26 March 2010

{25mar2010: insurance}

There have been quite a few questions about insurance and if our insurance will cover these expenses we're looking at facing with an MRI and possible Wobbler's.
When Darwin was around 6 - 7 months old it seemed like we were constantly calling up the vet for scrapes from the dog park, many cases of diarrhea , or some ailment or another.  At that time we decided we needed to look into pet insurance and I did some heavy duty pet insurance research.  I asked around to the Marymoor Dane group, Googled, asked our vet for their recommendations, and found this site specifically reviewing pet insurance.  I filled out free quote forms and spent a good amount of time weighing the options.  Many of the Marymoor Dane owners seemed to be with VPI and had decent things to say about them.  At that time, Darwin had already been spayed so it seemed silly to me to get an insurance plan that would be covering something she already had done.  I also didn't want to pay for a plan that covered costs we were already willing (and prepared) to pay for like vaccinations, it was the scrapes and diarrhea episodes and unexpected things we wanted to be covered for. 
One of the Marymoor Dane owner's recommended Trupanion and after comparing various plans we settled on them.  I liked that we could choose how much we wanted our deductible to be and that we could get additional coverage for hip dysplasia since we were enrolling before her 1st birthday.  I also liked that they paid back 90% of the vet bill (minus exam fees) and premiums wouldn't go up due to her age (man I sound like a commercial).  
Of course after we got Darwin insurance her diarrhea stopped, she didn't get as many scrapes and we hadn't had to use it till this all came up.  After our initial vet visit I got the claim form filled out and faxed it in Monday morning and by that afternoon I had got an email saying it was processed.  Wednesday when we got home from work there was a check from them waiting in the mail for us.  I called to confirm that they will cover the MRI and surgery if it comes to that.  The things they don't cover though is holistic medicine such as acupuncture and chiropractic treatments.
We've only made a couple claims with Trupanion, but so far I'm pleased with them and I'm so happy that we decided to get insurance for Darwin.  It makes saying 'yes' to any procedures that need to be done to find out (and fix) what's wrong so much easier knowing we don't have to worry about if we can afford it.


  1. Thanks so much for the additional information on Trupanion. I've been doing a lot of research myself, and Trupanion was in the running (along with PetPlan - Silver & Embrace - Everyday. It sounds like you've had some good experiences with Trupanion, but their big drawback for me is not covering holistic or non-traditional treatments, or accupuncture. For now, I am leaning towards Embrace, mainy because they have an annual deductible vs. a per incident deductible. I still have a few questions to call them up about, but when I've finished my comparisons I'll be sure to post something on Murphy's blog.

    In the meantime, Darwin is in my constant thoughts for a healthy recovery from whatever is ailing her!

    Murphy's Mom

  2. Good to know....maybe I should sign up for Nala. Hope Darwin is feeling good today! :)

  3. It's good to hear Trupanion is good. We actually had Embrace for Mr. B. and just switched over to Trupanion when his annual fee went up nearly 40% due to age! Mr. B has actually been pretty good, and we've never had to make a claim. I didn't do the research when I got Miss M and she has PetCare--which is terrible. It doesn't cover breed specific issues, and they create all these issues to say there is a pre-existing condition. She's had issues with her kidneys and when I called to see if an expensive thing was covered they said yes and sent me the paperwork. Then when I tried to make a claim they said they never sent it. I had to fax back their signed letter and it was still a big issue to get the claim. Luckily we've been ok, but it really pays to shop around for Pet Insurance.

  4. Thank you for a very useful and informative post and the link to the review site! I'll visit that later today.

  5. Glad you were happy with them and honestly I have heard a lot of bad things about VPI and glad you did not go with them (IMHO). They are the biggest and they work directly through vets offices (or at least have lots of vets pushing that coverage) so I think they can get enough customers that way inspite of having lots of unhappy ones! The worst thing they do is they re-evaluate what is pre-existing each year so that if something happens over and over you are sort of SOL! I have PetPlan (not the same as PetCare) and have only made one claim and they reimbursed all of it within ~2weeks so I was happy. Moose's rates went up a very small amount (~$30/yr) because of his age this year but I am ok with that. Last year we broke even- I got back the same as my premium almost to the dollar but as I like to tell people I would be thrilled to lose money in this deal (i.e. b/c Moose has had nothing wrong with him)! I think it can save you a ton if you have a very sick dog but I also think there are plenty of cases where people never end up using it and some people see that as a waste whereas I see it the way you do. I don't want to have to think twice about whether I can afford something. I did not even flinch at the 4K knee surgery (before I had insurance) so know when the decision is obvious I will shell out, it is just these more ambiguous times like you are facing that it is helpful to have the cost out of the equation. I know it is not for everyone (like if you have 3 or 4 dogs I would just start a savings account because it is unlikely all 3 of them are going to have serious problems).
    Anywho... Glad you are happy with TruPanion! Also- for any readers shopping around out there. You can ask for an underwriting statement that specifically says at the start (and while you can still cancel for a full refund) what they will and will not cover based on your dog's vet records. I strongly suggest doing this just so you know what you are getting!

  6. We have the VPI because we get a break on the rates through momma's work place. They are really good about paying quickly, but we sure wish they would pay more. Sigh. But everything costs a lot for such a large guy like me.


  7. I think pet insurance is essential (and good value) for large & giant breeds - we easily earn back our premiums for Honey just with a few vet visits and a few courses of antibiotics, because everything is done by weight! And any kind of surgery easily runs into the thousands. It might not be so worth it for little breeds - although I know people with smaller dogs who have had to have costly surgeries for things like hips and really wished that they ahd insurance too!


  8. I'm sure Checker's Mom will be happy to see this since she represents them!

    Thanks fur sharing this!


  9. I have PetPlan (I had to double check to make sure) and got it the day I got Jack. The rates seem reasonable and fortunately (knock on something) I haven't had to use it yet. But after several multi-thousand dollar emergency vet visits for our last dog, it only made sense to get the insurance!

  10. Oh and thanks for the buying stuffed toys at Goodwill idea! Fortunately, the one in the picture came in a 3 pack for like $9.00, so we're doing pretty good. I've learned not to spend a lot of money on stuffed toys as he does have a tendency to unstuff everything.
    Including a roll of quarters that he snuck away with while I was rolling them.

  11. That's really good to hear you got insurance and that you have used it! :) I got insurance for Lexi and Jasper but haven't had to use it yet (Lexi will be using it soon for speying). THere aren't many of them in NZ I searched for ages, hardly any of them cover heriditary problems like hip-dysplasia. But I managed to find one that did!

    I'm so glad to hear that the vet didn't see any major problems. I hope she recovers quickly :)

    Laura, Lexi's person :)

  12. We have VPI and have been very pleased with them so far.

    woof - Tucker

  13. Thanks for the info! We have been trying to weed through all the policies to find something for Domino and the cats. We are stuck on Trupanion and the Kroeger (QFC/Fred Meyer brand). Im leaning towards Trupanion, but I like having the holistic option.....damn decisions!!

  14. HELLO ALL!!!!

    I am Checkers and my mom and dad are TP's for Trupanion. Of course we think it is the ABSOLUTE BEST - But we mostly believe in it because it actually pays for EVERYTHING including congenital and hereditary disorders if you get it as a pup. True - they don't pay for wellness but hey - your folks were already prepared for that when they adopted you - RIGHT? They pay 90% of the ACTUAL bet bills....unlike any other plan out there - If you have insurance and it's not Trupanion and you're healthy you might want to make a switch. Their rates aren't adjusted because of your age or because you got unlucky and had an accident or got sick....it stays the same for your whole entire life. There are NO exclusions like you have with VPI - if you have any questions about pet insurance you'd like my mom or dad to answer you can pee mail them through my blog checkersthepeekapoo.blogspot.com

    Feel better Darwin