Pay Through the Nose? Or Let the Damn Dog Die?

Our Riggsie died from bloat in 2013.  A year later, we lost our Morgan to canine lymphoma.

(Read about it – and see pictures, here.)

In both cases, I suffered the guilt of wondering if I could have saved either dog by spending more money – which I didn’t have.  Would pet insurance have helped me keep them alive a little longer?

In both cases, the dog’s time had come, no matter how much money there was, whether from my own funds or from insurance.  Riggsie was too old to undergo the required surgery, and Morgan would have had only a few more months even with expensive (and stressful) chemotherapy.  I comforted myself that we had done the best we could for our pets.

Still, pet insurance was always in the back of my mind, so when Puppy Cody came along, I immediately signed up with Nationwide Insurance for their top-of-the-line plan, which plan would include not only reimbursement for things like accidents and regular canine illness, but would also cover any genetically-related diseases.  Not knowing exactly what mix Cody was, I felt it was a good idea.

At the beginning, the premium was $45 a month – a bit of a stretch for the family budget, but well worth it, I thought.  I knew we would likely (hopefully) not have any claims for awhile, but believed that when Cody got older and suffered something like Morgan’s cancer, we would be grateful for that insurance.

The $45/month became $48/month, then $50/month, then $56/month, at which point I began to doubt the wisdom of paying so much for insurance we might not ever need.  This month, I got a notice from Nationwide that the premium would jump to $78/month!

There’s never been a claim against the policy, Cody is healthy, has a fenced-in yard, is not around other dogs, etc. – so how could Nationwide justify such a jump?

Meanwhile, we learned that my husband’s employer offers a group pet insurance plan through Nationwide.  Perhaps we could get a discount?

I called Nationwide.  Yes, the group plan would be a little lower, with the added benefit that the premiums would not increase every year simply based on the dog’s age.  Even so, we were looking at $56/month.  I weighed the options and decided to go ahead with the group plan.  Veterinary records were obtained – and Nationwide rejected Cody.

Why?  Because Cody is on a prescription diet.  She has been on that diet since she was a pup, and it’s keeping her from having any health problems, and will continue to prevent any health problems.  Again, let me point out that there have never been any claims made to Nationwide on Cody’s behalf.

If we wanted to stay with Nationwide, we were stuck with a premium of $78/month, which premium was likely to increase every year based on Cody’s age.

The Nationwide sales rep commiserated with me, and suggested that we could add “riders” to the current policy (presumably to cover Cody’s “food allergy”, although that wasn’t specified) – and the cost of those riders would, of course, be added to the already high monthly premium.

At this point the phrase “money grab” came to mind.

I researched other pet insurance  companies (including the company that carries our homeowner and automobile insurance), and the rates weren’t much different than Nationwide’s.  In addition, the initial on-line quote would probably go up as soon as they heard about the so-called food allergies.

Hubby and I discussed the situation and decided we would be better off simply putting the money in the bank every month, and hopefully by the time Cody does need medical care, we’ll have a nice little nest egg.  Should have been doing that all along – approximately $3800 was already paid to Nationwide, and Nationwide never, ever had to reimburse us for a claim.

This morning, I called Nationwide and cancelled Cody’s pet insurance.

The way things are going in this country, we may soon face a similar situation with our people insurance.  Pay up? Or just die already?

It’s a sad, sad choice to have to make, whether it be for a pet or for a person.


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Images by Cordelia’s Mom/TeddyRosalieStudio

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14 Responses to Pay Through the Nose? Or Let the Damn Dog Die?

  1. I sympathise with your loss. Pet insurance can be a rip off. We had it for Barney which was originally £75 for the year which increased to £98 by the time he was three. This then went up to £10 a month which increased to £12 , then when we had to put a claim in, doubled to almost £200. We lost him in 2005, but didn’t put in another claim as the shock was too great.
    We had insurance for Maggie too at the onset. It was reasonable and we had two claims, one for £270. Then the T&C changed and previous conditions weren’t covered, plus we had to pay a 15% contribution on top of an excess of £100. We didn’t mind so much until we got the next renewal notice and they wanted £22 pm. We cancelled the policy and I put £200 to one side every year instead.
    When it comes to her welfare, I have money in reserve and we will ensure she will not suffer. Some vets do payment plans for unexpected heavy bills.
    For us humans, our NHS is free and with my recent cancer treatments, I have been very well looked after. However, for it to come down to pay up or die is a disgrace, animal or human. It’s wrong.


    • I’m glad it’s not just me. I have two credit cards with sufficient open balances to pay any kind of medical emergency Cody might face, plus I’ll be putting money aside starting right now. I thought pet insurance was a good idea, but I found out otherwise.


      • It is when they’re young, but as they get older, you pay through the nose. We probably couldn’t get insurance for Maggie now because of her age, and even if we did, it would be horrendously expensive.
        We have a credit card too for emergencies, so that is a backup plan.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dan Antion says:

    I had a friend who asked his vet if the insurance would cover issues with hips, because it’s known to affect the breed he thinks he has (rescue, you never really know). The vet said yes. They signed up but the insurance company said that the “conversation with the vet about hips” indicated a preexisting condition and they wouldn’t cover anything related to the hips.

    We have had to make the “we aren’t paying that much for another 6-months of misery” decisions in the past. Dogs don’t live forever, they seem to be alright with that. We do our best to make each day a good one while they’re with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Dan. I was a firm believer in pet insurance, but not any more. Better to just put the money in a separate emergency fund. (PS – that was a pretty slick way for your friend’s insurer to get out of paying a claim for hips – genetic conditions are supposed to be covered in the top-tier plans.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Marc Beebe says:

    This is a situation I understand. At least the vet bill side of it. Although we’ve never had specific pet insurance, every other insurance policy of any kind has been along the lines of the Monty Python Insurance sketch with Mr. Devious the agent and the “never pay policy” which clearly states that no claim made by you will be paid.
    I think you’re right to just set aside the would-be premiums in a separate account and let them build and accumulate interest. Let’s see, if we average the monthly rate of $45 & $78 we get $61.50 per month or $738 per year times a 14 year lifespan … Well over $10 thousand with interest, for one animal. I don’t think any of the dogs or cats we’ve had have ever cost us that much. Horses maybe.


  4. Tippy Gnu says:

    Sounds to me like you’ve been scammed. But one the bright side, never having to file a claim means that you’ve had a healthy, happy dog. We almost went for dental insurance for our dogs, until we discovered we’d been misquoted on the premium, and that it was actually much more expensive. We cancelled the policy within hours of signing it. I think it’s a good idea to just save your money for any possible future expense. And with luck you’ll never have to use it, and can enjoy a windfall one day.


  5. willowdot21 says:

    It’s a shit world 💜


  6. The best insurance policy is prevenative medicine which costs nothing . Dog food is horrific don’t care what kind . It’s basically by products full of chemicals that cause cancer . Think about it , people have had domesticated dogs for thousands of years what did dogs eat “before” dog food came along around the 70’s ? they ate what the people ate and they were way healthier . You give the dog as I did real chemical free food, eggs , whole grains , whole milk , turkey , fish , chicken along with “spring” water and your dog will never have a health problem as has been my experience . The last thing you want to do is take your dog to a Vet they will cause the dog more health problems if not kill the dog with their drugs , test’s , surgeries mostly unnessesary all for the love of money 1 Tim 6 : 10 [ Niv] bible . . Vets do not understand cause and effect that junkie dog food is the cause of the dogs health problems . Also , do not let a Vet touch your pet with a needle . Vaccines are nothing but a money making scam . Dog to dog rabies doesn’t exist . No need for distemper , flu etc anymore . .


    • Thanks for the comment, In Cody’s case, she cannot eat chicken or beef. When she first developed digestive problems, we put her on the chicken/rice diet, which made her diarrhea even worse. At that point, it was discovered that she cannot handle unprocessed protein; hence the prescription diet. She’s been fine ever since.


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