Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. His website is www.DrPhilZeltzman.com. He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (www.WalkaHound.com).
AJ Debiasse, a technician in Stroudsburg, PA, contributed to this article.
There are many misconceptions when it comes to dog insurance. Here are 10 common myths I have heard from clients:
Myth 1: I don’t need dog insurance
One way dog guardians try to save money is by declining dog insurance. This can be a devastating mistake. Did you know that repairing a torn ACL injury can cost you over $5,000 depending on which procedure is performed and where you live? What's more, not fixing a torn ACL can be devastating. Also keep in mind your dog has two knees! Dog insurance can literally be a life-saver as long as you choose the right plan. It’s heart-breaking to think of all the dogs that have been euthanized because their owners couldn’t afford the proper treatment.
Myth 2: I have dog insurance so I won’t need any money up front
Even if you are savvy enough to purchase dog insurance, make sure that you know what your plan covers and how the plan works. Despite having coverage, you generally need to pay for veterinary expenses up front. You will then get reimbursed at a later date. Make sure you have a plan in place before you need it.
Myth 3: I’ve never used my dog insurance, so I should cancel it
It never fails. Murphy’s Law says that if you cancel your dog insurance plan after a few years of good health, an emergency will arise shortly thereafter. This actually happened to one of my clients this week, and the poor dog paid the price.
The premium you pay will pale in comparison to some of the expenses you may incur. Do yourself a favor: once you get dog insurance, stick with it.
Myth 4: As long as I have insurance I can choose the cheapest plan
Do not pick dog insurance based solely on cost. Cheap plans are cheap for a reason. Make sure you take into account the medical coverage and refund it provides.
Myth 5: Dog insurance is an investment and I should see a return
I’ve heard clients regret that they paid premiums faithfully for years, yet never benefited from a “return on investment” because their dog never got sick. This reasoning is the same as complaining that your house never burned down, although you’ve paid for fire insurance on your house for years!
Dog insurance, or any insurance for that matter, is not an investment. It’s designed to provide piece of mind so that in case of an emergency, you will survive without taking a huge financial hit.
Myth 6: I don’t need to know exactly how my policy works until something happens
Dog insurance is like any other policy: there are exclusions, pre-existing conditions and requirements. Before any insurance plan kicks in, there is a waiting period. This is the time periods you have to wait for benefits until your coverage starts.
Educate yourself before you sign up: read the literature, visit the company web site and talk to representatives over the phone so that you have a full understanding of what you’re signing up for.
Here is a classic situation I run into: As a surgeon, I commonly perform ACL surgery. Once it happens in one knee, it can happen in the other knee. I have heard of insurance companies that will decline coverage of the second knee surgery because they consider that the first knee is a “pre-existing condition.”
Myth 7: I don’t need to research companies and plans; it’s all the same
There are some really good dog insurance companies these days, and some really bad ones. I recently heard of a patient who was declined coverage for a mass near the thyroid because he already had a slipped disc in the neck. The shady company claimed that the slipped disc caused the mass to appear! This is clearly science-fiction, and the poor dog and his owner were the unfortunate victims.
Myth 8: I can believe what I read on the Internet about dog insurance
Never forget that anybody can write anything on the Internet. While researching this blog, I read a comment by a very persuasive woman who claims that the company she chose is the best because it reimburses 50% of her veterinary bills.
This is sadly, completely wrong. Some of the best plans out there are called “80-20 plans.” What this means is that you pay 20% of the bill, and the company refunds 80% of it – after your pay your deductible. Before you choose a dog insurance company, ask your veterinarian to share experiences with various companies.
Myth 9: I can “bend” the truth with my insurance company
Every once in a while, a dog guardian will try to twist a veterinarians arm to tweak the facts, or omit findings. Yet cheating an insurance company is a big deal. It’s considered fraud and can get you into serious trouble.
Myth 10: Pet insurance will cover everything
While pet insurance is great it’s important to keep in mind that it won’t necessarily cover everything. Generally, the more expensive a plan is the more it will cover. There are many, many options out there, so you will need to find the best cost/benefit compromise that suits your needs.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
8 Most Common Dog Breeds In Shelters
According to the ASPCA, approximately 3.3 million dogs enter US animal shelters every year, and around 670,000 of those will be euthanized because of the inability to find them a home.
Although many of the most popular dog breeds are found in shelters, many people don’t consider rescuing a puppy. Shelters and pounds are home to an overwhelming number of beautiful puppies, and they all deserve a home.
Many dogs end up in shelters only because they weren’t a good fit for their owner, and the breeds below are most common because of their popularity and a few “flaws.”
These are some of the most popular breeds you’re likely to find at your local shelter, and why you’re going to fall in love with them.
Is pet insurance worth it?
New pet owners who found a furry friend under the Christmas tree will soon feel the full impact on their budget.
"For many new pet owners this will be the first trip to the veterinarian for their puppy or kittens final round of vaccinations and progress check-ups," says Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia.
"For some apprentice pet owners this will be the first sneak-peak at the cost of veterinary care for their beloved new family member."
A common vaccination and check-up can cost $80 to $120. However, if your new pup or kitten does require veterinary treatment for more serious conditions the costs can reach into the thousands.
"Ten to 20 years ago many of the life-saving techniques currently offered by veterinarians around the globe, simply were not on offer," Crighton says.
The vast majority of cats and dogs facing life-threatening disease or injury back in the 80s and early 90s would have been euthanised, she says.
While improvements in veterinary medicine are saving lives, they come at a cost, making pet insurance one of the fastest growing sectors of the insurance market.
Owners can claim up to 80% of eligible vet costs, Crighton says.
"This means on a high end procedure such as a complex fracture or foreign body ingestion complication you could be reimbursed as much as $10,000 on a vet bill of $12,500."
|Top five kitten claims||Top five puppy claims|
|Diarrhoea: $100 - $600||Otitis externa (ear): $100 - $1,500|
|Conjunctivitis: $100 - $900||Conjunctivitis: $100 - $300|
|Lethargy: $350 - $2,500||Diarrhoea: $150 - $1,500|
|Foreign object: $500 - $4,500||Ear infection: $100 - $1000|
|Eye conditions: $100 - $350||Vomiting: $300 - $6000|
Top tips for pet insurance
"The most important part of pet insurance is understanding the fine print and what you are actually covered for," Crighton says,
- Read your PDS before signing up.
- Ensure you have a full understanding of what your policy covers and what is doesn't.
- What other benefits do you have? You may be covered for vaccinations, dog training or other extras.
- Ask about waiting periods, caps on certain claims and pre-existing conditions.
- First time claims will require a vet history to rule out pre-existing conditions. Have this information on hand and keep note of vet visits to fast-track claims.
Ten home insurance myths
Are you covered if you spill paint? Or if your pet scratches the furniture?
And do you have to take out insurance with your mortgage provider? There's a lot of confusion surrounding home insurance. We hope to dispel some common myths.
Understanding the finer points of home insurance can be difficult, and most of us would probably admit that we don’t take enough time to read the small print.
But it’s important to know exactly what you’re covered for – and what you’re not covered for – to avoid getting a nasty surprise when you try to make a claim. Here we sort the fact from the fiction…
Myth 1: Your home should be insured for its market value
The amount of buildings cover you need should be based on how much it would cost to rebuild your home from scratch, not the price it could sell for on the market.
The cost of rebuilding is almost always lower than the market value because you don’t have to account for the value of the land. The exception is if you live in a property where non-standard materials may be needed to rebuild it.
If you have recently had a Homebuyer's Report carried out when you bought the property, you can usually find the rebuild cost in the report. Alternatively, you can use the ABI calculator.
Myth 2: Your most valuable items are covered
Even if you have contents insurance, it doesn’t necessarily mean that every individual item will be covered. Most policies specify a maximum level of cover for a single item, for example £3,000 with our Bronze, Silver and Gold cover levels.
So, if you have something that’s worth more than the single article limit, such as an engagement ring or antique ornament, you’ll need to take out extra or specialist insurance to financially protect it.
Myth 3: You won't have to pay anything if your claim is accepted
Truth: When you take out an insurance policy, you will usually see the term ‘excess’ on the form. This is how much you’ll pay towards a claim before your insurer pays out. There are two types of excess:
- Compulsory is a fixed amount set by your insurer
- Voluntary is the amount you agree to contribute yourself. The higher it is, the lower your premium is likely to be.
Make sure you’re clear on how much excess you’d be required to pay if you need to make a claim so you’re not taken by surprise.
Myth 4: You're automatically covered for accidental damage
If you spill a pot of paint on the carpet or put your foot through the ceiling while doing DIY, you might assume you can claim for any damage caused on your home insurance.
While many policies provide a certain level of cover against accidental damage as standard, they will usually only cover things like breakages or damage to personal possessions such as musical instruments, sports equipment, watches or pushchairs. You can pay a bit extra to extend the accidental damage cover for most other things, although you may need cover under both buildings and contents policies.
Myth 5: Your belongings are covered outside of your home
If you carry valuable items around with you, such as laptops, musical instruments or sports equipment, you might find it reassuring to have them financially protected when you’re out and about.
However, you can’t assume that contents insurance will automatically cover your belongings against loss or damage outside the home. You may need to take out personal possessions cover as an optional extra. Some policies, such as John Lewis Home Insurance, do include personal possessions cover up to £3000 with a single item limit as standard.
For gadgets, such as laptops and headphones, you would need to take out our optional Gadget Cover add-on. This would cover your gadgets worth up to £2,500 anywhere in the world, and gadgets worth over £200 would need to be specified.
Myth 6: You must get insurance from your mortgage provider
Many people, particularly first-time buyers, think they have to get home insurance from their mortgage lender.
While buildings insurance is a condition of your mortgage, it’s up to you who you buy it from. Your lender may recommend its own insurance scheme, but it is often advisable to shop around for a better deal. You will have to provide details of your insurance to your lender though.
Myth 7: You won't be able to get insurance if you live in an area with a history of flooding
If your home is in an area that is prone to flooding, the cost of insuring it can be very high. However, a joint scheme by the Government and the insurance industry called Flood Re is helping to bring down premiums for many people living in high risk areas.
The scheme was created to benefit households that had previously struggled to get insurance against flooding and to make this cover more affordable.
Myth 8: You can make a claim if your dog rips the sofa to shreds
If you’re a pet owner, you’ll be all too aware how unpredictable animals can be at times. This can lead to all kinds of accidents, including breakages and damage to furniture.
While simple breakages are often covered, many insurance companies won’t pay out for damage caused by chewing, tearing, scratching or fouling by animals. They also are unlikely to provide cover for damage caused by insects and vermin.
Myth 9: You won't be able to claim for subsidence
No homeowner wants to hear they've got subsidence as it means the ground has shifted, which can cause foundations to sink. It's a problem typically caused by poor drainage, clay soil or trees absorbing water from the ground.
Most buildings insurance policies will not cover a property with a history of subsidence. However, some providers will cover you if you haven't made a claim for subsidence in the past. With Bronze, Silver or Gold Cover from John Lewis Home Insurance, you’re covered against subsidence or heave of the site on which your buildings stand, including land belonging to it, provided there is no history of this when you take out your policy.
Make sure you're aware of the excess as it may be considerably higher than the standard policy excess.