Pet insurance 101

Howard Baker - RN BSN

Recently, a reader asked whether we thought pet health insurance was a good investment and had we used our policy. So Hobo and I decided to write our version of Pet Insurance 101 and share our experiences. Hobo the Wonder Dog is insured though Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation. I have experience with two top-rated pet insurance companies. Both companies cover illnesses and accidents but have distinct differences on benefit limits and deductibles. This article is not an endorsement of any pet insurance company and we encourage you to use the following guidelines in choosing a company best for you and your pet.

Americans are spending more than $60 billion a year on their pets. We are spending $20 billion more annually on our pets than we did a decade ago. In comparison Americans spend $33 billion a year on cosmetics and beauty products. How healthy is the pet industry in America? We spend four times the gross domestic product of Iceland on our pets in the United States. We make decisions for our pets as we do for ourselves, our children — our pets are members of the family. So why not pet insurance?

Hobo’s pet insurance 101 breaks the decision-making process into three primary categories:


Most pet insurance plans offer varying deductibles, annual, per condition, and per incident. I recommend a policy that is simple easy to understand and the least complicated. Annual deductibles made the most sense to us. Hobo has an annual deductible of $250 with a 90 percent reimbursement for all medical expenses with no yearly or lifetime benefit caps.


Most pet insurance companies have limits or caps on the coverage they offer. One of the deciding factors for me and Hobo was to choose a company having unlimited benefits and no caps. This plan made the most sense to us as I can think of nothing worse than maxing out policy benefits before a treatment is complete. Read the fine print, call their customer service center and ask questions. Pre-existing conditions are not covered by any insurance company we reviewed. Get answers about benefits before your purchase.

Coverage limits

I recommend a company without limits. I wanted a policy that would cover Hobo’s medical needs whether it’s an injury, illness, genetic condition, or an emergency—I wanted it covered. The coverage should be simple—cover everything from his nose to his tail and everything in between. I wanted coverage based on our actual invoices not on some kind of national reimbursement formula. Because Hobo the Wonder Dog frequently travels, I wanted the flexibility of using any licensed veterinarian. Coverage should be simple and easy to understand.

Pet insurance 101

Keep it simple and shop for the best coverage and best plan for you and your pet. It is not a matter of whether your pet will have an accident or become ill — it is a matter of when. The next question is how much will the illness or accident cost and how will you afford to pay. Before I had pet insurance one of my dogs injured her leg, the treatment was estimated at $3,500, and it would have taken me more than eight years to pay out $3,500 in pet insurance premiums. I do not want to make health decisions for my pets based on finances; I want my decisions to be made solely on what’s best for my pets.

Our pet insurance has met or exceeded our expectations with fast courteous service and a no hassle claims process. I wish my health insurance was as quick, simple, and as affordable as Hobo’s. Pet insurance affords me the peace of mind of knowing wherever Hobo travels and no matter what life throws our way we are prepared for the unexpected knowing we are covered from nose to tail and everything in between.

Life is better with a dog insured!

Hobo is a rescue dog out to make a difference in animal rescue and education. Please follow Hobo on Facebook at Hobo the Wonder Dog or contact him at: [email protected]

Howard Baker


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