We are getting ready to adopt a cat. Anyone have comments on the best pet insurance options? I’m not sure we will get it, but it seems like it might be a wise investment given how expensive pet health issues can be.
I’ve gone the route of self-insurance with a big emergency fund for catastrophic stuff like my old Cat’s cancer care. This may or may not be more intelligent overall, but at some point it’s also just simpler and I fully admit liking the simpler part. So, I’m definitely here to listen in about what folks have found for pet insurance.
We did get our vet’s care package this year, because Kitty was a stray and we had no idea if she had lurking health problems. The care club package comes with a full dental workup, several bloodwork panels, her full line of shots, and the like. With the dental, it turned out to be cheaper than paying for each individually.
Read the fine print! I had insurance on a long-ago cat and I didn’t realize that there was a max payout over the cat’s lifetime per body system. So, like, he had a recurring intestinal issue, and after I hit that limit, they would no longer pay for anything at all that went wrong with his entire digestive system. But if he’d, I don’t know, ended up with kidney disease that would’ve been covered. (Until it wasn’t, of course, once we maxed THAT body system out.)
They also have preexisting conditions; my cat was diagnosed with a minor heart murmur as a kitten which meant nothing cardiovascular was covered, ever.
It did come in handy for accidents - like when he ate an entire boot lace for a knee high boot and needed his stomach pumped at the kitty ER. Oddly, that didn’t count against the digestive system, I guess because it was an accident?
The cat we had after that was too elderly to qualify; we adopted her at age 15. I could’ve gotten it for our current cats, and I probably still could if I wanted since they’re in perfect health according to the vet - but I think I’d rather put the premium money into a vet care e-fund. I might change my mind on this at some point, though.
If my vet offered something like diapasoun’s does, we’d likely go for that, that sounds like a better deal than submitting claims to insurance that, just like people insurance, sometimes get denied, have a really high deductible, etc.
Personally would self insure (and I do after considering this when I got the kittens). It is my opinion (informed by my sister’s experience working as a vet tech for many years and helping/dealing with peoples’ pet insurance) that getting insurance for dogs is smart, but getting insurance for cats is strictly a present-financials type of situation. If you were low income with low saving and/or financial security it absolutely makes sense to pay $40/month (or whatever) to insure your cat, because baying a $1000 emergency vet bill would be a real hardship and maybe impossible. But if you have good savings/security it makes more sense to just pay the $1000 (or more) vet bill if/when it happens. Cats are less likely to be stricken with genetic conditions that plague a lot of dogs because of breeding (most pet cats are also just mutts so have a lot more genetic variability), and are less likely to get into trouble (if they are indoor-only). Pet insurance is a business, and they ultimately are in it to make money. Statistically it is unlikely a pet emergency would make it worthwhile in the end. (Of course, your pet could be diagnosed with a very expensive chronic condition, but it is likely not to happen.)
Even with the medical issues my former cats had over their lives, I believe I probably saved money (or at least came out even) by self-insuring. (For reference: Original Cat had undifferentiated myelopethy (heart disease) diagnosed at around age 5 that she lived with for an additional 9(ish) years (on medication), and Senior Cat had IBS diagnosed at around age 7 for another 6(ish) years, also on medication. All of the medications they took were easy to administer and inexpensive.)
That said, if your vet has “wellness” plans it does absolutely make sense to take advantage of them, as they are often cheaper than all the individual expenses. And if you did decide to get insurance, absolutely read all the fine print for what is and is not actually covered. There are definitely different levels of coverage.
I did the math and personally decided to self-insure when I got Tiny Cat. I’m one of the rare situations where it might have worked out better to insure (she’s got some chronic stuff that’s been moderately $ and will continue for the rest of her life, hopefully several more years at the least. ), but then again maybe not. It’s just hard to say! I believe all my local cat people friends also self-insure but I can ask around and see if they’ve had varying experiences, too.
ETA: I will say, I have a friend who self-insures and chose to do a great deal of intervention on her cat that had a scary medical situation crop up. It cost a lot of money. If that scares the pants off you, insuring might be a way to mitigate that AHH feeling if you know you will pursue care like that. (This involved a week in the kitty hospital and multiple surgeries). I know that in my cat’s situation, it is something I would not pursue as her health is such it wouldn’t make sense.
We self insure and have a specific account set aside for Luigi’s care. Husband says most pet insurance plans aren’t super worth it unless you need the plan premiums to work almost as a forced savings. Wellness plans are where you will usually come out ahead. Talk to your veterinarian and get their read on it.
I work in the vet industry and would probably self-insure for a cat IF you can realistically set aside such a fund. I got insurance for my dog just a few months after starting to work at a vet rehab practice because I learned the cost of surgeries that could make a HUGE difference in quality of life and that I was not in a position to save for (mostly knee surgeries that cats don’t really get). Definitely read the fine print, and know that pretty much all pet insurance will exclude preexisting conditions and will work on a reimbursement model. Most of my colleagues insure their dogs and not their cats.
I don’t think any of the companies are truly great — they’re insurance companies. PetPlan is worse than most reviews will show because they changed ownership relatively recently and used to be a better company. The local cat specific vet recommends strongly against VPI/Nationwide, though I’m not sure on what specific grounds. I personally use ASPCA because they offer an industry discount and have a relatively good policy on getting certain issues erased as preexisting conditions if they’re asymptomatic for a certain period of time.
Thanks for the feedback! In our case, probably makes more sense to self-insure. Kitty is home, we have the initial (free) screening session scheduled with a vet a couple weeks out. I chose a practice that reviews say tends to be conservative price-wise (did a cancer surgery another place had priced at $13k for $1300), and where it doesn’t feel like they pressure you into high cost treatments if the quality of life payoff is not there. That is really what I am most worried about.