Tell Me About: Pet Insurance

by | Dec 21, 2018 | Blog

It is very common in today’s climate to not be very happy with health insurance. Premiums are soaring, deductibles seemingly outrageous, and shopping for health plans is often a dismal experience. The struggle to justify the monthly premium, with the annual benefit, leads us to wondering what to do.

In this context, I’ve been wondering how to address insurance with pet owners. As I began researching, it is interesting to note that it was coinciding with my responsibility to find a good health care coverage option for our Country Friend’s employees. The good news is, I found a happy ending for both pet owners and our employees! And isn’t that what this is all about anyway? We want helpful and pleasant experiences!

The “Tell Me About” series was born out of general lack of education on my part regarding many aspects of the pet industry. I realized that many of you may be coming from a similar place- with questions about subjects that perhaps we never thought we would need to know, and yet here we are- pet insurance is one of those subjects.

What is Pet Insurance?

Important takeaway: Pet insurance takes the financial worry out of caring for a pet that you love.

Pet Insurance functions in almost the same way that human health coverage does- you pay a monthly premium and when you need a doctor you make an appointment and receive monetary help from the insurance company according to your plan. As with humans, there are many plans- so many options! There are also plans that have add-ons so that your coverage is extra encompassing of what life may bring. There are a variety of starting points for your monthly premiums and those options determine the annual deductible.

The main difference between pet and human insurance is that you may be working directly with the insurance company rather than through your veterinarian’s office. Whenever possible, at Country Friends Veterinary Clinic, we work to accommodate your pet’s insurance within our office.

Why Should I Consider Pet Insurance?

Pets are family to so many of you – you love your pets and want the best for them. So do we! If it is feasible and within your budget, we at Country Friends Veterinary Clinic recommend that you choose a pet plan and we’re not alone: according to a professional survey sponsored by DVM360, 84% of veterinarians across the world think so too. This may seem surprising to you- it certainly was for me! It turns out that only 2% of American pet owners have pet insurance which is a very small percentage compared to Sweden where approximately 50% of their pets have insurance. Why is that? With one quick look at the history of pet insurance we’ll have a clearer understanding.

5 Important Pet Insurance Dates in History

1. 1890 – The first pet insurance policy was written by Claes Virgin, founder of Länsförsäkrings Alliance. At that time, he focused on horses and livestock.
2. 1924 – The first dog received insurance coverage in Sweden. Thereafter a policy was written in Britain, in 1947.
3. 1982 – Lassie, a famous TV dog, received the first pet insurance policy in the United States.
4. 1989 – Pet health insurance was introduced into the Canadian market by Petplan (now Western Financial Insurance), MediPet and Petsure.
5. 2007 – The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) was founded to establish and maintain universal and professional standards for terminology, best practices, quality and ethics in the pet health insurance industry.

5 Reasons Why Most American Pets are Not Yet Insured

1. America is a young country (at least compared to established European countries)
2. Availability: Pet insurance wasn’t even a “thing” in America until 1982!
3. Mentality: Of course Lassie had insurance- she was famous and entered America’s hearts! (Insurance must be expensive and only a luxury item…)
4. Awareness and education: It’s December of 2018, I’m an educated woman with a soft heart for animals and I’m only now investing time and attention to learning about pet insurance (it’s embarrassing to admit)
5. Expense: Many pet owners simply underestimate the costs associated with caring for a pet; this is especially true regarding medical care costs

What Will Pet Insurance Cover?

Pet insurance can cover everything or a few things. You may want preventative coverage as well as wellness, injury, and sickness. Maybe you are just looking for the injury and sickness coverage; regardless, your pet needs to be seen regularly and having been in this industry for a while now, it is certain that injury and/or sickness will happen.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

It’s pretty easy to find lots of pet insurance companies these days. A quick search of the Top 10 Pet Insurance Companies will lead you to several pages to choose from. I recently spent quite a bit of time learning about pet insurance with a nice gentleman (Russ) at ASPCA Pet Health Insurance and he gave me this link which I’d like to pass on to you:

Choose a plan that you can afford that has good reviews and the coverage that you desire for your pet. When you arrive at your veterinary clinic you’ll likely receive a medical treatment plan that outlines an idea of the cost of treatment. Many pet insurance companies now have phone apps- so once you’ve paid you can upload a photo of the invoice directly to your claim department. It is possible to receive reimbursement within 3-5 days (this may vary) through direct deposit. Some pet clinics allow for the direct reimbursement to be sent to their office; this is something that you can look into, too.

How About a Recommendation?

Important takeaway: Country Friends Veterinary Clinic recommends that you look into pet insurance for your pet(s). We love your sweet babies and want you to have the freedom from financial concerns so that you can make the choices you want to make for the pet(s) that you love.

We are not licensed to sell insurance and that means there are laws that prohibit us from recommending one company over another. I can tell you that I talked with both Pet Partners and ASPCA Pet Health Insurance and happily they both offer a 30 day trial period for you to get a little experience so that you can decide what is offered and which company you like best. Who doesn’t love a 30-day trial?! Visit this website for questions to ask while you’re shopping for a plan:

Where Do I Go to Get a Quote?

After you’ve decided upon two or three companies that you believe will meet your needs, go to their website and they will have an option to fill in a few data fields to obtain a quote for your pet(s). I decided to put in the info for my cat, Lovey. Once I had selected “cat” I was asked about her gender (F), age (8mos), breed (tabby), and my zip code. Her first estimate was under $9 dollars a month!

Give the gift of health.

Three years in a row the cost of health insurance has increased as we searched for a good offering for our employees and it turns out that options were the answer! Just like pet insurance, human health insurance is not a one-size-fits-all answer. We found three plans, covered one 100% and offered the others at an additional cost. In the end, we all chose what works for us and it is my wish that you have the same experience as you shop for pet insurance.

I’m looking at the upcoming New Year as the perfect time to gift my pets the gift of health coverage; as fellow animal lovers, I hope that you will too!

Rhonda Hampton
Hospital Manager
Country Friends Veterinary Clinic
“Pets and People are our Passion!”