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Friday, July 22, 2011

Gotta Love Pet Insurance

I have a friend who LOVES Shar Peis. She has five of the wrinkley little creatures. Now, owning a Shar Pei (by the way, "Shar Pei" is a breed of dog that is covered with wrinkles) is not for the faint of heart. These dogs have enough medical problems to keep a small veterinary practice in business all by themselves.

Anyway, my friend was telling me about her experience with her pet insurance provider, Trupanion. One of her recently-acquired pups had developed horrible ear canal disease; so much so that both ear canals had almost completely grown shut with swollen tissue. Medical therapy wasn't helping much, and the ears were miserable.

The only recourse to alleviate the suffering was to remove the ear canals altogether. The surgery is called a "total ear ablation" and required the expertise of a board-certified veterinary surgeon. As you can imagine, it wasn't cheap. I think the total cost was in the $1500 range. Right. Ouch. But the cool thing is that she had purchased a pet health insurance policy from Trupanion just after a free trial membership. She paid the bill for the surgery, then submitted the claim. Within two days she got an email telling her the claim was being processed. Within a week, she had been reimbursed for about 90% of the bill! So before the sutures were even out, the surgery was paid for, and her pup was feeling great.

This is is very typical of the feedback I get from clients who purchase pet health insurance. The premiums are reasonable, and most companies pay quickly and generously. We all know that veterinary medicine is capable of some pretty miraculous things in this new century. We also know that these miracles are only available to those with the means to pay for them. Pet insurance is a reasonable way to make the miraculous stuff available.

A few tips: 1.Buy insurance while your pet is young. Premiums will be cheaper, and there will be less chance of your pet having a pre-existing condition which won't be covered. 2.Buy a "Major-Medical" type policy that does NOT cover routine care such as shots and dental cleanings. You can plan and save for routine care, and the premiums will be much lower. 3.Some pet insurance companies will not cover certain conditions in breeds that are pre-disposed to those conditions. Check in to this before purchasing a policy.

In this age of veterinary miracles, pet insurance is your way to make sure our miracles are available to you.