3 On Your Side
3 On Your Side

Pet insurance problem

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Ernest Amaya's dog needs expensive surgery and claims the pet insurance company is giving him the runaround. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Ernest Amaya's dog needs expensive surgery and claims the pet insurance company is giving him the runaround. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
The pet insurance is through Union Plus. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) The pet insurance is through Union Plus. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
The mass in Abigail's throat could be fatal if it's not removed. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) The mass in Abigail's throat could be fatal if it's not removed. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

For the past three years, a dog owner has paid pet insurance premiums month after month. But now he says just when he needs the insurance, he’s having trouble using it.

“You don't want to feel like you failed your dogs or your kids,” Ernest Amaya said.

Amaya gets choked up talking about his best friend, a 122-pound Rottweiler named Abigail.

But, recently Abigail became pretty sick.

“She started having trouble swallowing and chewing and it sounded like she had phlegm,” Amaya said.

And when Amaya and his family took Abigail to their veterinarian, they got bad news.

“We took her to the doctor and he said it was a mass encroaching on her esophagus,” Amaya said. 

X-rays clearly show the mass in Abigail's throat and according to the vet, it needs to be removed or it could become fatal.

“The signs will continue to progress and worsen to the point where she'll become even more dysphasia where she won't be able to eat normally and with that, if we can't eat we won't be able to survive long term,” Dr. Adam Schure, Abigail's veterinarian, said.

And unfortunately, Abigail's surgery will be pricey.

“$5,000 to $6,000 with aftercare,” said Amaya. 

But Amaya has pet insurance for Abigail through a company called Union Plus Pets so he was relieved.

Amaya has been paying around $32 a month for the past three years, meaning he's already paid more than $1,000 in premiums and has never had to use the insurance at all, until now that is.

“Now I’m trying to use it and I'm begging them for something that I bought,” Amaya said.

According to Amaya, just when he needs Union Plus pet insurance to pay for part of Abigail's surgery, he says they come up with all kinds excuses and push-back to put him off.

“I get told to wait, wait five or seven days, if you don't hear anything call us back. Or wait five to 10 days because they're looking at it,” Amaya said. 

So, 3 On Your Side got involved and after our initial contact with Union Plus Pets, we heard back from a company called 24PetWatch and PetHealth Inc.
   
They initially told us that, "...for privacy reasons, PetHealth cannot comment on the specifics of any one pet insurance claim without the consent of the pet owner.

After 3 On Your Side got involved, the Amaya’s tell us the insurance company has told them they will authorize the surgery.  

We'll do an update once that happens.

UPDATE: The insurance has approved payment of about $3,000 and is expecting to send it directly to the surgeon. Read more here.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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