Pets can be a serious line-item in your yearly budget. A yearly vet physical can set you back anywhere from $30 to hundreds of dollars, depending upon whether the veterinarian finds anything wrong with your fuzzy, feathered, or scaly companion, to say nothing of the unexpected costs that arise when your pet is ill or suffers an accident.
I first became aware of pet insurance when my kitten, Maxwell, got into a scrap and had to have his face drained (sorry, TMI). I never signed up for it, though. It just sounded like a hassle and I wasn’t convinced the benefits would outweigh my assumptions.
Let’s find out if I was wrong.
There are many different pet health-insurance companies but the most impressive one is PetsHealth Care Plan by The Hartville Group. This company has been insuring pets since 1997, and established a partnership with the ASPCA in 2006. Almost more impressive than that, though, is the fact that my nothing-but-the-best, of-exacting-quality, fellow game-show-contestant (she won $16,000 on Millionaire and trained me for “Win Ben Stein’s Money”) soul-sister Becky Johnson Sabin has used the PetsHealth Care Plan for seven years now and “love love love[s] them.”
This is high praise from the world’s most trustworthy source. I asked her to elaborate.
“I pay $15.35 each month — which balances out to one pricey lunch or inexpensive dinner monthly — and it gives me the peace of mind that if something catastrophic happens with Ken, he is covered,” Sabin said. Her decision was particularly guided by the fact that “events with pets seem to happen in the middle of the night, over the weekend, or during a holiday, when vet care seems to cost twice or three times what it would usually cost.”
Sabin recently experienced this truism when her beloved Ken the Kat (namesake of Ken Jennings of “Jeopardy!” fame), ate something poisonous to cats.
“I’d put a bouquet of lilies up high, where he couldn’t reach them, but some petals dropped to the floor and he ate them,” Sabin said. It was the July 4th weekend and only the emergency vet was seeing patients.
“He was at the Mayo Clinic of pet hospitals,” Sabin explained.
Sabin paid the resultant $2,000 bill out-of-pocket and then submitted a claim for reimbursement. The PetsHealth Care Plan claim form is one-page long and can be submitted by fax, email, or postal mail. Care provided by any licensed veterinarian in the U.S. or Canada is covered, and the reimbursement is 80% after a $100 annual deduction per pet, though Sabin thinks her reimbursement for Ken’s July 4th incident was reimbursed at a lower percentage because the care was offered after-hours.
She figures she has paid $1250 in premiums, but she was reimbursed “between 60- to 80-percent of $2,000″ for one claim alone. Sabin has submitted other claims, too, and knows she has ended up more than ahead of her investment.
“Even though you have indoor pets, stuff still happens. They run around and have accidents just like humans do; I mean, I broke my foot walking through my living room.”
Interested in what it would cost to cover my own furry darling, I filled out the PetsHealth Care Plan questionnaire and learned it would cost $7.50/month for an accident-only insurance policy. Accident and Illness coverage with a Continuing-Care rider would set me back $18.06 monthly. For this “Level 2″ plan, the maximum annual benefit is $8,000; $1,500 per incident; and has a $100 annual deductible per pet. Not bad. The same plan, but without the Continuing Care rider, would cost me about $12 each month.
PetsHealth Care Plan offers four tiers of service that, for my cat, topped out at $58.21/monthly. I’m not sure that I’d need to pay that, but $7.50 a month to cover up to $2,500 of an accident doesn’t make pet insurance seem like such a hassle now, and it doesn’t surprise me that, once again, Becky Johnson Sabin is a fount of true knowledge.