The Dish on Pet Insurance

I met many wonderful people at the Blogpaws conference last week, one of whom is a rep for Trupanion, a pet insurance company. Since I don’t currently have pet insurance, I was curious about how it works, and I figured you might be, too. Here’s what Stacy Kowalchuk of Trupanion has to say:

UFP: What are some things people should consider when deciding whether pet insurance is right for them?

SK: If your pet got sick or hurt, would you take it to the vet? If the answer is yes, then pet insurance is right for you. It allows you to take your pet to the veterinarian in times of crisis without adding the extra worry of cost. Keep in mind that no pet insurance company will cover the costs of pre-existing conditions, so if your pet is already sick or hurt, you can’t sign up for a pet insurance plan and expect them to pay for it.

UFP: There are many different pet insurance companies out there – what does Trupanion do differently?

SK: What sets Trupanion apart is that we have no payout limits, whatsoever. You can claim as much or as little as you need without ever having to worry about reaching a limit. We also cover 90% of your actual vet bill rather than basing payout on benefit schedules.

UFP: Are there any particular breeds of dogs that you see more claims about than other types of dogs? Why?

SK: French Bulldogs and other brachycephalic (in other words, short-snouted) breeds tend to be more expensive because they are prone to breathing problems. Some health conditions related to this are stenotic nares, heat stroke, and elongated soft palate which can cost over $2,000 to treat.

UFP: How does pet insurance work, exactly?

SK: It’s pretty simple. You pay a monthly premium. When your pet gets sick or hurt, you take him to the vet and pay the bill. Then you send in your bill and claim form to the pet insurance company. With Trupanion, we apply your deductible (if you chose one) then mail you a check for 90% of the covered costs which includes diagnostic testing, treatment, and medications. All pet insurance in the US works by reimbursement which allows you to choose any licensed veterinarian of your choice.

So there’s one angle on pet insurance. In my opinion, it’s important to develop a budget, looking at what you have spent on your pet and taking into account that your pet will probably have some expensive veterinary needs in the future, to decide whether insurance makes financial sense for you. Whether you buy insurance also depends on how good you are at putting aside money to help with your pet’s future vet bills. Whatever you decide, it’s nice to know that this option is available for people who want it, as it can definitely help in times of crisis.

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