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September 30, 2016

I remain a staunch supporter of having pet insurance. Yet, the news that our monthly pet insurance premiums were going up — WAY up — bummed me out.


Pet Insurance Premium Hike

I was so excited to get our monthly premium DOWN once both of the puppy-girls had been spayed, but almost immediately our annual renewal came up this month, and BAM! our monthly premium went up 21%.

stock photo of money

I emailed to see what was up with a monster jump like that.

The official reasons are as follows:

  • Colorado has seen an increase in the number of pets with Embrace Pet Insurance policies. (That’s good for the company and, in theory, good for all policy holders since a bigger pool spreads out costs.)
  • Colorado has seen an increase in claims (presumably expensive ones) in pets with Embrace Pet Insurance policies. (That’s only good for those getting help paying for expensive veterinary bills.)
  • Colorado is a state that does NOT limit how much an insurance company can increase premiums in a given year. (That really sucks.)

Want my unofficial theory?

I think it’s because Colorado legalized recreational pot a couple years ago. I’m not against that decision at all, but it has led to some unexpected consequences, including:

  • Greatly inflated real estate prices (both for buying and renting homes)
  • Increased homelessness (both people coming here because pot is legal and people losing their homes because of the real estate boom)
  • Increased population (probably due to economic strength and other factors)
  • Increased costs for just about everything as demand went up (food, home goods, etc.)

With all the people, came all the pets, and BAM! more claims in my lovely home state.

I also think that veterinary care — in general — is more expensive here. When I talk to my pals in other places, they are often shocked at what we pay for routine care and specialty care here in Colorado. It’s weird … because there are a LOT of veterinarians here, so you’d think competition would keep costs capped at least a little, but Coloradans are also SUPER DOG CRAZY, so maybe veterinary businesses know that people will pay a premium for good care here.

Where is the Pet Insurance Cost Threshold for You?

Our monthly premium is now $91.67 combined for both Clover and Tori’s policies. 

I wouldn’t be so cranky about it, but it is NOT like my income is going up 21% per year. 2015 was pretty good, but the gains I made in 2015 only “offset” the losses I experienced in 2014. So basically, I’m at the same place money-wise that I was several years ago.

The truth is that I continue to charge the same prices for my writing clients that I have for nearly 15 years. The only way I make more is to work more.

I guarantee you that if I increased my rates 21% I would lose most / all of my clients.

Rant over.

I’m curious, though, where the threshold for monthly pet insurance premiums would be for you for one pet. What number tips your budget or your emotions enough to say (or feel) that the monthly costs are NOT worth it?

  • $50 per month?
  • $75 per month?
  • $100 per month?
  • $125 per month?
  • Less?
  • More?

Leave a comment and let me know.

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. I pay $67 a month for my middle aged lab. It’s high.
    I might look around in 2017 for something better if they raise her rates.
    I use petplan now. But may look at HealthyPaws

    1. Ooh. That is kind of expensive, Emily. I’m sorry to hear it. Our latest struggle with the girls’ insurance is that when I tried to get one of Tori’s “temporary” exclusions made more specific (so that it’s less broad an onerous) … it backfired, and the company ADDED A NEW EXCLUSION to her policy. I’m pretty much furious about it. So, she now has 1 permanent exclusion (for the treatment of car sickness) and 2 temporary (but could be come permanent) exclusions for “diarrhea” (of any cause) and “giardia” (which causes diarrhea. She will have to go until mid-March 2017 without any tummy troubles … for those 2 pooping exclusions to go away and NOT become life-long exclusions.

  2. I have an Accident Only policy on my dog. It is $13.60 Canadian per month. When I inquired about a policy to cover illness as well, the cost was $119.00 CDN per month just for one dog.
    If I could have found a plan for $50.00 per month, I would have signed up.

    Now, unfortunately, she has a chronic lung infection and even if I signed up, it would be excluded as a pre-existing condition.

    1. Oh, Wow, Sheryl. That’s expensive!!! I don’t know why I thought you had better options in Canada. I’m sorry to hear about the chronic lung infection. That doesn’t sound good at all.

  3. We just got a 2 year old Papillion/Dachshund and I decided to look into insurance for her. I checked out Embrace but didn’t purchase from them (Sorry Roxanne!) because I found a better policy for less money somewhere else. I suppose if I had to I would go as high as $50 but that’s a LOT of dog toys!. We’ve only had older and hospice dogs the last few years and we’ve managed those costs out of pocket or with care credit. Zari has the Papillion ears and the Dachshund body which worries me some health wise. We shall see!

    1. No need to apologize, Becky. I’m glad you found a policy that you like for your sweetie. I would love to see a photo. That sounds like a hilarious mix of dog breeds. Definitely keep an eye on that Dachsund-style back. Do paps have ear troubles? I didn’t know that.

      1. I doubt if they have ear troubles, I just mentioned it because it’s a VERY defining characteristic. I’m watching her back but can’t really control her actions (and don’t really want to lol) because she’s a fireball and a klutz. She runs right into things like walls! I’ll try to send you a picture through your email but that’s where I’m a klutz. I just read your Purina column. We fed Pro-Plan to one of our dogs with allergies long ago. I use Fromm now and it’s for many of the same reasons you use Purina. Purina does make our FortiFlora which we rely on for upset stomachs. I have fibromyalgia so I love that they are doing some work there. They did get a bad rep for a while but I appreciate what they are doing now. Thanks for all the info you provide. Sorry so long!

        1. Yes, Paps have great ears. They are such great little dogs. Yep, we used FortiFlora a lot with Tori when she was having so many tummy issues as a puppy. It works really well. We use another probiotic on a daily basis, but if there is a specific issue, then we use FortiFlora for a while. I’m so sorry to hear about your fibromyalgia diagnosis. WAY back in my early 30s, I was diagnosed with it, but after a few years, it went away, so I was either misdiagnosed or the acupuncture and other things I did (like quitting my job and lowering my stress) fixed it. Thanks for your comments on Purina as well. I do think a lot of people make assumptions based on old ideas.

  4. Roxanne you failed to add a problem you may not know about because you would have to work in a practice to see this. Vets are treating multiple times more animals ingesting Marijuana…foods. In my classes to vet teams this is one of the top emergency cases they see in CO. Most hospitals see 2 to 3 a WEEK! I worked in a practice for 23 years and only saw 1 or 2 foreign substance ingestions a month….as you know dogs love to eat things they shouldn’t. The other dilemma in CO to vets is the cost of real estate and the associated taxes. I have a friend who wanted to buy a hospital that had gone out of business but looking at the cost of taxes she…a very experienced business owner and vet could not make the numbers work. This was a very underserved neighborhood. So they have no vet within 17 miles. Colorado Rocky Mountain views are breathtaking but so are the costs to see them.

    1. Those are good points, Debbie. Thanks for adding them. Maybe that’s why there have been more claims in Colorado. And, yes, real estate costs / taxes and all that are hitting lots of businesses hard. In some cases, it’s making businesses go completely away (like a dog training facility that was more valuable as a pot facility / warehouse and a yarn store where the real estate was worth WAY, WAY, WAY more than the store itself).

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