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Do Boulderites Need Pet Health Insurance?

When Zamboni, our loved Boulder cat, was seven years old, we found her barely responsive laying on a landing of the main stairway. Her breath had a sweet odor. She was, we learned, diabetic. We found her in a state of diabetic ketoacidosis.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis, or DKA is a result of uncontrolled diabetes, can be fatal, and symptoms include the “sicky sweet odor.”  How much is your loved pet dog, cat, turtle or bird worth? Do you really want to answer that? Is it even possible to answer it? Is the answer the same when your pet is healthy compared to the answer when your pet is seriously ill and in need of expensive veterinary care? And the point of this blog: do I need pet health insurance?

Let me take the suspense out of this blog from the get-go. The answer is YES!!! The answer is “yes” so that you never have to decide just how much your pet is worth to you. We do NOT want to ever have to decide that our family member is worth $150, and is not worth $1500? Know anyone who either paid the $1500 even when it meant financial challenges, or who had to choose to not pay it, and instead chose to lose the pet? These are terribly painful questions and ones which we never want to make.

Can we avoid such decisions? YES we can! The answer is veterinary pet insurance. Our cat Zamboni, with her days in ICU, with Debi driving 2 hours a day round trip so that Zamboni could hold hands/paws as she healed, had a hospital vet bill of $9000.00  Our out-of-pocket ended up being $900 for the $9000 worth of medical care. The extra 14 years of Zamboni’s companionship was worth every penny. We probably would have figured out how to pay $9000 if we had no options, but it would have been a real financial blow for us, and for most. I never want to have to ask myself “is Zamboni worth $9000 to maybe save her life?” A Cat May Need ICU Care To Survive Diabetic Acid Ketosis

Here’s the nitty gritty.

Pet insurance has become an essential consideration for pet owners worldwide, providing a safety net against unexpected veterinary costs that can arise from illness, accidents, or injuries. As pets are considered part of the family, ensuring they have access to the best medical care without the stress of overwhelming expenses is a priority for many. While our current  focus is primarily on dogs, the most commonly insured pet, we also touch on options for other animals.

Pet insurance operates similarly to human health insurance, with policies typically covering a portion of veterinary costs after deductibles are met. Coverage can vary widely between providers, with some policies offering comprehensive protection that includes wellness visits and routine care, while others may strictly cover accidents and illnesses. Personally, the premiums cost about the same as the wellness visits, routine care, and inoculations would cost.

When choosing a plan, it’s crucial to consider the pet’s age, breed, and pre-existing conditions, as these can affect eligibility and premiums. Most insurers exclude pre-existing conditions from coverage, making it wise to insure pets while they’re young and healthy. However, some companies are now offering policies with more inclusive coverage options, catering to a broader range of needs.

Top-Rated Pet Insurance Options for Dogs (and Other Animals)

1. Healthy Paws – Healthy Paws consistently ranks as a top choice among dog owners for its comprehensive coverage, including accidents, illnesses, hereditary conditions, and emergency care. The company is known for its straightforward claims process and excellent customer service.

2. Trupanion – Trupanion offers one simple plan that covers 90% of veterinary costs for diagnostics, surgeries, and medications. It’s one of the few insurers that provide direct payments to veterinary practices, easing the financial burden on pet owners at the point of care.

3. Petplan – Petplan covers a wide range of conditions, including chronic and hereditary diseases, across dogs, cats, and other pets. Its customizable policies allow pet owners to choose coverage that best fits their budget and their pet’s needs.

4. Embrace – Embrace stands out for its Wellness Rewards program, which reimburses for routine care and preventative treatments. This feature, combined with its accident and illness coverage, makes it a comprehensive choice for dog owners.

5. Nationwide – Nationwide is unique in offering pet insurance for a wide variety of animals beyond dogs and cats, including birds, reptiles, and even exotic pets. For dogs, its Whole Pet with Wellness plan is among the most inclusive, covering accidents, illnesses, and wellness care. Once called VPI, Veterinary Pet Insurance, our personal experience with this predecessor, they were amazing to deal with, and the coverage was truly impressive.

Choosing the Right Insurance

Selecting the right pet insurance requires researching and comparing what different insurers offer. Consider factors such as the coverage scope, deductibles, reimbursement levels, and premium costs. Reading customer reviews and checking the ratings of the providers can also provide insights into their service quality and reliability.

The Broader Picture

While dogs are the most commonly insured pets, the availability of insurance for other animals underscores the growing recognition of the diverse roles pets play in our lives. From the joy of bird songs to the tranquility of watching fish swim, pets of all kinds contribute to our well-being. Insurance for these animals, although less common, is becoming more accessible, allowing all types of pet owners to afford the care their companions deserve.

Pet insurance is a valuable tool for managing the costs of veterinary care while offering peace of mind to pet owners. Whether for a dog, cat, bird, or exotic pet, insurance can help ensure that pets receive the treatments they need while protecting owners from emotional shock and financial strain. As the pet insurance market continues to evolve, it’s likely that even more options will become available, providing better coverage and flexibility to meet the needs of all pet owners and their beloved animals.

Obtaining the pet health insurance should be accomplished when the pet is as young as possible, and can include everything from the most common, dogs, to the exotics such as penguins and elephants.

JOKING of course, but joking only about the penguins and elephants. I never sought an insurance quotation for either.

Most cats who have the diabetes issue survive for six months. That’s because most families are unable to deal with years of twice a day injections. Those whose human family can maintain the medication routine not only can live for years more, they can also “outgrow” their need for insulin, completely.

So health insurance? What role did that play? I never want to be in the position of having to decide how much our loved family member-pet is worth. If it is worth $750 in veterinary costs for diabetes, is spending TEN TIMES that amount “worth it?” Unless independently wealthy, $9000 might be more than a family can afford for pet medical expenses. That results from family economics and not from any lack of love. The decisions involved are emotionally horrible and must be made at the worst possible time of stress. The idea of losing a pet because it is too expensive to save the pet’s life is emotionally devastating. On the other hand, if the “out-of-pocket” deductible expense was $500 or even $900, many could figure out a way to save their loved pet.

Happily, such decisions involving assigning a value to a pet’s life are not necessary! Pet health insurance leaves us with a deductible to be paid, while the insurance pays for the medical care.

Lenny Lensworth Frieling

Shared Knowledge Is Power!

Leonard Frieling Pen Of Justice Legal Blogger
  • Senior Counsel Emeritus to the Boulder Law firm Dolan + Zimmerman LLP : (720)-610-0951
  • Former Judge
  • Photographer of the Year, AboutBoulder 2023
  • First Chair and Originator of the Colorado Bar Association’s Cannabis Law Committee, a National first.
  • Previous Chair, Boulder Criminal Defense Bar (8 years)
  • Twice chair Executive Counsel, Colorado Bar Association Criminal Law Section
  • NORML Distinguished Counsel Circle
  • Life Member, NORML Legal Committee
  • Life Member, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar
  • Board Member Emeritus, Colorado NORML
  • Chair, Colorado NORML, 7 years including during the successful effort to legalize recreational pot in Colorado
  • Media work, including episodes of Fox’s Power of Attorney, well in excess of many hundreds media interviews, appearances, articles, and podcasts, including co-hosting Time For Hemp for two years.
  • Board member, Author, and Editor for Criminal Law Articles for the Colorado Lawyer, primary publication of the Colorado Bar Assoc. 7 Years, in addition to having 2 Colorado Lawyer cover photos, and numerous articles for the Colorado Lawyer monthly publication.
  • LEAP Speaker, multi-published author, University lectures Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, Denver University Law School, Univ. of New Mexico, Las Vegas NM, and many other schools at all levels.
  • http://www.Lfrieling.com
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