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Pet Insurance Coverage: How Much is Enough?

Posted on: September 19th, 2012 by

Woman shops for pet insurance with her cat nearby.

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.

Choosing a Coverage Level
Deciding how much insurance coverage is needed is possibly the most challenging part of any insurance purchase. And buying pet insurance can be even a bit trickier, since you can’t apply a straight dollar value to your pet.

Personal preference and assessing risk is something that we do every day when making purchase decisions. We can evaluate many of these decisions immediately when we use the product or service. Pet insurance, or insurance in general, cannot be evaluated until after a problem occurs. The delayed use of the service makes it difficult to judge whether your initial purchase was enough, or if you should have spent a few dollars more to get more coverage.

Cassie was allowed to go home August 2nd and is reportedly doing very well. Her road to recovery will most likely include additional tests and monitoring to ensure that her treatment was not the result of a more serious problem. As client of Pets Best Insurance for over four years, when it came time to pay the vet bill, Cassie’s owner was thankful to have insurance to help pay for the cost of the surgery. Pets Best Insurance was thankful that Cassie had insurance as well, but sorry we couldn’t do more for her during this time.

What Pet Owners Fear Most
Incidents like this are why many Pets Best Insurance customers choose to insure their pets in the first place. According to a Pets Best Insurance survey question asking, “What pet accident or illness do you fear the most?” 40% of respondents answered the question with “any and all illnesses”. More than 62% of respondents believed it would cost $1,000 – $10,000 to treat the illness they feared the most, however, only 5% believed the treatment would cost $10,000 – $20,000. This gap can partially be attributed to people’s perception of veterinary service costs being less than what they actually are.

How to Choose the Right Level
While Cassie’s condition may not be representative of the types of accidents and illnesses that veterinarians see on a regular basis, having a vet bill in excess of $10,000 can be a shocking experience for any pet owner. To best determine the amount of coverage your pet needs, consider the average cost of living of your area, as well as the costs of typical veterinary services like exam fees, surgeries, hospitalizations, X-rays and medications.

We are happy to report that Cassie is on her way to being the happy, tail-wagging pup again, and wish her a speedy recovery!

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