Dog owners: do you have or recommend pet health insurance?

Insurance

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I’m trying to decide whether having pet health insurance is worthwhile.

We recently brought a new French Bulldog puppy to join her sister in our home. Upon registration with the AKC, one of the features offered is a 60-day free trial for a pet insurance policy that covers accidents and injuries only within the 1st 30 days and accidents, injuries, and illnesses during the second half of the trial period. So far, we haven’t had to use it at all. The is apparently offered through PetPartners, a UK company, and once our trial is up, there are a few different plan choices available.

We haven’t used or had pet insurance in the past for Lola, our other Frenchie. But then again, we also weren’t living in the Bay Area, where vet expenses seem to be easily double what they were in the Pacific Northwest, even for routine care. Earlier this week, when I brought our puppy in for a checkup, I asked one of the staff if they recommended any particular pet insurance company. They gave me a brochure for . It seems AKC’s plan is costlier, but covered incidents are covered at 80% (a 20% copay), whereas the VPI plan is fee-based and cheaper.

But based on my research so far, I’m still disinclined to sign up for pet insurance. Here’s why:

  1. Quotes for my two Frenchies are running around $360 per dog for the year with the AKC Essentials Plus plan, and $300 for both under the Standard (most basic) VPI plan. (Note that prices sometimes vary based on breed.)
  2. Most insurance policies do not cover routine care, or if they offer this, they charge an extra premium and have limitations that would seem to make them not worth their while.
  3. Pet insurance companies seem to list more items that are excluded from coverage than are covered.
  4. The types of surgery that French Bulldogs most often require are due to what are usually considered “congenital defects” that are not covered by either plan.
  5. If a dog is diagnosed with having a serious health condition, that condition may not be covered during the next renewal period because the insurance company may consider it to be a “pre-existing condition”.
  6. There seems to be no consensus on which, if any, plans are good or bad — one person will rave about her experience while the next two reviewers rant about being denied.
  7. This is probably not a very solid argument, because you never expect accidents, but Frenchies aren’t as active as bigger dogs, so they may be less likely to get ACL or other major injuries through running and high activity.
  8. There’s a vet local to us (about 1.5 hours away) who is renowned for small animal and Frenchie surgery (people fly there from Los Angeles, Oregon, and elsewhere), who’s qualified to do many surgeries and who charges a fraction of the cost of a specialist.
  9. But most of all, we would be able to pay for any major surgery needed for either of our dogs, should that occur, and would not be forced to choose between the health of the dog or being able to pay for another essential, nor balk at making that decision due to cost.

This is what I’ve concluded so far from reading the experiences from owners on French Bulldog forums about pet insurance, the pet insurance company sites themselves, and review sites.

Of course, I could be wrong. If there are any dog owners out there who feel differently, I’d love it if you’d share your opinion or experiences.

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