PetFirst vs. Healthy Paws Pet Insurance Compared
12 July, 2018
petfirst vs. healthy paws

By: Lisa Fimberg

When enrolling in a new pet insurance policy, there are many companies to choose from and it can be hard to know where to start.  As with anything new policy, home, auto or pet, it’s always best to compare what each policy has to offer. PetFirst and Healthy Paws are a great place to start as they are both top insurance providers with excellent coverage.

petfirst pet insurance

PetFirst Overview:

PetFirst offers an enrollment process that is easier than most. They do not require a vet exam, and accident coverage starts in 24 hours which is quicker than most other providers.  PetFirst does not have an upper age limit on enrollment and there are no waiting periods for a few conditions many other providers just don’t cover. PetFirst also has a healthy pet discount for every year you don’t make a claim!  The upper tier plans are a bit on the pricier side and the company does not offer unlimited coverage.

healthy-paws pet insurance

Healthy Paws Overview:

Healthy Paws is one of the top pet insurance companies and most popular among veterinarians.  Healthy Paws has no limit to how much its plan will pay out each year, and a 15-day waiting period for injury and illness coverage.   It offers comprehensive illness and accident coverage which is our favorite and unlimited benefits with no caps on the claims. And all of this is included in their standard plan!  Healthy Paws has an excellent customer satisfaction rating (an A +) and the highest rated and most reviews.

PetFirst coverage includes all of the following:

Medical Conditions Covered:                                                                                

Accidental, Illness, Hereditary, Congenital, Cancer, Chronic, Accidental Dental

Medical Treatments Covered:

Diagnostic Testing, Surgery, Hospitalization, Prescription Medications, Emergency Care, Specialty Care, Alternative Care, Behavioral Care, Physical Therapy.

Healthy Paws coverage includes all of the following:

Medical Conditions Covered:                                                                                

Accidental, Illness, Hereditary, Congenital, Cancer, Chronic, Accidental Dental

Medical Treatments Covered:

Diagnostic Testing, Surgery, Hospitalization, Prescription Medications, Emergency Care, Specialty Care, Alternative Care

Healthy Paws also covers treatments for hip dysplasia for pets under age six if it is not a pre-existing condition.

 PetFirst Coverage Details

PetFirst offers accident and illness coverage that is pretty much industry standard for the price. What really makes PetFirst stand out is that is they don’t have any waiting periods for hip dysplasia, patella issues or orthopedic conditions.  Healthy Paws has a 12-month waiting period for hip dysplasia.

PetFirst also offers a wellness plan as an add-on rider to any of their plans to cover vaccinations, neutering and spaying and other more routine vet visits.   You can choose form three routine wellness packages which can be utilized to help offset some of the veterinary expenses you know you are going to incur.  Your pet is covered anywhere in the United States, so if you travel and your pet get ill or injured, it’s nice to know that you can get affordable care while away.

PetFirst is unique in that holistic care is included in all three of their Lifetime plans at no extra cost. Most of the other pet insurance companies, including Healthy Paws, only offer alternative treatment coverage at an additional fee or optional rider.  Holistic coverage includes treatment like chiropractic work, hydrotherapy and other alternative treatments and medications if the treatment you choose is offered by a licensed veterinarian.  Therefore, PetFirst is a great choice for older pets who might need hydrotherapy or other alternative treatment.

Healthy Paws Coverage Details:

Healthy Paws covers cats and dogs with one of the most comprehensive coverage policies available without any limits or caps on coverage.  Their policies cover all accidents and illnesses, and there are no restrictions for hereditary or congenital conditions, including cancer. The policy also covers emergency care, hospital stays, and surgeries. All of their plans cover up to 90 % of your veterinary bill and is based on actual costs.

Healthy Paws doesn’t have any limit as to how much they will pay out each year, and it typically has a 15-day waiting period for injury and illness coverage.   This can really help if your dog or cat has an emergency situation and the hospital bill is bigger than you thought it would be.  It’s reassuring to know that even if another emergency occurred in the same calendar year, you would still be covered because their pay out plan is for your pets lifetime and unlimited!

With Healthy Paws, you will have continuous, seamless coverage for the life of the policy.

Benefit Limits

PetFirst does not restrict you to per incident or per illness limits which is great, but they do have annual limits.  PetFirst lets you choose $5,000, $10,000, and $20,000. This is the maximum amount PetFirst will reimburse you per policy year.

While the $5,000 limit plan has a monthly deductible in the average pet insurance price range, the two higher limit plans get pricey. In fact, there are unlimited plans we have reviewed such as Healthy Paws that tend to cost less than PetFirst’s $20,000 limit plan.

PetFirst has no lifetime limits and no per-incident limits which is a great benefit if you have a dog or cat that has an illness that needs to have continuous treatment like cancer or diabetes.  The higher the benefit level equates to a higher premium.

Healthy Paws is one of the few insurers that offer policies with no limits or caps, including annual, lifetime, or per incident caps.  While other pet insurance policies offer unlimited benefits, it typically is with their most expensive plans. With Healthy Paws, the unlimited benefit option is included in their standard plan which is an excellent option whereas PetFirst tops at $20,000.

As with other pet insurance policies, as long as the condition your dog or cat is being treated for is not a pre-existing condition, they will pay your entire bill (or 80 – 90 % of it).  That really gives you peace of mind when a serious pet injury can cost as much as $15,000 or more.

Deductibles

PetFirst offers flexible deductibles of $50, $100, $250, and $500. Not many other pet insurance providers offer the option of such a low deductible.  If you do choose the lower deductible, it would translate into a higher premium, but it could be a viable option if you know you can afford to fit the monthly premium into your budget, but not sure about the extra cash for a higher deductible.

PetFirst allows you to upgrade or downgrade coverage at any time during your policy which is a nice benefit and unusual among pet insurance providers.  Further, since they don’t have a per-condition limit, if your dog has an ear infection, for example, you only pay a deductible for the first treatment.  Every further vet visit about the ear infection, PetFirst will pay you back the full reimbursement percentage of the amount you paid at the vet.

Healthy Paws offers an annual deductible which you pay once per year.  You can choose the level of deductible, which can help you control your premium costs.  The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.

Healthy Paws allows you to choose the deductible that works the best of you and your needs.  Deductibles can be set at $100, $250, and $500 (the highest).   Therefore, if you choose the $100 deductible you’ll get a higher payout per incident, but you are going to be paying a higher monthly premium as well.

Reimbursement

Healthy Paws offers reimbursement levels of 70%, 80%, or 90% and they reimburse you based on the actual veterinary bill after you have met your deductible (and your co-pay).  As with deductibles, the higher the monthly premium, the more you will get reimbursed for that claim.

PetFirst also gives you the option of setting your reimbursement at 70%, 80%, and 90%. PetFirst also pays out on the actual vet bills as do the other top providers.  As with deductibles, the higher the monthly premium, the more you will get reimbursed for that claim.

Pricing

PetFirst’s lower annual limit plans offer pretty much average monthly deductibles when compared to similar plans. However, their higher limit plans are on the pricier side compared to some other providers.

Available Discounts: $10 to $20 off for pet parents who purchase their pet health insurance policy online, 5% to 10% corporate employee member discount, 10% animal care employee discount,5 % military discount, and a 5 % discount when adding another pet and a 10% discount on your third pet! By paying your entire annual bill up front, you can save $24.

The average starting premium for dogs is $17 and for cats is $9 per month.

Healthy Paws plans are reasonably priced plans when you take into account that they have not no limits of any kind and offer a customized payout percentage and deductible model.

There are 10% lifetime discounts offered for the following: Animal Welfare Volunteers, Association or Alumni Organizations, membership groups such as AAA, AARP, and Costco, and Military service. They offer a 15 % lifetime discount for employer sponsored plans.

The average starting premium for dogs is $32.80 and for cats is $17.19.

Enrollment and Waiting Periods

PetFirst has the shortest waiting period for accidents and illnesses.  Pet insurance rarely covers genetic conditions like hip dysplasia within the first year of enrollment. But PetFirst covers it after only 14 days while with Healthy Paws is 12 months.

PetFirst has a particularly painless and lenient enrollment process when compared to other companies. First, they do not require a vet exam.  And their accident coverage begins midnight the day of enrollment and illness 14 days after. There is no fee to cancel. And PetFirst is one of only a handful of companies that has no upper age limit. Cats and dogs of any age can be covered for life.

Your dog or cat must be at least 8 weeks old to enroll and as we mentioned, there is no upper age limit for your pets.

Healthy Paws starting age for pets is eight weeks and older.  They do have an upper age of coverage which is 13 years old.  Healthy paws has a 15 day waiting period for accidents and illnesses. The waiting period for hip dysplasia is 12 months.

Claims and Service

PetFirst stands out in the claims department as it is one of the few pet insurance providers that offer a healthy pet discount every year you don’t make a claim.  In fact, PetFirst does not increase your premium due to amount of claims you filed during the year.  Therefore, if your dog or cat has to see the vet multiple times for a specific illness or injury, you aren’t penalized for it.

The claims procedure is standard of most.  You pay your vet bill up front, then submit the claims form with all the relevant invoices and receipts by email or fax.   There are several options for submitting your claim and veterinary records, including their PetFirst’s online MyPets portal, email, fax, or standard mail.

Once they have processed your claim, PetFirst will send you a reimbursement check by mail from 10 to 14 days from the date they processed your claim (you can always check the status on-line thru the MyPEts portal.

Healthy Paws is known for reimbursing its claims fast and with as little fuss as possible compared to other pet insurance companies. Their customer support is efficient and courteous and available 7 days a week (but not after hours). Claims are generally processed within a few days.

Both PetFirst are excellent pet insurance companies with differences mostly in the benefit limits and age limits.  If you are looking to get a quote from another top pet insurance company, check out our top 7 insurance companies of 2018.

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