I am so grateful that a reader of this blog has agreed to write a couple of guest posts about her experiences in selecting a pet insurance company and policy for her pet. I hope that it will be an encouragement to everyone else who reads it.
By Desiree Nascimento
In October 2009 I took on the task of purchasing pet insurance for my seven year old Kerry Blue Terrier. As I conducted research over a two month period I found the variables of pet insurance vast, the comparisons between companies confusing, and the task daunting. Yet I tackled it and came out on top.
To make the best decision for your pet and your finances, you need to be willing to dedicate the time it takes to do the research necessary to find the policy that best fits your individual needs. There is no one size fits all – no single company that is best for everyone. It’s essential to read the policies thoroughly and question anything you don’t understand.
I was looking for a plan that covers:
* major accident and major illness (not routine office visits and shots)
* diagnostic testing – such as MRIs, x-rays, endoscopy
* cancer treatment – regardless of type of cancer
* non-routine dental treatment
* prescription medications
* hereditary and chronic conditions
* does not exclude new conditions as pre-existing in following years
* pays according to whatever the vet actually charges (not a set fee schedule)
* offers a reasonable monthly premium
* does not skyrocket monthly premiums as my dog ages
* offers an annual deductible (not a per-incident deductible)
Well, that was asking a lot and guess what? I couldn’t find it. I found one company that offered everything I wanted except the annual deductible. Therefore, I had to go with a policy that had a per-incident deductible, rather than an annual deductible. Overall, I believe I selected a very good policy.
During my two month search I spoke with several companies and read endless policies. All have websites and toll free phone numbers. I got online quotes and used their calculators to sample various deductibles, reimbursements, and monthly premiums. Then I narrowed it down to three companies and conducted in-depth comparisons between them.
A significant part of my research included two publications; Your Guide to Understanding Pet Health Insurance, by Dr. Doug Kenney and his companion piece; Special Report – Pet Insurance Research Guide. These were invaluable. I communicated with Dr. Kenney several times and his guidance was immense. His publications include worksheets for making comparisons between companies easier.
I also gave weight to a website that publishes policyholder reviews,www.petinsurancereviews.com. It provides real-life stories of happy and unhappy policyholders and their experiences with their insurance companies. The site also rates each company on a scale of 0-10.
When it’s all said and done, regardless of the type of policy you choose, it boils down to knowing exactly the limitations of the policy and being comfortable with it.
In my case, I put in the time, did the research, and got educated along the way. I have been quite satisfied with the company I selected. The company that I decided to go with was PetPlan.
Coming soon – my experience with PetPlan when I actually filed some claims!
I'd like to make several observations about Desiree's experience. First of all, I was impressed that she took the time to educate herself about pet insurance and do the amount of research she did. Secondly, after educating herself about pet insurance, she knew exactly what she wanted in a pet insurance policy before she started comparing companies and policies. What she found out and what you may find out is that there isn't always a company that meets all of your criteria. So, you'll have to decide what factors are the most important to you and make some compromises. And lastly, she narrowed her search to 3 companies before doing a more in-depth comparison to select which company was the best one for her.
***The views and opinions expressed by guest bloggers are their own and not necessarily shared by the author of this blog. This blog does not endorse any particular insurance company, but does seek to help pet owners in their quest to find the right company and policy for their pet.