A Survey of Pet Insurance Providers in California

by Leila Morris

Ruff ruff. meow. ssssss. sweak, sweak. With more families than ever having pets, Pet insurance has become an increasingly attractive employee benefit.

1. Which of the following does your plan cover?

Embrace Pet Insurance:
• Cancer
• Chronic disease, such as diabetes and heart problems
• Continual coverage for the above upon renewal
• Hereditary and congenital disease
• Medical conditions common to a pet’s breed

Hartville Pet Insurance Group:
• Cancer
• Chronic disease, such as diabetes and heart problems
• Continual coverage for the above upon renewal
• Hereditary and congenital disease – both hereditary and congenital conditions are covered on two plans.
• Medical conditions common to a pet’s breed

Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC:
• Cancer
• Chronic disease, such as diabetes and heart problems
• Continual coverage for the above upon renewal
• Hereditary and congenital disease
• Medical conditions common to a pet’s breed
• The BestBenefit accident and illness plans offered by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC cover all of the conditions listed above.

Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI):
• Cancer
• Chronic disease, such as diabetes and heart problems
• Continual coverage for the above upon renewal
• Hereditary and congenital disease
• Medical conditions common to a pet’s breed

VPI offers a wide variety of coverage options and price points. VPI’s most popular medical plans provide benefits for diagnosis and treatment of cancer and chronic conditions such as allergies, diabetes, kidney failure, heart problems, etc. That coverage continues year after year, as long as the VPI policy is in force. Additionally, VPI’s Major Medical Plan includes up to $750 in benefits towards a plethora of hereditary conditions after the policy has been in effect for 12 months. VPI also covers a variety of conditions common to particular breeds. For example, back injuries are common to Dachshunds and Cocker spaniels are known to have ear infections, both of which are covered by VPI’s medical plans. It is also common for Labrador retrievers and other active large breed dogs to tear their cruciate ligament (aka ACL), a condition that is covered by VPI’s medical and injury plans after the policy has been in effect for 12 months. Pre-existing conditions are excluded from coverage. VPI does not cover congenital conditions as they are considered pre-existing.

2. Does your plan cover routine care like annual exams, vaccinations, blood work and dental cleanings? 

Embrace Pet Insurance: That coverage is not part of our accident/illness insurance coverage but is available as an add-on called Wellness Rewards, which has two levels: $200 Wellness Rewards Basic and $400 Wellness Rewards Plus. More on  that program here: http://www.embracepetinsurance.com/coverage/wellness-rewards

Hartville Pet Insurance Group: Yes, we have two available options for wellness that may be added to coverage.

Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC: Our BestWellness plan provides coverage for annual exams, vaccinations, blood work, dental cleanings and other preventative and routine care items. There is no deductible or co-pay. The plan covers up to $505 in annual benefits for dogs and up to $565 in annual benefits for cats. A list of covered services for dogs and cats can be found here: http://www.petsbest.com/pet-insurance-plans/routine-care.

VPI: VPI’s Pet Wellness Plans and Riders provide coverage for routine services pet owners do every year such as exams, vaccines, flea/heartworm protection, dental cleanings, and even nail trims!

3.  How is your reimbursement calculated – as a percentage of the veterinarian’s bill (if so what percentage), or as a percentage of a benefit schedule?

Embrace Pet Insurance: Percentage of the veterinary bill – reimbursement is  available at 90%, 80% and 65%.

Hartville Pet Insurance Group: Reimbursements are paid as a percentage of usual and customary covered costs. Insurance holder can choose 90%, 80% or 70% reimbursements of these costs.

Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC: Pets Best provides 70%, 80%, 90% or 100% reimbursement of the veterinarian’s bill. Clients choose the reimbursement level for their plans when they enroll.

VPI: VPI reimburses 100% of the veterinary invoice after the annual deductible is met up to the limit of the benefits for the covered condition, procedure, or service. VPI’s deductible is an annual deductible, not a per incident deductible. No deductible applies to the coverage available under the Pet Wellness Plans and Riders.

4. Can a member choose any veterinarian?

Hartville Pet Insurance Group: Yes

Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC: Yes, Pets Best policyholders can visit any licensed veterinarian in the world.

VPI: Pet owners can visit any licensed veterinarian worldwide including emergency and specialists.

5. Does the plan use a benefit schedule?

Hartville Pet Insurance Group: No

Pets Best Insurance Services, 

LLC: No, we offer reimbursements based on the actual veterinarian bill.

VPI: Yes, benefit schedule allows pet owners to experience overall lower costs and receive comprehensive coverage for the things they seek medical care for most. In fact, based on VPI’s claims data, 86% of veterinary visits cost under $500.

6. What pre-existing conditions are not covered?

Embrace Pet Insurance: Embrace distinguishes between curable and incurable pre-existing conditions. We are never able to cover pre-existing incurable conditions — like diabetes or allergies. Curable conditions – like ear infections or broken toenails – can be covered moving forward if the pet is symptom free for 12 months. More information about pre-existing conditions can be found here: http://www.embracepetinsurance.com/coverage/pre-ex-conditions

Hartville Pet Insurance Group: If a condition is cured and free from treatment for 180 days they may be covered in the future.

Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC: If a pre-existing condition becomes cured at any time, then it is automatically eligible for coverage if it should reoccur. If a condition is manifested or present prior to coverage, including the waiting period, then it is ineligible for coverage.

VPI: Pre-existing conditions are not covered. VPI does offer the opportunity for a curable pre-existing condition to be reviewed for future coverage after the pet has been healthy for at least six months and is not currently receiving treatment. Additionally, VPI does not note pre-existing conditions on a policy if the condition occurred during the policy period. This means continuous coverage for chronic conditions that manifested after the policy became effective.

7. Does the policy provide lifetime coverage?

Hartville Pet Insurance Group: Yes

Pets Best Insurance Services, 

LLC: Yes, and we have no upper age limits (nor do we reduce coverage for senior pets).

VPI: As long as their policy is in force, VPI offers continual for the lifetime of their pet.

8.  Does your company have a lot of experience providing pet insurance?

Embrace Pet Insurance: Yes

Hartville Pet Insurance Group: Yes, the agency that provides ASPCA Pet Health Insurance was founded in 1997.

Pets Best Insurance Services, 

LLC: Yes, Pets Best founder Dr. Jack Stephens also founded the pet insurance industry in North America in 1981. He launched Pet Best in 2005, and he has 33 years of experience in pet insurance. Pets Best is among the more established and largest pet insurance brands in the U.S.

VPI: VPI is the first and largest pet health insurance company in the United States and has been protecting America’s pets since 1982. During that time, more than 50 pet health insurance companies have come and gone. With more than 500,000 insured pets, VPI has more insured pets than all other pet health insurance companies combined. Additionally, VPI is a Nationwide company (Nationwide is a Fortune 100 company).

9. Are there age cut-offs for coverage?

Embrace Pet Insurance: To purchase full accident and illness coverage a pet must be enrolled before their 15th birthday. Pets over age 14 can purchase accident only coverage. Once a pet is enrolled, they are covered for life.

Hartville Pet Insurance Group: Illness coverage is available for cats 14 years and younger and dogs 12 and under at initial enrollment. All pets, regardless of age or health, are eligible for important accident protection and wellness care coverage.

Pets Best Insurance Services, 

LLC: Dogs and cats are eligible for coverage starting at 7 weeks of age. We have no upper age limits.

VPI: VPI offers coverage for pets of all ages. As long as the pet is enrolled under the age of 10, VPI’s plans will provide lifetime coverage as long as their VPI policy is in force. VPI’s Pet Wellness Plans do not have an upper age limit for enrollment. Pets 10 years of age and older can enroll in a new policy on one of these plans.

10. Does you plan offer discounts on care or supplies? 

Embrace Pet Insurance: As part of every policy, we offer free 24/7 service with VetLive, an online vet answer service. That’s the only additional discount/perk currently.

Hartville Pet Insurance Group: No, however we do offer discounts on our base premiums for qualified groups.

Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC: There is coverage for some supplies in the BestBenefit plans. For instance, if a pet has diabetes and needs insulin shots, the cost of the needles is covered. Pet parents who sign up for the monthly Pets Best newsletters get access to various discounts offered by participating pet supply and care vendors. But otherwise, our plans do not have discounts in place for care and supplies.

VPI: When a company adds VPI to its benefits package, employees are eligible for a five percent discount on their base plan premium. VPI policyholders have access to discounts on various pet related supplies and services. VPI also offers a multiple pet discount.

11. Please provide contact information for agents and brokers to reach your company

Embrace Pet Insurance: http://www.embracepetinsurance.com/employers

Hartville Pet Insurance Group: Please visit us at: http://www.aspcapetinsurance.com/partner-with-us/brokers/pet-insurance-brokers.aspx

Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC:

Matt Hands
Business Development Manager
Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC
agents@petsbest.com
1-888-217-2731
www.petsbest.com

VPI: Brokers can reach VPI at 855-VPI-4944 or visit the company’s Voluntary Benefits site at www.VPIVoluntaryBenefits.com.