The Easy Way to Choose the Best Pet Insurance
UPDATED: June 3, 2018
When Chester was my only dog, I waffled back and forth about the issue of pet insurance. There are two main schools of thought – get insurance and pay monthly for peace of mind and guaranteed coverage or save an amount equal to the insurance premium each month in a “pet emergency” fund. I opted to go with the save a little every month plan.
That didn’t work though.
First, I am not a good saver of the green stuff. Second, there always seemed to be some other type of emergency that required me to borrow from my pet emergency fund. The end result was that there was no cushion there if something bad happened to Chester and, even if I could keep a little in the bank, there was certainly not enough to cover a $10,000+ cancer surgery or a $5,000 back surgery.
I’m a risk taker though so I was willing to bet his health on crossed fingers.
Gretel’s past before we met was very sketchy (read that story here).
I didn’t know anything about the beginning of her life. All I knew was that, even though she currently seemed healthy, the people who surrendered her to the rescue were concerned that she had major heath issues.
With two dogs that could have something go wrong with them – one which was still healthy as an ox but would be a senior soon and one with potential health problems – I thought that getting pet insurance was a better bet than hoping for the best.
Honestly, what really lit a fire under my ass was that Gretel came from the rescue with a 6-month trial of pet insurance. I knew I would totally kick myself if I let her insurance expire and then something went wrong so I decided to keep it.
I looked deeper into what was covered by the policy and was VERY disappointed… so I went to work researching the different pet insurance options available.
Pet insurance was a relatively new thing so I didn’t have a lot of opinions or shared experiences to go on. It also seemed that most of the differences were in the legal mumbo-jumbo of fine print. I did my research, weighted my options the best I could understand them, and took the leap to a different pet insurance company.
How You Can Choose The Best Pet Insurance
Boy was searching for new pet insurance confusing!
There are many companies out there that provide it. I thought I was going to need to create a spreadsheet to compare them all.
Luckily, there is now an independent website that compares pet insurance carriers and ranks them so you don’t have to do all of that confusing research like I did.
PetInsuranceQuotes.com scours the internet for reviews and then compiles them to achieve a ranking… so the ranking is based on real customer reviews, not who paid the most for ads or to be at the top of the list.
Based on my own research, I pretty much agree with their ranking and recommendations.
The website was started by Nick after he met his wife and her rescue Lab mix, Beau. He fell head-over-tail in love with both, although Beau took a little longer to come around to the new man in his human’s life, and Nick and Melissa got married.
He knew he and his wife would do anything to protect their “fur baby” so he began exploring pet insurance. Like me, he found researching insurance and policies confusing and overwhelming.
He found himself wishing there was a trusted third-party comparison site that would do the heavy lifting for him – a site that would help him find the perfect policy for Beau – and PetInsuranceQuotes.com was born.
The site has grown a lot since 2011 and it’s now the only pet insurance agency licensed in all 50 States. It’s also the only one that has received endorsement by all 12 pet insurance agencies.
Which pet insurance did I choose for my Dachshund?
I went with Trupanion.
They weren’t the cheapest but sold me at “no lifetime limit” and “no exclusion of hereditary or congenital conditions” (not to be confused with pre-existing condition – no pet health insurance covers those).
Back issues are very, very common in Dachshunds. I certainly didn’t want to pay a monthly premium and then get stuck with one of the most expensive treatments Chester or Gretel might need because it is something the breed is prone to.
There are some other common Dachshund health issues that are really expensive to “fix” too.
Here is how Trupanion helped us:
Gretel had a few issues with stomach bloating early on (luckily, it wasn’t the bad kind known for killing dogs).
The first two times there was an explanation and, after a call to the vet to check symptoms and ensure it wasn’t torsion bloat (which can kill dogs), the episodes were pretty uneventful.
The third time it happened there seemed to be no cause and I was starting to get worried there was an urgent, underlying condition.
My regular vet was closed so off to the emergency vet we went. After a harrowing evening (for both of us), some vomiting (Gretel), and talking in more details to my hubby, it turns out that she got into a moldy loaf of bread he has set outside by the compost bin.
That was an expensive mistake. Because it was an emergency vet, I had to pay the $1,800 for the treatment up front.
I filed a claim with Trupanion that night and it seemed like no time passed at all – maybe 3 days max – before they sent me a check for the full amount (minus my deductible) no questions asked.
That wasn’t the kicker though! Along with the check came a note that thanked me for taking such good care of Gretel. Can you believe that?
When Chester had surgery to remove a blockage in his stomach last year, his surgery cost almost as much as I had paid Trupanion in premiums over the 5 years for both dogs. I wouldn’t have been able to pay for the almost $7,000 surgery if I wasn’t going to be reimbursed 🙁
Whether you are shopping for pet insurance yourself, want to be educated in case you every do decide to go down that road, or want to see where your own pet insurance falls on the list, I highly suggest you check out this easy to understand pet insurance comparison chart.
If you have insurance, which do you have and do you like it?
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by PetInsuranceQuotes.com. I received compensation in exchange for sharing information about PetInsuranceQuotes.com and their services. However, I only write about companies or products that we would use or can stand behind here at YouDidWhatWithYourweiner.com. Everything I say is really how I feel. PetInsuranceQuotes.com is not responsible for the content of this article.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.
I have Embrace for Boca and Healthy Paws for Ruby. I researched and made my own spreadsheet before choosing, then I decided Boca was lower risk and switched her to a high-deductible plan…about four months later her eye issue developed and she ended up needing a $3k eye surgery. Lesson learned! I’ve been very happy with both companies and think they each have their pros and cons. I had a small claim for Ruby with Healthy Paws and it was handled very quickly and painlessly. I had to appeal Boca’s claim with Embrace but was ultimately satisfied (and my veterinary ophthalmologist was instrumental in getting that to happen). Embrace direct-paid the vet as well which helped tremendously, I don’t know how I would have come up with the money for the graft surgery otherwise. One thing I like about Embrace is that they pay for exam fees – which for us, added up very quickly when Boca was seeing a specialist on a weekly basis. Many other companies don’t cover this charge. Healthy Paws is similar to Trupanion in that there is no lifetime limit – I thought that was a smart choice for Ruby since she is high-energy and prone to getting into trouble. As you can see, I can talk about pet insurance all day long. I’m actually shocked that a very low percentage of pet owners have it, especially when we are spending so much on our pets.
I am kind of shocked how few pet owners have pet insurance too. However, I kind of feel like it’s something only people with at least a bit of disposable income can afford. It’s certainly not cheap! I pay around $80 a month for Chester and Gretel. I know I never “make back” what I pay in premiums but it’s worth knowing I don’t have to make any hard decisions based on money if something huge ever goes wrong.
Part of the issue is because we have to pay then be reimbursed. I think people get discouraged because they cannot come up with the money upfront, in the first place! I know I am.
That is definitely a downfall. I think it’s way better than having to pay and not getting any of that back but if you don’t have the money in the first place, and can’t borrow it, then it’s a mute point. Have you looked into Care Credit? It’s been a long time since I had an account with them but I still hear a lot of people use them. Care Credit is easier to get than a traditional credit card and many veterinary clinics accept it.
We’ve used Pets Best from the beginning- almost 8 years now, and for the most part we’ve been happy. It wasn’t until we recently moved to the east coast that our premiums had to increase (drastically) due to the higher cost of health care here. I will have to take a look at the site as I am open to other health insurance options at this point.
Pets Best was one that intrigued me. I can’t switch Chester now because of his age but it would be possible to switch Gretel. It makes sense but I didn’t know they changed your premiums based on where you live.
One of my closest friends is a vet. That is my pet insurance. He has saved us thousands of dollars over the years, especially for things that would not have been covered or would have stopped being covered. My best friend had pet insurance and after her first dog became very sick, they suspended her policy and wouldn’t cover her second dog either. While it had paid for itself, it was challenging for her to suddenly be without it.
That’s lucky that your friend is a vet. Most people don’t have that kind of access. Our neighbor is an animal surgeon and he saved us a vet visit when Chester hurt his shoulder. Too bad about your friend and the insurance. I don’t know anyone whose had that happen to them.
I am ashamed to say the boys don’t have coverage. I will look into the Pet Insurance Quote in hopes of finding a reasonable quote. You’re right, it is difficult when you are on a fixed income to pay high monthly premiums. Thanks for this post though as I have been looking at policies.
My dog has Healthy Paws. I signed up after she needed surgery to remove a foreign body and they discovered she has a congenital heart condition. I SO wish I had gotten her pet insurance before they discovered the murmur (which makes any related heart issues excluded obviously), but at least she has it now. I pay $5ish a month but I think it’ll be more than worth it in the long term.
Oops, that was supposed to say “I pay $50ish”.
I thought “Wow. $5? I’m getting ripped off”. I figured you mean’t $50…. because $500 was my second guess and I sure hoped it wasn’t that! Ha, ha.
We have had insurance with both of our boxers. I can’t express how stress free feeling it is to know that no matter what the problem, we can just say “go ahead” & not worry about the cost. Both had major hip surgery – one from a fall at the groomer, one from being hit by a car. As for the choosing pet insurance I would recommend to compare the plans of insurance and also take advice from your vet about possible health issues faced by the particular breed.
I breathed a sigh of relief as soon as I got pet insurance too. Good tip on asking your vet first about potential issues with a particular breed.
Loved this article, I just started working for trupanion and got the boys enrolled while they are still young and healthy. I feel so lucky to work for such a great company. thank you for being apart of
the trupanion family. ❤️
Oh My gosh. Congrats!! I interviewed with them once when I was getting my masters and they are a great company.