Pet Insurance: Is it for you?

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I remember when I tried to get clients to purchase pet insurance back in the early 1990s. Then it was pretty much unheard of and people weren’t too interested.

Today with the rising costs of veterinary care, less people dismiss the options.

Early this year I read that in North America the pet insurance market is estimated to grow from the $248 million in 2007 to over $1.1 billion by 2012—only four years down the road.

That is quite big jump. Especially since only a few years ago there weren’t as many plans as there are available today.

Several of the existing pet insurance companies have obtained millions of dollars of venture capital funding which seems to indicate that it will boom in the not too distant future.

Particular branding of such policies such as the ASPCA Pet Health Insurance is helping with growing awareness.

Concerns voiced by some of my clients and local professionals are that many claims have not been covered by their insurance.

Another fear is that the insurance will mirror the nightmare faced in the human medical insurance—where paperwork and other administration will create havoc and a wedge between practices and their clients.

The fear is that insurers will try and dictate how veterinary clinics practice medicine, impact the rates charged, or burdened in similar ways to managed care.

An alternative to pet insurance is to set up a pet emergency fund where regular deposits are made for care.

Some pet owners use this method to pay for pet veterinary care while others use it to pay premiums for their pet insurance but in my experience most people really don’t save regularly nor do they think about their options.

In 2007 a few of the pet insurance companies joined together to form the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. The group plans to educate the public about the value of such insurance.

I didn’t have pet insurance when my dog was diagnosed with cancer. It might have helped with some of the stress from coming up with the money in order to pay for the imminent surgery.

Would pet insurance have helped? Maybe but I don’t think the clinic accepted it at the time. This was not unusual until recently.

In fact when the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) published a statement on “Meeting the Cost of Pet Care” it included such methods as using savings, credit cards, budgeting, and urged people to “consider” pet insurance.

I am wondering if they will rewrite the statement again to “encourage” pet insurance instead of just considering it as an option.

AAHA also took a look at pet insurance earlier this year. The group encourages high deductable policies for coverage of catastrophic incidents so that the premiums would be lower and more accessible for the average pet owner.
As I see it, pet insurance is not going to go away. I am glad to see it becoming an option versus fifteen years ago. As more and more veterinary professional groups and pet owners get more comfortable with the concept I expect it will become the norm instead of the exception.

Pet insurance is still a new industry and one that is growing quickly. There are about fifteen groups that offer pet insurance—and you can be sure I’ll write more about this in the future.

So, now I want to know if you have pet insurance…let me know in the comments below. If you want get a quote for pet insurance now.

About Ark Lady

+ArkLady is a cyber-jungle trailblazer, author & speaker. Join thecyber-jungle explorer email list or connect via ARKlady website.

Comments

  1. Sylvia Teague says:

    Follow your blog and find it very informative.

    Yes, I have pet insurance with “Pet Plan”. I opted for insurance after having had older pets require extensive diagnostic procedures, costing thousands. Also, as you mentioned, setting aside an equivalant amount in savings, would not cover costs associated with a traumatic injury or disease requiring diagnostic testing or surgery, i.e. degenerative myelopathy, IVDD, Hip Dysplasia, ACL injuries, etc., etc…………

  2. Five years ago when we got our dogs, my wife and I considered pet insurance but ultimately decided against it primarily because:

    1) Customer feedback was very negative for all providers, mostly due to coverage seemingly being arbitrary at best.

    2) The monthly cost of the insurance could be put away into an emergency fund that would build to comparable value by the dogs’ senior years.

    However, I’m curious to see where the industry goes since it could become a good thing if done properly.

  3. Your statements below are valid and very true!

    “Concerns voiced by some of my clients and local professionals are that many claims have not been covered by their insurance.

    Another fear is that the insurance will mirror the nightmare faced in the human medical insurance—where paperwork and other administration will create havoc and a wedge between practices and their clients.”

    I am territory partners with a company called Trupanion (We have the AAHA seal of acceptance). We are striving to re-define the pet insurance industry by providing simple, fair, and affordable medical insurance for puppies and kittens. By doing this, we reduce the amount of pre-existing conditions, therefore paying more claims and paying them very quickly too!

    We cover all accidents and illnesses (including hereditary and congenital disorders). We cover $20 000 over a pet’s lifetime with no limits placed per year, claim, incident, or illness. We don’t impose deductibles but pet owners have the option of choosing a deductible (low or high).

    We pay 90% of actual veterinary costs. We never increase rates or lower coverage as you make claims or as your pet ages. Finally, pet insurance that works!

    There’s also an independent website http://www.petinsurancereview.com where you can read real consumer reviews for pet insurance companies across North America.

    Thanks for getting the word out there. 🙂

  4. @Sylvia: Thanks for being a loyal reader! I appreciate your comments and hope that you will leave more.

    @Andrew: I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you back commenting–actually miss it when I don’t see your great submissions. I don’t think pet insurance has hit its stride yet but imagine that will change with the competition and the influx of funding.

    @Karen: Thanks for stopping by with the link from PIR. I will be doing reviews and comparisons between providers in the future.