Thursday, 10 November 2016

Pet Insurance

I treated myself to a purebred puppy ten years ago.    It wasn't that much of a splurge as I discovered the local SPCA and Petfinder site charged about half the price for their dogs.   Yes, I know they need homes too and over the years I have obtained dogs and cats from the SPCA.

Much like when you buy an expensive outfit and you feel you need expensive shoes to go with it, my new puppy needed extravagant accessories.  Or I thought she did.   The new leash and collar didn't cost that much but what I came to regret was taking out Pet Insurance.   The glossy brochure was right there on the counter at the veterinarian's office.   I was sold.  Twenty-nine dollars a month would surely be a worthwhile purchase.

I paid dutifully for six or seven months and then received notice of a rate hike.   Oh,  $31 now.   A few months later I took my one year old dog for her annual check up.   Oh, annual checkups and vaccines aren't covered.   Routine tests aren't covered.  I didn't know that but then I hadn't read the policy.   A visit to the vet for an itchy ear was partially covered but not the drops, which were non-prescription.   Oh.  A notice that the monthly premium was going to $33.  Oh.  

After eighteen months, I decided to cancel the policy.  I'd realized that the policy had breed exclusions for the problems most likely to develop as well as other limitations.   Coverage could be changed unilaterally by the insurance company.   Only one knee operation was covered in dogs prone to knee problems. Genetic disorders are often not covered.  Some plans have their own schedule as to what they will pay.   That may not be the same as what your veterinarian charges.   If I had put the insurance premium into a savings account designated for vet bills I would have about $500 already.  Don't forget, your savings are transferrable, to another pet or some other expense.   Your pet insurance policy will lapse and your payments will disappear when your pet dies at the end of their life.   

My puppy is now ten years old.   She's been well cared for with annual check-ups and vaccines, lots of love, good food and exercise.   The $5000 plus I would have paid in premiums would not have been paid back in benefits by a long shot.     If you put the money into a designated savings account at least you don't have to worry about finding out that for some reason, your claim 'isn't covered by the plan.'  The annual deductible can be considerable.   There are exclusions you weren't prepared for.  I just didn't feel secure that after paying premiums for a dozen years, a claim I made wouldn't be denied for some obscure reason.  And, remember, you still have to pay the veterinarian's office up front and then wait and hope for some kind of reimbursement.   Or not.

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