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Feature January 2019 Issue

You Still Don’t Have Pet Health Insurance?

Only 5 percent of cats are covered by health insurance, according to a survey of more than 450 cat owners conducted by the American Pet Products Association. But 100 percent of cats get sick at one point or another, just like people. That’s why we firmly believe that cat owners should seriously consider buying a health insurance policy for their pets.

The average policy costs between $250 and $500 a year, something 19 out of 20 owners scoff at even though they shell out, on average, $29 for a cat bed, $18 on decorative collars, $30 on toys (which a cat most certainly deserves), and lots more on shampoos, food treats, and vitamin supplements that may not be needed.

Interestingly, Generation Y cat owners, those born between 1977 and 1995 and corresponding roughly to “millenials,” are more likely than older cat owners to buy health insurance for their pets.

Since people spend between an average of $500 and $1,000 on sick and well veterinary visits each year, pet health insurance should be a no-brainer. It comes in especially handy if your cat needs a procedure or surgery that can cost in the thousands of dollars — you don’t want your cat’s health or life to be hanging in the balance of your checkbook.

Comments (7)

I regret to inform Catnip/Tufts that your article regarding insurance is biased and, in fact, incorrect. Insurance, overall, must pay out less than in takes in so as to pay profits to the company owners, pay the salaries/benefits of the employees and the overhead for the office. Insurance is only desirable when the policy holder would otherwise be unable to cover the damages without severe financial detriment. A responsible pet owner should have an account where they pay themselves a monthly premium ($30+) per cat. That way the owner has the financial wherewithal to make their own and wise choices with regards to care without someone else skimming from that pot of money. The deposits start when cats are young and healthy because, yes, they will get old and sick. Alternatively, if you have multiple cats, the (excess?) deposits for the healthy ones end up covering the vet payments of the ill. That's actually how insurance policies work with the money after the overhead.

Posted by: 1mkatlady | January 6, 2019 9:24 AM    Report this comment

I think you all have the wrong pet insurance! I have Healthy Paws, which has been fantastic and never refused a claim. Their processing is quick, they tell you in advance what is pre-existing and what is not covered, their premiums are very reasonable. All companies raise premiums each year, veterinarians raises prices each year. Trupanion is excellent for older pets, better coverages available for pets over 8, and that's where my old cats are. There are no lifetime or annual or condition limits for either company. I"d check into those for your next cats, or even your current cats. I've had nothing but positive experiences. PetPlan was not so good.

Posted by: tgolding | January 1, 2019 6:44 AM    Report this comment

I have just been through a nightmare attempting to renew one of my two cats' policies. The company claims they had to raise rates because of their underwriter. they acknowledge the rate increase but when I looked closely at the policy I saw that in addition they almost tripled my deductible. I was trying to figure out what good it is to have insurance. Things go worse. I did renew and then I discovered that they were trying to give me a "new policy," not a renewal. This meant that they were going to consider my 9 year old cat's conditions (minor thyroid, minor heart murmur) as pre-existing conditions .....this after I have been with them for 6 years. Come on. I complained and got better treatment. Beware people. I have decided to go from about $350 a year to double that with a slightly higher deductible. So I am in effect using both insurance and self-insurance to help me out if my bills go over 5K (my maximum annual payout). This is really sleazy and dear Tuft's CATnip magazine: if you are going to recommend pet insurance you need to be better informed. The people who are commenting on this blog know more than whomever wrote the article for you. I think your magazine should do a really serious article on what is happening in this industry. They are to say the least taking advantage of pet owners. This is not good for pets, their owners or their vets.

Posted by: a professor | December 31, 2018 11:50 PM    Report this comment

I have had pet insurance for many years. My 3 are now old with medical histories. Their premiums will approach 3k this year. I chose my company because they were the ONLY ones that did not convert last year's problems into preexisting conditions the nest year. My company lost their underwriter and in order to get a new one, they had to increase premiums significantly in order to avoid the "preexisting condition" trap.
I have had treatment from food poisining of all 3 from one of the nations leading pet food companies and pancreatitis. Avioded $2000 and $5000 vet bills in those cases.
I am trapped by medical history in searching for another company at this point.

Posted by: Baltimore Cats | December 31, 2018 3:39 PM    Report this comment

I had insurance on 3 of my 4 cats. The 4th cat they refused to cover her. Two of the 3 were covered from 9 weeks of age until their passing, the 3rd was a rescue with allergies. They would not cover anything related to her allergies or her skin.
The insurance company would find all sorts of reasons NOT to cover claims on all 3 cats. It cost me $155 per month for coverage that was practically non-existent. I kept it thinking it would help when they were older. It did not.
I still have the 4th cat, the one they won't cover, & a 1 year old rescue. I will put money aside & build a reserve to cover their care before I will call an insurance company again.

Posted by: SKB | December 31, 2018 9:28 AM    Report this comment

I have Pet insurance and it has been very useful in making me get Lacy her yearly check up and vaccinations. Since it reduces the cost of the normal health care.
She has had only one episode of flea infestation and the insurance paid for the treatment. I advocate pet insurance. Before it was available we took out a loan to get one cat Smokey's teeth cared for. On another occasion with Digger's injury to his paw. I took money from my retirement fund.
I was very pleased when insurance became available during the later years of Bonnie and Diggers life. When I adopted Lacy the first thing I did was get her signed up for insurance.

Posted by: REX | December 31, 2018 8:27 AM    Report this comment

I have researched several of the pet insurance companies. From my research I would say that they offer minimal coverage for routine pet care. But, in the event of serious illness, they do offer good coverage.
We have 4 cats. When I contacted 4 of the top rated pet insurance companies about coverage, they offered very modest discounts (somewhere around 10%) for multiple cats. My monthly premium for 4 cats would work out to around $125 PER MONTH. And, as I mentioned previously, the insurance provides minimal coverage for routine visits to the vet.
I will not consider pet insurance until the insurance companies offer a much more substantial discount for multiple pets and until they offer good coverage for routine vet care.

Posted by: Spacerockfan | December 31, 2018 8:24 AM    Report this comment

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