Every dog owner worries about a potential medical situation and the associated costs. Where you draw the line for medical expenses is a personal decision. Veterinary costs have sky rocketed in the past few years and, with more advanced technologies available for our dogs, the decisions are increasingly complicated and the pressures to spend more are greater. If you know that you are willing to spend thousands of dollars to save your pooches life, or improve their quality of life, but Robert Herjavek* isn’t your benefactor, maybe pet insurance is something to look at. But finding the right pet insurance can seem complicated as well. Let’s try a dog insurance comparison chart, designed to help you sift through all the information available more quickly and simplify your decision.
Every insurance plan consists of components to consider before you make a decision. The plans will also vary according to your personal needs. What I have prepared here is a methodology to help you make a decision, in addition to a comparison of specific products. I have selected products to illustrate this methodology, but you can easily use this chart to plug in products of your own choosing to help clarify your options. The components I have chosen to look at are:
- Premium (a monthly or annual fee for the plan)
- Deductible (The portion you will pay incase of a claim)
- Percentage of costs covered (some plans pay less than 0 of costs incurred by accident, or illness).
- Maximum payable per year (a cap or limit on the amount that the insurance company will pay on a claim).
- Types of coverage i.e. accident, illness and dental.
I selected four of the top rated pet insurance companies to look at. Then I leveled the playing field by getting four quotes for the same dog for the same premium. The dog was my seven year old miniature pinscher and the premium I chose was between $70.00 and $80.00 monthly. The upshot is this: If you pay between $70 and $80 dollars for pet insurance for a min pin this is what you get. The assumption that makes this analysis valid, is this: if a dog insurance provider can provide a significantly superior product for my dog (specified by breed and age), then it is reasonable to suppose they will be able to provide the best value for your dog (also specified by breed and age, all other things being equal).
The results varied considerably as you will see in the chart below. I also reviewed the written policies, when they were available on the website in an attempt to discern any glaring differences between the plans. I should state, however, that I am not adept at legalese and cannot guarantee the absense of an oversight that might make a difference in value of the product . I entered the basic information, (as interpreted by me), presented by each company, on their website, into the following table:
Dog Insurance Comparison Chart
* $400.00 of annual dental insurance coverage.
The Winner is…!!
Using the criteria selected, Trupanion clearly wins this contest. For a similar premium and deductible (product cost to the customer), they cover 100% of the costs with unlimited coverage. I would like to reiterate that this contest was won, using preselected criteria. I believe that these criteria are reasonable measures of value, but that is an individual consumer preference. You may want to consider other, or additional criteria for consideration.
In addition, it is worth noting that the plans change, sometimes dramatically, with price point i.e. for a higher premium one of the other companies does provide a plan with unlimited coverage. As the premium is adjusted upwards, the other factors (deductible, percentage of costs covered, maximum coverage and type of services provide) change to your dogs (and probably to your) benefit. Most Dog insurance websites have a sliding utility to illustrate the change in services as each of the factors is adjusted. If this premium price point ($70 to $80) is flexible in your world, you may get a plan more suitable to your specific needs by paying more with one of the other companies. Similarly, one of the other companies might offer a better value for you at a lower price point.
Some additional Statistics:
In the U.S., the American Pet Care Association estimated that 16.6 billion dollars was spent on vet care last year. Some average medical costs reported by a CBS News article published in May 2017 are as follows:
- Joint injury $3,480.00
- Swallowing something bad $1,755.00
- Cancer $2,033.00
- Gait Disturbances $986.00
- Intestinal Problems $857.00
- Periodontal Disease $783.00
Research by the American Veterinary Medical Association indicates some average costs to be:
- Ear infection $90.00
- Dental cleaning under anesthesia $400.00 – $900.00
- Neutering $200.00
Some of those statistics are very intimidating. Numerous sources list the average annual cost of veterinary care to be between $500.00 and $1000.00. This includes worming and flea medication.
While the cost of veterinary care may be daunting, there are many other factors to consider with regards to dog insurance. While researching statistics, I discovered that the costs varied dramatically from region to region. Sweeping generalizations about veterinary costs for large geographic areas may not be as helpful as one would like to think. I believe it would be unwise for me to make specific recommendations based on this information alone.
The amount of money that an individual or family is able to spend on their pet health care varies greatly and can be a highly personal matter. Some final factors to consider:
- The cost of veterinary care in your specific region. It is worth consulting your local vet regarding rates for their services when making dog insurance decisions.
- Your personal or family budget. Be realistic. What can you afford to spend monthly, or annually on your dog?
- What is your dogs age and average expected life span?
- Do a little Breed specific research. Specific ailments occur more frequently in some breeds than others. If you have a particularly healthy breed, you may luck out re veterinary expenditures.
Regardless of your decisions, making at least some of them in advance should reduce the stress around this subject and in the long run may save you some money. Hopefully even enough that you can buy and care for another dog or two!! Whatever you decide here’s a toast to your dogs good health and long life!
*Robert Herjavek is an internet billionaire and dog lover