Your Dog Ate What? 2013’s Most Unusual Claims to VPI

Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) is a pet insurance company that many pet owners use to help with medical costs. Like our own medical insurance, claims are submitted by pet owners to alleviate the costs of caring for their pets. This past year VPI received some unusual claims of what pets ate out of the 6,700 foreign objects that pets ingested. All the pets made full recoveries and received reimbursements for eligible expenses.

VPI recently compiled a list of the strangest things pets have eaten in 2013, here are some of the claims, to read the rest check out their post.

2013 Most Unusual Claims

  • Loaf of bread, eight hamburger buns, and six hot dog buns
  • Eight jumbo crayons
  • Pound of raisins
  • Mint cookies, box of mac and cheese, crackers, and Pop Tarts
  • Bible
  • Shoe sole
  • Bed sheets
  • TV remote control
  • Golf ball
  • Hairbrush
  • Fire starter log
  • String of Halloween lights
  • Two points of leaves and grass

Has your pet ever eaten something odd? Let us know.

Image from Pets.WebMD

6 Tips for Buying Pet Insurance

One of the trends for pet owners that has been on the rise is preventative care. Even if these tough economic times, pet owners are budgeting to ensure that their buddies are well cared for and healthy. If you’re thinking about buying pet insurance, here’s a tips that can help you find the company that works best for you:

1: Is there benefit schedule?

A benefit schedule is the list of diagnoses and maximum amount of money that the insurance company will pay. Plans that have a % written out are easier to follow and can help you understand what your reimbursement can be of the vet bill. Some plans will not cover or reimburse some diagnoses and you may end up paying most of a bill even if you have pet insurance. Do your homework and ask a ton of questions about what is covered, what is not, and how they cover and evaluate reimbursements.

2: Check what is covered.

It should be clearly stated on the website and brochures what conditions and predispositions are covered and what are not for your pet. The last thing you want to do is make a claim and find out that it won’t be covered. Find out all you can and if your plan changes, make sure you are kept updated.

3: Does it cover genetic conditions?

If you have a purebred dog or cat, some insurance companies will not cover conditions that are associated with the breed. The options of coverage can vary depending on the genetic and hereditary illnesses that could happen as your pet ages. Make sure the plan covers your pet!

4: What are the rules for pre-existing conditions?

If your pet has an illness already and you’re looking for coverage or new coverage, are their illnesses excluded? Some plans will exclude all pre-existing conditions and other will differentiate between curable and incurable. Curable conditions may be covered.

5: Any limits on incidents?

An incident is any illness or accident that your pet may have. Some companies have per-incident limits that are lifetime limits and once they are reached you will no longer be reimbursed for any medical expenses. Not all plans are like this and some may only have limits per year or none at all. Make sure you know exactly how the plan works so you won’t be surprised when you make a claim.

6: Compare and contrast.

If you’re not sure and torn between choosing a plan, ask your friends, ask your co-workers, ask your vet, and read reviews of the different pet insurance companies. You’ll want the right plan, great customer service, and easy to understand literature. Do your homework and it’ll make your life easier.

Alternative to Pet Insurance: Animal Health Alliance

Since the downturn of the economy back in 2008, many people have had to pinch their pennies and watch their spending. This has included the amount of care given to their pets. Pet insurance can seem pricey when you’re watching your budget and have other bills that take precedence like a mortgage, bank loans, or medical bills for the rest of the family.

If the family pet seems healthy, a yearly checkup and any preventative pills that need to be given such as heartworm or flea and tick medication will usually be enough. However, what if your pet is injured and the cost of medical attention seems too high? According to some statistics, there is a rise in the number of economic-based euthanasia cases and other owners who have animals with less severe injuries opt for the necessary treatment to relieve the injury but then postpone or cannot follow up with more treatment afterwards.

Animal Health Alliance is a company that seeks to offer some economic relief to pet owners by offering employers and organizations a benefit package that covers pets. Individuals can buy a package but if your company is willing, they can offer a pet package to their employees as well as any family coverage already in effect. Think of it as a health plan for your pet.

What does AHA cover?

  • Well checks & vaccinations
  • All bacterial/viral infections
  • Skeletal & muscular disorders
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Diseases of the eyes and ears
  • Gastrointestinal diseases
  • Urinary & reproductive systems
  • Cancers
  • Accidents
  • Nervous System
  • Poisons & overdoses
  • Cardiovascular & circulatory disease

All pets are guaranteed membership, regardless of age, health, preexisting conditions, or hereditary predispositions. There are no deductibles to meet, and no annual limit on discounts. By joining AHA, members get a 25% discount on their vet bills when their pets receive care from an in-network vet. If you are ok with changing vets this can be beneficial, but if you like the vet you are using, AHA urges you to let them know as they are always looking to expand their network.

If you have been considering pet insurance or if you are an employer who wants to help promote responsible pet ownership, AHA might be another avenue to think about. To learn more about their services, visit their website.

Eat a Beehive? Sure! The 2010 Hambone Award Winner: Ellie

We know dogs explore and chew. They learn about the world using their nose, mouth, eyes, and ears. But what about when they use their mouth too much and end up eating something that is bad for them like a yo-yo or a flip flop? Some of the oddest things that dogs eat make you wonder what they were thinking like the dog that swallowed a tent peg, another dog who ate two baby bottles and a used diaper, and a case of a dog who ate a beehive.

Luckily, we do have the option of buying pet insurance which can come in handy when unexpected pet accidents occur. Veterinary Pet Inusrance Co. (VPI) is one of the more known insurance companies for pets and receives over a million claims a year from pet owners, mostly for routine exams and conditions.

However, when they started getting claims for unusual accidents they started an award known as the Hambone Award. It is named after a dog who walked into the refrigerator and was stuck in there for a while. While the dog was in there waiting for someone to open the door, a thanksgiving ham was on the shelf. The dog figured he should eat it because, well, why not? When the pup was found he was well-fed, had a touch of hypothermia, and made a full recovery. The ham, on the other hand, was no more and all that was left was a licked clean bone.

This year’s Hambone Award went to Ellie, a lab who ate a beehive. Exterminators had sprayed the hive and Ellie ate it after the bees were dead. Her owners knew what she had done when they saw her vomit and hundreds of bees came out. She recovered and is fine now. Ellie spent a week on antacids and a diet of chicken and rice. She beat out 11 other nominees for the award and has made a full recovery.

You can vote and submit your own story, if you have one, for the 2011 Hambone Award by visiting the VPI Hambone Website.

Photo Courtesy of VPI

Pet Insurance: Things to Know

Illnesses can take a huge financial toll on you. Pets receiving medical treatment for various problems can run you thousands. Some owners have pet health insurance but many have never heard of it and others can’t afford to pay it yearly on top of regular expenses, especially now.

A typical plan may cost about $300 a year but that varies depending on the coverage you want, age of your pet, and sometimes breed.

Here’s 5 things to keep in mind when choosing a pet insurance company:

1: Insurers are different. Some cover accidents but not illness. Others cover treatment for things like cancer but not accidents. It can be confusing so do your homework and ask a lot of questions.

2: Price is just a number and doesn’t mean you’re getting a bargain if you go for the cheaper insurance plan. Cheaper plans typically cover less problems.

3: You can keep your vet, the plans don’t restrict you to a certain network of vets for your pet.

4: You pay your vet first. With pet insurance you pay the vet and then submit your claim to the insurance company for reimbursement. It’s not like when you go to the doctor and you either don’t pay a cent or just a small co-pay. This is because pet insurance is considered, legally, to be a form of property insurance.

5: If your pet has a pre-existing condition or is susceptible to a certain problem, your pet insurance will not cover or may not cover it. For example, some dog breeds are prone to hip displaysia and your pet insurance may not cover any treatments or medication for that if your pet is that breed.

Is it worth it? That’s up to you and your personal boundaries and limitations of what you like to have as safety nets, “what ifs,” and peace of mind. Definitely do your homework, ask each company a ton of questions, don’t let anyone sway you, and compare the different companies to see which one feels right to you.

Pet Health Insurance. Good Idea!

woman_cat1I have to admit, as much as I love animals, when I heard that companies are now offering pet insurance, my first response was “You’ve got to be kidding me!” This was basically the same response I had when I learned there were pet psychiatrist and pet psychics…. But then I thought about it.

A few years ago I had a beloved cat named Winston. Winston had been with me for 5 years. He had moved with me from one state to another and then back again. He had also  sat on my lap, purring and butting his head against me, when I had a major health scare.

Then one day he was on my lap and I noticed he was getting a little thin. I started watching his food and realized he wasn’t eating¬† much, so I took him into the vet. 6 days later I came home with my cat. It turns out he had kidney failure but, much to the surprise of myself and my vet, had responded to treatment and was able to come home with me. By some miracle, he had recovered.

cat_vetThe invoice from my vet for saving Winstons life was close to a thousand dollars. I pondered this. On the one hand, it had cost an arm and a leg, and after all, he was just a cat. But on the other hand, he was like family to me, and because of this enormous bill I was able to have three more years with him.

I’m guessing a lot of pet owners have experienced this dilemna because now more and more pet insurance is offered for just that reason. Insurance, which covers routine visits as well as major catastrophes, costs approximately $25-$30 per month. If I had had pet insurance when I took Winston in, his six overnight stays, as well as treatment and anesthesia, would have cost’ me approximately $50.

The thing is, when the vet asked me if I wanted to put Winston to sleep or try to save him, he warned me that it could get expensive. For me though it was a no-brainer. My heart always wins…. but if I had to do it over again, I would have gotten insurance.

If you’d like to know more, read our guide to pet health insurance including plans and companies that offer insurance.