Which Health Insurance Policy is Best for my Pet?

 |  Dec 30th 2010  |   7 Contributions


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Here is a question that came up in the comments of the Vet Blog:

Hello Dr. Barchas,

I am owning a pug. I need to buy an insurance policy for my pug. I approached to a website sellingpet insurance online. Pls can you help me that the policy they are offering is right policy or not for my pug.

Thanks,
Ravinder

Pet insurance is a phenomenal idea in principle. Pooled risk among a large group of individuals means that the occasionally ill or injured pet can receive the best quality health care. In general, pet insurance works well--for now.

However, I am worried about the future of pet insurance. Everyone knows that the human health insurance system is a godawful mess in every single possible regard, from expense to paperwork to impacts on patient care. Sadly, in the last decade I have seen pet insurance start to head in the same direction.

There are two main problems with pet insurance. The first, and most important, is poor coverage in some cases. All pet insurance policies exclude pre-existing conditions, so the best time to buy pet insurance is when your pet is young and never has been sick. But you also need to check other issues. Ravinder, does the insurance policy you're considering cover the most common problems (and there are many of them, such as breathing issues, eye problems, and skin problems) that Pugs suffer at high rates? Are there lifetime coverage limits? Will the premiums for routine care (vaccines, deworming, and wellness checkups) cost more than the services they cover? What will happen to your premiums as your pet ages and becomes more prone to problems?

My second beef with pet insurance is the paperwork. Ten years ago there was only one commonly used company (Veterinary Pet Insurance, or VPI). Their paperwork was, and remains, straightforward. But recently the number of companies offering pet insurance has multiplied like rabbits on Viagra. Each new company seems to have paperwork that is more onerous than the ones before it. At this rate it won't be long until veterinarians, like physicians, have to hire extra staff members just to deal with the paperwork. Who will pay for those staff members? You, through higher office visit expenses and higher pet insurance premiums.

The long and short of the matter is that any person considering pet insurance needs to investigate the company and policy carefully before purchasing. Different policies are appropriate for different pets in different circumstances.

Although I do not endorse any particular pet insurance company, I will say that most of my clients have been satisfied with VPI. Of course, I must confess to a conflict of interest in the matter. VPI is my favorite company because its paperwork is by far the least burdensome.

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