First, there are an increasing number of affordable plans that begin as low as $4.08/month in the U.S. (at the date of this publication) for accident coverage only. That's less than half the price of a movie ticket these days. Excuse me? Have you seen what's playing on the big screen? Let's talk "waste of money" here.
Second, the Wall Street article included a statement that inaccurately describes the coverage provided by most pet insurance companies. Here is the statement in question:
"...with most plans, the premiums rise and coverage declines as your pet gets older—when they are more likely to need costly procedures."
This seems highly counter-intuitive. If that were truly the case, what person in their right mind would purchase it? This is irresponsible journalism on the part of Ms. Pavini. A bit of time spent searching several well-known U.S. insurance sites provided absolutely no evidence whatsoever that coverage shrinks as a pet ages. [One wonders where Ms. Pavini did her research...?]
So I went to three of the top pet insurance companies in the U.S. and asked them, point blank, if they did this. The answer, in all three cases, was unequivocally NO.
VPI: "Our coverage does not decline as a pet ages. We will not drop a pet or reduce coverage simply because a pet is getting older."
Trupanion: "Trupanion coverage does not decline as the pet ages. Perhaps they meant to say that coverage options (pre-enrollment only) decline?"
Quite possibly that's what the author meant. Because it is true that the cost to insure a pet increases as the pet ages. And the older the pet, the more potential exclusions there will be if you opt into coverage at a late date. It's the same with human insurance, as well. But if that's what the Wall Street article intended to say...it failed. The article certainly didn't leave one with that impression. In our opinion, Trupanion was being very kind and diplomatic to give the author an "out."
Then, at the recommendation of friend and artist Bz Tat, of Okey's Promise, I spoke with Laura Bennett, CEO of Embrace Pet Insurance, and Chairman of the Board of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.
Bz Tat, who also worked for decades as a child and family therapist, has a well developed ability to take the measure of a person and is someone whose opinion I respect. So when she referred to Ms. Bennett as a person who runs her company in a very principled manner, I asked for an introduction.
I then asked Ms. Bennett if she thought pet insurance was a waste of money, and if she would like to respond to the Wall Street article. Here is what she said:
“I was really disappointed that the author of the article, Jeanette Pavini, based her opinion of pet insurance on one friend’s experience with one company.
Regarding the example she provided, it is true that a few pet insurers exclude hereditary conditions and given a Bernese Mountain Dog is prone to hip dysplasia amongst other conditions, that might have been the surgery she mentioned that was not covered; however, there are a number of pet insurers that do cover hereditary conditions (Embrace and Petplan being two of them) and even some of those that have not covered them in the past are adding optional coverage for breed-specific issues now (such as VPI and ASPCA).
I would love to discuss pet insurance with Ms Pavini just to show that pet insurance is not all the same and a high deductible policy to protect against large unexpected vet bills, just like her friend would have wished for, is worth getting.”
Finally, I personally believe Ms. Pavini's logic is flawed. She recommended that, instead of pet insurance, a person would be better off starting a pet emergency savings account. You can never convince me that the average American household is going to set aside funds for a pet's health care, despite the advice of Ms. Pavini's MarketWatch recommendation. Even if they did, the sticker shock factor of the large volume of money required all at once for an injury/illness may negatively impact the decision to seek care for the pet. Again, Laura Bennett:
"Budgeting is for predictable expenses; insurance is for unpredictable and financially impactful veterinary costs. Unless you are very wealthy, budgeting can never replace insurance if you would do whatever it takes to help the health of your pet in a veterinary health decision."
|Ryker, after sonogram test for lymphona|
And -- call me crazy, but in a way, I see pet insurance as another way to cut down on the number of deaths at animal shelters in the U.S. annually. (Yes, some people, upon discovering their "beloved pet" has an expensive disease, will simply abandon it. Seen it firsthand.)
Ryker was insured. A few months after he passed away, I did the math. In the end, we came out ahead (not by much, but we did end up spending less on our vet bills with insurance than we would have without).
All three of our kitties are insured, and they will remain so. If nothing else, the peace of mind, for us, is worth it.
And no, I was not compensated in any way for this post. I simply happen to believe personally that pet insurance is worth it.