Monday, June 9, 2014

A thank you post to Petplan USA

When you're making a life or death decision about a beloved pet, how much it costs shouldn't be the deciding factor.

I learned the hard way about the value of pet insurance with my old boy, Beau. I know some folks have a different opinion about whether to pay an insurance company premiums or just save your own money to cover costs you may, or may not, encounter down the road but let me disclose some of my own financial experience for anyone considering it at this time in their life.

In Beau's 14 years, he had two surgeries for torn ACLs (anterior cruciate ligaments), survived cancer, lived with epilepsy, went deaf, had laryngeal paralysis, pneumonia and who even remembers what else. In the last year of his life alone Beau had one life-saving surgery and hospital stay that cost us over $8,000 when all was said and done. And that last bill is the one that forever changed my mind about the benefits of pet insurance.

Me and my shadow, Beau.
When Beau was fighting for his life due to a critical bout with laryngeal paralysis we didn't know he had, we begged the vets to do whatever they had to do to save his life. The hospital estimated the cost at $4,000. Not having anticipated he also had pneumonia at the time, their estimate came in decidedly low.

Had I understood the physical toll spending two weeks in the hospital would have on his muscle mass and mobility, I may have made a different decision. But it didn't seem right that my boy, so happy and healthy the day before, should succumb to a simple flap of flesh that refused to open and close correctly.

Luckily we were in a position to handle the cost but when they presented us with a more than $8,000 bill after basing our decision on a $4,000 estimate, I had to wonder, would I have made the same decision had the estimate been more accurate?

Bella started out much healthier but we got insurance for her anyway before she was a year old. I did my research and chose Petplan USA based on online reviews, customer surveys and yes, cost. Below is a list of some such resources.

Seriously people, I am so over this crate rest thing.
Because Bella is a mixed breed, our rates were probably lower than some purebred dogs' would be. Our initial premiums were going at about $200/year. (A year!) As insurance premiums are wont to do, her's have gone up over time and ours are now up to ~$350+/year.

Petplan USA offers a few different plans - almost all are "illness/injury" based and the one we chose does not cover wellness or routine visits. However, per the plan we selected, Petplan USA reimbursed 80% of all of our expenses last year for Bella's left shoulder injury. That amounted to almost $2,000 for 2013.

At the time, we had paid in about $900 in premiums.

(We could have been reimbursed further had I realized at the time that Petplan USA even reimburses for prescriptions and physical therapy.)

This year we have already racked up (oh dog, I don't even want to think about it) $3,800 for Bella's right front lameness. ($4,800 if you count the holistic vet we tried to take her to who wouldn't touch her so we can't tie the visits to her injury but that's a whole other story...)

That means before we even got an official diagnosis, Petplan had reimbursed us almost $3,000 in 2014 (and the year ain't over yet!)

In total, over the six years we have had her, we have paid a little over $1,500 in premiums covering Bella. (Jan says they'll never sell us insurance again if we get another dog and maybe he's right. We shall see.) We have certainly received benefit from our investment in pet insurance.

Of course, the premise behind all insurance - be it pet or human, health or home - is that everyone pay a little so those who have unexpected expenses don't suffer hardship. I will get pet insurance for my next dog and may at that time pay in to a system I do not use.

But let's face it, dogs are dogs and they're going to have accidents, illnesses and injuries. Whether it's cancer or a bee sting, we will all incur an expense or two during the life of our furry loved ones.

On a final note, I want to take just a moment to say that I can't speak highly enough about Petplan's customer service - they're not just polite and professional, they're kind. When I called to ask if an MRI would be covered when Bella was in the ER, the customer service rep was very reassuring, not just giving me facts about our plan but offering her encouragement and support. Every dealing I've had with the company has been positive.

So if you're considering pet insurance, allow me to recommend Petplan USA. They have taken very good care of us allowing us to take very good care of Bella.

NOTE: This is an unsolicited post about a company that has treated us, as customers, very well. It is not sponsored by nor am I affiliated with Petplan USA except as a paying customer. The stories and opinions expressed throughout are entirely my own.


  1. Thank you for this post. I've often thought about the need - or lack thereof - for pet insurance. I appreciate seeing it through your eyes.

  2. Nick and I already plan to get insurance next time we adopt a dog. We've had too many illnesses over the past few years, made worse when more than one animal falls ill or needs expensive tests or surgeries at the same time. Glad to hear you are happy with the plan you chose. I hope NOT to be in the position to choose a plan for a long time, but I do like to keep some in the back of my mind, just in case.

  3. Vet bills can add up real fast, which is why we all are insured. Mom was just going to put money aside instead, but in order to save up a good $10K it would take a while, so we went with insurance and pretty much break even each year with our miscellaneous maladies like ear infections, prescriptions, injuries, etc.

  4. I have both of mine on pet plan. So far at 6 and 2, I haven't had to use it for either of them. But they are both so active and daredevils that I feel more secure knowing that i have it should something happen.

  5. Jan K, Wag N Woof PetsJune 10, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    We got free insurance for a month when we adopted Luke, and they did pay for both his worms and kennel cough after we paid a deductible. But I just couldn't make up my mind if it was worth it or not, and let it lapse. Every time I called them they tried to sell me something else. But I still think about it all the time, so it's good to know you've had good experiences with this company. Good customer service is one of the top things I would look for.

  6. Both of my pups have petplan. One pup hasn't needed any coverage. The other however has horrible allergies and is bouncing back and forth on meds, shampoos, ect. Petplan has been wonderful for us and has covered everything. No questions asked! No problems whatsoever! I am so grateful for petplan!

  7. I didn't do it and I'm kicking myself now. But I can't change it. I will get insurance going forward with any future pet I may have.

    And it helps to hear about positive experiences from people I trust.