Pets are not born with $100 bills in their jaws: image via petgather.comPets are not born with $100 bills in their jaws: image via petgather.comWhat? You think I'm exaggerating what it was like to
search for the right pet health insurance plan for almost a year and then finally decide on
one? 

You're wrong.  From the time I adopted my Welshie, who was six years old, I knew I needed to get pet health insurance, not only for him, but
for my adopted cat who was then seven.  I had recently sold all of my mother's gold jewelry and everything else I had that was valuable to
someone else, to raise enough money to keep my last dog going for an extra year.  Before that, I
spent my retirement savings, paying the early withdrawal penalty on it, to hang on to another beloved dog who faced one health problem after another from the age of
7 to 16.

Are you with me? Dogs and cats get sick. Getting them well, or just better, can
cost you a fortune, and it usually does.

According to PetPlan claims data, once every 6 seconds a pet owner is faced with a bill for over $1,000, and one in every three pets has an unplanned visit to the vet each year.  The image below gives you an idea of what some of these unexpected visits can end up costing....

 

PetPlans estimated costs for various 'unexpected' vet visits: image via 1800PetMeds.comPetPlans estimated costs for various 'unexpected' vet visits: image via 1800PetMeds.com

 

So about a year ago, I started searching for the 'right'
policy for my middle-aged pets. Neither my dog or cat had any medical problems that I'd known
about, but who knows when you adopt?  Here are both the frustrating and worthwhile steps I took to finally find a policy that was right for my pets and right for my budget. Maybe I can save you some of the agony.

Frustration Number 1: First, I looked up every pet health insurance company to see what
they had to offer.  That was a big mistake, especially as I got caught up in
their comparison charts, heavily weighted in the particular insurer's favor.  I
was so confused when I read the samples of each insurer's policy, I thought I
would need to take actuarial science before
selecting a plan.  I didn't go that far, but I did catch up on the meaning of
some of the insurance terminology.

Frustration Number 2: Next I contacted all of the veterinarians in my vicinity to see which pet insurance they recommended. Each office carried business cards for different insurers, but staffs were never sure about the reliability of the services they offered - probably because insurance benefits are paid to the pet
owner, not to the veterinarian who cared for the pet.

My pet owner friends were no help; they didn't have pet insurance. (Only about 7 percent of pet owners do.)

Frustration Number 3: Let me see if there are any articles for dummies on buying
pet insurance, I thought.  I sifted through a lot of them, but by this time,
I knew pretty much everything in them - which wasn't a lot. 

 

Your Guide To Understanding Pet Health Insurance by Doug KenneyYour Guide To Understanding Pet Health Insurance by Doug KenneyWorthwhile Step Number 1:  I did find a
book that looked very thoroough by veterinarian Doug Kenney called Your Guide to Understanding Pet Health
Insurance
, so I sprang for it.  This book is better than anything I've read to
date on pet insurance and how to choose the right plan for you and your
pet.
Dr. Kenney also has free information on his website in blog and podcast formats.

Do you want a high or low deductible? What will that cost
you in the short run or the long run? 

Does your pet have a pre-existing condition?  Then, you
will want to look at these insurers...

Can you afford the cost of routine care?  These are the
plans that pay for routine care....

I had the information I needed to make a decision now, but
then something else happened:  I was afraid to commit.  I even wrote to Dr. Kenney and asked if he would choose a plan for me.  I was kidding... sort of.

Finally I decided I had to do something!  I
wasn't going to keep postponing this decision, when in the meantime, one of my
little ones might get sick!

Worthwhile Step Number 2:  Next I hit the pet insurance review websites
- only those unaffiliated with insurers.  Customer satisfaction has always been
my go-to when I don't know much about a product or service.  Some of the sites
only compared a few agencies, others included the top 10 or so by volume of
policies issued 

This helped me out a lot.  Policy customers seemed to be
reporting fairly on their pet insurer on these non-affiliated sites.  On all of these particular customer satisfaction websites
Healthy Paws
was rated the highest, although it had been in business the shortest time.

Let's see how this pet health insurance policy reads....: image via insuranceproviders.com/Let's see how this pet health insurance policy reads....: image via insuranceproviders.com/So, I turned to Healthy Paws Insurance, read all the information on
its website and the sample policy again. I was impressed by the fact that the
two owners had met at an animal rescue center and had started their own rescue
foundation.  It so happens that one of the owners had been in the insurance
business for several years and his employer, the Markel Corporation, is the
underwriter for Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and it's A-rated.

 

Worthwhile Step Number 3: Here was the 'decider:'  I telephoned three pet insurers at the top of my list with
specific questions I had about any pre-existing conditions in my adopted pets, and whether there were any excluded hereditary conditions for a Welsh
Terrier.

Healthy Paws had the upper hand in responding to my
questions most professionally. I posed my questions and in less than an hour, an insurance agent called me back. The agent who called said that my pets' medical
history would determine pre-existing conditions, and if the only history I had
was since I owned them, my reports would constitute their medical history. 
And there were no hereditary issues for Welsh Terriers.

That closed the deal. I signed up both pets easily online. All of them had policies I could live with but Healthy Paws had the best one for me. It doesn't cover vet visits, but it does cover treatment and medicine for just about any surprises your 'kids' can come up with up to 90 percent, if you choose that option. 

Fortunately, my pets did not get sick during my indecisive agony.  And I will say I'm now ecstatic; I finally made a choice and I have no doubts about it. 

I advise you to try the steps I found worthwhile to select the pet health insurance plan that fits yours and your pet's needs best.  If you would like to investigate Healthy Paws, use our links and you will get a 10 percent discount on your policy if you choose it for your pet health insurance company.

 

recommended sites to see: Your Pet Insurance Guide, Pet Insurance Comparison, Pet Care Cover, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

That's the buzz for today!

 

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