2-part question:insurance and teeth

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Little ball of- energy!
Barked: Mon Dec 5, '11 8:58am PST 
Hey all,

Before we got Fezzik, we looked into getting pet insurance. I investigated a few companies, and we settled on ASPCA. We got level 3 coverage (which is supposed to cover pretty much everything you can think of) with the idea that when he's done with all his shots and neutering, etc. That we would then switch to an accident-and-illness-only plan. We had quite a few things done, and I had collected a LOT of receipts and finally got them together a couple of weeks ago and turned them in. We spent something like $700 so far on sits, medicine for giardiasis, checkups, etc. I got the reimbursement check over the weekend, and it was a whopping $5.00.

Saw a bunch of "exclusion codes" in the description of what was going on, but no explanation as to what these codes were. So I googled, and lo and behold! Discovered that the underwriters for ASPCA insurance are pretty darn shady. Something that did NOT come out while researching the company.

The most notable item was the "deductible reset." now, we knew the deductible would reset every year - all insurance does this - but what we didn't know was that when your deductible resets, you're treated as a new client. So not only does the annual deductible reset, any illnesses reported before are now considered "pre-existing conditions" and if you're within 30 days of the reset date, they won't cover it (because the account is "activated" 30 days after you first open it. Which is amusing, since they only give you 30 days to get your money back after opening the account...so you don't even get to try them out first.)

So, let's say your account renews August 1. Only July 31, you go to the vet for a regular checkup and discover he's got some curable illness. You pay for the medicine and submit your claim, but it's the end of the day, so it doesn't get recorded until August 1. in that case, ADPCa will 1) not pay the claim (because it's reset for the renewal and you have a 30-day waiting period before you can claim anything) and 2) the illness is filed as a pre-existing condition, and they will never cover it again.

Hubs and I aren't happy. So we want to switch to something more realistic. W are hearing really great things about Happy Paws insurance and Trupanion. I do hear that Trupanion has a per-incident deductible, and I think we could totally live with that, as long as stuff like illnesses, accidents and any shots or medication are covered. He's already been altered, so we don't need to be concerned with that anymore. But I definitely don't want something that will do what ASPCA apparently does, where they reset everything every year and treat you like they've never covered out before.

Anyone have any input on that? And does anyone know how hard it is to move from ASPCA to something else?

My second question is about teeth. What's the best thing to keep Fezzik's teeth clean? Are Greenies okay, or should we get a toothbrush?

Bruno CGC

Honorary Kelpie
Barked: Mon Dec 5, '11 11:44am PST 
I thought pet insurance didn't usually cover routine care like shots and neutering most of the time. The only type of insurance I would want would be coverage for accidents and major illness, (big bucks $$$$$) since I can afford the routine stuff without help anyway.

Sounds like the ASPCA plan really pulled a fast one on ya. You have my sympathy, and good luck with whatever other plan you choose. If you can afford it, maybe starting your own "pet insurance" account would be better- put the amount you spent on premiums into a savings account for future incidents instead of giving it to a penny-pinching insurance company.

How You Doin'?
Barked: Mon Dec 5, '11 1:25pm PST 
Chance has Pets Best and we've been very happy with them.
We opted not to add the Routine Care option. I did the math and the only way we would save any money would be to have her teeth cleaned every year.

Their policies are listed by state so you can see exactly what is and isn't covered.

Chance has been covered through them since 2009 and what we have gotten back from them has covered each year's premiums, the $100 per-incident deductibles and the 20% co-pays plus a portion of 2012's premium.

They even covered Chance's dental because it was done in conjunction with a broken tooth extraction. Still not sure how she broke that tooth.

To keep her teeth clean, I try to brush her teeth with PetzLife oral gel once a week. I usually remember to do it once a month.
She gets prey model raw once a week until her current bag of food runs out and then she goes 100%.
She also gets to gnaw on 1-2 ounces of skin-on raw ALASKAN salmon twice a day. The skin seems to be a very good toothbrush.
ETA: Our friend wishes she had listened to the vet we both used to go to about getting pet insurance. Her dog tore her CCL in September and had TPLO in November. She's up to $3500 in vet bills and will have more when the 8 week x-rays/specialist visit happens. And the specialist told her he gives her dog an almost 100% chance of tearing the other CCL if she doesn't make some lifestyle changes for her dog (which she will not do).
If she'd gotten the pet insurance, she'd only be out of pocket $780.
Plus she's a hypochondriac who takes her dog to the vet if her dog pants or sneezes or snorts or horks on a kibble so she'd be getting a lot of money back from insurance.
She ended up getting another credit card with an introductory 0% interest rate and is scrambling to come up with the money to be able to meet the minimum payments (while not cutting back on anything else).

Edited by author Mon Dec 5, '11 1:33pm PST



Do you even- lift?
Barked: Mon Dec 5, '11 1:43pm PST 
Mine have VPI on the recommendation of my trusted vet. I didn't get routine care either as it didn't seem worth the extra cost. I'm really only worried about a huge, unexpected expense. Your dog is still under a year old so even if you switch to another company, you should be able to get a good rate.

I've heard bad things about Greenies and choose not to use them myself. Mine get a raw diet so they eat plenty of raw, meaty bones which are great for cleaning teeth. These can be given occasionally even if your dog is kibble fed. I also brush their teeth once a day as an extra precaution.

Edited by author Mon Dec 5, '11 1:46pm PST


dog-sitter in- charge.
Barked: Mon Dec 5, '11 2:49pm PST 
I have Embrace and like it a lot. It covers things on a percentage basis, not on a procedure-specific basis.

I don't have the routine care or RX coverage, I just have the emergency care.

Ain't nothing- but a hound dog.
Barked: Mon Dec 5, '11 5:28pm PST 
We don't have insurence but we brush Kc's teeth regualy.
Scruffy (RIP)

In Loving Memory
Barked: Mon Dec 5, '11 5:48pm PST 
For teeth cleaning I give raw meaty bones a couple times a week and brush their teeth whenever I can.
Bella and- Daisy CGC

I'm a Meanie
Barked: Mon Dec 5, '11 6:14pm PST 
The only thing now, if you change companies anything your dog has had up till now is going to be excluded anyway. Any new company will count everything as preexisting.

Many companies even say something like acute diarrhea is preexisitng an make you just through a ton of hoops to prove it was an acute illness.

I just put premium money away for a rainy day instead of insurance. Both my girls were really sick their first week with me so almost nothing would be covered anyway.

Little ball of- energy!
Barked: Tue Dec 6, '11 5:46am PST 
Thanks all! I appreciate it smile

We only use Greenies every now and then - they are *expensive*. But I had one guy tell me not too long ago that they were the only way he cared for his dog's teeth. I don't think *we* can afford to do that - they're seriously $$$. I dont' know that Fezzik will let me brush his teeth, either. He lets me poke around in his mouth when I need to, but I dont' know that he would actually sit still for me long enough to let me get in a good brushing, so I'll try some of the other stuff you mentioned smile

He doesn't really have any pre-existing conditions, just the giardiasis, and I'm told that that never goes away. But according to his last 2 checkups, it has gone away, and he' had no signs of it for quite a while now.

And someone said something about getting altered/regular checkups not being covered - well they *do*. I haven't put in the claim for the alteration yet. But I did submit about $700 worth of other stuff that they are supposed to cover, and got $5 back. I'll be sending in the alteration bill this week ($450) and we'll see what happens there. But the main reason we got this insurance plan is because of the cost of alterations and shots. We went with this for the first year - on their recommendation, because they said they *would* cover all of this - with the idea of switching to a lower plan next year because he won't need it all anymore.

I'm more concerned with how they'll hit me for moving so soon. I know I *can* move - I was just wondering if anyone had any experience, and if they'll hit me with some fine for leaving early (like charge me $1000, or force me to finish paying them for the full year regardless of whether I use the insurance or not).

Thanks for all the info! I really appreciate it smile

Ball ball ball,- please throw the- ball!
Barked: Tue Dec 6, '11 3:16pm PST 
We have Healthy Paws pet insurance and have always been super happy with them. They have a yearly deductible, not per incident, and you won't get caught in a tight spot like you did with ASPCA because there are no annual renewal dates! They've always been super helpful on the phone, and I've had a great experience with them so far. I have a 4 year old beagle-lab mix and a cat - no health problems yet so far, but if the worst happens, I'll be covered!

As for the teeth brushing, I've always just used a plastic doggy toothbrush and some chicken-flavored toothpaste. Molly doesn't like it much so I don't brush her teeth as often as I should, but some is better than none!
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