Sequoyah German Shepherds
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Insurance: Does My Dog Need It?
People ask me about pet insurance from time
to time so I decided to do a little checking into it. I have
always recommended that all of my new German Shepherd owners should sign
up for the free 60 day trial that AKC gives away with each new AKC
registration but what about when the 60 days in up? Is pet
insurance worth it? Should I continue the policy and if so, which
policy should I choose? Here is what I found out......
Pet health care insurance isn't a new idea -- it has
been around for many years. It has been offered
for more than 25 years in the United States but many people haven't been
aware of it until recently.
Additionally, the availability of pet insurance plans
been limited and the policy restrictions have been
prohibitive in many cases. But, in the last few years,
we have seen changes in this industry and pet owners with insurance are
now able to provide levels of care that previously were cost
Veterinary medicine is one of the few health care
professions that is not financially based on insurance.
Unlike most medical, surgical, dental, and pharmacy
cases in human medicine, veterinary patients (owners)
are responsible for veterinary costs incurred
-- including preventive/routine care, emergency and
Pet health policies are similar to human insurance
policies; annual premiums, deductibles, and different
coverage plans based on what the owner chooses. Plans
are based on species, age, pre-existing conditions and
in some cases, lifestyle of the pet (i.e. indoor vs.
outdoor). As for pre-existing conditions, some companies will
cover conditions if the animal is stable or controlled
(usually after a waiting period of 3 to 12 months),
other companies will refuse animals with current
conditions or terminal disease. Some insurance plans
will not cover breeds prone to developing diseases
common to the breed (i.e. hip dysplasia in German
Many people's initial reaction is to think, "I have absolutely no interest in pet
insurance". But, let's take a closer look.
First, I want
to share with you a small excerpt out of one of my Veterinary magazines.
I found this article interesting and helpful when I was putting together
this information on Pet Insurance......
Last year, one of Dr. Robin Downing's
clients brought in
an older German
Downing knew what
she needed to do to
save the dog: remove
his spleen and keep
him in the ICU for
five days. This care
came with a $5,000
price tag, which the
client paid out of
Two months later,
the client's other
dog, a 3-year-old
arrived at Dr.
Downing's clinic in
Windsor, Colo., with
the same condition.
The client couldn't
afford to pay for
the care a second
time around, so she
made the painful
euthanize her pet.
"When this client
first brought in
this dog as a puppy,
and at several
following visits, we
encouraged her to
didn't," Dr. Downing
says. "This was a
What a horrifying
way for the client
to learn this
lesson. That dog
didn't have to die."
oncologist at City
of Angels Veterinary
Specialty Center in
Culver City, Calif.,
1-year-old cat that
had a severe
when the client
adopted him. The
client didn't expect
the cat to live—but
The client has an
insurance policy for
the cat, but the
company won't cover
infection because it
considers it a
condition. "Now the
cat has benign
cancer of the jaw,
which will become
fatal if we don't
treat it," Dr.
"There's a clear
date of diagnosis,
so it's not a
limited, so she's
waiting to proceed
with treatment until
her pet insurance
company decides how
much of the cat's
care it will cover.
These two cases
importance of pet
insurance and how it
can impact a pet's
- Surveys and research by the American Veterinary Medical Association and
the American Pet Products Association indicates that today, most pets
are regarded as full-fledged members of the family. More than 60 percent
of North American households have at least one pet, and many have more than one. There are more than 75
million pet dogs in the U.S. and Canada.
Projected 2010 pet expenditures for North America are over $45 billion,
of which $25 billion is earmarked for veterinary related care.
It has been estimated
that over one million pets are now insured, and this
trend is expected to continue.
Some fear that adding insurance to veterinary
medicine we will follow the path of insurance red tape and
problems found in human health care fields. But, comparing pet
insurance to human
healthcare is like
comparing apples to
oranges. The pet
isn't similar to
managed care and it
would take major
changes in the
profession to steer
it that direction.
A big part of what
has made human
healthcare a mess is
the physician, and
The insurance company has influence on the doctor's decisions - It can even exert
pressure on the
practice medicine a
On the other hand, it's hard for the
companies to put
companies don't have
them. No one wants
profession to suffer
the nightmares that
human doctors are
going through with
insurance and it's not
likely to happen
either because the
are different and
the relationship is
and the pet
Pet insurance is more like car insurance -
insurance against accident and illness. In
insurance company is
betting that your
pet will never have
an accident, and
you're betting that
at some point, your
goal is to never use
Many options now exist
that make the cost of insuring your pet’s health quite affordable.
Policies range from less than $300 to over $600 per year.
Pet Insurance allows you
to budget for any unplanned veterinary costs that might come up.
That can be very helpful in today's economic situation.
Experts think that the recent spike in interest is secondary to more
owners wanting to control the high cost for unexpected accidents and
illness. Also, treatments once reserved exclusively for humans (or only available at
top veterinary schools) are now commonly offered in most metropolitan
areas and demand for veterinary specialists (ophthalmology, dermatology,
neurology, internal medicine, dentistry, oncology) has increased and is
growing faster than any other area of the practice of veterinary
medicine. These advanced treatments are often expensive but can be
covered by a comprehensive pet insurance policy.
At this time, pet health
insurance companies don’t restrict your choice of veterinarians or
try to dictate what you can spend on services.
You don’t have to shop
around for a veterinarian who “accepts” your policy. Virtually
any national company will cover you for service done by any licensed
veterinarian. (Plus, most veterinarians don’t charge for
helping submit your claim.)
Having the right policy
could make the difference in a life-and-death decision. If you
enroll your pet at a young age, it’s possible to have coverage that
lasts your pet’s entire life.
Many veterinarians who were once skeptical about the value of pet
health insurance are now recommending that pet owners consider
subscribing on behalf of their dogs. Sharing pet health
insurance information with owners is becoming an
important part of client education in many vet offices.
The current overall average for annual deductibles is
around $100.00. The policy costs vary widely, depending
on the animal and the different packages that the owner
can choose. Some packages are comprehensive, including
such things as: annual checkups and vaccinations,
routine care, preventive medications (like Heartworm
preventive) and spay/neuter surgeries. Other plans cover
only accident and illness. Most plans offer immediate
coverage for accident claims, and 30 days for illness
claims on new policies. Additional pets are usually
covered at a reduced rate after the first policy-holding
- You usually get what you pay for!
Policies that promise the world for peanuts and seem too good to be true
almost certainly are. Insurance companies are in business to make
money, not to help pets.
- Many companies severely limit what
conditions they cover or how much they will reimburse. First example:
One major company won’t cover any condition it deems genetic or
congenital in nature. Second example: Another company will pay for a
lifelong condition the year it is diagnosed, but excludes it the
following years. Third example: Another company another limits the
payment per illness to only $500. READ THE FINE PRINT!
- You have to pay the veterinary and hospital
fees up front and then seek reimbursement from your insurer.
- If you wait until a condition is already
diagnosed, or “forget” to renew on time, you probably won’t be covered.
Insurance companies are in business to
make money. Many companies have come and gone over the years – emphasis
on “gone.” Those that make it are the ones that make the most money.
Those that offer the best “deal” may mean well, but not be able to live
up to their promises when you really need them. As in every contract,
read the fine print and research the company before you send money!
Each pet owner will have to evaluate pet health
insurance and decide if it is right for their pet(s),
but it is definitely becoming something to consider. And while it’s not right for every owner or breed,
insurance does — in the case of trauma or disease — ease
financial stress. When you are trying to decide
between paying your electric bill or paying for a needed surgery for your dog, it’s not an easy
decision, but if you can take the money out of the equation, you
can then decide what is in the best interest of your dog.
Comparing pet insurance companies and policies
can be very confusing.
Here are some comparisons of
some of the most popular pet insurance
Not all policies are created equal. You always
need to make sure you read the policy thoroughly and ask
questions until you understand. There are some
policies that exclude problems with a certain breed.
If you’re considering insurance, the North American Pet
Health Insurance Association (www.naphia.org) can
provide guidelines for shopping for the best plan.
And, don't forget to
things like: How long does it take to be reimbursed?
How's the company's customer service? What does the plan
absolutely not cover?
Please note that company insurance policies
can change at any time, so only use this
information as one tool for choosing a pet insurance
company and make sure you contact the company you are
interested in to confirm costs and coverage's for your
individual pet. Also, these are general policy offerings and
most companies offer special packages such as for older
pets, so if you are looking for variations in the below
coverage's you will want to contact the company to see
if they offer what you are looking for.
Embrace Pet Insurance
Veterinary Pet Insurance
Wellnes Plus Plan
- 8 yrs (dogs)
10yrs(applies to new enrollments only)
8 wks-14 yrs
Lifetime limit of $99,750
$2,000, $5,000 or $10,000 per year
per incident average (Annual deductible 0-$1000)
$200 or $500 per year
$50 per incident,
then covers 90%
Optional $0 to $1000
$125 with a 20% co-pay
Multi-pet, Medical Service, Micro-chip
Multi-Pet, Medical Service
Multi-Pet, Service Dog, Microchip, Employee
Benefit, Veterinary Worker
Muiti-Pet, Employee Benefit
if completely cured --
*this company also covers genetic conditions
yes if considered
Yes if completely cured & occurred more than 18
- but not if conditions shows up within first 12
with wellness plan addition
- some policies
Chronic & On-going conditions?
Chronic conditions will continue to be covered
each year as long as you don't go over your
annual and lifetime payout limits
- however, the following chronic conditions do
not qualify - eye conditions, chronic renal
failure, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and
For Additional Fee
- with Wellness Plan and no wellness deductible
Yes - some coverage for chiropractic and
There is also AKC
Insurance for those of you that have an AKC registered
dog. I have not had a chance to review it
thoroughly yet but it does seem that it bares checking
into. They have several different available
My conclusion from my research is this:
the experts and practitioners agree that pet insurance is a good thing.
It gives clients the option to seek care for their pets that they might
not otherwise. While each pet owner will have to evaluate pet health
insurance for themselves and decide if it is right for their pet(s),
it is definitely worth checking into. And it may not
be right for every owner or breed,
but it will definitely ease
financial stress should the occasion arise that you should
Do You Need Pet Insurance?
Kalumet at the German Language Wikipedia
As veterinary medicine becomes more
technologically advanced, the cost of care increases because of
the higher costs associated with the equipment, facilities and
training required to provide these higher-quality services. For
some, the cost of care can cause some anxiety. Pet insurance can
help by offsetting some or most of the costs of diagnosing,
treating and managing your pet's illness or injury.
insurance isn't for everyone, and there's no magic formula that
will tell you if it's right for you and your pet. If you're
considering pet insurance, talk to your veterinarian and do some
research on your options. Here are some basic considerations:
- Regardless of the insurance
provider, your veterinarian should be monitoring the health
of your pet as part of a valid Veterinary-Client-Patient
Relationship (VCPR; for more information, check out our VCPR
- The insurance provider
should clearly spell out to you the details, including the
limitations and exclusions, of coverage for routine and/or
wellness care as well as emergency treatments and conditions
that require extensive care. Find out how your premiums will
be increased as your pet ages or if you make any claims.
- See if they have add-on
options to provide any specific coverage (e.g., dental care,
travel insurance, etc.) you may want.
- Find out how they define and
handle pre-existing conditions (diseases or conditions your
pet already has – or has had – prior to purchasing the
- In some cases, insurance
providers will not insure a specific pet or breed of pet, or
may limit the number of pets you can insure, if they
consider them "high risk."
- Some providers will give
multiple pet discounts.
- All of the charges,
including co-pays, deductibles, add-on charges and other
fees, should be clearly explained to you so you fully
understand the policy and its limitations.
- You should be allowed to
choose the veterinarian who will provide veterinary care for
- Pet insurance plans are
generally reimbursement plans – you pay the bills up front
and are reimbursed by the insurance provider. Ask the
insurance provider how claims are processed as well as the
timeframe for reimbursement of your expenses so you know
what to expect. If you're concerned about covering the
expenses up front, ask your veterinarian about payment
options that will work for you in case you need to make
arrangements. (It's best to find out your options ahead of
time so you don't have the added stress of trying to make
payment arrangements on an emergency basis.)
For more information, see the AVMA's
Guidelines on Pet Health Insurance and Other Third Party Health
Your veterinarian may be able to
provide you with a recommended pet insurance company based on
their experience, but it's ultimately your decision whether or
not to purchase pet insurance (and what coverage and from what
company you purchase). Below is an alphabetical list of
companies that provide pet insurance. The list may not be
complete and is intended to provide information and links to
help you investigate and decide if pet insurance is right for
your pet. The AVMA does not endorse or recommend any one
provider over others.
AKC Pet Insurance
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance
Best Friends Pet Insurance
Embrace Pet Insurance
Figo Pet Insurance