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Pet insurance...experiences?..am I alone here?

quincymycat
May 26th, 2009, 08:23 PM
I have had pet insurance for my 4 cats for approx. 5 years. Over that period, claims paid out to me have been totalled at only $135.00 more or less on one animal only. Mostly because they have been thankfully, very healthy and vet bills have never exceeded the deductible and annuals are not included in the policy.
This year, since January has been oh so different. My 7 year Maine Coon developed rapid onset paralysis of all his legs. He was required to be seen by a neuro vet and was diagnosed as "lower limb motor neuron disease" and my vet bill for this condition topped $3500.00, the policy had a $200.00 deductible and paid 80% on the balance. He further required an additional $650.00 or so in gastro claims as a result of the medications for the neuro condition. Yesterday (May 25th 2009), I received a letter advising me that when the policy for this kitty renews July 1st, he will have a $300.00 deductible and claims will only be paid at 50% because of his "high risk" and "high claims experience". I was livid as so many times I have read their ads indicating the highest paid out claims and that the insurance has been so good in helping pet owners never having to decide about treatment for their beloved pets. No where did it say that these people were going to be monetarily penalized for the need to use the insurance. The policy can't be canceled but I get the feeling that they would like me to cancel. I now face a future of paying huge amounts out of pocket as his condition is ongoing and may recur in worse manner, but cannot cancel in case the cost exceed even what they claim they will still pay. I am on a fixed income and felt the insurance would provide a safeguard for me and my so much loved kitties.
What has been the experience of others if I may ask. I would love to hear if this has happened to anyone else. Surely I am not the only one!
Thanks for any input you may be able to give me.
My final word in any case is to read the fine print on any policy. Apparently this is what the contract says they can do, but it indicated it would occur in only very small cases.

.nanama
May 26th, 2009, 08:41 PM
i don't have pet insurance, so i can't give you any experiences, but that is absolutely horrible. i'm sorry, first of all, to hear that your kitty isn't doing well... sucks that your insurance is trying to do that to you. you have been a faithful customer for 5 years without even the need to use the policy!

Sujaki
May 26th, 2009, 09:12 PM
Apparently a lot of insurance companies do this, and do it often. :c I was looking into getting insurance for my kitty, but I've decided that when I get my summer job, I should save up my own money.. That way I can control where it goes, how its spent, and not lose anything. And if we somehow become unfortunate and unable to keep Chloe with the same quality of life (expensive canned food, etc), at least I have enough that we can continue giving her the same care for at least a year, which is better than wasting money paying monthly fees, not having anything happen, and then randomly being unable to pay for insurance and maybe general care.. Well, the insurance wouldn't give much back to me at that point, but saving up would.

I think the best thing is to just start saving and putting money aside, and pull the other cats off of the insurance plan when you feel you have enough to control Murphy's law. :shrug:

growler~GateKeeper
May 27th, 2009, 03:08 AM
I received a letter advising me that when the policy for this kitty renews July 1st, he will have a $300.00 deductible and claims will only be paid at 50% because of his "high risk" and "high claims experience".

I've never used any pet insurance company (I do have a separate savings account for vet emergencies) but I think most insurance companies have similar policies after claims have been made on a contract. Car & home insurance works the same way after every claim your deductible is higher etc :shrug:

I hope your kitty is improving :goodvibes: :fingerscr

quincymycat
May 27th, 2009, 07:31 AM
Thank you to all for your replies. I just found this site and already I have a feeling it is going to be great help for me and my guys.
In the sense that ALL insurance is in business for profit, not just out of the kindness of their hearts, I understand if you use it, you pay more for it. I think what is really bugging me is their advertising techniques. Each month they send a newsletter to you extolling the wonders and virtues of insuring your pet. You are lured into a false sense that if you are dutiful and pay your premiums you will never have to worry about getting medical care for animal - ever again. It is spelled out that way exactly. They also post monthly the "highest paid claims" for the month for both cats and dogs. Absolutely no where do you see a comment about these poor pet's owners now having to pay more co-insurance, which effectively at my 50%, now doubles the deductible before it can even be met. His conditiona is not pre-existing. I know many of you can appreciate what you go through when your poor animal is so ill and no one can tell you what it is. In my Quincy's case, within 24 hours he was completely paralysed in all legs. He could not walk, stand or even sit up on his own. His head was able to be lifted slightly. You are in a specialists clinic and you are told "we don't know for sure, but he needs this test, that test" and so on. Your pet insurance has always said if this situation arose, not to worry, we will be there for you all the way. They just did not say it would only be once. They do claim that any pet, regardless of health history or age will be automatically renewed with renewed limits each year, BUT, they forgot to clearly state the co-insurance would be so much lower when renewed. The place in the policy that said it MAY happen, states it happens "only very rarely".
I was hoping someone here went throught the same experience. I do not know if I can mention the insurance company, but it is the biggest in Canada and located in Winnipeg.
As for Quincy, yes, he is doing so much better. He can now walk, even climb stairs albiet very slowly, but he will never be able to jump even low distances or run again. I am thankful for every minute I get with him. He has had such a tough year, just last week he had to be anesthetized again and have a fecal impaction manually removed because of the nuero meds slowing his motiliy too much. He is now on benefibre, propulsid and lactolose along with his prednisone.
Thanks again.

SnowDancer
May 27th, 2009, 11:25 AM
I know how upsetting this is - I had mini Dachshunds with back/neck disc disease. Back in the day only deluxe pet insurance was available and after the annual admin fee; the per condition fee; the breed specific fee - AND THE WORST THING OF ALL - the Annual and or LIFETIME maximum payment per condition - we received somewhere around $500 after paying premiums in excess of $6,000. So we started savings account. This happened to us again in 2003 - we had a savings account going - good thing, soul mate Dachshund 2 came down with the paralyzing disc disease - again $6,000 plus (now I understand it can cost $8,000) - so we paid this. Unfortunately he died 10 months to day of surgery at age 7. My vet told me about VetInsurance - a plan that had not been available when we adopted our last little guy - and surprisingly they at the time would have covered 90% of his surgical costs - no lifetime or annual limits per condition. But what they didn't offer was coverage for hip dysplasia - go figure - they would cover disc disease but not dysplasia. I did not immediately sign up though figuring I am cursed to have dogs that can't walk. But at 15 months I did sign up due to very long legs on my American Eskimo - and these dogs are prone to ACL and Patellar Luxation - plus Hip Dysplasia. But as my guy is a small standard, the vet thinks it unlikely he will get the Dysplasia. So we were signed up at the 1 - 3 year price points - he will always pay premiums based on this age group - although premiums - as of last renewal had increased from $34 as month to $51 - in 3 1/2 years. Also as of last renewal they introduced a deductible - this really important thing to note here is that the deductible is PER CONDITION - I know some people who did not read this little ditty and went for a really high deductible - I could have gone for $0 but went for $100 in fear of what this year might bring. And apparently they are also now looking at breed type when setting your rates. What really irritated me was that I saw a note on the renewal form for those with Hip Dysplasia coverage!?? I was on the phone fast and apparently the had asked vets what they could do to make coverage more competitive and they were told to add Hip Dysplasia. I was less then thrilled and asked about grandfathering for people who had never had claims while enrolled - and no sign of the disease. They said they were thinking about it - well obviously they didn't think hard enough. Re the per condition deductible - I could see it now - one week a dog has a blockage; next week dog breaks a leg or develops ACL or something. If you chose the $3,000 deductible as offered - you would have to pay the first $6,000 - a heck of a lot upfront to get a monthly premium of $18 - which would have been my dog's rate. I do frequent another forum where some people were equally annoyed by the Hip Dysplasia problem and of course you don't want to start again with another company - at a higher age rate - my guy is now 5 and so far very healthy. Also most other plans do have the per condition etc. clauses. Some people who use Vet Insurance "save" the insurance for big ticket items if their dogs are very prone to specific diseases - in my case with the Dachshunds I would have saved it for back/neck surgery - lifetime coverage is $20,000. So I am not happy either. I definitely understand your point and have been there. But I think in your situation you had better stick with your current plan for your kitty because it could happen again - and a $300 deductible with 50% payout still available is a lot better than a higher deductible and being told you had already received the lifetime limit for your cat's condition. Works like braces for kids - used to be something like $2,000 to $2,500 lifetime limit. I hope all goes well - and I am dreading our next premium increase.

bendyfoot
May 27th, 2009, 11:52 AM
This happened to us with our trainwreck Jaida. She was the one we needed insurance for most, and because of the claims we submitted, they kept lowering and lowering their coverage for her. We fought it a few times successfully, but eventually dropped them altogether, it just wan't worth having it.

quincymycat
May 27th, 2009, 03:57 PM
Thank you Snowdancer for your story. I am a little less angry and upset today, but still seething. I will however not cancel any policy for any of my pets because as you said, at this point and at their ages and especially with Quincy's condition having a high recurrance risk, even paying the $600.00 up front for the deductible ($300.00 paid at 50%) and getting only 50% paid after may still amount to help if it comes to that. I have started putting away extra money to cover what still may be an large inital outlay and resent the $150.00 in premiums I pay each month for the 4 policies I have in effect, but they cannot cancel me, they can however make it more desirable for me to cancel the policy and be left with no other place for insurance.
I did send off a letter to the insurer today though outlining some thoughts I had about why the costs of the claims were so high. I indicated that when I was at the specialty clinic, every single specialty seemed to have a billing for his tests. After 7 years of seeing my vet routinely, the cardiologist at this place found a "grade 3-4" heart murmur which of course had to be immediately ultrasounded BEFORE any further test could be done to determine the extent of his neuro condition. I disagreed with this finding because I believe if he had a conditon that severe it would have been found by my regular vet before this. Note, the neuro did not hear this murmur when she first examined him, it was only when the cardiologist checked him out pre anesthesia. FACT- the ultrasound was completely normal, NO signs or evidence of any problems. Extra cost - $750.00. This clinic insisted he be tested for all viruses. I again objected because he is pure bred which was guaranteed to be viral free and is and always will be an indoor cat. Objection over ruled, extra costs approx. $450.00. Again, negative. Apparantly he also needed an abdominal ultrasound - extra costs - $490.00. Results - negative.
I think when the insurance company saw all these tests they felt he was likely going to need treatment in the future for many more conditions not yet diagnosed. In my opinion, these were tests to pad the bill of an insured animal and in the opinion of the clinic, who loses? The insurance company is going to pay. That is wrong though. Ultimately, I am the one paying.
I tried to explain this to the insurance company and in fact told them to obtain and read the test results. I explained that I was under almost emotional blackmail because I was repeatedly told that unless they did this test or that test, they would not be able to continue to discover the real cause of his paralysis. I was scared and thought I had no choice but to agree even when I told them I thought they were not going to make any difference to his current condition and would prove to be un-necessary.
Whether or not the letter works, I doubt it, but I can at least say I tried.
I have a wonderful relationship with my own vet which has occurred over almost 20 years. She has cared for all my pets from the time she finished her training. She is kind and caring and very often gives me a break in the costs of care. She even provides a 25% discount for multiple pets under her care. She is trying to make a living too and should be paid for what she does, and I have always trusted her and her opinions. Too bad this trust could not be transferred to other vets and clinics when a specialist is needed. I have already spoken with my own vet and she has agreed to continue the follow up care with Quincy instead of returning to the specialist. Since she now knows what the diagnosis is, she feels confident to continue his care and only refer him back if absolutely necessary, which I hope is never.
Thank you for listening to my rant.:cat:

flipgirl4
May 28th, 2009, 12:15 AM
I used to work at a car and home insurance company in the financial systems area (so I didn't sell or underwrite -at one point, I was in the underwriting area but hated it). So I can understand from the company's view why they increased your deductible. I don't understand the reducing of coverage though. Usually, people opt to pay a higher deductible to reduce the premium but I've never heard of decreasing coverage. Maybe they did that so that instead of raising your premium, they would reduce the coverage? I'm guessing only. I know the company you're talking about because I'm with them as well. I haven't really had any problems other than when I claimed for my dog's annual check, (I was on the highest coverage plan), they didn't cover it because the amount was higher than their policy limit. In my experience, an insurance company pays up to the policy limit; it shouldn't just refuse to pay because the claim is higher than the amount. Maybe I'm wrong here but I know we had a disclaimer on our policies about policy limits.

Anyway, I also don't understand why you cannot cancel the policy. They might charge you a short-rate charge but it still doesn't mean you can't cancel the policy. I would ask them to justify their actions; The reason why you chose the insurance was because they covered 80% etc. and, as I would assume you applied for your policy online or over the phone, your agreement to the policy was for them to provide you with 80% coverage based on the plan you chose. I know this company charges a higher deductible as your pet ages as well so that is another piece of the puzzle if you will.

SnowDancer
May 28th, 2009, 11:00 PM
Did you see the specialists at Guelph or at the clinic on McMurrich? I absolutely adore the Guelph small animal clinic and the neuros there - although I hope to NEVER see them again. You have to go to Guelph if your pet does not have the 24 hours required for the work-up required by McMurrich - nothing like racing along the highway at 10:00 p.m. with a paralyzing dog to meet with the on-call surgeon - then of course back for follow-ups - but my little angel just loved the doctors and the clinic - gave the pets good vibes I guess. I hope you get some consideration from your insurance company, but I wouldn't count on it. People have the same problems with their various insurance policies as well - I think just being born is a pre-existing condition. I had one insurance company tell me that since my husband had completed the Sheriff's notice that once completed gets you into the potential jury pool that this would be a pre-existing condition and therefore a problem if he had to cancel a trip due to being called for jury duty. Then of course there is me - I have served and my 3 years is up so am back in the hopper. How could both of us be in the selection pool, I ask. At any rate, I told this lunatic to put a supervisor on who set him straight - that being a potential juror was not a pre-existing condition. And of course, my husband had to serve when he was supposed to go on a business trip. I dread going to the mail box in case there is a jury summons notice. So you can't win it seems. I hope your kitty's health improves - and please don't cancel the insurance.

quincymycat
May 29th, 2009, 09:16 AM
Hi SnowDancer, When Quincy first got sick, I wanted to take him to the Guelph clinic and my breeder also suggested we go there, but my regular vet was familiar with the EVC in Toronto and had had one of her animals treated there by a neuro. (not the one I ended up seeing) and highly recommended it to me, so, off we went. If this ever occurs again, I will have his records transferred to Guelph as I do not want to return there. It felt more like a "business" - which in fact I realize it is - than a caring place. That is of course IMO. Speaking of which, I had decided, and with my own vet's consent, to stop follow-ups at the EVC and use my own vet. This was for ease - I cannot drive in downtown Toronto and each follow up required my husband to take a 1/2 day off work, and also I felt so much more comfortable with my own vet. If a problem did seem to be re-occuring, we agreed he would return to a neuro. The neuro called me yesterday because I had cancelled her appointment and told me that I COULD NOT stop seeing her for follow-ups. I told her flatly that with my insurance now being useless, I could not afford follow-ups with her and would return only if there was a problem. He would be receiving regular follow-ups, just not with her. I felt stupified.
On the topic of the insurance....I give up, I surrender, I have no fight left in me. Their last comment to me was that they do not supply "health insurance" it is "property insurance" therefore if you use it, it increases. End of story. I will just shut up and truly pray nothing serious happens to any of my dear kitties and unless the expense is really high, just pay the vet bill and not submit it to them - something like having a minor fender bender with your car and paying out of pocket to keep your rates low. LIVE AND LEARN

SnowDancer
May 29th, 2009, 09:30 AM
If my last Dachshund hadn't paralyzed in 15 minutes near close of business at my vet's he also would have gone to the McMurrich Clinic and seen the neuro there, but due to the 24 hour work-up and the fact that he would need back surgery within 8 - 12 hours to survive, my vet made the referral to Guelph - the referral is needed for them to call in the on-call night surgeon (such a wonderful man). Price wise, if you have to go to Guelph on am emergency basis, the cost is the same as the Toronto neuros, but you do get something of a price break if you can schedule a "regular" appointment with one of the Guelph specialists - but it sure isn't cheap no matter what you do. I agree you have done all that you can. The thing I like about McMurrich is that it is a heck of a lot better than the former very small, open only at night, emergency clinic that we had to go to years ago - and that it isn't a 2 1/2 hour drive from Toronto. I know what you mean about driving in Downtown Toronto. I did it just yesterday dropping my niece at train station. Too many people driving with cell phones held to ears, texting, lighting cigarettes, watching DVDs etc. - instead of watching the road. And when my dog is in the car I get very annoyed with these people.

quincymycat
June 9th, 2009, 11:10 AM
Update on Pet Insurance....I just received an email from the insurance company and they are going to put the co-pay back up to 80% from the reduced benefit of 50%. It was lowered because it was felt my kitty had too many things wrong with him to continue to insure him at the higher amount, but after a second review, it was put back up to the original of 80%. I AM SO HAPPY!:thumbs up:laughing::laughing:

SnowDancer
June 9th, 2009, 04:32 PM
Great news - now just keep healthy kitty!