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Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts Message Board › Inquiry into Pet health insurance with VPI

Inquiry into Pet health insurance with VPI

A former member
Post #: 132
HI, everyone---I have thought for some time I would look into the premiums charged to have ins. coverage for my pets----2 Pekin ducks, a cockatiel, a budgie, 4 rabbits, and the 14 hens and rooster. I talked with VPI just now and learned---arghhhhhh!! ---the cost is $13.70 a MONTH for EACH hen, or $191.80 a month, just for the chickens. I halted the conversation with the agent right there.
Here is the note I sent to the customer service dept.--

I called to discuss enrolling my small flock of 14 hens, my 2 ducks, a cockatiel, a budgie, and 4 rabbits. The quote was $13.70/ month for EACH chicken, or $191.80/month just for my hens! By the time I get ins. coverage for the other pets, I would be paying more than for my families health insurance per month. This is ridiculous. Perhaps you do not insure backyard flocks of hens so have no idea how to assess the risk. I do not own dogs or cats. I guess this experience just solidifies the sense of misunderstanding of birds as flock members and the slant towards a simplified notion of what constitutes a "pet"

Oh, well, it seemed a good idea!
Elaine J.
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 134
Hi, Susan ... I think you had a great idea, and I'm going to check out other pet insurance companies. I've used VIP for many years for my dogs, and I've never been happy with them-- although when my corgi broke her back I couldn't have afforded the operation if it hadn't been for the insurance. Still, when all was said and done, VIP denied the claim, saying it was a "pre-existing condition". It was almost $7000 in bills on the line, so I wasn't about to let them get away with this. I sued them in small claims court and brought in the surgeon, who said it was NOT a pre-existing condition. I won -- and they appealed! Again, they lost, and it turned out that they had to pay even more because they were now responsible for the interest on the bill, and all my costs relating to the lawsuit. The guy from VIP who appeared in court, who obviously only showed up for court matters, said they should have allowed the claim from the beginning. It led me to believe that if the bills cross a certain financial threshold, they automatically deny the claim and hope the person will not want to go to the trouble of suing them. I couldn't afford to write off that big a bill -- especially since the older my dogs get, the higher the monthly payment. I pay almost $175 a month for my two dogs, so there's no way I'm going to let it go, if they deny my claim.

That's my long way of saying that it's worth my time to check out the other pet insurance companies. I can't change the companies for my two old dogs, it would be too costly and they're too old to qualify for the cancer rider I got when I first insured them. But I don't like their business practices, so I'll let you - and anyone interested - what I find out. I didn't even know VIP covers chickens!
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 245
I had insurance on my first dog with VPI, and I have to say that, for him, it was a good investment. But in general I think you're better off taking the premiums that you would pay the insurance company, and putting that same amount in the bank every month as a health savings plan for your pets. If you take good care of your pets, brush their teeth daily (if they have them) and feed premium, healthy foods, you shouldn't have to visit the vet often except for the unforeseen cancers and emergencies and such.
As for chicken health care - I really think there is value in having a good relationship with your vet, so that if you have an emergency with a hen that you value, you can get proper care. The money you spend with a good vet is well-spent, in that it helps (hopefully) with the situation at hand, but more importantly it helps educate you so you can cope with the next event, perhaps without a vet's assistance. I disagree with those who think that a chicken doesn't merit veterinary care on a cost/value basis. If we're going to be responsible for our animals (livestock or pets) we owe them the best care we can provide. But that doesn't mean we should bankrupt ourselves in the process. If you take the time to check out your local vets, and shop around, you can find doctors who will work with you and your budget. One helpful thing is to build the relationship first - visit for a well-pet checkup, do your homework and know your stuff, and ask questions. I've found a doctor locally who will see my hens, but will be conservative about procedures in the interest of keeping the budget under control.
Insurance companies are not in business to make healthcare more affordable, they are for-profit companies banking on the business model of people paying up front for health care. A little like going to Vegas - they will occasionally pay off big-time, but more often than not they're nickel-and-diming you and ultimately they come out the winners.
I am, of course, speaking of vet care - when it comes to human health care, with rapidly evolving technology and its associated costs, health insurance is an essential.
Wow - sorry to go on so long.
A former member
Post #: 133
Thanks for your replies, ladies!! Very helpful. I was unable to find any other firm offering insurance coverage for "exotics"---this is the designation used for ALL animals, except dogs and cats. VPI has a separate webpage listing the "exotics" it covers, and neither chickens or ducks are on the list. I got the quote discussion on these bird species when I called on the phone. Yes, Cynthia, the things you write are probably a better strategy, after what I learned from VPI. I do have two good 'exotics' vets, Robert Kaufman and Teresa Micco. Dr Micco has gained my greater fealty lately, as her bills have been more reasonable and she is good about answering email and phone calls on off hours. Also, she is a bird owner.
In April of this year my son's budgie went through a long sickness that came to $1200 by the time she visited Dr Kaufman several times, stayed overnight in the hospital, and cycled through several medications. Lately, she seems to be having a relapse and Dr Micco thinks she may have a tumor which depresses her immunity. I am treating with Baytril twice a day for 2 weeks, but am glad to say Dr M. has been a much easier treatment billing and Geno is doing well on the Baytril regimen. Now, I am dealing with a bumble foot encapsulation on my hen duck that has returned on one of her feet ---this is AFTER the surgery she had last year that removed the same infections on both foot pads. I will have Dr Micco look at this one.....
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