Sunday, October 7, 2018

Pet Insurance- Part 2

My partner and I happen to be the proud "parents" of a long-haired Himalayan cat named Petunia.  Her legs are too short for her to jump on things.  She doesn't scratch at things for reasons unknown, and she has no desire to see the world outside of our apartment.  In fact, when we were in the moving truck, moving across the country, she just laid there.  No carrier needed.  Free as a bird, with moving truck doors wide open, she sat, making literally no move toward the door.  She's lived that street life, and has no desire to go back.  Nowadays she is perfectly content to sleep in the three places that she has claimed as her own, and leave everything well enough alone.  It's pretty amazing really.  I'm pretty sure she was designed particularly for me.  While pet ownership comes naturally to my partner, I'm another story.  I'm not a natural animal lover, and left to my own devices, would probably never have a pet.  That being said, Petunia is so mellow that it's pretty easy for me to enjoy her.

Now, we all know that pet ownership comes with some responsibility, both financially and labor-wise. While living in Portland, Oregon, we got Petunia set up on a wellness plan (kitty insurance).  We paid a monthly fee and in return could take her in for unlimited office visits, and certain services were available to her on an annual basis for no extra cost.  Other services would be discounted.  Her wellness plan worked at any of the pet hospitals in their chain.  We had wonderful experiences with the vets and the hospital in general. So much so that we reestablished a membership with the same organization when we relocated to Manhattan.  Really, we were thrilled that this group was in both places.  The Manhattan location was a little inconvenient for us, but we had saved so much money with them over the years, it was worth it...  That is....until it wasn't.

Fast forward.

My partner and I operate on a teacher schedule and try to take Petunia in for regular items roughly twice a year.  Once on winter break, and again on a summer break.  As soon as we were out of school for the year in June, I called to make an appointment for some of the things she has done on a semi-regular basis.  No one answered.  I leave a voicemail.  No one returns it.  I call again and get a human being.  They tell me that they need to check with a manager about scheduling her appointment.  Due to some of Petunia's medical history, they wanted to be sure that they could have everything in place that was necessary for her appointment.  I am informed that she will speak with a manager about our scheduling options, and call me back no later than the next day.

The next day came...and went... No phone call.  I leave another message.  Crickets chirp.  July comes, my kitty insurance fee is deducted. August comes, my kitty insurance is deducted.  Meanwhile, no appointments are scheduled or confirmed, and no phone calls are returned.

By the end of August, we had gotten a referral from a friend for a vet in the neighborhood that she and her husband really like...a vet that listens (and schedules appointments).  So, we called in and got an appointment for the very next day.  The vet is literally three blocks away which saves a ton of time!  We canceled her wellness plan and paid out of pocket for this appointment.  Now that we have determined that we want to continue using this particular vet and clinic, we will look for another type of insurance plan and evaluate whether or not it is going to save us money.  While I am still in favor of pet insurance, it became incredibly clear that the wellness plan that had worked for us for so long, was no longer serving us well.

I am a huge advocate of the "set it and forget it" strategy when it comes to saving money, but it is really important to periodically reevaluate products and services that you use regularly.  Something may have been serving you incredibly well for a very long time, but it may no longer be of value.  If that's the case, it's time to move on.

As for Petunia, she's happy with her new vet, and has returned to the very important job of holding down the couch.

For further reading, see Pet Insurance.

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