When we learned that there were 11 million new pet owners in 2020 (who, by the way, spent $99 billion on their pets) and that pet insurance had grown by a whopping 700%, we were all ears! So, Cal Broker reached out to the top dogs in the petindustry to find out what’s happening and why.
Here’s the scoop from the leaders of the pack!
COMPILED BY THORA MADDEN
CALIFORNIA BROKER: WITH SO MUCH HAPPENING IN THE PET BENEFITS SPACE, WHAT SETS YOUR COMPANY APART?
Miles Thorson, CEO & Co-Founder, Odie Pet Insurance: Odie is a wellness first, tech-enabled pet health insurance brand that empowers conscientious pet parents. Our aim is to democratize pet wellness and to provide all dog and cat owners access to essential pet care services through a centralized digital hub.
Beth Wymer, Animal Health and Insurance Expert, Pumpkin: Pumpkin is a direct-to-consumer pet insurance agency and wellness provider founded to help ensure pets live their longest and healthiest lives.
Pumpkin insurance plans offer dog and cat owners advanced veterinary care coverage. Our optional Preventive Essentials non- insurance plan add-on offers life-threatening disease prevention through reimbursing vaccines and related annual wellness exams and lab tests.
Pet ownership has skyrocketed to unseen levels … accelerating the need for quallty pet insurance. Odie provides access to essential pet care services through a digital hub.
~ Miles Thorson, Odie
Dr. Sarah Machell, Medical Director, Vetster: Vetster is not an insurance plan—we actually connect pet owners to thousands of licensed professionals ready to provide online pet care through video, chat and voice-enabled appointments, 24/7.
Jacinta C. Mathis, VP of Growth, Wagmo: Wagmo is a tech-first pet insurance company with easy-to-understand plans, super-fast claims processing and community benefits. Wagmo goes beyond what typical pet insurance companies cover and reduces pet expenses while growing a resourceful community and suite of services to empower humans to be their best pet parent selves.
CB: HOW HAS THE PANDEMIC IMPACTED YOUR BUSINESS?
Thorson, Odie: The pandemic has positively impacted our business in several ways. Pet ownership has skyrocketed to unseen levels over the past year. This record increase in pet ownership coupled with pet parents being at home more has greatly accelerated trends around the importance of pets and the overall need for quality pet insurance.
Wymer, Pumpkin: Pumpkin launched during the pandemic in April 2020. It ended up being an opportune time. While many businesses suffered during this difficult time, the pet care industry was rapidly growing because of a 700% increase in pet adoptions and fosters at the beginning of the pandemic. Eleven million people adopted pets during this time, and the pet care industry reached $99 billion in sales in 2020.
Machell, Vetster: The pandemic catapulted the need for virtual pet care across North America. Currently, vet clinics are so over-booked that animals needing access to prescriptions and treatment plans are having to wait weeks, which has the potential to impact survival rates. Pet owners shouldn’t let wait time concerns get in the way of booking a vet appointment for a sick pet. Many appointments and medications can be performed and administered right from home! Vetster is here for all pet parents, whether their regular vet is fully booked or not accepting new patients, we offer accessible pet health care around the clock.
Mathis, Wagmo: The pandemic has changed our families and communities in a tremendous way. During this time Wagmo has expandedpartnerships and offerings to truly support the complete needs of pet parents.
CB: HOW IS YOUR REIMBURSEMENT CALCULATED? IS IT A PERCENTAGE OF THE VETERINARIAN’S BILL (IF SO, WHAT PERCENTAGE), OR AS A PERCENTAGE OF A BENEFIT SCHEDULE?
Thorson, Odie: Reimbursement is calculated as a percentage of the overall vet bill. This can range between 70%-90% depending on the policyholder’s tailored plan.
Wymer, Pumpkin: We reimburse 90% of eligible vet bills after the annual deductible has been met. Pumpkin’s add-on preventive care plan refunds 100% of eligible preventive vet care costs. There is no deductible amount or waiting period for this optional plan that can only be purchased with the insurance plan.
Mathis, Wagmo: Wagmo offers 100% reimbursement on veterinarian bills for qualifying expenses after the deductible is reached.
Your pet is free to receive treatment from any licensed vet, specialist, emergencyclinic or hospital you choose.
— Beth Wymer, Pumpkin
CB: CAN A MEMBER CHOOSE ANY VETERINARIAN?
Thorson, Odie: Absolutely. Odie provides pet parents with maximum flexibility and the freedom to work with their preferred veterinarian.
Wymer, Pumpkin: Unlike a human health insurance HMO, Pumpkin’s pet insurance coverage isn’t limited to a “network” of health care providers. Since we pay you back directly, your pet is free to receive treatment from any licensed veterinarian, specialist, emergency clinic or hospital you choose in the U.S. or Canada.
Machell, Vetster: Pet parents looking to book an appointment through Vetster have access to search through over 3,000 veterinarians and technicians in our marketplace to find the right fit for their needs. They can browse through our network of veterinary professionals and select a partner that speaks their language, treats their pet’s species, and is located within their region to potentially offer a full diagnosis, treatment plan and prescriptions, when needed.
Mathis, Wagmo: Wagmo Insurance and Wagmo Wellness are reimbursement-based and a member can choose any veterinarian for service.Members can upload images of their receipt to our mobile app or website for claims processing and reimbursement.
CB: DOES YOUR PLAN USE A BENEFIT SCHEDULE?
Thorson, Odie: The Accident & Illness policies do not have a benefit schedule. Our Routine Care plans that can be purchased as an optional add-on do carry set benefit schedules for things like vaccinations, heartworm medications, microchipping andmore.
Wymer, Pumpkin: No, we don’t use a benefit schedule.
Mathis, Wagmo: Wagmo does not follow a benefit schedule for insurance, and covered claims are reimbursed at 100% after the deductible is met.
CB: WHAT PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS ARE NOT COVERED?
Thorson, Odie: We define a pre-existing condition as any condition for which a vet provided medical advice, the pet received treatment for, or displayed signs or symptoms of the condition prior to the policies effective dates or during the waiting periods. Odie has some of the shortest waiting periods including three days for accidents, 14 days for illnesses and six months for cruciate ligament events.
Wagmo expanded partnerships and offerings to truly support the complete needs of pet parents.
— Jacinta Mathis, Wagmo
Wymer, Pumpkin: Illness, disease, injury or change to your pet’s health that first occurs or shows symptoms before coverage is effective or during a waiting period are considered pre-existing conditions and are not covered. However, Pumpkin has what’s called a “curable conditions clause” in which “pre-existing” conditions that are curable, cured and treatment and symptom-free for 180 days, can be deemed cured and therefore no longer excluded, with the exception of knee and ligament conditions.
Vetster is not an insurance plan. We connect pet owners to licensed professionals.
— Dr Machell, Vetster
Mathis, Wagmo: Wagmo Insurance does not cover the cost, fees or treatment for preexisting conditions (before coverage is active), but covered claims are reimbursed at 100% after the deductible has been met. Wagmo Wellness plans, which are offered separately from Insurance, reimburse according to a specific list of routine and preventative care expenses and are subject to maximums per expense category.
CB: HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE DOES YOUR COMPANY HAVE PROVIDING PET INSURANCE?
Thorson, Odie: Odie is new to the pet insurance market. However, our parent company and founding team have a long and extensive history of building specialty insurance programs for world class providers such as Swiss Re, AIG, Lloyd’s of London, and more.
Wymer, Pumpkin: Pumpkin is a new pet insurance agency that launched in April 2020. While the company is new in the space, it is owned by Fortune 500 global animal health company Zoetis (NYSE:ZTS). Plans are underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company that has been in the pet insurance space for over 20 years.
Mathis, Wagmo: Wagmo has been in business since 2018. Co-founders Christie and Ali have worked in insurance for years and obsess over pets.
CB: DOES THE POLICY PROVIDE LIFETIME COVERAGE?
Thorson, Odie: Odie policies do not have any upper age limits and are designed to provide coverage throughout the entire pet’s life starting at just 7 weeks old.
Wymer, Pumpkin: Yes we cover all dogs and cats beginning at 8 weeks of age.
Mathis, Wagmo: As long as your policy is in good standing your pet qualifies for coverage throughout their lifetime.
CB: ARE THERE AGE CUT-OFFS FOR COVERAGE?
Thorson, Odie Pet Insurance: Coverage can start for pets as young as 7 weeks and can continue for the entirety of the pet’s life.
Wymer, Pumpkin: Pumpkin is proud to offer coverage for all cats and dogs 8 weeks and older. Unlike some other pet insurance programs, Pumpkin does not have an upper age limit or breed restrictions for its policies.
Mathis, Wagmo: The pet must be older than 8 weeks and younger than 15 years to begin coverage. If a pet has a current insurance policy and ages past 15, coverage will continue for the life of the pet.
CB: DOES YOUR PLAN OFFER DISCOUNTS ON OTHER SERVICES OR SUPPLIES?
Thorson, Odie: Odie has established several value partnerships to contribute to the overall health, wellness and happiness of the pet and their owner. We provide access to 24/7 tele-vet services, discounts and promotions to leading pet care products including the healthiest foods,supplements and more.
Wymer, Pumpkin: Pumpkin’s optional Preventive Essentials non-insurance pack is one of the few wellness plans that cover 100% of the costs associated with an annual wellness exam, vaccines and a fecal exam. Other wellness plans may pay a certain dollar amount or reimburse for a percentage of the costs. Additionally, Pumpkin Insurance plans cover eligible treatments that some other providers’ plans exclude altogether or charge extra for, like hereditary conditions, dental illness, preventable illnesses, behavioral problem treatments, and alternative therapies like acupuncture.
Mathis, Wagmo: Multi-pet discounts, no claims discounts, and other exclusive discounts for employer groups and companies are available to complement Wagmo’s affordable prices.
CB: HOW CAN READERS REACH YOU TO FIND OUT MORE?
- Odie Pet Insurance: www.getodie.com firstname.lastname@example.org 877-327-0471
Live support available M-F between 8am and 5pm Central.
- Pumpkin: www.pumpkin.care email@example.com
- Vetster: firstname.lastname@example.org website: https://vetster.com
- Wagmo: email@example.com