Very good Insurance

Out of 10

I have never had a problem with VPI, despite some of the comments I have seen to the contrary. I have used them for 14 years and yes, I wish they paid more on some of the 'reasonable & customary' stuff, I had done a cost/benefit analysis for my past year, for a five year old pretty healthy cat and a 16 month old lab with a few ear infections, etc. I actually saved myself $1000 that year, between the reasonable premiums I paid and what they paid for my office visits and lab work. It breaks out, I figure, that they end up paying about 40% of the claim, with a approx. $50 deductible. However, I must add, my cat developed hyperthyroid in the past six months, had to do a bunch of expensive lab work, including a cardiac work up and honestly they paid a surprising amount of the bills, taking out only one deductible on several claims, because it all fell under the same diagnosis. When I had to use them several years ago, for some tumor removal surgery for two of my older labs, they paid about 60% of the one claim and, because the other policy on the other dog had a cancer indemnity policy ( pay double if its cancer ) they paid for the whole surgery, which was about $800 ( this was about ten years ago, but it was the whole bill ) I have found their staff to always be very nice, helpful and their turn-around time on the payouts about 4-5 weeks, which is pretty reasonable and a lot better than most human insurances. I tried some other insurance that was recommended to me by the rescue where I got my one dog and I was very unhappy with it and went back to VPI. Of course, nono of these plans cover hip dysplasia, so you just have to face that....and to keep the cost down, I don't get the wellness care policy where they pay for heartworm meds and vaccines...I pay for that myself. I find that the cancer policy ( not sure they still have it, you need to call them ) a better investment.

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Posted: 01/20/2009

I agree -- my golden retriever had cancer for six of the eight years of her life (mast cell disease) and VPI covered all surgeries. I don't have a clear picture of what "reasonable and customary" fees would have been at the timee for the removal of her tumors, but since I had the specific cancer coverage that pays twice the basic coverage, the reimbursements were generally between 80-90% of the total vet bills (and the deductible was very low because each series of tests, surgeries and follow up care belonged to the same "incident"). When my dog had leptospirosis they also paid for hospitalization, IVs, etc.
Now, several years later, I still have VPI for both my young golden-collie mix, and my cat, who is 13 and has undergone a full course of chemo for lymphoma. VPI paid all claims for the chemo, though it's true that the vet's fees were higher than VPIs UCR. Still, it has been a huge help with cash-flow and in the end, for all major illnesses and surgeries, VPI has worth the cost. The cancer rider is key, though -- definitely pay the extra; it's not much and it really pays off.

VPI and other insurances may not be worth it if you have only minor incidents or illnesses, I'm not sure. But I've never had that situation: three dogs and one cat over the last 13 years and eventually, each one had major health issues. Even in the case of the kitty, for instance, who was very healthy for a long time and had no claims, VPI paid out more in a one-year period than I had paid in premiums for the previous eight years. (And during those years I also received some reimbursements for smaller incidents and illnesses.)

In the end, insurance is just that: you may not always come out ahead -- though as I've said, in the case of major medical issues, if covered, you do -- but it does lessen the amount of debt that you might suddenly have to take on, and it does offer a certain amount of peace of mind. I'm a teacher so no big salary, but I know that I would rack up thousands on credit cards if my pets were seriously ill, and could potentially get into financial difficulties, because I would never not do the treatment as long as it was humane and had a good chance of success. So the cost of the insurance and how much is reimbursed, while very important, are not the only issues to consider.