Those of you who have known me for a long time know that I have never been a big fan of pet insurance. My previous career had been as a life insurance agent, and I knew all too well, that many people feel “insurance poor”, nickel-and-dimed by premiums paid to insurance companies who seem to do everything in their power to avoid paying claims. Perhaps you’ve heard me lecture from the front desk about how insurance policies exist for the purpose of protecting the insured against “catastrophic loss”. Generally speaking, insurance “must haves” are life, health, disability, liability, and property/casualty. I have never recommended dental or vision insurance.
Pet insurance? Please. (Cue eye roll here).
Last week, I bought Grendel an insurance policy.
Grendel Dachshund and her new Trupanion Insurance Card!
So why the paradigm shift? We recently started working with a company called Trupanion. Trupanion’s approach is different than that of other pet insurance companies, in that they only cover illness, injury, accidents, surgery, and well...catastrophic loss. Most other pet insurance companies cover a certain level of both wellness and critical care, but tend to reject claims related to congenital or breed specific disorders. For example, many pets are prone to urinary tract infections caused by developmental anomolies of the bladder or genitals. These problems can be fixed surgically, but because they are congenital disorders, they are not covered by most pet insurance policies. Problems related to the breed tend to be excluded as well. Dr. Kupkee suspects that Grendel will someday need surgery on her back. The procedure can only be done by a specialist, and generally costs between $4500-$6000! Unlike many of their competitors, Trupanion covers the costs of treating these very expensive conditions. Their philosophy, like mine, is that insurance is not needed for planned expenses such as vaccines, spays, dental cleanings and wellness. We can budget for these things. We cannot budget for cancer. Should Grendel be diagnosed with cancer, we will now have the option of consulting the top specialists in veterinary oncology, regardless of the cost.
Cost is another reason for the paradigm shift. On August 11th 2011, CNNMoney published an article titled “Most Americans Can’t Afford a $1000 Emergency Expense”. The article cited a recent study by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling where 64% of the Americans surveyed reported not having the ability to handle an unexpected $1000 expense. Last summer, a play date gone wrong sent Grendel to Miami Veterinary Specialists for an orthopedic surgery. It was an unexpected expense, and a shot across our bow that accidents happen, and when the dust clears, there is a bill to pay.
Once upon a time, the average American family would just pull out a credit card, juggle a few priorities, and make it happen. Now we (and our pets) need all the help we can get.
The question I am most often asked is how much Grendel’s Trupanion policy costs. The monthly premium for a $500 deductible is $36.00 per month. For a $1000 deductible, the premium is $28.00 per month. In the spirit of catastrophic loss protection, we chose the higher deductible with the lower premium. It’s unusual for me to change my mind, but Trupanion has made me a true believer!
Sabal Chase Animal Clinic is open for emergencies during working hours (8am - 6pm M-F, 8-1 Sat)