One of the most underutilized resources available today in veterinary medicine is pet insurance. I find that less than 15% of my clients have insurance for their pets. Why do so few people invest in pet insurance? Because most people are unaware that pet insurance exists. Emergency and advanced medical care for your pet can easily climb into the thousands of dollars, and pet insurance can cover up to 90% of those bills. Pet insurance is available through many different companies and can be easily tailored to your pet’s individual needs and your budget.
Why Pet Insurance is Important
Veterinary medicine and our capabilities closely mirror human medicine, including specialty-trained veterinarians and highly specialized procedures. We have specialized veterinarians trained in advanced surgery, oncology, internal medicine, dermatology, ophthalmology, and cardiology; and that is just what’s available in Alaska. CT scans, MRIs, endoscopy, ultrasound, emergency stabilization, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, joint and spinal surgery are all available to your animals here in Palmer. While we hope your pet will never need these services, we are here if they do. However, having and maintaining all these capabilities is expensive, especially on an emergency basis. As a result, insurance can literally mean the difference between life and death for your pet.
When an Emergency Fund Isn’t Enough
I started an emergency fund for my pets after I started working in emergency medicine, but unfortunately, the amount needed for a solid safety net continues to rise, and I have continued to accumulate animals. Fortunately, pet insurance has become more widely available and comprehensive and helps me ensure my critters are safe. I still maintain an emergency fund for my animals and encourage you to do the same. However, $30,000 worth of coverage for each of my animals is easier to hold through an insurance policy. Insurance simply provides the capability to make medical decisions based on what is best for your animal rather than what you can afford.
You have insurance for your home, car, family, and yourself; you can also extend that safety net to your fur family. For many of a veterinarian’s patients, cost impacts the level of care and sometimes prevents it. We watch families struggle with love for their pet, finances, and guilt. It’s a relief for all of us when insurance alleviates the burden of cost concerns. The companies I have the most experience with and would recommend you research for your furry friends are Embrace, Trupanion, Healthy Paws, Pets Best, and Nationwide. All of these companies make it easy to get a quote online for your pet. You can modify the policy to suit your needs, including reimbursement percentage, deductible, and what you want covered.
Going the Extra Mile
Some of these companies like Trupanion will pay certain clinics directly so you don’t have to float the bill until the reimbursement comes. Several of these also offer options for rehabilitation therapy and preventative care. Companies like Pets Best will even cover portions of pre-existing conditions, which is unusual. Generally, if you wait until after the diagnosis is made it’s too late, especially in the case of emergencies. USAA even contracts pet insurance for our military and veterans at a discounted rate through Embrace.
Orthopedic surgery, intestinal blockage, cancer diagnostics and treatment, dog fight wounds — all of these can be covered. But if you wait until the emergency hits, it’s too late. Even if it seems like something minor, insurance companies have a delay before the policy kicks in. How long can your pet wait? If your lab has been limping for 2-3 days and you come to the vet for meds, what are you going to do when they diagnose a torn cruciate (ACL)? It’s too late to get coverage for the thousands in surgery that your dog now needs.
Do Your Research
I pay approximately $20-40 per month for my dogs’ insurance. I checked several providers before I made my choice and haven’t been harassed with junk mail once. In this particular case, I actually do recommend googling for more information. You can also ask your vet if they have experience with any of the companies and what they think.
There is no animal I wouldn’t recommend insurance for. While you are busting out your nets for the salmon run, take a few minutes to look into a safety net for your pet.
Tier 1 Veterinary Medical Center in Palmer is Alaska’s only comprehensive animal hospital. We are available for emergencies, walk-ins, and by appointment. With CT, MRI, and Ultrasound available on-site, our facility provides advanced treatment options for your pet. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Paige Wallace is the Urgent Care Coordinator at Tier 1 Veterinary Medical Center. Born and raised right here in the Mat-Su Valley, Dr. Wallace received her education and veterinary training through her service in the United States Army. She served as a Captain with the 218th Medical Detachment Veterinary Service Support, under the 62nd Medical Brigade. Dr. Wallace has extensive experience treating trauma cases in remote areas and with limited resources, bringing a wealth of knowledge and think-on-your-feet experience to the Tier 1 VMC team.