Being that I work as a health care provider in private practice in the United States, I have had more than my fair share of dealing with powerful insurance companies. The experience has been an extremely frustrating exercise in dealing with organizations which have fairly free reign to abuse both their powerless customers and their contracted providers. I could write pages and pages detailing these abuses but that's not what this post is about.
Instead of complaining about the evils of insurance companies, I'm going to sing some praise for one insurance company in particular. The catch is, you and I can't be insured by this company.
Petplan USA. I made the decision to insure them chiefly based on my anxiety-driven, hypochondriac nature. When I notice something is off about a cat, I take them to the vet to get checked over. This means I have gotten to know the vet staff quite well as I see them often. Having insurance also protects me from having to make a heart wrenching life or death choice based solely on financials. My brother recently lost one of his dogs after being faced with an emergency situation that required him to make a choice of either shelling out significant money for a slight chance at saving his dog's life or helping her cross the bridge. I can't imagine having to make such a choice.
There are quite a few insurance companies that offer pet insurance. Before choosing which company to go with, I did a little research. A few of the things I liked about Petplan is that they cover hereditary and congenital conditions as well as chronic problems for the life of the animal. They also cover alternative and holistic therapies.
Like any insurance company, they do not cover pre-existing conditions, so it's important to sign up right away before anything develops. I learned this the hard way with Theo. I procrastinated signing him up thinking I would save a little money as he seemed quite healthy at the time. Then all of a sudden he was having problems and was diagnosed with his hyperthyroidism, which is now a pre-existing condition. Dang! Had I not delayed, this lifelong disease would have been forever covered for him.
Routine and preventative care is also not covered. Things like annual exams and vaccinations are not covered expenses. Of course, if an illness is discovered, then the visit becomes eligible based on that diagnosis.
When you sign up for Petplan insurance you get several options to choose from, each options makes a difference in the premium. The first choice is the yearly cap ($20,000, $12,000 or $8,000). The second choice is deductible ($50, $100 or $200), which is per-condition per year. Third is reimbursement amount (80%, 90% or 100%). Reimbursement for a veterinary specialist is always 80%.
Buddy is covered at $12,000, a $50 deductible and 100% reimbursement all for an annual premium of $475. The premium is so high because he's a senior kitty, the other cats are quite a bit cheaper. Buddy has had many trips to the vet in the 11 months we have had him. You might remember that Buddy was not wanting to eat for quite some time. The result was some expensive dental work.
Here's Buddy's medical history for the time he has been with us:
July 9, he goes to the vet and is diagnosed with Polydipsia after undergoing some diagnostic work. The charge: $340.95. I was reimbursed $290.95 (the charge minus the $50 deductible).
January 2 & 3, Buddy goes to the vet because he's not eating. He's diagnosed with Anorexia and he undergoes a bunch of diagnostic work. The charge: $410.42. I was reimbursed $360.42 (the charge minus the $50 deductible).
March 31, he goes to the vet and is diagnosed with Periodontal Disease. The charge: $165.40. I was reimbursed $115.40 (the charge minus the $50 deductible).
April 9, Buddy goes back to the vet for extensive dental surgery for his Periodontal Disease. The charge: $638.95. Since I had already paid my deductible for this condition, I was reimbursed the full $638.95.
To summarize, Buddy's total vet bills for the past 11 months: $1,555.72 which after reimbursement of $1,405.72, only cost me $150.00. Now, factor in the $474 annual premium, $475 + %150 = $625. So, including the annual premium, I've still paid less than half of what it would have cost me without the insurance and I get the peace of mind knowing I can afford to do all sorts of expensive diagnostic work and treatment options because it will only cost my $50 deductible.
Another amazing thing about Petplan is that they are actually pleasant to work with. I can't believe I am actually saying that about an insurance company! Also, claim processing is surprisingly quite speedy. More often than not, I get the reimbursement check in my hands before I get my credit card bill with the vet's charges on it.
I've been trying to come up with some negatives to balance my review, but I'm really struggling to find any. The only thing I think to complain about is that the process of filing a claim can be a bit of a hassle, but I'm guessing this is true of any pet insurance. To submit a claim, you have to print off an official claim form, complete the basic information and then give it to the vet office to complete the technical part. Once that's done it gets faxed off to Petplan. I always get an email letting me know the claim was received and is in review and then a week or so later the reimbursement check shows up in the mail.
After complaining to Laura about my own health insurance plan the other day, I realized that my cats have much better health insurance coverage than us humans! What's up with that?! Why can't there be options like Petplan for humans?!
I should disclose that Petplan has not provided me any compensation of any kind to provide this review. This review is purely based on my personal experience to date as a paying customer of Petplan USA. If I experience negatives in the future, I will be sure to write about those experiences at that time.
I would love to hear other's peoples experiences with pet insurance. Has it paid off well for you? Have you had any bad experiences with your pet insurance?