Is Wellness Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?
19 June, 2018
By: Lisa Fimberg
When you are first looking into a pet insurance policy, there are many things to learn about what is or is not covered in your policy. Most standard pet insurance policies cover primarily accident and illness coverage. Some providers also offer wellness coverage for your pets which covers the more routine procedures. Is Wellness pet insurance worth the cost?
What Is Wellness Pet Insurance?
Wellness Pet Insurance, which is also referred to as routine or preventative care, is a pet insurance policy add-on that covers the more routine daily care for your pet such as non-emergency exams, medications, and procedures. Pet insurance routinely only covers accident, illness and injuries while a wellness plan is preventative in nature and pays for vaccines, neutering, routine vet visits, etc. However, you have to purchase pet insurance to obtain a wellness plan.
Pet insurance helps pay for the unexpected illness or accident
Pet insurance is designed to help offset the outrageous cost of unplanned accidents, emergencies and diseases. With medical costs rising for pets, some pet owners are caught off guard when an emergency occurs and the bill is anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000. And, according to the AVMA, less than 1% of the nation’s pets are insured, pet owners are often shocked to hear the costs of an unexpected illness.
When incurring a huge medical bill, it puts pet owners in a horrible position if they don’t have the money to pay for the costs. And this is why pet insurance has been traditionally geared toward helping with the unexpected and cataclysmic, and not the everyday preventative visits and procedures that is not typically covered under a pet insurance policy. Because, those visits are typically affordable.
The same can be said of just the simple, every day vet visits and check-ups. Some pet owners might avoid a simple vet visit because they don’t have the money to take care of the issue. And, this is why pet insurance providers offer wellness pet insurance. If pet owners put a little more money aside each month for a wellness plan, the logic is that they are more inclined to take better care of their pets.
Wellness plans and what they cover
Before you can buy a wellness plan you must first choose a pet health insurance company that offers wellness coverage. Most of the pet insurance companies will require that you purchase a standard accident and illness policy, which is an eligibility requirement for pet wellness coverage.
Nationwide is the only pet insurance provider that allows pet owners to buy their wellness plan even if they choose not to purchase a standard accident and illness policy.
One of the benefits of having a pet wellness plan, regardless of the insurer, is that there are no deductible or co-payments, so you can use them for covered expenses at any time (a nice bonus financially speaking).
Wellness Plan Details
Pet wellness plans are designed to ensure that pets has access to important preventative care and exams by covering expenses associated with pet health services.
These are the necessary expenses that are planned and predictable each year. Because accident and illness plans, which are necessary in order to get a wellness plan, are designed to help you manage the risk of large, unexpected vet bills, you are receiving maximum coverage for your pet’s care, whether expected or otherwise.
Below is an overview of what is covered for both accident and illness and wellness pet insurance plans.
Treatments Covered by Wellness Plans:
Spay / Neuter
Flea, Tick & Heartworm
Treatments Covered by Major Medical Plans:
Is Wellness Pet Insurance worth the cost?
Wellness plans are best for pet owners who regularly spend $400 to $500 per year on routine care for their dogs or cats. It this is what the normal expense is on your pet’s care, a wellness plan can help you save money as the cost of the plan will be less than your annual routine care expenses.
If you don’t spend that much on annual routine or preventative care a wellness plan is likely not a good fit. For example, if you just spend $100 per year for an annual visit and some shots, it’s better to pay for routine care out of pocket rather than make monthly payments on pet insurance that covers wellness visits.
Wellness coverage does not typically save you money
Typically, wellness coverage for pets is not worth the money. The cost of routine care, i.e. vaccinations, heartworm, physical exams is usually not very expensive even in the first couple years of your dog or cat’s life. As pet wellness plans generally cost $20-$25 a month, the annual cost is more or less what you would pay out of pocket anyway.
One of the selling points wellness plans make is that by offering coverage for all the individual items in one place, they enable and motivate you to stay more on top of your pet’s healthcare the year through. However, this is simple enough to do through if you have a good veterinarian who reminds you of your annual appointments and if necessary vaccinations. However, even if you don’t buy a wellness program, than just make sure to keep up with your pets’ vet visits and treatment. It’s easy enough particularly is your vet is pro-active (which you want from a vet anyway).
Dental care is typically a benefit of wellness coverage
Dental care is important for pets not only for your dog or cat’s teeth, but for their overall well-being. Most pet owners don’t think much about it until the dog or cat is middle aged, and develops a painful dental condition. Regular cleanings and inspections can stop periodontal disease before it starts. And even these cleanings can become expensive for dogs and cats at a young age which is an area where a wellness plan becomes advantageous, but, again, not a necessity. Embrace Pet Insurance offers a dental cleaning option of up to $650 with their wellness plans which is more than most providers we have reviewed.
Pet Insurance Companies that Offer Wellness Coverage
Not all pet insurance companies offer wellness coverage. Out of the providers we reviewed in our 2018 Best Pet Insurance Providers, the following have wellness coverage:
Embrace offers three different wellness options which you pay in addition to your monthly pet insurance premium.
For an additional fee of $18 per month, you are covered for up to $250 annual wellness expenses, $32.50 per month for a $450 annual cap and $46.95 per month for $650 annual expenses. Unlike their pet insurance, Embrace’s Wellness Rewards plan has no deductible, no co-pay and no waiting period. And it covers a ton of treatments and services, everything from annual exams and preventative services to grooming, microchipping, anal gland expression and much more.
Embrace offers a Wellness Rewards account that acts a lot like a flexible spending account. It can give you up to $650 a year in cash rewards that can be used on dental cleanings, nail trimmings, flea prevention, spaying or neutering, and routine visits to the vet. Read all about Embrace and their policies.
Pets Best has a few choices for more typical add-on wellness or routine care plan both the EssentialWellness and BestWellness care plans. These wellness plans cover a number of different services and treatments, but there’s a per item limit (unlike Embrace, where you only have an annual cap for all services). With Pets Best, you pay $14-30 per month (price depends on which plan you choose and state you live in), but it’s based on a per item basis (i.e. annual exam is covered for $50, vaccinations are $80, etc.).
Pets Best requires a 14-day waiting period before coverage kicks in, and you can only add the wellness plan within 30 days of enrolling in their pet insurance programs or at the annual renewal time. Read all about PetsBest and all their policies.
With PetFirst’s wellness programs, it might not cover all the costs of the preventative care you which to choose, but gives you a much discounted rate depending on the plan you enroll in. You can choose from three optional routine wellness packages, which can help offset some of the veterinary expenses you know you are going to incur.
Routine Care 125 which covers vet exams, vaccinations, flea, tick and heartworm prevention as well as microchipping and behavior training ranges between $9 to $11 a month and the total benefit is $125 a year. Or the Routine Care 250 which covers the vet exam, vaccinations and other tests range from $15.30 – $19.80 per month and totals $250 savings annually, and the Routine Care 400 which ranges between $22.10 – $28.60 per month and can potentially save you up to $400. Read all about PetFirst and their policies.
As mentioned above, Nationwide is the only pet insurance provider that you can purchase wellness pet insurance on its own and even instead of pet insurance.
The Pet Wellness Plan includes wellness exams and test, wellness exams & tests, flea/heartworm prevention, microchipping and vaccinations. When purchasing on its own, the plan is relatively inexpensive.
Nationwide offers 2 plans: The Wellness Basic which is $12 to $18 a month and covers up to $400 worth of treatments and The Whole Pet With Wellness which is $17 to $22 a month and covers up to $500 of annual expenses. Read all about Nationwide and their policies.
If you are already enrolled in pet insurance, take a look at the different wellness options to see if it’s a fit for you. The additional expense is not a lot financially, so it really depends on you and your pet’s needs. If you are looking for a good but less expensive pet insurance policy, take a look at our 4 Best Cheap Pet Insurance Policies.