Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

“Pet” Insurance, Part 4 (reviews)

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There is an unfortunate lack of reviews of pet insurance, despite the fact that there are at least 1 million animals covered by pet insurance! I will actually start with a review of a discount program (Pet Assure) and move on to the reviews I was able to find on the US insurances.

The review for Pet Assure is 7 years old, but I see no reason why anything would have changed. They bring up an excellent point about people with anything other than dogs and cats. I said in “Part 3” that your only option was VPI if you wanted something other than a cat or dog covered, and that is true for actual insurance, but Pet Assure is another option, because it is a simple discount program. If your vet accepts it, you get 25% of the bill, period. Here is part of the review:

I love this service because it’s so easy to use. I pay for the service for my pets and I am ready to go!

The best aspects of the company are that I can walk into the vet clinic and show my card. I automatically get 25 percent off my bill with the exception of food or flea products. It’s that simple! No forms, no hassles, no pre-existing conditions to worry about like some of the other companies! They accept any type of pet as long as the clinic seeing them accepts Pet Assure, so it’s not just for dogs and cats. It can also be used at many groomers, pet shops and other pet friendly places for selected discounts. It’s worth every nickel spent on the policy.

The worst aspects are that not every clinic is accepting it yet. So, while your regular vet might take it, the emergency clinic might not. Also, if you change vets, you would need to change to a clinic that carried it. Be sure to check this out before paying if you are worried about this. While some of the other more well known companies are accepted by just about any clinic, Pet Assure still isn’t accepted widespread.

Who would I recommend it to? Anyone with pets provided their clinic of choice uses it. It covers any animal, even the exotics like reptiles, equine, rabbits, pot bellied pigs, birds, whatever, as long as your clinic accepts it. Be aware though that using the 25 percent discount usually means that it’s the ONLY discount you get. So, no senior discounts or “dental month” discount, etc. This is up to the individual clinic to decide the policy for themselves. You will usually get whichever discount is greater, but can’t combine them. (so if they offer a 10 percent multi-pet discount, you don’t get 35 percent off, just 25 percent)

Since this service costs $99/year for dogs or horses, $69 for cats/rodents/reptiles, and “family plans” for up to 4 animals is $149 ($20 for each additional beyond that), it is an inexpensive way to save on normal costs as well as an automatic savings on the unpredicted big costs…as long as your vet or a vet you like is part of their “network.” Keep in mind that this might not include an emergency clinic.

Some of the reviews for the insurances, I have to warn you, speak more to people not understanding how their insurance works. One person was upset that her insurance didn’t go down, since she didn’t use it. It isn’t like car insurance, though. Rates will go up as the cost of care goes up. You don’t get lower rates for not using it – it is a lot closer to human health care than car insurance.

So, read these with a critical eye, but there are several reviews of Pet Care Insurance. Most of the reviews go back years, and some of the negative reviews are more or less ignorance on the part of the people reviewing – there is a waiting period of at least 2 days for every company, and I can’t see why we should expect any different. If we were allowed to sign up at the time of an accident or illness, and have everything covered, the insurance companies would all be out of business, because everyone would sign up when the animals got sick, and cancel in between. And frankly, as much as that would please us, that isn’t the point of insuring against future need! But, two reviews follow:

Feb ’05:

I’ve had my one dog insured through PetCare since he was six. It’s been a positive experience for me. They have covered everything they said, even covered three root canals for teeth that were sheared off by chewing on hard items (covered them under “accident”). They did exercise their right to increase my premiums (now are at just under $40/month Canadian), but they have still paid out significantly more than what I put in. It will be interesting to see if my positive experience continues as my guy starts to get more of the gerentological conditions like arthritis, cysts, etc.

October ’03:

I have had a very negative experience with PetCare Pet Insurance. I have nothing good to say about this company that provides insurance for pet owners in both Canada and the U.S. They refused to pay when my Pomeranian was stricken with cancer which a covered disease. I filed complaints with the local Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau and the Insurance Commission. They wouldn’t budge. They kept changing their reasons for refusing to pay, initially they claimed it was a pre-existing disease because it was initially thought to be heart problems. They later said that if it was diagnosed they would pay, well guess what, they never paid the nearly $1,000 that they owed me and they were very rude in the process. Yet they gladly collected my premiums. I would not recommend this company to anyone. Stay away from Petcare Pet Insurance, you are better off not insuring your pet.

Neither review at review center was positive.

VPI, the biggest and oldest pet insurance company, had a lot more reviews. 35 total on epinions, though again many of these reviews are at least 7 years old. A disturbing review regarding the payout of claims going back only one year (April 2006):

Initially I signed up with Veterinary Pet Insurance, Brea, Calif. because we had adopted a rather old dog and I felt considering his age we would most likely run into health problems.

About 6 months or so after we had him enrolled he developed Cancer. We were devastated and took him to not only a veterinarian but a Veterinary Oncologist for treatment. Despite numerous letters explaining the time frame of his illness coverage was denied.

Despite this we enrolled our other two dogs with the company. We felt we understood the hesitancy of the company to cover him since the Cancer could have been pre-existing and we just weren’t aware of it. We did have the Vet send letters explaining all this to no avail however, we were too devastated to continue to fight the issue.

Several months later we got another Chi. He later took a fall. We had an emergency visit to the Veterinarian, nothing was broken. He was put on pain medication and at the time they also pointed out that he had a luxating patella (knee joint that dislocate). This is a genetic problem Chihuahuas are prone to. It had nothing to do with the fall but the company refused to cover this as well, again despite numerous letters from our Veterinarian explaining that there was no connection.

Our third Chi developed an abscess-again, visits to the Vet. Again, no coverage.

I called the company and gave them the whole story and cancelled the insurance. This company doesn’t back up any of its claimed services. I would avoid them like the plague. They offer a horrifying lack of support just when you need them the most.

Two more reviews, more than 6 years old, but within a couple months of each other, and both dealing with customer service and claims responses. The first is negative, the second glowingly positive.

I bought pet insurance from Veterinary Pet Insurance [VPI] for my current Beagle after a previous Beagle had medical problems that cost me over $2,500 before he passed away from his conditions [lupus and diabetes] at the age of only four years . It has always been a problem to do what you’re supposed to do for VPI’s requirements… they won’t accept the normal detailed Vet bills, they always want something special before they’ll consider payment. And although their literature and reps say they process claims within a week, it typically takes *two to three months* to get payments from them. These are small inconveniences. Their service has cost about $320 per year for my 3-year old male Beagle, and I have gotten about $100 total back in payments over the years after my deductibles [$40 per incident deductible]. I have their “best” plan, the Advantage Plus Plan. I also have had the “hard sell” and high pressure tactics applied by customer reps when at renewal time I wanted to switch from their most expensive plan to the next plan down. The pressure on the phone was unrelenting and worse than a car salesman’s whining and dire warnings. I eventually caved in and kept the higher-priced service. My most recent experience [Saturday, September 9, 2000]: I recently got a female Beagle from a rescue organization to be a companion to my male. To make a long story short, almost immediately they got into a real fight and before I could separate them, two of the female’s lower front teeth were almost pulled out. I rushed her to an emergency Vet clinic [not my normal Vet, who was closed, after 6PM] and they did surgery on her mouth to try to save the teeth, although they made no guarantees that the teeth would “take.” It cost me $423, and I hadn’t had her but a few days, so I hadn’t yet applied for pet insurance through VPI. I just called Veterinary Pet Insurance and went through their voicemail system and finally got to talk to a representative. Here’s how the conversation went: Me: “Hi, my little female Beagle just had to have surgery to try to save two of her front teeth after a dog fight and the charges were $423. I’d like to find out how much your insurance would have reimbursed me for her care.” VPI Insurance Rep: “I’m sorry, we don’t do that. We’d have to see the bill and all the charges…” Me: “I can fax it to you, I have a fax machine.” VPI Rep [snappishly]: “We don’t have time for that. We don’t *waste our time* on that.” Me: “[long pause] …Well, I guess if you don’t have time to help me, I don’t have time to buy your insurance. Thank you.” And I hung up. These are just my experiences, but I have to say that consistently, their customer service is extremely poor, rude, and pushy. Take this into account when deciding which company to buy pet insurance from.

My husband and I rescue dogs in the streets. Some we find homes for, some adopt our home. Sometimes we also find the dogs’ owners. About a year ago, I found this little dog in the street and took him in. He didn’t have any tags and even after posting signs, publishing ads and alerting shelters, no one claimed him. Turns out he was around 10 years old and had some medical problems. In a matter of days, he became a special pooch to us.

We had Veterinary Pet Insurance on our two others dogs and had always been happy with the company and how great their customer service department is. Claims got paid really fast and that meant a lot to me because I didn’t always have the cash when emergencies occurred.

About 7 months after I found Alley, he stopped eating. This wasn’t like him since he just loved to eat even though he was a little guy. He ended up in the hospital for 5 days with kidney problems. We were able to bring him home and even thought he might be okay for a few more years. Maybe we were deluding ourselves – but about 7 weeks later, it all happened again and we had to rush him back to the emergency hospital. He was there for about a week when he had to decide if it was time.

We cried and cried and cried … but his vital signs were going down and we didn’t want him to suffer. At least we didn’t have to make our decision based on money. The insurance made it so we just thought about our Alley and not if we could afford the treatments. We tried some things that really didn’t help but at least when the time came and we had to say good-bye to the little guy who stole our hearts, we didn’t feel guilty.

A few days later we buried Alley with our other dogs at a local pet cemetery. So, we had all these medical expenses from his second hospitalization and the cemetery was about $500 all together. A few days later VPI sent us our reimbursement check and between the two emergency hospitalizations we got back over 70%. I was astounded and that’s when I started to tell everyone I know with pets to get Veterinary Pet Insurance.

As you can see, within a few months of each other, drastically different opinions on the same company. I believe you’ll always see more negative opinions posted than positive, as well, so the fact that VPI is rated only 2.5 out of 5.0 should be taken with a grain of salt. However this next review is something that worries me about VPI, especially with the extremely detailed (micro-managed, in my opinion) Benefit Schedules:

Benefit schedule is waaay outdated
by kodabra ,Oct 29 ’06
Pros: Timely and hassle free payments
Cons: Veterinary costs could easily exceed the maximum payments…
My dog had this insurance since he was a puppy. A few months ago he was diagnosed with epilepsy: the maximum amount VPI pays for this disease is ~300 (200 for testing and 100 for treatment), so far we have already spent ~2000 in 6 months on treatment… (3 hospitalizations @ 400-550 each plus numerous tests)…

The insurance covered only tiny part of it 😦

And this hits another worry that I have regarding the “per incident” or “per system” limits – VPI maxes out on epilepsy at $300, even though the max yearly overall might be in the thousands under the plan this person has. Yet they can’t see the benefit of that, because the benefit schedule is micro-managed.

Two reviews for VPI as of January ’07 complained about the slowness of the claims processing as well as the low amounts covered. Personally I care more about how much is eventually covered now that I know about Care Credit, which would allow me to cover the large bills at low cost until the reimbursement from the insurance came in. However, if the insurance isn’t covering enough, that’s a problem.

No positive reviews of VPI in the 12 at review center.

Pets Best had no reviews on epinions, and only one on review center, which was not based on experience with a claim payout. Embrace, the newest insurance having been around for about a year now, had no reviews listed anywhere that I could find.

The bottom-line, I believe, is to read the fine print, and perhaps track down how much each company would have paid for past illnesses or accidents. That would give you an idea of the payout as well as the customer service.

Many of the reviewers seemed to want the everyday vet visits covered. There certainly are companies who offer that, but personally I am more interested in having the big costs covered. The unexpected illnesses, accidents, emergencies. I would also want to know that if my cat develops diabetes, for example, her ongoing care for that would be covered. I know that Embrace has a specific “continuing care” option. I did not see anything listed for the other companies that gave me an idea of where their policy stood for that, though Embrace’s comparison page (comparing against both the Standard and Superior plans of VPI’s) did imply that ongoing coverage was covered on both of VPI’s plans.

The question as to what looks good on paper and what would be most beneficial in reality is something that is still difficult to determine. Pets Best insurance has a comparison page that shows actual claims and actual payouts, and compares the cost of their plan as well as their actual payout to the assumed VPI payout and plan cost. It is illuminating, but it is provided by Pets Best – they naturally will put their own company in the best light, so it is up to you how far you would trust that information.

My overall feeling: I don’t trust VPI’s Benefits Schedule to cover what I would need to cover (it hasn’t been updated for five years!). Every company I could find reviews on had both positive and negative when it came to claims processing, and I like the simplicity of Embrace’s “UCR” philosophy as opposed to the Benefits Schedules that the other companies have. My final decision hasn’t been made yet. If I figure out what additional information I need to help make the decision, I might post about it, but for now I think I’ve finished the Pet Insurance series. Good luck with your own choices!

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106 responses to ““Pet” Insurance, Part 4 (reviews)

  1. Keith Edwards April 10, 2007 at 10:46 am

    Luckily the situition is a lot better in the UK, with have many providers of pet insurance including many of the big name supermarkets! So you can get your pet insurance the same time as you are getting your pet food!

  2. Deb April 10, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    Yes, I did notice that a bunch of the insurances in the UK were through the grocery stores! The question, as always, is whether they pay out what you’d expect, based on the claim and your coverage.

  3. Laura Bennett April 30, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    Deb, what a fantastic series you have put together. I’m delighted that someone other than me cares about this. In the end, it’s not about what the insurance companies say about their insurance products that is important (and I run one of them), it’s what the customers experience that is important.

    Thanks for putting an independent view on the whole area of pet insurance. I’m sure that many people will find this very very useful.

    Laura

  4. Deb April 30, 2007 at 9:42 pm

    Laura,
    Thanks! I learned a lot by reading various articles on your blog, so thanks for explaining so many aspects of insurance in a detailed but understandable way! It gave me a great start to tackling this subject.

  5. cat and dog owner June 5, 2007 at 12:59 am

    I have noticed a lack of pet insurance reviews as well. I also noticed that there seems to be a different culture in the UK in the attitudes toward pet insurance, there seem to be a lot more companies offering pet insurance in the UK compared to the US.

  6. Laura Bennett June 6, 2007 at 7:50 am

    The UK got started 30 years ago with a product that gave people what they expected. Now, around 20% of cats and dogs are insured and pet insurance is common place.

    Laura

  7. Deb June 6, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    The UK has a very different medical system in general and I’m sure that contributes in a sort of social mindset way to differences in the number of people who get insurance for their cats and dogs as a matter of course. I believe that in the UK, the pet insurance is more like a medical plan than actual insurance, but I have really done no research – getting a handle on the US pet insurances has been a big enough undertaking for me.

  8. California Well Being June 7, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    Although this seems like an interesting idea, it will be interesting to see how long it stays around. With insurance for people we have a lot longer lifespan, so naturally the premiums will be lower as there is more time for insurance companies to accrue review and bank the interest, it is also generally the later years that people fall into bad health. Where as generally pets are only with us for 6 – 15 years. Have you ever seen a bill for chemotherapy for a pet?

  9. Deb June 7, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    It’s been around for a good 20+ years already, so I’d say it is a bit more than an idea at this point. Human health insurance hasn’t even been around for 100 years, has it? Guess they’re both sticking.

    Pet insurance is mostly nothing like health insurance. Health insurance is more like a medical expense plan, where pet insurance is more like auto insurance. This means it is for the occasional event, not the regular oil changes. So…comparing pet insurance to health insurance is superficially interesting, but once you get down to it, there just is no point in comparing; they are nothing alike.

  10. Mo June 17, 2007 at 2:17 am

    Touche’, Deb. And not only have I seen a bill for chemo for my cat, I’ve paid it…after which I bought vet insurance for my other cat at the time. Then I paid for a big portion of radiation treatments for her.

    Finally reading your earlier Parts, and enjoyed them. Bottom line when it comes to VPI after reading them, and all the other research we’re currently doing, VPI does pay…but with UCR coming into the picture it really illuminates how comparatively little VPI pays and how outdated their benefits are, as you stated. That explains why my retirement account is nearly empty, I doubt I’ll ever own a car newer than my 20-year old car, and I will almost surely never be out of debt. Instead, I’ve had the joy of the company of my cats for much longer, and they’ve had a much better quality of life for much longer.

    I liked your perspective in the Money section. The way I see it, I can hold out one hand and think of my living, breathing, loving, cats who I have taken responsibility for. I hold out my other hand and try to weigh anything material against it…I can’t imagine putting anything else in that hand that would outweigh the welfare of my cat. For me, the only reason to have money is for survival and to use it for that which I love, and I do not love anything inanimate more than my cat(s).

  11. Deb June 17, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Glad you’re enjoying the earlier sections!

    And I agree – life (my own or others) is way more important than things. It is difficult when money is a factor in how well we can care for those whose lives depend on us, and so anything (like insurance) that will help us provide the care without bankrupting us, well, it’s a good thing. And if we can squeeze in some pampering or a 19 year old car, instead of the 20 year old car, well, even better! (My truck is 13 years old, and I hope it lasts another 13!)

    I mentioned trusts and wills in a post back in december, and have intended to follow up on it, but haven’t quite yet. That’s something you might want to think about as well – if something happens to you, do you have something set up so your cats will have someone to take care of them? I have an unofficial agreement with a friend, and I mean to make it more official, because you never know what will happen. There are so many companion animals killed every year for being homeless (10 million annually just in this country) and I know a percentage of those numbers are animals whose caregiver died and left no one to take over the care.

    Even if we have no money to leave in a trust for their care, we should still set up something so that someone we trust will take charge – either of their care or of finding them new caring homes.

    Anyway, a couple articles I’d read that had sparked my thoughts on the trusts, which might help you if you were going to look into it:
    http://nymag.com/guides/bestlawyers/12276/index.html
    http://www.animallaw.info/articles/ovuswillstrusts.htm

    For me the insurance sort of ties into this. one of the things I need to look into is making sure that the insurance policy would transfer to the new care-giver without interruption. That’s something I’d want to have taken care of, at the very least – ongoing insurance coverage for my companions so that whoever would care for her after me would hopefully be helped by that.

  12. Mo June 19, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    Deb, we really are on the same wavelength. I too have the concern about my cats if something were to happen to me. Thanks for the links…last year I printed out a bunch of stuff but it’s all a bit overwhelming so I haven’t made any progress – yet again you are motivating me! I do have an agreement with my vet in that she’ll find appropriate homes for my cats, and life insurance $$ will be provided for their continuing care. She is the only person who really knows what I would want for my cats and I’m grateful she agreed to help, though I could tell she wasn’t 100% comfortable with it. I need to do something legally binding so she doesn’t get caught up in any kind of problems that may arise…I just want my cats cared for, and I don’t want to cause her any grief.

    I’ll continue to follow your blog – thank you!

  13. Mike July 12, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    There is a website: http://www.petinsurancereview.com that has recent customer reviews of US & Canadian pet insurance companies, including reviews of all the insurance companies mentioned in Parts 3 & 5 of this series.

  14. Deb July 12, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    Thanks Mike. I’ll add it onto my summary page as well.

  15. Lynn August 24, 2007 at 9:45 am

    VPI Insurance is the absolute worse insurance. I was devasted when I found out my chronic renal failure but since I have had insurance on her for her whole life I figured they would cover it. They covered only 5 percent of the costs for the entire year which was more than 10,000.I agree with the person who wrote, “I would avoid them like the plague. They offer a horrifying lack of support just when you need them the most.”

  16. Deb August 26, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    Lynn, that is awful. I really feel for you. One of the other commenters, Mo, has found that if she submits every scrap of information from the vet with her claim that she gets a lot more covered. It is hard to predict what the insurance company will do, but if they’ve only covered 5%, it does seem worth fighting if you can. Good luck. :/

  17. latoya September 6, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    Thanks I am signing up with PetAssure. My doc acepts it!

  18. Deb September 6, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Excellent latoya! Let us know how it works out once you’ve had a chance to use it!

  19. Rob September 8, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Was just searching on Pet insurance as my cat just had a major surgery that cost me about 1k and I didn’t want to have to make the decision again of paying out all the money or not 😦 so I went and signed up with VPI last week. After reading all the reviews I don’t have a very good feeling about any of this pet insurance stuff. Whats the point of having it if they are not going to pay it out. I’m considering canceling my VPI policy since I’m still in the first 10 days. Yet I saw one Vet on the internet saying how good VPI was. I do see that VPI did update their schedules and Apr of this year though which is something new from what I had been reading. Who do I believe?

  20. Rob September 8, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    Well I just canceled VPI as I really didn’t like all the bad feedback I was seeing on them. Embrace looks good but am a little afraid of how new they are. Still up in the air on the whole thing and need to research a bit more. Was thinking about asking the Vet their thoughts on good insurance when I take my cat back in to get his stitches removed in about 10 days.

  21. Deb September 8, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    Rob, I’ve heard really mixed things about VPI, and honestly I won’t go with them (when I finally get off my rear and get some insurance on my cat) because of it, and also because they seem really impersonal and I don’t feel like I’d really get much of an answer from them if I had questions. However, one of the people who has commented often on this pet insurance series I’ve done (Mo) has had VPI for many years and she’s gotten excellent payouts, but she says you have to send every scrap of info with the claim to get them to pay it out.

    She’s working on a sort of “how to” guide for making claims that I’m going to post soon, which I think will go a long way towards getting the most out of even the insurances that seem … just not all that friendly. Based on her experience, though, it makes me wonder if people aren’t getting much from VPI because of (essentially) user error. By not sending in all the supporting detail that would get VPI to pay out properly. Of course that also says something about an insurance company, that they don’t seem to be of much help, and don’t make it clear to their customers exactly what is needed, or ask for more info, to help people in that way.

    I had the same sort of worries about Embrace, about them being new, when I first started researching but the woman who started Embrace has also commented here, and has a blog going into a ton of detail about pet insurance in general. It is worth spending some time on her site to learn about insurance and how it works, and what their philosophy is at Embrace as well. I have gotten the feeling that she’s very up front about things, and is trying to be transparent. Not everything will be covered, but she tries to make it clear to potential clients from the start what is and what isn’t so that there are no unpleasant surprises.

    And I seem to remember her saying that even if Embrace itself went out of business, the insurance policy would still be valid because it is underwritten by Lloyds of London. I could be misremembering, but I seem to recall her saying something like that. You could ask her directly if you can’t find it by searching, and I bet you’d get an answer back.

    That’s interesting that VPI updated their schedules in April, because when I was doing the research and looked at their actual scheduls they were about five years old. I’ll have to go back and look, I guess! They were certainly due for an update!

    Good luck, and if you end up with specific questions in your research, post a question and I’ll do what I can to help answer it!

  22. Rob September 8, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    Deb,
    Thanks for the reply, After seeing all the negative feedback on here and at the review sites I didn’t see it as a wise choice to go with VPI. It sounded like they have zero customer support and were paying what they felt like paying. I had been considering getting insurance for my cat before all this happened last week and am kind of kicking myself for not. My cat (Winston) Needed a PU surgery from crystals that blocked his urinary track. He pretty much had to be rerouted and lost all his stuff :(. Vet hospital said it wasn’t that bad of a surgery but sure seems like it to me. Winston is doing pretty good now other then his cone on his head which is driving him crazy and he constantly wants to clean and itch himself but he cant. 🙂

  23. Deb September 8, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    Rob,
    Wow, poor Winston! Blockages are so serious for the boys (and can be for the girls, but they have a bigger opening, so it doesn’t usually become life threatening for them), and are really life or death for them. I’m so glad he’s doing okay and that you got him to the vet in time! I’ve heard of the … er, stuff removal that has to happen sometimes. a friend of mine had that done for one of her cats, and he’s doing really well now. He doesn’t seem to miss it at all! Which I know is hard for a guy to imagine, but it is better than the alternative!

  24. Rob September 8, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    Deb,
    Being the bad father I am with Winston 🙂 I didn’t know how serious it was until I called the Vet after I went to work and they told me it was life threating and they wanted Winston now. He didn’t seem that bad off to me. But it all happened so fast as it had to be resolved now. Had to goto another vet as my primary one didn’t do that type of surgery. Thanks for your site as well as I think I jumped onto the insurance thing to quick. I’m kind of liking how embrace sounds at this point but I think I will take a little more time this time before I make a final decision now. 🙂

  25. Rob September 9, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Well looking at reviews and reading the embrace web page it truly feels like they are sincere about what they are doing and it also looks like they have customer support which is very important to me for something like this. I don’t want to call an insurance company and get the I don’t care attitude that I have read about other companies. So I bought a policy, Heres hoping I never have to use it but if I do I feel more comfortable that I may not have the problems that other big insurance companies seem to have.

  26. Deb September 9, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Rob, you’re not a bad dad at all for not knowing how serious it is. Most people don’t know, I don’t think, unless they have had a cat block or know someone whose cat has blocked. And that is a huge failure of the vets in providing us with vital information, because when boy cats block, it is (or can be) life or death within a matter of hours.

    I think that when we bring our cats in as babies, or newly adopted, or maybe every time we’re in there, the vets should be sending us home with info on this. It is just scary how fast it can happen!

    Anyway. I think that if you want a company that is there for you, will answer questions and be responsive, embrace is definitely a good choice. Though best case scenario would definitely be not having to make use of it! 🙂

  27. Laura September 9, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    Rob, thanks so much for choosing Embrace. We are newer than most companies but like to think we try harder and do better. We will take good care of Winston together.

  28. Rob September 10, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Laura,
    Thanks for the support of my little Family. Winston means the world to me and after a big scare last week I knew I didn’t want to make money a reason for losing him in the future. Heres to more success for your company. As it really seems like you care about what you are doing for people. 🙂

  29. Rob September 10, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Dab,
    I sure hope not, It sure was a big scare 😦 I think I handle these things worst them him, it makes me a nervous wreck. I’m still on the worried side for him. I will be much happier when he gets his cone off next Tuesday so he can go about his regular thing 🙂 Your right in that I really don’t know what is a serious warning sign to a non serious one.
    I think so too 🙂 I truly hope not having to ever use it is what happens, I cant handle any more scares like this 🙂

  30. Rob September 10, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    Now if I could only type. 😦 🙂

  31. Mo September 12, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Rob, I agree with Deb…don’t feel like a Bad Dad. My cats have had quite a few very serious health issues, and yet I still find myself scratching my head when something new comes up. My cat’s cardiologist told me he didn’t have concerns about me missing something if my cat started getting worse and that sent me into a panic – OF COURSE I could miss it! Geez, I’d better watch even more carefully now that he’s said that!! It magnified my bad-mom fear…. The changes in our little felines can be very subtle, and can easily be missed. Several of my cats have had pooping issues (too much, too soft, etc.), so when one of them would get backed up I wouldn’t notice for a long time because I was so busy being happy they weren’t having diarrhea. …and then he’d end up obstipated (completely blocked…he probably had megacolon, on top of IBD & multiple, severe allergies). He was the most amazing little guy…no matter how sick he’d be he was always sweet and loving, and so happy to be around people and loved everyone. I miss him, unspeakably lots and lots.

    Also, you’ve made a very good choice in choosing Embrace.

    Deb, that’s some great advice you gave to Rob, and I agree with your assessments. In fact you’ll see just how much when you read my how-to stuff, (written before I read your post…hmmm, we must be communicating through the feline (h)airwaves).

    Laura, I’ll be getting back to you on my Embrace experience, as I promised. Review to come here as well, I’m just pooped right now from a bunch of thinking I did on the how-to stuff. Analytical thinker and all…have to go over everything multiple times, yank at it from multiple angles, then put it all back together again. Just a heads’ up – it is P O S I T I V E . . . . THANK YOU. 😀 You’re the bomb!

  32. Laura September 12, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Mo, you are such fun! If only all pet insurance could be so 🙂

    I’m looking forward to your review. I am expecting suggestions for improvement though to keep us on our toes. You are warned!

  33. Deb September 12, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    The other thing about cats (and most animals) that can make it a real challenge to figure out when they need to go to the vet is that they tend to be very very good at hiding signs of pain and illness. Cats are notorious for this, and it is good to keep in mind, because while there are bound to be some exceptions, I think that by the they’re showing signs of distress, it is definitely time for the vet.

    Mo’s how-to stuff is posted now! It is great stuff, so definitely check it out!

  34. Mo September 13, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Laura, oh no – a challenge! You have actually posed this challenge in the past yet I’d already forgotten…keep reminding me – I know you’re serious about it. 🙂

    Deb, you are so right. I’ve had cats with advanced cancer who showed only subtle signs of not feeling well, and when one of my cat’s previously “moderate” heart disease suddenly progressed to severe heart failure, he showed no real signs that he was feeling sick.

    It’s shocking how good cats can be at hiding signs of illness. A vet once explained that cats “compensate”, and they can compensate and compensate until they just can’t do it anymore…and then when the signs become obvious they can be extremely ill. He also put it this way:

    – A human will cry and moan, laying in bed complaining, when they’re in pain or sick.
    – A dog may wimper or cry, and lay around looking sick when they’re in pain or sick.
    – A cat may act normal other than being a little less active or have a lesser appetite, even when they’re in a lot of pain and are very sick.

    Okay…so, like, how paranoid am I feeling after writing that? I’m running home to check on my cats!!
    😉

  35. Rob September 14, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Mo,
    Thanks for the kind words. Sounds like you have had a fair share of problems with your poor kitties. 😦 I believe I made the right choice on insurance after reading all the negatives on many other Pet Insurance providers. Now if only Winston would like other people other then me 🙂 But thats all that counts anyways. Hes like having an attack Dog in the house. 🙂

  36. Mo September 28, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    Rob, I had a cat like that…he was my soul mate and I still miss him very much. When workmen would come into my home they’d take a look at him and stand very still, saying, “that’s a BIG cat”, as he swished his tail and stared them down. (he wasn’t THAT big, he just seemed like it!) He terrified all the vet personnel so I’d usually need to be in the room and try to hold him during exams, etc. He was diabetic…in the days before things like AccuCheck…so actual vials of blood had to be drawn on a regular basis. I watched him nearly rip my vet’s face off one day and finally understood their fear! (he was like a sweet kitten with me!) You’re lucky to have Winston, and thanks for writing about him and making me think of my boy! 🙂

  37. Mo September 28, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Finally, here is my review of Embrace Pet Insurance. I apologize for taking so long to post this, but actually it provided time for processing of another claim which helps give a broader picture – an insurance company can’t be assessed very well unless you have consistent results over time, and every claim experience adds to that picture. (That is, unless you have a horrible experience ONCE – in that case, once may be enough! I’m happy to say that’s not the case here.)

    This review comes after a total of 4 claims filed with Embrace, all for the same condition, with visits and treatment by 3 different vets. All claims & records submitted via fax.

    I submitted my first 2 claims together in the evening and received an email first thing the following morning notifying me that my claims were received, and that I would be hearing from them within 10 business days. I waited…and waited…patiently, because after having dealt with VPI and other companies over the years I fully expected a long wait.

    Three weeks later I submitted a 3rd claim, and received a receipt-confirmation email within hours.

    After nearly a month of not hearing anything further about even my first 2 claims, I was preparing to email or call and ask about the status of my claims when I received an email notifying me that they were waiting for records from the 2 vets who’d treated my cat on these claims. I called Embrace and talked with a CSR who threw me for a moment…he interrupted me while I was explaining why I was calling…I took a breath and prepared for a potentially rude conversation, although he was interrupting me to ask how he could help me – and then he actually DID help me. He (Chris) told me exactly what I could do to assist them in processing my claims faster, which actually worked. I faxed a letter explaining the entire known history of my cat and included records from the shelter I’d adopted her from, and explained the bloodwork I’d paid the shelter to do and included those lab results.

    (Embrace was waiting for records but the 2 vets related to the claims didn’t have any further records – I’d only had my cat for three weeks before she got sick, and these were her first vet visits (aside from an introductory-vet-visit). You may notice this experience helped me provide some of the specifics in my how-to-file-claims guide. Although I’ve done this with other insurance companies with varying degrees of success, the information Embrace provided me, along with the results I got from doing this, made the process more comprehensive and effective.)

    The following business day after I submitted that information I received an email notifying me that my claims had been processed, the benefit amount I’d be receiving, the date I could expect to receive my checks, and attachments showing the benefits breakdown (Detail and Summary). Within a few days I received 2 checks with benefits paid for all 3 of my claims.

    When I submitted my 4th claim I received a receipt notification email, again within a few hours. This claim was for a 3rd vet (my regular vet is not taking new patients because she’s doing her residency in a specialty field, so it’s been a “process” getting to the right vet (whom I believe I now have)). Seven calendar days after their receipt-notification email (which tells you they’ll be in touch within 10 business days), I received an email notifying me they were awaiting records from my vet. Although I’d included a letter with my claim explaining the switch to the 3rd vet, Embrace still requested records from the vet. Actually, they requested a copy of a specific procedure, rather than “all records”. I’m not sure if this is simply their way of verifying certain procedures that are done (a $250 procedure), or if they primarily wanted proof this new vet performed the procedure. I suspect this is a regular practice for Embrace when it comes to certain procedures, because of their approach towards higher cost procedures such as MRIs and surgeries.

    5 calendar days later I received an email with notification that my claim had been processed, my benefit amount, the date I could expect to receive my check, and the 2 benefit detail and summary attachments. I expect a check to arrive in the next few days.

    Bottom line:

    None of the other half-dozen companies I’ve dealt with provide the customer service I received from Embrace. Typically, you submit your claim and you wait…and wait…and wait. You can call, but even if your claim has been processed a CSR will only reveal limited information such as, your claim was just completed and they’ll cut a check but they can’t tell you how long it will be before you receive it…you just look for it in the mail. You either receive something in the mail or you don’t, and you may have to call again. It’s all some big mystery…what’s the purpose of keeping that information from the policyholder?? One company (Pet’s Best) did, somewhat reluctantly, tell me how much benefit I’d be getting and some info if something was denied when I called, but could give me little additional information. Pet’s Best also has called me a couple of times and given me information, but only after I’ve called with problems. (I’ve had several negative experiences with Pet’s Best, so this is pretty much the best I can say about them.)

    It’s nearly impossible to accomplish much with other companies via email, which makes things difficult – on the phone you can have long wait times and uninformed or rude CSR’s, and we all know how expeditious snail-mail is…. Most of the companies have limited customer service phone hours which usually means you have to make calls while you’re at work. Considering the problematic and time-consuming issues at hand when a phone call is necessary, I doubt I’m the only one who’s always dreaded making those calls. I believe this is to the insurance companies’ advantage, and is not good customer service. Embrace uses email very efficiently, and when I’ve sent them an email they respond very quickly.

    It appears to be Embrace’s policy AND practice to provide you with information up-front (which is consistent with how they present themselves on their website), and immediately when it’s available. Who’da thunk it? Email the policyholder with all the info! My goodness, how brilliantly obvious! But it’s apparently too much work for the other companies to provide their customers with “customer service”. Or…maybe it puts them in an awkward position, because they have a practice of denying so many claims…I believe this to be the case with other companies – they don’t want to deal with claims/benefits problems, so they avoid giving out information.

    I’ve had many years of tenuous and mediocre experiences with pet insurance so this feels a little strange to say, but here it comes: Embrace has provided just what they said they would with my pet insurance coverage. They’ve paid benefits according to the coverage I purchased, and I didn’t smell a hint of them even considering trying to weasel out of paying legitimate benefits on a claim or outright denying a claim (which is commonplace and expected with the other companies I’ve used). They’ve treated me with courtesy and professionalism, and they somehow impart a sense of “caring about my cat(s)”. That last part is subjective and is probably simply a matter of handling everything above-board, which really just means they care about providing a really good product with really good service. The way they’ve handled all of my claims and all of their communications with me indicates they are committed to providing excellent service – with integrity – AND they provide the product they’ve “sold”, figuratively and literally. It is easy to understand why Laura Bennett, CEO & co-founder of Embrace, makes herself so available online…she has nothing to hide from….

    Personally, I recommend that anyone considering pet insurance should buy it…if you think a $150-$300/year premium is “a lot of money”, you’re probably a lucky person who’s never had a beloved companion get really sick, or at least not until they were in their twilight years. My poor cat who had all the serious illnesses (posted about in various places on Deb’s blog) was at the vet so much it was like a second home to him…if my bill came to under $200 on any given visit I’d question the bill because my bills were typically $300+ all the way up to thousands of dollars per visit. All it takes is one serious illness and the insurance can mean the difference between comfort or grave suffering, not to mention the life or death, of a beloved companion.

    I believe there is a LOT of interest in pet insurance out there, and I believe the majority of people don’t buy it because of the disgraceful reviews ubiquitous on the internet about the other companies…there is great fear of being ripped off and disappointment, and there’s no worse time for that to hit you than when your beloved family member is very ill. I think if someone is considering buying pet insurance but is afraid of these things, they should try Embrace. Even if you buy a lower level of coverage it’s still a big help when it’s needed.

    I’m even considering changing my big boy’s insurance to Embrace, but he has a pre-existing condition so I’ll have to chat with Laura about a few things before I make that decision. I think we just may have our first pet insurance that does what it promises, and does it with actual customer service that is knowledgeable, helpful, professional, and pleasant. I would not hesitate to buy a policy from them again (with the exception of a pre-existing condition that other current insurance covers which Embrace would not), and I would recommend them to anyone looking to buy pet insurance.

    For reference, my cat’s policy is the highest (or 2nd highest) level of coverage available. The premium varies depending on what items you choose for your plan, and I just know from experience what level of coverage I want – as high as I can get. Embrace’s online policy customization feature makes it really easy to try different combinations to find what works best for you.

    As always, Deb, I thank you for providing this blog as a forum for this kind of stuff.

  38. Mo September 28, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    I just have to add an amendment to this…I couldn’t think of an appropriate closing when I posted my review, but now here it is:

    This experience has been genuinely shocking. I never really believed any pet insurance would provide what it promised, including helping me pay my vet bills in a significant way…they had all proven to be of a similar caliber in mediocrity-at-best. It’s just sinking in, having written it down for the review, and I’m still feeling shell-shocked. 🙂

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  42. Rob October 8, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    Mo,
    I wish I could just hold Winston 🙂 They have to knock him out when he goes to the Vet or he would tear us both up. I lock him up whenever anyone comes over as he will attack. Hes like a dog in that respect. But as long as it is just Me and Him hes sweet as pie 🙂 But thats all the counts in my Book. He loves his Dad. 🙂

  43. Mo October 11, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Omigosh, Winston REALLY doesn’t like anyone else! As long as he loves his dad, like you said, that’s what counts. 🙂 I’ve always felt that any time I’m able to touch my cats (or be near them, for that matter), it’s because they’re ALLOWING me to…and I’m so grateful…because, oh, the damage they could do if they so chose! I like that about cats. Give Winston a big smooch from me (just don’t tell him it’s from me or he might not let you). 😉

  44. Rob October 22, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    Mo,
    Will do, But if only he knew where it really was coming from lol 😉

  45. Deb October 22, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Rob, that video was hilarious! And it is sooo my cat! 😀 Thanks for linking it!

  46. angry duped October 22, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    shelter care are liars and I highly urge no one to sign up. they are liars and unscrupulous.

  47. Deb October 22, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    I’ve heard not great things about them before, angry, so unfortunately it doesn’t surprise me that you had a bad experience. If you have time, would you care to share more of your story? Also, check out the guide (you can find it towards the top under pages, in the pet insurance page, the most recent post I’ve listed there) that mo compiled on how to get the most out of the insurance companies. Not sure if it could help you at this point, but you might be able to recoup some of what you expected. Sorry you had such a bad experience.

  48. Laura Bennett October 22, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    Rob, OMG that video is so my Barnes and my husband! Hilarious – meow…

  49. Mo October 23, 2007 at 12:38 am

    Angry/Duped, you are correct! I am interested as well in your experiences with them (and at some point I’ll post a review of my experience with them – I found them to be just ridiculously sneaky and dishonest). However, if you’re willing to put up a fight it is possible to get your benefits paid, and I still feel it’s a good idea to have Shelter Care for the first month after adopting (meaning until your regular insurance kicks in). Sorry for your bad experience, and I hope things get worked out

  50. Mo October 23, 2007 at 12:51 am

    HA, Rob, that’s such a great video! I think it’s my favorite video! I recently figured out why my back hurts so much most mornings…it’s because my “little” cat (about 10 pounds) takes a flying leap onto my stomach and then leaps off onto the floor. She will do this as often as she feels she “needs” to, and each time she jumps on me harder – I’ve never had a cat jump on me so hard that it strains my back! (I have a waterbed so when she jumps on me there’s no support for my back.) I’m just thankful my 20+ pound cat isn’t doing that…. 😉

    Deb, I think I emailed you this video, but maybe it went into your spam folder? I was playing it and the meows freaked out my big cat, which is pretty hard to do. 😉 I’m gonna read your other post tomorrow…it’s nearly 11pm and I’m trying to be good and go to bed shortly (at least that’s my intention..at this moment…). 🙂

  51. anne December 26, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    Hi, thanks for your info re Embrace, I am going with them. My question is what do you think of going with the higher $500 deductible vs the $200 deductible? My reason for getting insurance is hopefully to offset some horrible ER visit that may cost $$$ and that is why i am thinking the higher deductible would work and also give me lower annual premiums as I am insuring 2 dogs. Let me know what you think, I seem to be a dunce at figuring this all out. Thanks for any advice 🙂
    anne

  52. Deb December 26, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Anne, I think you are on exactly the right track for deciding which deductible to go for. The logic I use is to question whether $500 would seem like a catastrophic expense to me or not. If not (and it isn’t to me, I have enough in savings that $500 would be a bite, but not so horrible I wouldn’t have anything left), then I’d go with the higher deductible and lower premiums. If you can’t expect to easily pay $500 at any given time, the lower deductible might be more comfortable.

    I’d recommend going for the continuing coverage option as well (with Embrace you have to opt-in to that, but it isn’t much overall) in case a chronic condition develops.

  53. Laura Bennett December 27, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    Anne – thank you for considering Embrace for your pups.

    I agree with Deb’s comments. I always recommend the $500 deductible if you can afford it if you got a more extreme vet bill.

    As well, I also recommend getting as much coverage as you can above the deductible. In other words, take the $500 annual deductible, the 10% copay (the lowest we offer), and the $10,000 annual maximum (the highest available). That way, you minimize the uncertainty around your share of the bill if something extreme were to happen. Your premiums will be higher than if you took lower coverage above the deductible but your uncertainty decreases.

    Make sense?

  54. anne December 28, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Thanks for help. Not sure if I can afford the 10,000/$500/10% as its 2 dogs. I can afford the $500 deductible. Would I be better off to do the $5,000/$500/10% or the $10.000/$500/20%? Is it realistic to expect $10,000 in vet bills or more likely around $5,000? Also, one of my dogs tested low positive for Lyme disease, just curious if most anything that could happen to him now could be blamed on Lyme and therefor not covered?

  55. Laura Bennett December 28, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Anne, I can’t say what’s best for you but in the case of $5,000/$500/10% (plan 1) versus $10,000/$500/20% (plan 2), plan 1 has less variability for bills up to $5,000 than plan 2. Of course, once you hit amounts higher than $5,000 (after deductible and copay), you pay the rest. Bills above $5,000 do happen of course but you’re mostly going to be affected by the lower bills. On the other hand, if you are hit by the higher bill, you are glad you have it. You’ll have to take your own guidance on that one I’m afraid 😦

    On your Lyme Disease question, I’ll check with our Veterinary Director so I can give you a better idea of what would be excluded and how long for. I am resisting speculating on your question – it would probably all end in tears if I spouted off on it without expert guidance!

  56. Mo January 3, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Hi Anne,

    I agree with Deb & Laura when it comes to the $500 deductible. It’s the most reasonable if you can afford it (I’d save up $1000 so it’s on-hand, because you have two dogs).

    It sounds like you’re leaning towards the 10% deductible, which I’m in favor of and would advise…I don’t think it costs much more and it can make a noticeable difference in your bank account (say, $2000 bills in one year – you’d pay either $200 or $400 in copay, in addition to your $500 deductible…it ends up being worth the extra premium to go with 10% copay, even if you don’t have ANY claims for several years).

    As far as your yearly max goes, I’ve never had dogs but I’ve heard more than a few stories about vet costs and dogs’ tend to be higher than cats. To address your question specifically, I’d say $5000 is more LIKELY, but it wouldn’t be unrealistic to see $10,000 in a year. I’d calculate the difference in premium and weigh it against the possibility of you having $$ above $5000 in the event something catastrophic happened.

    I’m glad you’re going with Embrace…I do think they’re the best available, and they continue to improve in response to policyholder feedback (a very welcome habit of theirs!). I have so much faith in them, I’ve recently gotten my new kitten Embraced. 🙂

  57. Laura Bennett January 5, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Anne, I haven’t forgotten you but this is a very interesting question about Lyme Disease and I am making sure I get it right.

  58. Laura Bennett January 11, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Anne, the lyme disease question was much harder than I’d thought so after much digging, I thought the answer deserved a separate post on my blog over here http://embracepetinsurance.typepad.com/blog/2008/01/ask-laura-cover.html. Thanks for asking (and if you have a picture of your pup to put in the entry, I’d be glad to add him in.

  59. Mo January 11, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Hi Laura,

    I’m getting “NOT FOUND” for your link. 😦

  60. Laura Bennett January 11, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Aaaagh – the site linked it with the period at the end and that doesn’t work. here we go again

    http://embracepetinsurance.typepad.com/blog/2008/01/ask-laura-cover.html

    period 🙂

  61. Deb January 13, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Laura, thanks (as always) for keeping an eye on the questions here and for answering them in such an upfront manner! 🙂

  62. Grant at VPI May 27, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Hey Deb,

    I’ve been following your Pet Insurance series from the beginning, but I have never left a comment. I’m not a blogger, and I was a little hesitant to chime in earlier because I can’t promise that I’ll be able to respond to every relevant question or post.

    I work in the communications department at VPI and, among other things, I have the task of talking to our happy policyholders and gathering our policyholder testimonials. It’s a fun job, and it has given me a pretty good understanding of our policies and what exactly people value about VPI. So, I don’t want to bore you, but there are a few things I wanted to add to this post for pet owners’ considerations.

    First, we believe in our benefit schedule. The benefit schedule has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years from companies promoting a “usual, customary, and reasonable” method of claims payment. Some of these companies say that our benefit schedule allowances are outdated and reimburse much less than what is charged for actual veterinary care. These are the same companies that claim to pay a percentage of the veterinary bill, minus any deductible, up to “usual, customary and reasonable” veterinary fees. So, what are “usual, customary and reasonable” fees? For some companies, this is simply their own benefit schedule that isn’t shared with policyholders. A few other companies use AAHA’s Veterinary Fee Reference to determine “usual and customary.” This large book is expensive and difficult for the average pet owner to get a hold of. There are other issues with using the Veterinary Fee Reference to determine claims payouts (you have to consider that it’s published for veterinarians, not pet insurance actuaries), but that’s beside the point. The point is, all companies have to, and do, place limits on reimbursements. All pet insurance companies in some way utilize a “benefit schedule,” whether they choose to call it that or not.

    We choose to determine our claims reimbursements with a benefit schedule that is provided to all our policyholders and readily available on our Web site. We think this is the most transparent approach to paying claims. As was noted in previous comments, components of the benefit schedule were updated in late 2007. This actually makes it more up to date than the latest edition of the Veterinary Fee Reference guide. I think it’s also important to note that our benefit schedule functions in sync with our premiums. While some people criticized the 2002 benefit schedule, no one complained about paying 2002 premiums!

    As to complaints about low payouts, reimbursement amounts have to be considered in the context of premiums charged. It is true that the benefit schedule may limit the percentage of reimbursement for people who live in high-cost areas (New York City, Southern California, certain areas of Florida, Seattle, etc…). While some people may consider this a drawback of our policies, others appreciate the fact that they are paying roughly the same premium as the rest of the country. In other words, we don’t charge people in higher-cost areas proportionally higher premiums. For many pet owners, a low premium policy that defrays veterinary costs is more important than a high percentage of reimbursement. But that’s not to say that pet owners in even the costliest areas can and do receive significant financial help from our policies, getting back much more than they put in. Perhaps in the future, as we develop new products and gather a more complete geographic database of veterinary fees, we will design a product priced by region. As it stands right now, the bulk of our policyholders are pleased with the fairness and transparency of our benefit schedule.

    Second, comparing pet insurance companies by reviews can be misleading – it’s not “apples to apples.” After 26 years of insuring America’s pets, and more than a million policies issued (including nearly 465,000 currently in-force), it makes sense that we would have more reviews than our competitors. Our next closest competitor is less than half our size and has been in business about a quarter of the time. The majority of pet insurance companies are less than five years old and have between several hundred to several thousand policyholders. If some of these competitors stay in the market for a significant amount of time, Internet reviews (which, as you point out, are usually more negative) will balance out.

    As to the nature of our reviews, you correctly pointed out that some of our negative reviews are due to a simple misunderstanding of the policy. However, we won’t deny that others are legitimate complaints stemming from a lack of customer service, clerical errors, or other professional shortcoming. We’re not perfect and we’ve admittedly struggled to keep up with the growth we’ve experienced in the last few years. When we receive complaints, we work promptly and with care to resolve the issue. Our record and good standing with the Better Business Bureau reflect this fact.

    Finally, I wanted to point out that VPI has no marketing agreement with any review Web sites. We do not pay any pet insurance review sites to send out quotes to interested pet owners, nor have we created any “objective” review sites as a tool to promote our product. For the most credible information on pet insurance, we encourage prospective customers to ask their veterinarian.

    I think this series is a great resource for insurance-seeking pet owners and I thought these few points were important to add. I apologize for the length of this comment and that I can’t individually address each VPI-specific concern, but I would like to make myself available for any future discussion on the topic.
    Thanks, Deb!

    Grant

  63. Deb May 27, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Grant,
    Thanks for the info. Hopefully it will help answer some questions that people always have. This ends up being a confusing topic with a ton of variables.

    I’m happy to have you available for future questions/discussions, and at the same time, I’ll request, through you, that I don’t get numerous VPI representatives using my blog to make their pitch. (A recent bad experience with a different company prompts that request!) I appreciate straightforward answers to questions that people have, and I think it is great that more companies are understanding the need for responsiveness to questions in the blogosphere, but I draw the line at being a platform for marketing.

    One person per company, who will give honest straightforward answers is plenty. (In other words, you’re the rep from VPI that has posting privileges here. Let me know if you need to pass the baton at some point.)

    Thanks again for commenting. It always helps to have a more personal view of the companies!

    -Deb

  64. Mo June 25, 2008 at 2:34 am

    Hi Deb,

    Gulp, I’ve been away for a while. (I owe you an email, too…sorry I’m slow…been thinking about you and our discussions a lot.)

    Hi Grant,

    I’m a little surprised, though intrigued, by seeing you here representing VPI. Glad you posted. I have many years’ experience with VPI and I will just say a couple of things regarding your post.

    Firstly, as a person who appreciates the integrity of this blog, and the fairness and information here, I was put off by your misrepresentation of yourself from the beginning. You are quite well-versed for someone who merely ‘works in the communications department’, so I have to think you are in PR. Yes, PR is technically ‘communications’, but with that little subterfuge as your opening, not only do you reinforce the distrust that so
    many people have for VPI, but the remainder of your post therefore rings of propaganda and makes it difficult to take your, and therefore VPI’s, interest in policyholders’ concerns seriously. Propaganda is fine in it’s own time and place, but be up-front about it.

    Including a disclaimer for not being able to respond to all questions was an interesting touch, too.

    I don’t really have any complaints about VPI’s benefit schedule, because VPI does make that known and one should know what they’re buying. But why should VPI pat themselves on the back for using an outdated schedule by criticizing policyholders for “not complaining about paying 2002 premiums”? Why should we complain? That’s a ridiculous statement and is disrespectful of your policyholders. It’s up to VPI to stay up-to-date, rather than turning around and finding ways to blame your policyholders in an effort to take the spotlight off of your shortcomings. And pointing a finger at other companies’ procedures is simply in bad taste. Again, you’re reinforcing negative attitudes that VPI has earned over the years. Why not just accept that VPI needs improvement, and work hard at acheiving that goal?

    Over the years, VPI has indeed paid me thousands of dollars in claims (for which I’ve paid premiums – that’s the contract you have with policyholders; don’t ask for applause)…but misinformation from your CSRs has cost me thousands of dollars which I SHOULD have been paid for in claims. I won’t go into detail at the moment because this isn’t the place, but when I made many attempts to rectify the results of misinformation that was given to me, including speaking to several supervisors, the responses I received ranged from downright insulting & incredibly rude to…well, apathy and sarcasm. Certainly no one responded “promptly and with care” to resolve my issues.

    Why am I still carrying a policy with VPI, you may ask? Because of the deadlocking ‘pre-existing condition’ sinkhole. When I don’t have to, I don’t.

    Biting my proverbial tongue and keeping this short, I’ll close with saying that without changes, the online negative reviews will not level out…you’re using statistics while ignoring substance. It may be hard to swallow but VPI has earned those negative reviews, and your post does nothing to encourage me about near-term improvements. The online negative reviews are necessary for the consumers’ welfare – and the public has heard our complaints loudly and clearly. More and more insurance companies are becoming available to take on policyholders and treat them
    well and fairly. The internet isn’t going away any time soon, so any company that provides poor services will be slammed online…and they accept that…so they provide better services to avoid it & to stay in business. You really aren’t doing yourselves any favors by continuing to deny these facts.

    When you try to make VPI look better by criticizing or comparing with other companies, it is unprofessional, juvenile, and offensive. Enough with the fingerpointing already…it’s time for a good, long look in the mirror.

  65. Grant at VPI June 26, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Hi Mo,

    If you want to call it PR, that’s fine. The truth is, we don’t. My specific title here is corporate communications specialist and my duties include a variety of communications, some of which can be described as PR. No attempt to deceive or misrepresent. My goal in posting on this blog was not to spread propaganda, but explain our products, admit our shortcomings and let any interested readers know that we are listening to their concerns and we are working daily to improve our products and our service.

    Let me apologize for any remark that you took as insensitive or disrespectful to our policyholders. This was far from my intention. My statement of the fact that no one complained about 2002 premiums was merely a way to point out that our coverage and premiums go hand in hand. Coverage limitations are a consequence of affordable premiums. I believe we’ve made notable progress in the last year to better communicate this fact to our policyholders (breed-specific exclusion lists online, updated language on our benefit schedule, detailed online FAQs, etc…). We’ve still got a ways to go, but we think we’re on the right track. Our retention rates are on the rise and recent focus groups indicate our policyholders appreciate the changes.

    As for your policy, I would be more than happy to look into it for you. We record nearly every call, and we are diligent about investigating any formal complaints we receive about a customer care representative. If any of our customer care representatives were rude or sarcastic to you, I can make sure the appropriate supervisor at VPI is notified. You can e-mail your policy number to me at mediainfo@petinsurance.com.

    Finally, and with no desire to be argumentative, I’m having difficulty understanding how comparing VPI to other pet insurance companies is juvenile or offensive. Our competitors compare, our policyholders compare, and our potential customers compare. Since people are going to compare, I think they should have all the information to do so and the benefit of exposure to different perspectives on the industry. From my understanding, that’s what this blog is about. If Deb feels I have in any way violated the integrity or fairness of this blog, I will stop posting.

  66. Deb June 26, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Grant, you and other insurance company representatives are more than welcome to post here. I’m glad that you did, as it had unintentionally become a place with more exposure for Laura and Embrace than any other insurance. I have my own biases at this point, of course, but I would like these posts to remain a place of information where others can read and maybe learn and definitely make their own decisions as to what would work best for them and their situation.

    I appreciate that you and Laura do your best to provide honest information without making a direct marketing pitch. The sincerity is really nice to see.

    I’ve had another insurance company treat my blog as a place for them to get some free advertising, and that was most definitely NOT appreciated, nor was I comfortable with the multiple sales reps descending on my little blog post! That’s why I asked that you be the sole rep from VPI to post here (until/unless you pass the baton on).

  67. Mo June 27, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Hi Grant,

    I’m glad that you responded, and certainly do not want you to leave the blog because of the confrontational nature of my posts. In case there is any doubt, I want to make it clear that I do not speak for Deb (and I think her posts have shown that), nor necessarily anyone else.

    I appreciate you expressing your intended goals, but what I was pointing out is that the general attitude of VPI was illuminated in your post, and is the problem for so many policyholders. And I do understand what your intention was in bringing up the 2002 benefit schedule, premium rates, et al, as I am able to interpret words as written and in context. There is a pervasive attitude within VPI which has come across to the public, which I’ll try to explain to hopefully allow you to understand the intensity of my responses. I’ll touch on a few things here…some things are subtle, but there is an overall picture that develops from the various pieces.

    VPI has a conventional and conservative corporate sense of identity, the metaphorical visual consisting of the puffing out the collective chest of the corporation – out of a certainty that the public “needs” your services, which will always give you the upper hand (which was true for many years). This corporate mentality is outdated and is now falling under a magnifying glass…modern-thinking, customer-service-based, consumer-driven insurance companies have developed and they’re proving that their focus is customer service & satisfaction. This is of immeasurable value in a field such as pet insurance, which is highly personal to millions of people who love their companion animals. It is a passionate area. There is no desire for ‘Old Boy’ corporate conventionalism when we have options for something much better.

    When you include information in a post such as retention rates, focus group results, and other such sterile data, my reaction is – who cares? The answer is, VPI cares. It puts me off because that is marketing or stockholder information, and is of little or no value to a person looking for ‘real world’ information on an insurance company who will help them take care of their companion when they need it.

    You defended the things I attacked by saying ‘it wasn’t your intention’, but I have to say that your intentions do not coincide with what I saw in your post. I am sorry if I upset you, but this is about your business and how it affects many, so I must put your feelings aside. The bottom line is – how much do the policyholder and our beloved companions mean to VPI? Are we even on your radar as loving family members? Or are we each simply a number that slides neatly into statistical manipulations and hands you a nice, big pile of cash (…and should feel darned lucky that the almighty VPI is paying us on some of our claims)? The problem is that VPI cares about VPI. The policyholder is only relevant because it serves VPI.

    Four of the crucial aspects of effective communication in business are: Two questions one must ask oneself: (1) what is my motive?, and (2) who is my audience? And (3) never assume your audience is gullible or less than bright, and (4) be honest with yourself first, and then be honest with your audience.

    In regard to my complaint about your criticisms & comparisons with other companies, you responded with, “Our competitors compare, our policyholders compare, and our potential customers compare. Since people are going to compare, I think they should have all the information to do so and the benefit of exposure to different perspectives on the industry. ”

    Your policyholders and potential customers’ making comparisons is none of your business in this context – it’s not up to you to speak for them, or for other companies. You should only be speaking for VPI. We as consumers should be able to compare anywhere we wish online or offline, especially in a blog like this, without companies taking advantage of that by slipping in marketing. And, yes, companies compare…in a sales and marketing environment. If your goal is for people to “have all the information to [compare] and the benefit of exposure to different perspectives on the industry”, then simply provide straightforward information on only your company, or pay for adspace.

    You said your goal in posting was to “explain our products, admit our shortcomings and let any interested readers know that we are listening to their concerns and we are working daily to improve our products and our service”.

    Your brief reference to VPI’s shortcomings was in the form of attributing them to struggling to keep up with your company’s growth. It’s a sly way of talking out of both sides of your mouth, especially since VPI has been the leader in pet insurance for many years and really should be capable of handling growth that occurs over a period of several years.

    And if VPI is NOT able to provide good service due to it’s growth over the last few years as you said, how is that reassuring or desirable to existing or potential policyholders?

    You went through comparisons as examples of how VPI is better than the competition, and you referenced statistics and focus group results to back up your claims of how well VPI is doing. If VPI is doing so well and is so much better than the competition, why are you bothering to change or improve your products or services?

    If you’re making improvements, as you said you are, is that because you see the public wants what the other companies are offering? If so, why criticize them when you’re apparently trying to change to be more like them? And if not, then why ARE you making improvements, and why bother referring to other companies at all?

    There is a breakdown in logic in what you’re saying.

    Maybe I’m just bleary-eyed from all the reading, but I don’t see you “making it a point to let people know you’re listening to their concerns, [or that] you’re working to improve your products and service”, as you said. I saw you defending VPI, often emphasizing your defense by being critical of other companies’ practices, and even by blaming the policyholders (as in the case of the 2002 rates).

    I’d like to see something genuine. Honesty with a side of humble pie, and then a helpful and positive post. For example, what are you working on changing, why do you find the changes necessary, and how are you going about effecting the changes? What will the policyholder gain? When can we expect to see the changes? What can VPI offer that’s better than what other companies offer? You could consider going the extra mile and welcoming the public to take advantage of your expertise, or your access to those with expertise in a given area, and your ability to get the answers they need. That would entail following-through on concerns, and no half-way attempts or making people jump through hoops for simple assistance.

    To back up any information or promises you may choose to provide, committing to making yourself available would go a long way towards showing genuine interest in existing and future policyholders’ needs, rather than including a disclaimer as an ‘out’, as you did in your first post. We don’t know why you may or may not respond to a question here and there, and that raises suspicion and causes frustration and distrust. It would have been better if you had not mentioned responses to questions at all.

    Regarding your offer to “look into” my policy concern (two policies had problems, actually), I don’t want to clog up Deb’s blog so I’ll try to keep it short. What exactly can you do for me? Offering to notify “the appropriate supervisor” doesn’t help me – I’ve spent a lot of time and talked to quite a few people, including several supervisors. You mentioned helping with rude CSR’s – those experiences can’t be obliterated. When I asked supervisors what I should do in the future when I had a question and wanted CORRECT information, provided politely, they told me to ask for them when I called. So that’s what I did…on several occasions…and invariably, they were not available when I’d call. So it served as merely a temporary appeasement with no results.

    When I asked for phone recordings to be pulled, I received a terse notification that ‘the phone call was pulled and the customer was told such-and-such’. I was shocked that I wasn’t contacted to participate in the review of the call at the time it was pulled – I had no opportunity to review the call with anyone, nor to confirm they had the correct call, or that they even did indeed pull the call. I finally spoke with someone in the CEO’s office, and I was told that nothing could be done, my only possibility for action being filing a complaint with my state insurance board. In all fairness, your department may not even be aware of the pitiful level of customer service at VPI.

    Grant, just so you know, I’ve been a defender of VPI in the past. It did well by me for quite a while, especially when little else was available (I think some of my posts throughout this blog will show that). In the past year or two, worlds collided, where I was totally burned by CSRs with incorrect information on a crucial subject, and at the same time better companies came along to meet my needs fully and without causing me any grief. I find that I really must speak up when the subject is something I believe strongly in…I believe strongly in pet insurance, and I think VPI can do better. I’m being harsh because a velvet glove leaves no imprint…I need to make a strong impression because I want all of us, including and especially our companion animals, to benefit by VPI making improvements.

    I think I’ve had my say, and will do my best to back down as you post what you wish from now on. I appreciate this opportunity for this communication with you.

  68. Grant at VPI July 2, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Hi Mo,

    My goal from the beginning has been to provide honest, straightforward answers to the questions and concerns originally brought up in this section of the post. In order to this, I believed it was necessary to explain how our products work in comparison to our competitor’s. I also thought it was important to highlight the connection between coverage and premiums, illustrating the relationship with a simple observance of the nature of some policyholder complaints. You believe that I’m inserting marketing propaganda into this blog, while avoiding corporate responsibility and reinforcing “a pervasive attitude of ‘Old Boy’ corporate conventionalism within VPI.” I think we’ll simply have to agree to disagree about that.

    That said, I admit that I am guilty of some corporate speak, mentioning “retention rates” and “focus group results.” When you hear these terms everyday, you can forget to switch gears. But looking past the company lingo, this is by no means sterile data. We regularly conduct focus groups consisting of a wide variety of pet owners. We pull together groups of people who have pet insurance, and people who don’t. We find people who have heard about pet insurance, but haven’t purchased it. We even conduct focus groups of people who have canceled their policies because they were unhappy with the company, or didn’t find the product useful. Basically, these focus groups consist of people talking, and us listening. We understand the importance of listening to our customers, and this listening is constantly motivating change. We heard people say that they wanted breed-specific exclusion lists online. We heard people say that they wanted higher reimbursements. We heard people say that they wanted “one-touch resolution,” and the ability to talk to customer service representatives who could solve their problems. We heard people say that they wanted the ability to manage their policies and track claims online. We heard people say that they wanted products that are easier to understand. We have made or are making all of these changes and as we’ve made these changes, more policyholders are renewing their policies and staying with the company (higher retention rates). I think you’d agree this aligns more with a “customer-service-based, consumer-driven” business model than profit-mongering corporate conventionalism.

    The truth is that we aren’t some cold corporate entity that turns a deaf ear to the public, and I’m not turning a deaf ear to you. I can’t change your experiences with the company, but I would like your policy information so I can identify where the breakdown in communication occurred and hopefully prevent it from happening again. If there is a lesson we can learn from your experiences, I want to make sure we learn it. Can we work together?

  69. Mo July 2, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Hi Grant,

    I’m so glad you didn’t simply ‘go away’, which many might have under the circumstances, and I’m glad that you’re letting us know what VPI is actually doing for policyholders and our companions. I love hearing that VPI is making these types of changes in response to customer input and/or action. Why didn’t I know that? Have you published something for existing policyholders, outlining changes as you’ve done here? It’s a suggestion…I’m sure I’m not the only one who is very interested in improvements being made (and continuing improvements, hopefully). Not only policy changes, but changes in attitude towards the needs of the policyholders and their companions…very important aspect, there.

    (One example being, if VPI is not a “corporate entity that turns a deaf ear to the public”, I consider that a change in attitude, and I do not think I’m alone in that. Something like this must be proven to INDIVIDUALS who deal with VPI on any given day, in any given circumstance, not just via information or statistics gleaned from ‘groups’.)

    I appreciate your ‘listening’ – in general, and in terms of my own policy debacles. I think it would be beneficial for all if VPI really did learn from my experiences, so I will be in contact at the email address you gave above, but I would like some assurance that neither I, my companion animal, nor my policy (the three as a whole), will suffer any negative consequences, especially in light of the fact that I’ve come forward in this rather aggressive manner.

    Based on your agreeing to that, I’ll be in touch in a few days after hearing from you. If there is something of value as an outcome (not necessarily specifically to me), I’ll post here for the public to have that knowledge of how VPI handles issues of this nature.

  70. Grant at VPI July 3, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Hi Mo,

    I agree. You have my guarantee and the protection of your state’s Department of Insurance. I’ll look forward to receiving your policy information and talking to you further.

  71. Mo July 4, 2008 at 5:03 am

    Thanks, Grant. I’ll gather up some information and send you what I can. I should still have notes with dates, names, and topics.

  72. Mo August 19, 2008 at 12:10 am

    I would like to follow-up on my review of Embrace from 9/28/07. At that time, I’d posted my review based on several claims for a minor condition in one of my cats, and I was happy to be able to post a glowing review.

    Vet insurance companies usually handle ‘simple’ claims fairly well, but what about larger claims (and larger claims for serious, chronic illnesses)? There can sometimes be a notable difference between the two, and the larger claims often tell you what the company is really made of – and how you, and your companion, will be treated from that point forward. This is an especially important point because it can become impossible to switch to another insurer due to the the dreaded pre-existing-condition factor. Once your animal has developed a condition, any other company may deem it pre-existing and refuse to cover it (or your existing company may refuse to raise your ‘level of coverage’), so it is extremely important to have good coverage with a good company as early as possible. It affects insurability for the lifetime of your companion (which we all hope is very, very long!).

    (I’ve had one company even consider “vomiting and diarrhea” a pre-existing condition, which they could then use to deny a vast array of claims (and they tried)…as anyone with cats knows, vomiting and/or diarrhea often doesn’t mean your cat is even ‘sick’. I’ve had another company consider a previous URI (a simple cold) a pre-existing condition, and they excluded all URI’s and eye problems for that cat…simply because his eye was tearing when he had the cold, it wasn’t even infected.)

    In May ’08 my kitten was hospitalized and in an oxygen cage for 3 days, as he was suffering from severe respiratory distress. This is quite a long time, considering that typically a steroid injection and oxygen will get a cat well enough to go home within a few hours, or at least the same day. Things were getting scary as time wore on with no improvement, and there was some question as to whether he would recover. Fortunately, on the 3rd day he was improved enough to come home.

    It turns out that my kitten has severe asthma, and had developed opportunistic pneumonia/bronchitis. Asthma is as serious in cats as it is in humans, and requires lifelong medication…when it’s severe, it can require quite a lot of medication (and some of it is very costly).

    We have an excellent vet and my kitten was well cared-for by him, his staff, and the emergency clinic we used for nighttime-care. I am happy to say that he and his needs were also well cared-for by Embrace. I’ve submitted quite a few claims for my kitten’s asthma treatment and medication, and the claims have all been processed within a few days, always with pleasant and professional communication, and checks were received about a week later. I’ve emailed any questions I’ve had, and Embrace has responded with answers quickly and comprehensively (and very pleasantly).

    Embrace has made vet insurance basically worry-free for me during this otherwise panic-filled time, as I’ve been trying to monitor my kitten’s status and provide him with what he needs. They’ve freed up that space in my head that would otherwise be taken up by stress and worry over fighting with insurance, and it’s allowed me to channel my focus and energy into taking care of my kitten’s needs. This is priceless to me. Severe asthma is extremely scary until it’s well controlled, so having that freedom from insurance stress has meant a lot. My kitten was diagnosed one morning when I woke up to find him unconscious from lack of oxygen, and it took 5-10 minutes to get him to regain consciousness…this can happen quickly in severely asthmatic cats – they may show almost no signs of illness, and may then suddenly be close to dying.

    I want to point out two things to take into consideration:

    (1) I have two cats insured with Embrace, and they are on one policy. This means that policy renewal time comes at the end of the year I bought my *initial* policy. Embrace’s deductible is much better than other companies’ in that it’s a per-year deductible rather than a per-incident deductible, so you only pay one deductible per policy term, per animal. But keep in mind that renewal time is not a year from the time you add subsequent individual animals to the policy. I hadn’t thought of that in my kitten’s case because I just adopted him in December, so I paid my deductible in May, and then had to pay another in July because I insured my first cat last July – which means my policy for both cats renews every July.

    The policy term affects item (2) below as well.

    Embrace is not the only company who has one policy for all animals (might be species specific, but I think it’s per policyholder), so you just have to pay attention (unlike me!).

    (2) ‘Continuing care’ coverage is a limited benefit amount in ensuing policy terms (years).

    For instance, I have a $10,000/year maximum per cat, but for chronic conditions which carry over into ensuing years (‘continuing care’), my benefit is only $2500/year for that particular condition for each year after the first year it developed.

    Most chronic conditions won’t run over $2500/year, but some do, including the fact that some medications are very expensive and can eat up that $2500 on their own. (You can consider Canadian/overseas pharmacies if you find yourself in this situation, but be sure to carefully check them out, especially the medication they dispense, and confirm with insurance they will cover it.)

    Also, for example, had my kitten’s hospitalization begun on the last day of his policy term, only that one day would have been covered in that policy term; the remainder of the costs, beginning on day two of his hospitalization, would fall under ‘continuing care’ coverage and benefits would be limited to only $2500 for the rest of the policy term year, because the illness/treatment had begun during the first policy term year. If that had happened, I probably would’ve run out of benefits well before the end of this policy term year.

    (Laura may correct me here – perhaps when it comes to acute illness/hospitalization, they would apply all costs with that treatment to the first year; one hospitalization may not be split like this.)

    This continuing care $2500 limitation is the only aspect of the coverage that concerns me. However, I’m well outside the norm, in that kitties in need of health care seem to seek me out (or at least that’s what people keep telling me), and one of my cats went through $2500 in care in a couple of months…and he did this fairly often. (Hopefully my current cats don’t take to doing this!) Most people won’t have any problem with this limitation, though.

    When all is said and done, I honestly am at a loss for words about how to express the value of what Embrace provides…they pay claims benefits as they promise, and they consistently have the best customer service, not just of any vet/pet insurance company, but of *ANY* company I have ever dealt with. I’ve never felt secure that any vet insurance would genuinely help me to take care of my cats when they needed it, but I’m now finding myself feeling pretty secure with Embrace. They are helping me care for the health and welfare of my beloved companions, and they do it with integrity and genuine care in providing excellent customer service. This is the company we would’ve all dreamed up if we were able to create our own insurance company. I can’t say enough about them, and I recommend them to anyone who mentions vet/pet insurance. And I’ve learned that when asked, my vet clinic quietly but clearly recommends Embrace to clients as they diplomatically hand them three brochures from three companies.

  73. lopn October 23, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Hello,
    I am trying to decide about purchasing insurance on my two new kittens (one of which is now sleeping on my arm making it difficult to type, so my apologies for any typos). However, we just came from the vet to check out a possible UTI when the Dr said she noticed a heart slight murmur and wants to check it again in a month. I am now concerned that pretty much anything significant will not be covered because this was notice prior to purchasing a policy. I am most interested in Embrace and would value any thoughts that anyone but especially Laura may have on the subject. Am I too late to purchase and should just save my premiums towards vet bills or consider that discount vet option someone mentioned earlier?
    Thank you in advance for any help.

  74. Deb October 23, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    lopn,
    One thing that I have learned is that even if your cat or dog has ONE thing wrong that won’t be covered by insurance, it is more than worth it to get insurance anyway, for anything else that might go wrong. I’ve got some friends who have learned this the hard way.

    So I’d say that you are not too late to purchase the pet insurance, but do keep in mind that if your kitten does have a heart murmur, that and associated problems will be considered pre-existing conditions. Hopefully Laura will hop in and give you some more specific information, with regards to that, in terms of what might be considered an associated problem and what would or wouldn’t be covered down the road.

    The discount vet option is something you can do in addition to insurance, but not all that many vets are covered. I think it is more important to get a good vet than it is to get a good discount, but I know sometimes the discount is necessary to be able to bring our companions to the vet at all – that’s something you’ll have to decide, based on your finances. And maybe you’re lucky, and your favorite vet is part of the network…in which case I’d say to sign up regardless, because that will give you discounts on routine vet exams, which insurance doesn’t generally cover (though some companies, not embrace, do have that option).

    There is also a program called “care credit” which let’s you finance big vet bills, so that you can get things done even if you don’t the cash on hand. Again, that’s something in addition to insurance, but it could be helpful for a big bill on something (like your kitten’s heart murmur) that isn’t covered by the insurance.

    Good luck with your decision! If Laura doesn’t chime in in the next few days, I’ll ping her, though she does seem to know when people comment here with questions!

  75. Laura October 23, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    lopn, how awesome to have two such sweeties! I’d have mine on my lap now but Lily is sleeping with the girls (my two legged versions) and Barnes is way to big – he’s on the bed right now watching me.

    Thank you for considering Embrace. Deb is correct that the heart murmur and associated conditions in the one kitten would not be covered by any pet insurance; however, other conditions would be covered as long as there are no signs of anything now or before the waiting period ends. That’s why you might want to get pet insurance sooner than later – you don’t want to wait until something has happened to be covered (because that would be one more condition that’s not covered.)

    And Deb’s right, don’t think that’s the only thing your cat will ever get – cat’s don’t have nine lives for nothing 🙂

    Cats are less expensive to insure than dogs. With Embrace, you could get good coverage with a high deductible for both kittens for as low as $30 a month (that’s with a $500 annual deductible, assuming they aren’t spayed/neutered yet – you’d get another 5% off if/when they are, and yet another 5% off if they are microchipped) and with a bit more coverage at $44 a month for both ($200 annual deductible). The nice thing is that you can choose the level of premium and coverage you are comfortable with – it’s up to you.

    Hope that helps…

    Tickles to both cats. A heart murmur can be serious but also might not be.

  76. lopn October 24, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Thank you both (Deb and Laura) for the information it was VERY helpful. Since July I fostered a family of Bengal cats who came from a HUGE puppy mill rescue in TN (700 dogs alone). The mommy and female kitten were adopted together by a local vet and I kept the two boy kittens (Charlie & Jasper). I already had an 11 yr old silver tabby (Zoe – who is gradually coming around to the boys). Both of the boys have been neutered and microchipped so we are good there.

    I do understand what you mean about other things coming up. I knew nothing about pet insurance 11 yrs ago when I adopted Zoe and when she was 9 she started having seizures and other weird things. After a WEEK in the hospital with an internal med specialist they were able to diagnose her with Hypoparathyroidism. This is apparently VERY rare for a cat that never had thyroid surgery (only 6 cats in the country not counting Zoe). She is fine now and just on regular meds to keep her calcium regulated but it was a VERY VERY VERY expensive experience. I am very grateful that I was able to pay it and hope that may always be the case, but one never knows how circumstances can change. No one could have anticipated this for her and from what I understand pure breeds can be more prone to health issues and so I think it would be wise for me to insure them both.

    Based on the positive reviews here and elsewhere as well as what appear to be very reasonable rates, I think I will be purchasing policies for my boys with Embrace.

    Thank you again Deb for taking the time to put all this together. There is not much out there to help people but finding this blog made the whole process much easier.

    Thank you Laura for your thoughtful response. I appreciate it very much.

    Fingers crossed that my little boy grows out of his murmur and that it doesn’t stem from anything too serious!

  77. lopn October 24, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Oops… as I rambled on about my little family, I forgot that I had a follow-up question for Laura. Is it possible to know what kinds of things would be considered related to the murmur? The heart is a pretty core to everything organ so I could see, depending on their policies, how an insurer could stretch “related” issues to the maximum definition or on the other end of the spectrum have a fairly limited definition. I understand that without yet knowing the underlying diagnosis you cannot speak absolutely but if you have any examples or information about what things would be considered related to a murmur that would be very helpful.
    Thanks again!

  78. Laura October 24, 2008 at 11:24 am

    lopn, good question and I will follow up on it with a detailed answer on Monday. Our cardiac specialist will be available then so I can give you an accurate answer, not just off-the-top thoughts from a laywoman.

  79. Deb October 24, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Laura, thanks as always for popping in to answer questions! 🙂

    lopn, glad my info has been helpful! It is likely getting outdated by now, I should really go back and relook at some of the topics. Still, a lot of it will always be relevant, even if the details are a moving target. Good luck with your kittens, and if you remember, do stop back in and let us know what the final word is on whether there is a heart murmur.

  80. Laura October 27, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    lopn, so here’s the scoop on conditions related to a heart murmur in a cat. This is a general description of what would likely be excluded as related to the murmur:
    – treatment for any heart conditions such as cardiomyopathy
    – treatment for any adverse conditions resulting from drugs used to treat the murmur or other heart conditions
    – treatment for a saddle thrombus (here’s a link to an article on my blog about what a saddle thrombus is and how it is related to heart murmurs but i can’t seem to link to it – just google Saddle Thrombus and look for the Embrace Pet Insurance Blog entry in the 4th or 5th spot down)
    – treatment for fluid around the lungs
    – general lethargy/aneroxia

    As always, each case it different (other possible conditions present, etc.) but these were the general conditions you would expect to be excluded.

    You can certainly email me at lb@embracepetinsurance.com if you want us to specifically review your case.

  81. lopn October 27, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Thank you both so much for your guidance. I really appreciate it.

  82. AKC pet insurance November 19, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks for once again showing both sides of the coin. It’s really great seeing that some of the insurance companies have posters here that aren’t just acting as corporate shills. Your companies should be very proud of how you are handling yourselves.

    I have a few friends that are currently using one of the VPI plans and seem happy with their coverage so far.

  83. AKC pet insurance November 19, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Thanks Laura for the info on the heart murmur. One of my little guys was just diagnosed with a leaky valve, so I’ve been trying to find out what will and won’t be covered.

  84. Dianne Thompson January 22, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I would not recommend VPI to anyone. I wish I had known about the experiences others were having with VPI before I took a policy with them almost ten years ago for my dog. I insured my Labrador with them when she was two years old. I got the Superior Plan and added the cancer coverage rider because my goal was to insure against catastrophic incidences. For nine years, my dog was never sick, so I never had any claims to file, but last year, my dog who is now twelve years old, became sick with severe diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, liver enzymes were elevated and then four months later, gross swelling in one of her legs that had a bleeding abscess. Long story short: I filed the first claim in the amount of $590 and I received a check for $94.50.! I was livid. I contacted the company and they reprocessed the claim and sent me an additional $223.20. That’s where the somewhat positive experience ends. The last claim I filed was for the gross swelling in one of her legs that had a bleeding abscess which the doctor diagnosed as a deep infection that had abscessed. My total costs to treat this was $1, 065.10. The prescription medication alone was $500. I received a check from VPI for $302.40 – 28% of what I had to spend. The allowances on their Benefit Schedule are not even close to what the actual veterinary services costs. My dog’s leg is fine now, but dealing with VPI and their ineffective customer service has left a bad taste in my mouth. I paid my premiums every month for nine years and I get reimbursed 28% of my expenses! What a scam! If I had put all of the money I’ve paid in premiums to VPI into a savings account, I would have been able to cover the cost of these claims and still have a couple of thousand dollars left. When you read the impressive testimonials on their website you would believe that for most claims you would received upwards of 73% reimbursement. The reality is, those testimonials probably represent a very, very small percentage of the types of claims that VPI actually receives. For the types of claims they typically receive, the benefit allowances are a mere pittance. I have told VPI that I believe they are defrauding their policyholders and if I can find a lawyer to file a class action against I will do it. Most of the complaints I have been reading on the internet about VPI are about the same issues: benefit allowances that extremely low, poor customer service, claim denials that appear to be trumped up. I believe VPI is intentionally defrauding its policyholders. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, its probably a duck!!

  85. schachabybaby February 16, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    I may be way off the mark because I haven’t read all the posts, but based on some of the anecdotes I have read here, it seems like the insurance companies have little problem paying out for an animal that has died; even if they have a generally poor record on paying out claims.

    I wonder if this is a marketing decision? In other words, if ABC insurance company has a poor payout history, but a generous payout after a death, are they hoping to promote the company to this pet owner, who most likely will have another pet in the future, and who is emotionally vulnerable?

    So much in business is predicated on market research these days, it just made me think it might be a policy decision made to capitalize on a “feel-good” opportunity.

    • Deb February 16, 2010 at 6:05 pm

      I think it is standard for insurance companies to cover euthanasia (when medically warranted) and maybe even cremation. But the ease in getting that cost covered is less about marketing than it is about it being a straightforward basic cost. It’s a one-time cost, and it is going to be relatively straightforward in terms of whether it is medically necessary. A lot of the issues with other reimbursements gets into a) whether the procedure was necessary, b) how much the insurance company has determined to be the normalized cost of that procedure, and c) complicated by things with some insurance companies of limits within certain illnesses that might have already been met, or yearly limits or lifetime limits that might have been met.

      Personally, I would feel quite bitter towards a company that was happy to reimburse me for the death of my pet, but not for the costs associated with trying to save their life.

  86. Laura February 19, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Deb and Schachababy, most pet insurers do cover euthanasia assuming it is medically necessary but not cremation (I was going to say kind of like human health insurance but that wouldn’t sound right!)

    Deb, I think you hit the nail on the head in that claims where the pet died can be simpler so might look like they get paid more quickly than other claims.

    Laura

  87. joyce March 8, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    I’ve been following some of the chain and really appreciate everyone’s candid comments. I’ve had both my cats on pet care for a few years, and really wish I had done research before buying. I’ve not had problems with pet care, but their lifetime category limits are too low, I bought when they were only 2,500. my one cat has pre-existing, so I can’t switch her, but I did change my other cat to Pet Plan last yr. I renewed again this yr, and after receiving their terms and conditions I found out that they added new exclusions for all customers that they will not cover emergency visits unless the vet gives testimony that it was life threatening. they also are reducing reimbursement for speciality care, and can basically cancel a policy if it becomes a high risk for them. Pet Plan lures in customers by advertising 20,000 annual coverage for low premiums, but they do publish the fine print for their policy on the website. In asking why they do not post it, the response was that they do not want their competitors to view it. In doing further research, it turns out that they are underwritten by North American Property and Casualty company and their approach and terms are pretty much along the line of standard insurance terms and conditions. I’m doing a comparison and it does appear that Embrace is a good consideration, however, I do find that when signing an older animal up, the premiums are more expensive than the other companies. I also looked at Trupanion, and they seem reasonable, but they will only allow you to pay month by month, and I have seen complaints and have a concern that with a monthly contract, they can consider illness from the previous month as pre-existing. so any insight anyone can offer on either of these companies would be appreciated!

  88. Deb March 8, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    joyce – I haven’t had to file a claim on my cats at this point, so my only experience is with signing up for a policy. However a few comments up, you’ll see a detailed review by Mo regarding her experience with Embrace. She also wrote a guest post for me on how to get the most from your pet insurance company. She’s been dealing with pet insurance from a consumer standpoint for I think about 20 years. I only know her through the comments she’s left on this blog, but she is the type (like you, she learned through experience) to read all the fine print, and to really analyze things. So when she says positive things about Embrace, I tend to trust that. She’s just one person, however, so you’ll have to weigh that for yourself.

    As for Trupanion, my only experience with them is on this blog, where they attempted to spam my posts with advertisements for themselves. They added absolutely nothing to the conversation, they were just being opportunistic and trying to use my efforts at researching the issue to get cheap advertising. Based on that, I can’t imagine them as anything other than a sketchy company. But they pissed me off with their spamming, and I don’t know anything at all about them other than that, so take my opinion for what it is worth in regards to them. (They only started operating in the U.S. a few years ago, but they’ve been operating in Canada for much longer.)

    My interactions with the CEO of Embrace, Laura, have been the opposite. You’ll notice that she has commented here often, but she isn’t commenting here to advertise, she’s adding to the conversation, helping us understand more about the insurance. It definitely puts them in a more positive light for me.

    (*note: I get no money or discounts or anything of the sort from anyone for anything on this blog.)

    How much these experiences are worth when it comes to evaluating which insurance is going to give you and your cats the best coverage is something only you can decide.

    It has been a while since I’ve done any price comparisons with the different insurance companies. I think that low premiums can sometimes be a false savings. Like with Pet Plan. There are also ways to reduce the premium – I think many companies give a discount if you pay for the full year up front. Some employers have some kind of program that can give you an additional discount. Some insurances give discounts if your cat is microchipped, things like that. Also you can play with the deductible – a higher deductible will lower your premiums…as long as you have that deductible as emergency money that you can access, it might be a good solution to lower the premiums.

    One reason its sort of frustrating and exhausting to look into insurance is because there are so many variables. It’s never a straightforward comparison. In the end, we just make the best decision we can and hope for the best!

    Good luck!

  89. Laura March 9, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Joyce, sounds like you are well versed in pet insurance. It’s always good to be well-armed with information when making decisions about your pet’s coverage.

    A few observations on your comments:
    – I’m not sure I understand Petplan’s comment about not wanting competitors seeing the terms and conditions because they have to file their rates, and terms & conditions with each state (all publicly available), some of which are online so it’s not hard for any competitor to see what they have filed. It is hard to post any insurance company’s policy t&c online because there are nuances for every state but it’s doable.
    – Embrace is coming out with new product pricing in a few weeks and older generally pets fare better. Can’t guarantee your pet will have lower rates (other things are changing too) but it will be different than today.
    – while the monthly policy is odd for Trupanion (I cannot fathom the purpose of this – I’m obviously missing something. Usually, you have shorter periods so you can change premiums immediately, not wait for a year), I do not believe Trupanion resets the pre-existing conditions upon monthly renewal. I would confirm in writing with them though.

    Hope that helps.

    Laura
    Chief Embracer
    Embrace Pet Insurance

  90. Janice April 12, 2010 at 1:37 am

    Hello – I am adopting a new rescue pup this week. She is a 4 month old spayed female -mix breed/shepard & lab or maybe rottie (we think). Im concerned that a pet insurance company would charge me more for her, since we dont know her history? My other dog is covered, but we had him as a new pup & know his whole history. Also, she had a bout with Coccidiosis at the shelter & was treated with abx & is fine. From what Ive read in some reviews, now maybe ALL GI stuff will be denied b/c it can be considered a pre-existing condition becauseo f that one bout of puppy diarrhea? if so, thats crazy!Other than that 1 bout of diarrhea & being very underweight from being a stray, they say she is very healthy. Will this affect any of my rate? Thank you

  91. Deb April 12, 2010 at 4:46 am

    @Janice, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. I’m pretty sure the rates are based on species + age + breed (some have higher premiums, I think) + geographic location. A 4 month old pup doesn’t have much unknown history in any case.

    As for the Coccidosis, the only way later GI stuff could be excluded is if it was proven that there was permanent damage caused by the infection. (Which is very rare with Coccidosis.) But hopefully Laura of Embrace will pop in and give a more expert opinion.

  92. Annie October 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    The only one that the AKC Petpartners Insurance partners with is with THEMSELVES! This company has denied my family 1, 000′s of dollars in UNPAID claim inclusive of eusthanasia. I am shopping other insurance after experiencing how deplorable the customer service is, the lost claims they forever seem to misplace and the wrongful denial to claims INCLUSIVE OF EUTHANASIA when we were told it was medically necessary. I had the wellness plan – pretty comprehensive and they only pay PEANUT things – when it comes to the “true reason we have insurance” forget about the AKC since you have NOTHING at all if you are with the AKC Petpartners Insurance per our experience. You need to look for providers WITHOUT the NEVER ENDING clauses the AKC has. OTHERWISE — SELF FUND YOUR OWN POLICY. To have an AKC Policy — USELESS and HEART WRENCHING! Be certain to read the AKC catch all loop hole — PER INCIDENT, they consider EVERYTHING the same incident even when their own EOB’s indicate different diagnosis. Many OTHER insurance providers have an annual maximum WITHOUT the AKC Loop Hole which they incorrectly throw everything into and then DON’T PAY as they represent they will. STAY AWAY from the AKC for fear your experience will be as mine!

  93. Annie October 26, 2010 at 10:55 am

    OK — now the AKC have even denied on another dog that I had fully insured with them the testing for Giarda — The plan I had for her was the most comprehensive available (Welness inclusive of spay). SAVE YOUR MONEY and don’t patronize the AKC for fear your experience will be as mine.

    I have shopped other companied and I was happy to learn that MANY OTHER companies DO NOT have the AKC LOOP HOLE – and allow an annual maximum. I had superior customer service unlike something I have NEVER experienced with the AKC. The company I found most helpful and who had the best reviews (unlike the AKC Pet Insurance) is Embrace. They even gave me a medical review PROMPTLY (what a concept) so I know exactly what to expect for my pups.

    I have since cancelled my policies with the AKC and moved them to an HONORABLE insurance provider – which is something I never had with the AKC. AKC portrays they protect you with decent insurance — my experience clearly indicates they only covered THEMSELVES and did not pay numerous claims.

    For me I am taking to the State Insurance Review and reporting the AKC Pet Insurance to every agency I can.

    If you choose the AKC — be careful since they lost so many claims and then when they locate they deny and have the WORST customer service I have ever experienced.

    In fact based off my experience I would have been offer self funding the premiums I paid the AKC on FOUR policies since they did not pay the claims.

  94. Sammie December 23, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    We had the AKC Pet Insurance. It is not worth the paper the policy is written on. When we needed the insurance — they did not pay the claims, lost documentation. Time and time again it was the same chronicle. The customer service was discourteous, impolite on a good day, experienced long holds times and in the end — claims were not paid. Make inquiries on other pet insurance providers and REVIEW it before getting involved with this so called insurance provider – they only provided us with heartache. Without a doubt the AKC name means nothing when it comes to this insurance. For whatever it is worth – review petinsurancereview dot com and see for yourself what consumers experiences have been with all available insurance – the AKC – has one of the lowest ratings. With that side I was able to research and select an EXCELLENT provider that IS NOT the akc pet healthcare insurance/

  95. Brody's Mom May 24, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Words don’t even begin to express the “WOW” that accompanies having your pet covered with Embrace. My pup suffered bilateral hip dysplasia. Not only did Embrace cover the FHO (surgery), they cover the rehab as well. This allows my pup (only 8 months old) to have the best shot of recovery available to him. Rehab is very expensive — worth it clearly — but no small claim. Not only is this covered the reimbursements are so prompt – in some instances less than 72 hours – WOW. Customer Service is awesome, every representative I speak to is knowledgable and kind as well as caring – another WOW! Then get this WOW — they provide exceptional coverage. Not all providers cover the things that Embrace has. I did my homework when selecting this insurance. I had a very unfortunate experience with another pet insurance provider. So I learned a lesson the hard way with that other carrier. I know what I speak as to providers and Embrace – WOW — they are AMAZING and offer a SUPERIOR product. This provider has allowed me to get the best care for my sweet pup and believe when I say — not all insurance companies are that way — THANK YOU EMBRACE!

  96. Dennis August 19, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I highly suspect the previous post is by someone at Embrace; I’ve seen it verbatim three times now. My experience with Embrace is exactly the opposite. Horrible. Their terms and conditions are written to pretty much ensure a denial. Their take on “pre-existing conditions” are far reaching, illogical, and border on the absurd. Point in fact: my dog had a tumor that could have been cancerous. It required a biopsy. The total bill was a mere $300. Fortunately it was not cancerous, but Embrace denied the claim based on a “pre-existing condition”. That condition was minor skin allergies, which many dogs have. I can only assume that if the tumor was cancerous and she needed treatment that would have also been denied for the same reason. This isn’t “insurance”, it’s a money making scam preying on a pet owners love for their pet.

    • Deb August 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

      Have you tried disputing their denial of the claim? All insurance TOS have verbiage about pre-existing medical conditions, it’s doubtful you’ll find any other company’s to be significantly different. I haven’t looked closely in a few years, but they all protect themselves from someone insuring after the fact.

      This can be frustrating if you’re dealing with things like allergies or diabetes, which can have all kinds of side effects (between the conditions & the meds), but if it seems worth the effort, see if your vet will write up a report on why the tumor was unrelated to the skin allergy, and submit to embrace.

    • Brody's Mom August 22, 2011 at 10:06 pm

      I assure you Dennis this is my real life experience, I am simply a very satisified policy holder.. Embrace has been awesome. I had horrible coverage with the AKC, I have real life experience and comparison. It was a nightmare and the AKC denied claims (not for my pup, for my beloved dog who passed away). I have numerous claims submitted claims which Embrace paid and not only paid, paid promptly– My experience has been FABULOUS with Embrace and I thankful to have this FABULOUS provider for my pups. Embrace has been AWESOME and it is my “Real Life Experience and my pups”. I will always recommend Embrace for the fabulous provider they have “PROVEN” to be to me and my pup. Embrace offers a medical review to inform the policy holder of any “pre-existing conditions” that could be an issue. For myself, Embrace is a win, win and a SUPERIOR PROVIDER.

  97. Rebecca August 23, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Me too. My kitten broke his leg just a few weeks after buying coverage. They covered JUST as they said they would – AND very VERY promptly 🙂 Ive had other claims since as well & Im extremely satisified.

  98. Lisa September 10, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Ok, so I’m wondering why Laura hasn’t chimed in on the complaint by Dennis? Are you still posting?
    I will be getting a puppy at the end of the month and have been researching pet insurance until I’m bleary eyed!
    Any thoughts on Purina Care Pet insurance, Deb? My vet’s office told me they seem to have the least problem with them, as far as faxing in information and such.
    Embrace sounds like one I’m interested in also, but need to check it out some more.
    I think Purina Care may consider a chronic condition ‘pre-existing’ in the next renewal year. Def not what I want, what good is it to find out your pup has something like diabetes, or worse and then have it denied the next year as pre-exisisting. I could be wrong here, like I said ‘bleary-eyed’!
    Seems like a long time between post for you Deb, are you still active on this blogg? or is there newer post somewhere else?

    • Deb September 10, 2011 at 1:13 pm

      Laura might not be keeping an eye on the comments of this post anymore. I can message her to see if she wants to respond to Dennis, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect anything – it’s been a while since she has responded to questions that have popped up on these posts, and other places will be getting more traffic (I can only assume!).

      I only ever wrote these five posts about Pet Insurance. Back then, no one (aside from Laura) was writing about it, and I wrote these posts primarily to help a friend who was looking into things. I have no plans on writing more about pet insurance – there are a lot more people writing on it these days, and who know a lot more than I do!

      Here’s a link to the collection of the posts I wrote, including a guest post by someone with a long history as a pet insurance consumer, giving advice on how to get the most out of your pet insurance policy:

      https://invisiblevoices.wordpress.com/pet-insurance-post-series-research-and-links/

  99. Lynda January 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Best Pets is the worst insurance company ever. This company is a bunch of scam artists. I’m trying to spread the word about my story so that others can know and make informed decisions.

    Before I got this insurance I called around many places to make sure that my pet’s history wasn’t going to be a factor in his future coverages. My cat had UTI before but I know that some companies will still cover this in the future if he has been UTI free for over 6 months as UTI could be a recurring illness (bacterial infection). Petsbest was very nice when I called and said that most likely it will be covered but it depends on the underwriter.

    Two years after I joined my cat had a urinary blockage due to a stone. This is not UTI as I’ve asked my Vet. She replied that there is no bacterial infection (per my cat’s urine culture). Stones are formed by diet and such. My claim was completely denied. They told me that my pet’s condition happened before he joined pets best. He has never had a stone in his life prior to this.

    To put things into consideration they said that I was claiming for heart murmur which was on the bill but made up .06% of the bill. When he was as kitten there was some heart murmur but the vet ruled it out that later and there was none. Before he had his surgery for the stone, the vet did a check to make sure his heart was fine (which it was). That was part of the whole bill yet the whole claim was denied because of the heart murmur.

    I’m sorry if this is very rushed and unclear as my pet recently passed and I can’t think straight. But my advice to others…please beware of the company. I’ve been a customer for my whole pet’s life (minus the first 6 months as a kitten) and the one time I put in a claim they find every reason to deny it.

    I called to ask why my claim was denied and the woman who went from very sweet voice to very nasty voice really quick. When I didn’t pursue further she went back to her sweet voice. This company has FAKE written all over it.

    I will appeal and hopefully they will manage to do the right thing and cover the expense.

    I will appeal and hopefully they will manage to do the right thing and cover
    I will appeal and hopefully they will manage to do the right thing and cover the expense.

    • Lynda January 26, 2012 at 1:12 pm

      sorry about the multiple lines in the bottom. My computer wouldn’t let me scroll down so I thought it was being cut off. If anyone has any questions or need proof of my claim being denied I will happily send it. email me @ swtxlady@hotmail.com

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