Choosing Pet Health Insurance
I’ve spent a lot of time last year choosing pet health insurance and last month I was forced to revisit investigating pet health insurance companies for our cats. This made me think that I should maybe write down my thoughts for all of you.
I’m not going to lie, this stressed me out tremendously because I foremost feel like insurance companies are pretty much robbing us of our money. I hate sentences like “we have the best interest of our policyholders in mind” which is such a lie. They have their own pockets, gain and interest in mind foremost and I always had that in the back of my mind while searching for pet insurance.
Also check out my other cat care posts about how to get cats to stop scratching furniture, how to help a scared cat adjust, my elderly cat care tips, and how I trap, neuter, and return feral cats in our neighborhood. I’m also always welcoming questions to get other ideas about what to write about.
choosing pet health insurance that’s right for you
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First of all, I’d love to have more cats. At some point a couple of years ago, we had 5 cats and I loved it. I follow the Muskrats on Instagram. The cat dads adopted 5 of Beth Stern’s fosters and are currently fostering another one that they are hoping to adopt. I follow their account with envy but I know that we really can’t afford to adopt more in the long run.
When our three ladies got old together the vet bills were overwhelming at times. Our male Harry battled several ailments and he literally broke the bank which was so stressful and caused many fights between my husband and I. He doesn’t see eye to eye with me about rigorously investigating their health issues and caring for them. He’d be totally ok with only getting the minimum care for them with required shots.
So when Harry had numerous emergency room visits and hospital stays I vowed to get insurance for our next adoptions.
Insurances I have used
Last March I finally decided to pick a pet health insurance after Walter ate a slice of pizza and ended up being really sick from it which cost me about $500 at the vet. I ended up with FIGO pet insurance because their prices were great while offering an easy-to-use phone app and great customer service. But while I was in Germany I received emails regarding their underwriter changes and that my deductible would change from $250 to $1000 while lowering my maximum payout from 14K to 10K. Needless to say, I was livid. I have 3 young cats under the ages of 4 and within that year of being insured with them, I never even filed a claim.
So back to searching I went. Comparing prices, reading reviews, getting quotes… So time-consuming and stressful!
Our vet recommends using Trupanion because they compliment the care plan they offer. Trupanion’s rates are not affordable for me and neither is paying a monthly fee for a care plan from the vet. It would be way more than my monthly car payment!
Why I don’t use a savings account
If we only had one cat, I would have considered opening up a savings account just for our cat and then just using that money in case of an emergency. I have learned from experience that it usually all happens at once and our last gang always appeared to have something going on at the same time. The saying when it rains it pours has always been true for our cats’ health and I really want to avoid being stressed out financially and mentally because of not being sure if we can afford to save our cats’ lives and fighting about it with my husband. A savings account can be drained so quickly and then you have nothing to draw from in another case of emergency.
There are so many review websites that appear to be simply giant advertisements. I have found consumeradvocate.org to be most helpful in my search for a new pet health insurance company. So much detailed information. I finally decided to go with their #1 choice on their list which is Healthy Paws after getting my own quotes. The competitive rates and the fact that being a AAA member got me a special discounted rate helped with the decision. All I had to do is log into my AAA account and click through the link on their website to Healthy Paw’s website to get the adjusted rate quote.
They also have a “refer a friend” option where they donate $25 to homeless animals if someone signs up through a referral link. So the person referring doesn’t get a credit or better rate but other animals are the beneficiaries which I like. HERE is my link by the way and you can also read the “terms and conditions“
My tips for choosing pet health insurance
- Make your own pet insurance provider comparison list, don’t rely on review websites and only use them as guidelines. Some of them are definitely not honest.
- Ask around at your veterinarian and amongst friends. Hey, even a Facebook post with questions about pet insurance can open up a great dialog and be very helpful.
- Keep in mind that if your pet has a preexisting condition you might be choosing a completely different insurance than someone else who signs up with perfectly healthy pets.
- When adopting a pet, bring it to the veterinarian for an exam and make sure that you get your pet’s insurance right away instead of waiting. (…like I did with Walter! That expensive slice of pizza would have been covered!). Insurances require a current veterinary exam.
- Don’t wait until your pet is sick to sign up for insurance. Pet health insurance companies have waiting periods!
- Research discounts online (…the AAA discount was a wonderful discovery for me.)
- Check out the insurance company’s social profiles for disgruntled customers and how they handle their complaints.
What upsets me still about all pet health insurance companies is that dental care is not covered which is why veterinarians now offer a care plan with monthly payments. The fact is though that dental health is crucial for your pets’ overall health. If their teeth are bad they can cause all kinds of health issues like severe infections that can lead to illness and death. Dental cleanings and extractions have become horribly expensive since we started having cats 24 years ago and I really wish it wasn’t so because they are so very important. If insurance would help with the cost of it then they might not have to pay as much for other ailments and illnesses.
Right before Christmas our Maya had to have 5 teeth pulled and I signed up for a year of the care plan to help pay for it. I have to make sure to cancel it before renewal though. I also signed up for care credit to pay for large veterinary bills.
Food For Thoughts
When cats are in pain or ill they often choose to urinate outside of the litterbox to communicate with us that they aren’t feeling well which is one of the number 1 reasons why they are surrendered to shelters. It makes me so sad to think that it is possibly because they aren’t feeling well or are feeling unhappy. So keeping them healthy is so important!!!
Do you have anything to add to this conversation? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Lastly, I have to add that I’m still dreaming of having more cats because there are so many that are in need of a good home.
You may want to consider fostering. You love cats and this way you can have a house full that the rescue pays for food and vet bills. We foster and have for 3 years.
Hi Linda, I have thought about it. One of the reasons I always decide not to is how dominant my cats are. It was awful when we adopted Anthony. And now Walter and Willy fight a lot which I don’t think would be a good thing for other kitties. My two males just aren’t really tolerant of sharing their territory. Willy is so aggressive when he just sees another cat in his yard and lets it out on everyone else.
Very good information. I don’t have pet insurance for my 3 but do have AAA so will check it out. I tend to get ‘kitten fever’ when I see the little ones and want to bring them home!! But then they grow up and aren’t kittens anymore! I’m getting around this by volunteering at a rescue by socializing cats and kittens for adoption.
That is wonderful Donna!I know kitten fever very well. My daughter and I get it often 😉
Thank you for posting about this. I have always wondered about Pet Health Insurance, but never investigated it. I recently adopted a kitten that ended up with pneumonia and needless to say, that set us back hundreds of dollars unexpectedly and, like your husband, mine doesnt always agree on the course of action to take with a sick kitty. I will be checking into this further and I am a AAA member, so thank you again! (P.S. my kitty is doing good now!)
Oh I’m so glad that your baby is doing well now. Insurance definitely eases my mind. Make sure you check with the insurance if the case of pneumonia is considered a preexisting condition for whatever reason. I’m sure Walter’s slice of pizza will be tried as a loophole one day down the road by the insurance. Just thinking about it makes me mad LOL
Thanks, Julia for all the helpful information. I agree with you abut dental cleaning costs. So important and so terribly expensive. I recently adopted a 10 year old cat, and he was in desperate need f a cleaning. Had to have 14 teeth removed @ over $1000. I know he was in pain so I had to take care of it, but it is a difficult choice. My two little pups are also in constant need of some vet procedure. They’re too old for insurance now, but I will look in to it for future pets. Wish it would cover dental thought. Thanks again for you pet posts!
Wow, 14 teeth! Bless you, for making him more comfortable! I think that would have been over 2K at my vet 🙁 And it is sad that the prices are always increasing too.