Insuring better compliance: A comparison of pet insurance companies

Insuring better compliance: A comparison of pet insurance companies

Pet health insurance could be a good option for many of your veterinary clients. If you don't have favorites yet, start your research here with this in-depth comparison.
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Mar 01, 2013
By dvm360.com staff

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To help you sort through client payment methods, Veterinary Economics has spent years looking at cash, check, credit card, third-party payment plans, and in-clinic payment plans. But in the event a thoughtful client thinks about how much they would spend on that beloved pet, pet insurance for the future is an option.

Of course, up until now, we've simply advised you to do the legwork: Look at pet insurance options, decide whether you want to suggest one or two options to new and existing clients, and sort it out yourself.

Well, now we've decided to do the sorting for you. We've gathered information provided by pet insurance companies so you can compare—and share—the options with staff and clients. Every detail of the available plans isn't covered, so think of this as a great start of your work to do what's right for your clients when it comes to pet insurance.

Press the Next button below to view our survey of nine top pet insurance companies (or download as a PDF):

  • 24PetWatch
  • ASPCA Pet Health Insurance
  • Embrace
  • PetFirst
  • PetPartners
  • Petplan
  • Pets Best
  • Trupanion
  • VPI

(Note: This information was provided directly by companies themselves and has not been independently verified. Best Friends Pet Insurance and Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and PurinaCare Pet Insurance did not respond by press time.)

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Insurance brand:
24PetWatch

Types of coverage?

Accident, illness, wellness, and dental

Started?
1999

Insures where?
United States (excluding Alaska), Canada, United Kingdom

Total pets covered?
More than 210,000 pets

Customer service?
Phone, web, Monday to Saturday; fax and email

Waiting period?
Accident: day after policy set up; Illness: 14 days

Not covered?
Pre-existing conditions, preventable conditions or those for which veterinarian advised treatment and owner did not comply, elective procedures

Can pre-existing conditions be “cured”?

Yes, if the condition is not chronic and doesn’t recur or require treatment within 24 months (exceptions for musculoskeletal disorders, endocrine disease, and cardiovascular conditions)

Emergency coverage overseas?

Yes, in Canada and the United Kingdom

Do veterinarians need to fill out any part of the claim forms?

Yes

Exam fees covered?

Yes

Third-party liability?
Only in United Kingdom

Basis for premiums?
Age, breed, location, species

Reimbursement?

80%

Deductible?
$100, $250, $500, or $1,000

Annual or per-incident deductible?

Per-incident/medical condition

Changes to policy?

Policyholders may change anytime

Discounts?

Multi-pet, claims-free, loyalty, microchip registered with 24PetWatch, group discounts, clinic staff, and service dogs

Reimbursements compared to “usual and customary” fees?
No

Maximum payout per year?
$1,500, $3,000, $5,000, $10,000, or $20,000

Lifetime limit?

No

File claims?

Email, fax, in-clinic software; claim form, paid invoices, medical records

Claim reimbursement?
To policyholder in five to seven business days if by fax, mail, or email; to client in one to three business days if by in-clinic software; to veterinarian in one to three business days if by in-clinic software

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Insurance brand:
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, Hartville Pet Insurance, Petshealth Care Plan, Protect Your Bubble

Types of coverage?

Accident, illness, and wellness

Started?
1997

Insures where?
United States

Total pets covered?
More than 100,000 pets

Customer service?
Phone Monday to Saturday; email; department for veterinarians

Waiting period?
Illness: 30 days; accident and wellness: None; Hereditary and congenital: six months

Not covered?
Pre-existing conditions; elective procedures the ASPCA opposes, such as ear cropping, tail docking, and claw removal; treatment for dental disease (injuries are covered); costs for breeding or pregnancy; pet food; grooming; others as listed

Can pre-existing conditions be “cured”?

Yes, if the condition is cured and treatment-free for at least six months

Emergency coverage overseas?

Yes, in Canada; travel assistance services available globally for ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

Do veterinarians need to fill out any part of the claim forms?

No

Exam fees covered?

Yes

Third-party liability?
No

Basis for premiums?
Age, breed, location, species

Reimbursement?

70%, 80%, or 90%

Deductible?
$100, $250, or $500

Annual or per-incident deductible?

Annual

Changes to policy?

Policyholders may change at renewal or mid-year

Discounts?

Multi-pet, veterinary staff, employee benefit, and more

Reimbursements compared to “usual and customary” fees?
Yes, determined by customary charges for same procedures in same area

Maximum payout per year?
None

Lifetime limit?

Yes, for chronic, hereditary, and congenital conditions

File claims?

Email, fax, or snail mail; one-page claim form and receipts

Claim reimbursement?
To client or veterinarian within about one business week

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Insurance brand:
Embrace

Types of coverage?

Accident, illness, and wellness

Started?
2006

Insures where?
United States

Total pets covered?
Roughly 25,000

Customer service?
Phone, web Monday to Friday; representatives to help veterinarians

Waiting period?
Accident and illness: 14 days; orthopedic for dogs: 6 months, or shorter with veterinarian exam

Not covered?
Pre-existing conditions, behavioral conditions, grooming

Can pre-existing conditions be “cured”?

Yes, if the condition doesn't recur within 12 months

Emergency coverage overseas?

Yes, worldwide, as long as pet parent typically resides in the United States

Do veterinarians need to fill out any part of the claim forms?

Yes

Exam fees covered?

Yes

Third-party liability?
No

Basis for premiums?
Age, breed, gender, location, spay/neuter status, species

Reimbursement?

65%, 80%, or 90%

Deductible?
$100, $200, $500, or $1,000

Annual or per-incident deductible?

Annual

Changes to policy?

Policyholders may increase deductible at any time; other changes may require rewriting policy

Discounts?

5% for spayed/neutered pets, 5% for annual payers, 5% for veterans or military, 5% multi-pet

Reimbursements compared to “usual and customary” fees?
No

Maximum payout per year?
$5,000, $10,000, or $15,000

Lifetime limit?

$50,000

File claims?

Email, fax, or snail mail; claim form and invoice

Claim reimbursement?
Wellness claims to clients within two business days; 95% of accident and illness claims within 15 business days; veterinarians can receive payment directly if pet owner pre-approves claim and veterinarian allows

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Insurance brand:
PetFirst

Types of coverage?

Accident and illness

Started?
2004

Insures where?
United States

Total pets covered?
More than 40,000 cats and dogs

Customer service?
Phone Monday to Friday; email

Waiting period?
Accident: next day; illness: 14 days

Not covered?
Pre-existing conditions, unnecessary or nonmedical treatment or care; routine care; preventable conditions

Can pre-existing conditions be “cured”?

Yes, in some cases

Emergency coverage overseas?

No

Do veterinarians need to fill out any part of the claim forms?

Yes

Exam fees covered?

Yes, unless diagnosis is for non-covered condition

Third-party liability?
No

Basis for premiums?
Age, breed, location

Reimbursement?

70%, 80%, or 90%

Deductible?
$50, $100, $250, or $500

Annual or per-incident deductible?

Per-incident

Changes to policy?

Policyholders may change anytime

Discounts?

Multi-pet (up to three pets), claims-free, 5% for annual payers

Reimbursements compared to “usual and customary” fees?
Yes. If "excessive," uses AAHA guide as reference tool

Maximum payout per year?
$7,500 to $20,000

Lifetime limit?

No

File claims?

Email, fax, or snail mail signed claim form, itemized invoice, and veterinary records for incident

Claim reimbursement?
To client within 10 business days; veterinarians can be reimbursed directly

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Insurance brand:
PetPartners

Types of coverage?

Accident, illness, and wellness

Started?
2003

Insures where?
United States

Total pets covered?
Undisclosed

Customer service?
Phone and email Monday to Saturday

Waiting period?
Accident: 5 days; illness: 30 days

Not covered?
Pre-existing conditions, inherited/congenital, intentional neglect, elective, and treatments related to breeding, behavior, grooming, food, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and alternative/holistic treatments

Can pre-existing conditions be “cured”?

Yes, if deemed cured by a veterinarian

Emergency coverage overseas?

Yes, in Canada

Do veterinarians need to fill out any part of the claim forms?

Yes

Exam fees covered?

Yes

Third-party liability?
No

Basis for premiums?
Age, breed, location

Reimbursement?

80% or 90%

Deductible?
$75 or $125 per incident; $125 annual

Annual or per-incident deductible?

Annual or per-incident

Changes to policy?

Policyholders may change anytime

Discounts?

Multi-pet, group discounts

Reimbursements compared to “usual and customary” fees?
Yes, determined by customary charges for same procedures in same area

Maximum payout per year?
Up to $13,000

Lifetime limit?

No

File claims?

Email, fax, or snail mail; claim form and itemized invoice

Claim reimbursement?
Claims processed and mailed within 14 days

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Insurance brand:
Petplan

Types of coverage?

Accident and illness

Started?
2003

Insures where?
United States, Canada

Total pets covered?
Roughly 100,000

Customer service?
Phone 7 days/week

Waiting period?
Accident: 24 hours; Illness: 14 days

Not covered?
Pre-existing conditions, elective procedures, routine and preventive care, grooming

Can pre-existing conditions be “cured”?

Yes, in some cases

Emergency coverage overseas?

Yes, in Canada and U.S. territories

Do veterinarians need to fill out any part of the claim forms?

No

Exam fees covered?

Yes

Third-party liability?
No

Basis for premiums?
Age, breed, location

Reimbursement?

80%, 90%, or 100%

Deductible?
$50, $100, or $200

Annual or per-incident deductible?

Per-incident

Changes to policy?

Policyholders may change once per term

Discounts?

5% online, 10% multi-pet, 15% veterinary professional, 10% medical services animal, 10% veteran and military, and group discounts

Reimbursements compared to “usual and customary” fees?
No

Maximum payout per year?
$10,000, $14,000, or $22,000

Lifetime limit?

No

File claims?

Email, fax, or snail mail; one-page claim form, medical records, invoices, and proof of payment

Claim reimbursement?
To client (or veterinarian directly if requested and agreed) within five business days

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Insurance brand:
Pets Best

Types of coverage?

Accident, illness, and wellness

Started?
2005

Insures where?
United States

Total pets covered?
More than 124,000 pets

Customer service?
Phone and web Monday to Saturday; 24/7 claims preauthorization

Waiting period?
Accident: 3 days; illness: 14 days; wellness: 14 days. With veterinary exam 10% discount certificate, accident: none; illness: 7 days

Not covered?
Pre-existing conditions; conditions preventable by vaccine; nonmedical veterinary expenses

Can pre-existing conditions be “cured”?

Yes, in some cases

Emergency coverage overseas?

Yes, worldwide

Do veterinarians need to fill out any part of the claim forms?

No

Exam fees covered?

Yes

Third-party liability?
No

Basis for premiums?
Age, breed, location

Reimbursement?

70%, 80%, 90%, or 100%

Deductible?
$0, $50, $100, $200, $500, or $1,000

Annual or per-incident deductible?

Annual

Changes to policy?

Policyholders may change anytime

Discounts?

5% multi-pet, 10% discount for signing up 10 days or fewer after physical exam, 5% veterinary web link discount, veterinary team discount (5% to 12%)

Reimbursements compared to “usual and customary” fees?
No

Maximum payout per year?
$20,000

Lifetime limit?

$200,000

File claims?

Email, fax, online upload; or snail mail; claim form, medical records needed in less than 10% of cases

Claim reimbursement?
To client in one to two business days; veterinarians can receive payment directly

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Insurance brand:
Trupanion

Types of coverage?

Injury and illness

Started?
1998 in Canada; 2007 in the United States

Insures where?
United States, Canada, Puerto Rico

Total pets covered?
Undisclosed

Customer service?
Phone 24/7; territory partners to help veterinarians

Waiting period?
Injury: 5 days; illness: 30 days

Not covered?
Pre-existing conditions, preventable conditions, elective procedures, routine care, grooming

Can pre-existing conditions be “cured”?

Yes, in some cases

Emergency coverage overseas?

Yes, in Canada and Puerto Rico

Do veterinarians need to fill out any part of the claim forms?

Yes, unless enrolled in Trupanion Express

Exam fees covered?

No

Third-party liability?
Yes, in optional rider

Basis for premiums?
Age, breed, gender, location, species, and more

Reimbursement?

90%

Deductible?
$0 to $1,000

Annual or per-incident deductible?

Per-incident

Changes to policy?

Policyholders may change anytime

Discounts?

No

Reimbursements compared to “usual and customary” fees?
No

Maximum payout per year?
None

Lifetime limit?

No

File claims?

Fax or email claim form; first time, veterinarian sends medical records

Claim reimbursement?
To client within seven to 10 business days for first claim; subsequent claims within 24 hours; veterinarians enrolled in Trupanion Express can receive payment in minutes

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Insurance brand:
VPI

Types of coverage?

Injury, illness, and wellness

Started?
1982

Insures where?
United States

Total pets covered?
Roughly 485,000 pets, including birds and exotic pets

Customer service?
Phone Monday to Saturday; email and mail; more than 100 team members to help veterinarians

Waiting period?
Injury: next day; illness: 14 days

Not covered?
Pre-existing conditions, grooming, elective procedures, congenital conditions, behavioral conditions, preventable conditions (if vaccine available and recommended by DVM)

Can pre-existing conditions be “cured”?

Yes, if the condition is curable and doesn't recur within six months

Emergency coverage overseas?

Yes, worldwide

Do veterinarians need to fill out any part of the claim forms?

No

Exam fees covered?

Yes

Third-party liability?
No

Basis for premiums?
Age, location, size (as adult), species

Reimbursement?

100%

Deductible?
$0 to $1,000

Annual or per-incident deductible?

Annual

Changes to policy?

Policyholders may change anytime

Discounts?

Multi-pet (5% for two or three, 10% for four or more), group discounts

Reimbursements compared to “usual and customary” fees?
No

Maximum payout per year?
$7,000 to $14,000

Lifetime limit?

No

File claims?

Email, fax, or snail mail; claim form and itemized invoice

Claim reimbursement?
To client or veterinary provider within 14 business days

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