Paying for their pets: Part 1

Reported by Frances Weller - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Americans spend over $10 billion every year in pet care - mostly out of pocket.

Two months ago, Echo Hackman was a healthy, vivacious two year old border collie who loved being adventurous.

One day, while his parents were downstairs preparing dinner in their three story beach house, Echo took his love for adventure three stories below - he jumped from a three story porch.

Echo landed in a bed of bushes.  While the cushion probably saved his life, but he was badly injured.

Michelle and her husband rushed Echo to the emergency clinic in Wilmington.  Echo had a broken leg that cost $2,600 to fix.  Since the couple didn't have pet insurance their only option was to pay the entire amount out of their pocket.

That's the case with most pet owners.

While pet insurance is one of the fastest growing insurance fields, there are only about a dozen pet specific insurance companies in the entire country.

The policies vary in price as do the pay-outs.

Dr. Ned Williams is a Wilmington pet surgeon who specializes in trauma operations, and the more complicated surgeries such as removing cancerous tumors.

The average cost for his surgeries? $1,500.

Even if a client has pet insurance, they have to pay up front and wait for a reimbursement.  There are no guarantees the policy will pay if your animal gets sick or injured.

In Michelle's case, it probably would have paid to have insurance, but that's not an option now.

Echo is now several weeks into the healing process.  He comes in once a week to have his bandages changed by Dr. Williams.

While he won't ever walk the same, his prognosis is good.  Michelle says for this four legged family she'd come out of pocket all over again.

If you are considering pet insurance be sure the policies cover illness, accidents, and optional routine care, and chose a plant that covers the exact cost - not an estimation.

Below is a list of pet insurance agencies in the United States:

©2009 WECT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.