- Special Sections
- Public Notices
When Gracie, a rescued dog, was diagnosed with cancer in her hind leg five years ago, owners Nick Loutchaninoff and Jeff Vaughn had the option of putting her down, amputating her leg or paying about $4,000 to have the cancer treated.
They paid the money out-of-pocket and were glad they were in a financial position to do so.
Today, Gracie is well. Loutchaninoff and Vaughn, who live in Glendale, have their five rescued animals that are insurable covered by pet insurance so they never have to deal with that decision or financial hardship again.
Some area veterinarians’ offices report that the number of clients using pet insurance has increased recently, possibly because clients hope to avoid paying high unexpected medical costs in the current economy.
That doesn’t add up to a lot of Hardin County users at this point, but some veterinary offices are trying to change that.
Olivia Reed, managing veterinarian for Helmwood Veterinary Clinic, said she has had to put some animals down because their owners could not afford to treat their conditions.
Pet insurance helps owners avoid having to make those tough choices or pay extensive medical bills, she said.
Office manager Brenda Kinder said she hasn’t heard any negative comments from clients, and she has seen an increase in the number of people using the service.
“It is available, and if it’s available then why not take advantage of having insurance?” she asked. “It’s a plus.”
Premiums vary by company and the extensiveness of packages, but one leading provider lists a basic package covering accidents at $8.50 per month for cats and $11 for dogs. The premium package includes coverage for accidents, illnesses, vaccinations and flea and heartworm prevention, running at $58.50 per month for cats and $68 for dogs.
Loutchaninoff said he and Vaughn have always gotten their money back on the service because they have so many animals.
“My motto about this is that if you have pet insurance, you’re not going to think twice about taking care of your dog,” he said.
Vaughn said pet insurance helped when the couple lost a dog to a malignant tumor because it softened the financial blow of the tests and treatment that led up to the dog’s death. The emotional hardship was bad enough, he said.
“We insure things we like, like our cars,” he said. “Why not insure something we love, like our pets?”
Lori Babbitt, a veterinary assistant at Radcliff Veterinary Clinic, said it’s hard to be sure how many people have pet insurance because a typical way for claims to operate is that pet owners will pay the veterinary office for services. Then, the insurance company will reimburse the owners.
The clinic recommends that owners get pet insurance and includes pamphlets about the service in new puppy packets sent home with clients. It’s cheaper for owners to get insurance on young animals with no pre-existing conditions, so the clinic suggests getting pets covered as soon as possible, Babbitt said.
More people have been inquiring about pet insurance recently, she said.
Elizabethtown residents Sarah and Brad Luebbert have avoided paying $1,000 for tests and treatment when their Rottweiler, Boomer, was hospitalized with stomach pains. They also avoided paying most of the $2,500 bill when their now-deceased Rottweiler, Gunner, was treated for gastroenteritis.
Those and other bills add up, which is why the Luebbert family has had pet insurance for 11 years and recommends it to friends, Sarah Luebbert said.
“It’s one of those things that I think some people think sounds silly, but I wouldn’t want to be in a position where I have to say, ‘I can’t afford to take care of my dog,’” she said.
Not everyone is completely sold on pet insurance.
Chad Bailey, a veterinarian at Elizabethtown Animal Hospital, said he’s not sure that most pet owners will make back the money they put into health insurance.
“Here’s the thing about insurance companies,” he said, “Insurance companies make money.”
Bailey said pet insurance might make more sense in places where the cost of living is higher and the cost of pet treatments is higher than it is in Hardin County. Otherwise, pet owners will likely see returns on their investments only if their animals become catastrophically sick or injured, he said.
There aren’t many animal hospital clients with pet insurance, but there has been a slight increase recently, Bailey said.
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or at email@example.com .