jack Stephens

While the FDA is assuring pet owners that 99% of all pet food is still safe, Sunshine Mills joined the recent recall by pulling dog biscuits sold under five different brands, including Ol’ Roy, Lassie and Pet Life.

ABC reported in its “Pet Food Recall Expands to Include Biscuits” <> that Menu Foods has also once again expanded its recall by covering “cuts and gravy”-style products made between Nov. 8 and March 6, which is earlier than the original recall date of Dec. 3.

T.W. Enterprises of Ferndale, Wash., is also asking consumers not to use their American Bullie A.B. Bull Pizzle Puppy Chew and Dog Chew products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

Pet Treats Recalled, Salmonella Found

By: Dr. Jack Stephens

The Associated Press is now reporting that another company, not connected with Menu Foods, is recalling dog, cat and ferret treats that could be contaminated with salmonella. The announcement that came yesterday from Eight in One Inc., is unrelated to the more extensive recall of melamine-tainted dog and cat food that led to kidney failure in pets around the country.

Eight in One Inc., a division of United Pet Group Inc., is recalling all packages of Dingo Chick’N Jerky, Dingo Kitty Chicken Jerky and Dingo Ferret Chicken Jerky.

Salmonella can cause serious infections in pets and children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. In pets, salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and abdominal pain. Animals that do not get sick can infect other pets or humans.

The bacteria could also infect people handling the pet treats. Humans infected with the salmonella can experience fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. It could also cause more serious problems such as arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation and urinary tract problems.

Eight in One said they received a report of a dog infected by salmonella, which lead to further testing of this product. Some, but not all, of the samples tested were contaminated.

The treats were sold around the country at Target, PetSmart and other stores.

Speculation is that the Menu Foods recall and testing has led to more diligent testing of other brands and may have revealed the presence of salmonella in the Eight in One treats.

New Foods Added to Recall List

By: Dr. Jack Stephens

As a precautionary measure, Del Monte Pet Products is voluntarily recalling select product codes of its pet treat products sold under the Jerky Treats®, Gravy Train® Beef Sticks and Pounce Meaty Morsels® brands as well as select dog snack and wet dog food products sold under private label brands.

Nestle Purina PetCare Company also announced late Friday that it is voluntarily recalling all sizes and varieties of its ALPO(R) Prime Cuts in Gravy wet dog food with specific date codes. The company is taking this voluntary action after learning that wheat gluten containing melamine, a substance not approved for use in food, was provided to Purina by the same company that also supplied Menu Foods. The contamination occurred in a limited production quantity at only one of Purina’s 17 pet food manufacturing facilities. Purina says they are confident that the contaminated wheat gluten has been isolated to this limited production quantity of ALPO Prime Cuts canned products.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is also voluntarily recalling Prescription Diet m/d Feline dry food from the market. Hill’s is taking this precautionary action because during a two-month period in early 2007, wheat gluten for this product was provided by a company that also supplied wheat gluten to Menu Foods. Prescription Diet m/d Feline Dry represents less than one half of one percent of all Hill’s products.

Hill’s is reiterating that there is only one product affected by Hill’s voluntary recall announcement yesterday: Hill’s Prescription Diet™ m/d™ Feline Dry Food. This is the only product Hill’s currently sells in the United States and Canada that contains wheat gluten from any supplier. No other Hill’s Prescription Diet® or Science Diet® products are affected by this voluntary recall.

As always, we will keep you informed as new reports are released. Do continue to check your cupboards and monitor your pets for illness. If they are vomiting, lethargic, not eating, drinking excessively or urinating excessively, have them checked by your veterinarian. Again, our sympathies go out to everyone affected by the recall during this stressful time.

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