Solving the Pet Insurance Puzzle: 3 Questions Consumers Need to Ask

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From deductibles to pre-existing conditions, Petplan shares advice for pet parents

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It’s no secret that pets are a part of the family; Americans spent an estimated $58.5 billion keeping them happy and healthy in 2014.* With veterinary care being the second highest annual expense people face, many are turning to pet insurance to help ease the financial burden. Pet parents are more aware of pet insurance now than ever before thanks to organizations like AARP, who began offering exclusive member discounts on Petplan pet insurance in 2014, and insurance providers like Farmer’s and Nationwide, who inked deals with Pet’s Best and VPI respectively.

With more than a dozen providers in the market, picking the right pet insurance plan can be daunting – but considering that every six seconds a pet parent is faced with a vet bill over $3,000,** the need for coverage is critical. Here are three questions consumers should always ask before buying a policy:

1. Does the policy cover all illnesses and injuries as standard?
A good value plan will include coverage for hereditary and chronic conditions as standard – which means there’s no need to purchase add-ons to basic coverage. Options to buy things like hip dysplasia riders or additional coverage for chronic diseases like cancer or diabetes should raise a red flag. Pets who develop chronic conditions should also be covered into old age; some companies cover chronic conditions initially then exclude the condition as pre-existing during the next policy term. A good policy covers chronic conditions for life.

2. Are there limits on how much the provider will reimburse for different conditions?
Some providers use what’s called a benefit schedule to determine how much they will pay out for a condition, and this is often a source of dissatisfaction from pet parents. Say a company pays up to $395 for an allergic reaction, but a pet’s reaction requires a hospital stay and fluid therapy that costs $1,500. A benefit schedule plan will reimburse $395, regardless of complications that arise or additional treatments needed to resolve the condition. A provider that reimburses based on actual veterinary fees will cover the entire bill (minus the deductible and optional co-pay). Per-incident or per-illness caps on coverage should tell pet parents to move on to another provider.

3. Are pre-existing conditions covered?
This is a trick question, because no pet insurance provider can cover pre-existing conditions. Pet parents simply can’t receive a cancer diagnosis and then go out and buy a pet insurance policy to pay for the treatments. There are, however, insurance providers who make a distinction between curable and incurable conditions – reinstating coverage for curable conditions, like a urinary tract infection, after a certain amount of time passes with no recurrence. Pet parents should ask about this before buying coverage.

“Pet parents are turning to pet insurance like never before to give them peace of mind about paying for unexpected veterinary care,” says Natasha Ashton, co-founder and co-CEO of Petplan. “In 2014 alone, we saw that something as simple as gastrointestinal upset – our most commonly claimed for condition – costs an average of more than $500 to treat. In an extreme case, we reimbursed one family $30,532.43 for their poor Poodle’s three-year bout with chronic gastritis! When your pet is family and you’d do anything to keep them healthy, the advantage of protecting pets with insurance – the right insurance – is clear.”

For more information about Petplan pet insurance, visit

  • according to the American Pet Products Association

** according to Petplan claims data, 2014


Petplan is more than a pet insurance company. We're dedicated to providing pet parents with the support, resources and tools they need to keep their pets not just surviving—but thriving—into their old age. Simply put, we aim to be the kind of company that will make our pets proud. For the third consecutive year, Petplan was listed among Forbes' annual ranking of America’s Most Promising Companies – a list of 100 privately held, high-growth companies with bright futures. Petplan is the only pet insurance company to have been included on Inc. Magazine’s list of 500 fastest-growing, privately held companies in America.

Petplan’s fully customizable cat and dog insurance policies provide comprehensive coverage for all hereditary and chronic conditions for the life of the pet as standard. Petplan policies are underwritten by AGCS Marine Insurance Company in the U.S. and by Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Company in Canada. The Allianz Group was rated A+ by A.M. Best in 2014. For more information about Petplan pet insurance, visit or call 1-866-467-3875.

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Jessica Kinney
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