Pet Insurance – Is It Worth It?

I’ve had 5 Springers but only 1 has had pet insurance. Based on that statistic, it would seem that I’m not a fan of pet insurance. With my first Springer, I didn’t really even know that pet insurance existed and with the next 2, it seemed fairly expensive. It was Springer number 4, Linus, that was the first to be insured. I would insure Lila too, but she has a Addison’s disease and I’ve had no luck finding a company that will insure her.

Why did I insure Linus? Many years ago, a good friend in Texas told me about her dog having a CCL (canine cruciate ligament) tear which required knee surgery. He was insured and her out of pocket for the surgery was practically nothing. I had looked at insurance options before this but found it to be expensive and no pre-existing conditions are typically covered by pet insurance. My Springer Lucy was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. She did not have insurance and the annual tests and medications were expensive. So, between my friend’s experience and having a dog with Cushing’s, I knew that I would insure my next dog.

I adopted Linus over 10 years ago and there weren’t a lot of options for pet insurance so I didn’t have to do a lot of shopping around. I did have to make choices about the plan and coverage I wanted, however. Pet insurance offers coverage for accidents, illnesses, injuries, and routine exams. Since Linus was only about 1 – 2 years old, I selected a medical and wellness plan. This meant that if there was an injury or disease diagnosed, there would be coverage under the medical plan but his routine exams, shots and heartworm preventative would also be reimbursed. Like any kind of insurance, there is a deductible and limits on what will be reimbursed. Most years, the amount reimbursed for his exams, shots and heartworm preventative exceeded the cost of the insurance. As Linus has aged, the premiums have increased and last year when I compared the revised premium compared to what I was spending, I discovered that it was no longer worth it to continue the wellness portion. It was cheaper now to pay for annual shots and heartworm preventative out of pocket.

Linus tore his CCL last November and had surgery at the beginning of January. This is an expensive surgery and Linus had complications due to an infection at the incision site. I’ve probably spent about $5000 in just vet fees. I’ve probably been reimbursed about $2000. In previous years, Linus hasn’t had a lot of medical issues but I make sure everything is submitted and at the end of each year I review how much I’ve spent and compare it to how much was reimbursed and the cost of the insurance, including the deductible.

There are so many more options today for pet insurance providers. Some companies provide a flat percentage of what is spent and can reimburse of up 90% of the vet bill. Some have in-network and out-of-network providers. Most allow for a simple reimbursement process. For example, I can just take a picture of the bill with my phone and submit it via an app on my phone. Within a week the money is transferred to my bank account. A simple internet search will provide all kinds of reviews and recommendations of the various companies and plans available. You can get a quote almost immediately online.

So, is pet insurance worth the expense? In my case, it has been worth it, especially with the CCL surgery and recovery but even before that, the reimbursement on exams, shots, heartworm prevention, and minor illnesses typically paid for the premium. My current regret is that I did not insure Lila as soon as I adopted her like I did Linus because I cannot insure her now and even if I could, nothing involving her Addison’s disease would be covered.

The bottom line: Don’t wait until your dog is sick or injured to look at insurance. Every dog will eventually have some injury or disease and most are unexpected. Even something like arthritis prescriptions can be covered. Cancer quite often has its own separate rider, so be sure you understand what is covered and how much will be reimbursed, the deductible and limits. Periodically review the expenses, the reimbursement and your out of pocket to ensure that it still makes sense or whether you need to make an adjustment. Naturally I have to tell you that this article does not mean to give or promote any kind of medical advice or insurance company. This is my own personal experience but I will end on this note. When Linus was diagnosed with the CCL tear and I was getting quotes on the cost of the surgery, it was definitely a relief to know that it would not be all out of pocket.

Resolutions for Springers

Happy New Year! I was planning on writing an article about car travel options for your dog(s) since many of us travel with our Springer(s) over the holidays but instead I find myself distracted by thoughts of New Year’s resolutions. I should clarify that I don’t mean resolutions for myself. I rarely make them. I’m distracted by resolutions for my dogs. I know that sounds crazy so let me give you a little background as to why this occupies the gray matter on a cold gray Saturday morning.

Each day Lila and I play this game. She steals my stuff and drags it through the doggie door while I sleep. In the morning I pick it up and bring it back inside. I’ve found various articles of clothing, bath towels, toys, grooming tools, remote controls, my asthma rescue inhaler, scissors, all kinds of paper products, credit cards and my checkbook in the backyard. Today I recovered an antler, various pieces of cardboard, my new box of k-cups and Linus’ dog bowl. Apparently she couldn’t get the stand outside. It also appears she’s not a fan of decaf since only one k-cup was punctured. Thankfully my caffeinated k-cups are in a drawer that she can’t open.

We’ve been playing this game for months. I sleep through all of it and have an extensive nightly process to ensure doors are closed and things are put up. Some how she always finds new articles to take outside.

We visited family for the holidays and since we’ve returned home, the game has stopped. I’ve retrieved nothing from the backyard. I thought perhaps she made a New Year’s resolution, but if that had occurred, like many New Year’s resolutions it didn’t last long.

If it were Linus, I’d suggest that his resolution be to stop barking at the variety of delivery men that appear in the neighborhood or perhaps just stick with those deliveries that actually come to our house instead of any house on the block. That resolution would have failed yesterday though. It was a big day for Amazon on my street. I could always work on training to change his behavior but then that becomes my resolution and I’m trying to avoid those.

Does anyone else have these thoughts or games that they play with their Springers? What resolutions would you suggest for your Springers in the year of 2020? I bet counter-surfing is in the top 10. It’s a self-rewarding behavior like barking at the delivery man.

If you are interested in the travel options blog, don’t worry as I still plan to write that one. I’d also love to hear suggestions of other topics that interest my readers. The email is springerblogger@gmail,com.

I hope everyone has a joy filled Year with lots of Springer or Springer wannabe kisses and snuggles and I hope to find less of my stuff in the backyard courtesy of Lila.