Friday, February 21, 2014

Why this vet has Pet insurance for her dog!

This vet is putting her money where her mouth is.  When we picked up our beautiful little Piper from the RSPCA at Rouse Hill,  one of the first things we did  was

This is Piper in February 2014
set up the four week free Pet Insurance that is available through our vet hospital.  For more information on what we offer to all puppies and kittens less than 12 months of age, it's all here! 

And when we knew that was set up, we then finalised it with her proper long term  Pet Insurance Plan.

You might think this is strange, that a vet would insure her own dog, especially when she has a veterinary hospital, that is capable of performing a lot of procedures and treatments.  You might also think it a waste of my money, as I wouldn't be able to claim for a lot of the things, or unlikely to claim, simply because I could do virtually most of the things she could possibly need.

I know that we live 20 minutes from my vet hospital, and that Piper is likely to be travelling in and around Dapto and Shellharbour - which meant in an emergency, she may end up at one of my colleagues' veterinary hospitals.  I knew that they would (as they should) charge me for the optimal care that she deserves,  and they couldn't (as they shouldn't) allow an account, for me to pay when I could afford it.

The decision was made simply because I took my vet hat off, and looked at Piper as a beautiful puppy belonging to a loving family.  And with that, I wanted the absolute very very best for her if anything went wrong.

"Piper" (formerly Tammy), with Tegan and Paige at Rouse Hill
What if she needed an MRI?  A CT scan? Chemotherapy? What if she needed spinal surgery or eye surgery?  What if she needed lifesaving treatment that cost $5000 or $10 000 or even more?  Could I afford that?

There isn't a general practitioner vet in Wollongong that is a specialist in chemotherapy, or has an MRI or CT scanner in their back pocket! 

As a mother of four children, in a very small business, if I had to face this financial question,  the answer would have to be -- well, its not "no" but it would pose a huge financial strain on me and my family... and I would have to make a decision on the care of Piper based on money, not on what is best for her.

And as a vet, I hate that money can stop me from doing what needs to be done to help any pet, including my own.

My family faced that dilemma in 2009, when our beloved dog Teddy was diagnosed with lymphoma. (Teddy's story)

The irony of that situation was that I was going to start pet insurance policy on him when he turned 7, and a colleague (upon hearing of it), said to me "how stupid is that".  He was actually the speaker at this pet insurance seminar. 

Out of respect for his opinion, I didn't take out pet insurance for Teddy.  Less than two months later, our dog Teddy was diagnosed with Stage 3 B cell Lymphoma, and needed expensive chemotherapy and a specialist Oncologist for his treatment.  My other alternative was to euthenase him, or trial cortisone. Chemotherapy gave Teddy an extra 18 months. Cortisone would've given him an average of 6 weeks, and at the rate he was deteriorating, no treatment meant he would be pushing up daises quickly.

Pet insurance would've covered  him, and his entire treatment would've cost me only the excess, which was $125 per year plus any other non claimable expenses (such as his special food and special additives)

As it was, all added up, his chemotherapy at Sydney plus what we did when we could, cost upwards of $15 000, spread over 9 months.  He responded poorly to the medications, there were a lot of complications, and we were thankful that we had the best Oncologist looking after him - Teddy had a quality and a quantity of life that we would not have had otherwise. 

Doing what we did, and spending what we did  - we did not regret it.  But.... when he was no longer in remission, we had no more funds to fight his horrible cancer. We gave him the best life we could, and gave him dignity in the final months of his life.  We knew we made mistakes, and we learnt from them.  One of the mistakes was not having pet insurance for him. 

If we did have pet  insurance, then we would've had the funds to go through the second round of chemotherapy for him.

Now I hope that my pet insurance  for Piper ends up being a "waste of money" and I never need it.  My insurance for my house, my car and my family's health insurance is in the same camp, if that is the case. 

But for the same reason that I have house and car insurance,  if I ever do need it.... it is peace of mind.

If Piper ever gets sick, I don't want to tell my vet that  I can't afford the bill, even if that vet is me.

 If Piper needs specialist treatment, the specialist isn't going to say "Its Ok Liz, you can pay later!, nor do they say "it's free to you because I like you".  Maybe it is pride, but I could never ask someone to give me a loan, and I would certainly never ask a professional to give me one.

That is why this vet, Dr Liz, the mad vet of Bellambi Lane, has taken out pet insurance for her newest family pet, Piper, and why she puts money aside to cover for the rest of Piper's care, as well as the care for the rest of her pet family - our pet care is part of our family budget.