You’re a responsible, loving pet owner interested in getting “pet insurance.” You’ve talked to your veterinarian, or maybe a friend or family member mentioned it. You have car insurance, you’ve got your own health insurance… so this must work just like that, right? Well, not quite.
Trupanion is medical insurance for cats and dogs — we’re NOT pet insurance. The difference is huge, and this classification distinguishes us from other companies. Simply put, Trupanion was built by veterinarians for responsible, loving pet owners, just like you.
And, not only that, but Trupanion was built for your pet’s entire life. Not for a year. Not just until your policy becomes a burden for us. But for your pet’s entire life, through every tail wag, every kiss, every claim.
So, how does VPI/Nationwide’s Whole Pet product stack up to Trupanion’s medical insurance for pets?
We don't exclude conditions we've covered for your pet in the past just because you renew
When you enroll with Trupanion, what you see in the policy is what you get. We pride ourselves on transparency, and making sure you understand what you are purchasing. We also don’t punish unlucky pets by reducing coverage at any time, for any reason — especially not because you are renewing your policy. If we covered something, we’ll never make that condition pre-existing just because it’s in our best interest. We want the policy to work for you, for the life of your pet.
When you are enrolled with VPI/Nationwide, and your annual renewal comes up, they can add even more additional exclusions to your policy. Conditions your pet has developed over the past year that were covered by the policy (or related conditions that could potentially develop because of that original condition) can be considered an exclusion at your renewal because you are purchasing a “new” policy. We don’t believe that’s fair to you or your pet.
See this in VPI/Nationwide’s policy wording below:
Nationwide Whole Pet with Wellness Policy, Percent of Invoice Plan A Coverage Form, page 2, Section 5. What We Do Not Cover - Exclusions. Screenshot taken 4/7/2016.
And if you want to fight the addition of the excluded condition, you must go through an administrative process where they get to make the final decision.
Nationwide Whole Pet with Wellness Policy, Percent of Invoice Plan A Coverage Form, page 3, Section 11. Review. Screenshot taken 4/7/2016. We price fairly and we don't raise rates just because your pet has a birthday
When you enroll your dog or cat with Trupanion, we associate him or her with a sub-category of pets. This includes things like your pet’s breed, age at enrollment, your location, your deductible (if you choose to have one), and several other factors that help us determine your personalized monthly payment. For instance, we know that costs in one zip code in California can be quite different from another location in the same state, so we take that into account. We use extremely detailed data to customize your specific price for your specific pet.
During your time as a Trupanion member, your monthly payment will go up or down based upon the underlying costs of all pets within your sub-category. In fact,
last year we reduced the rates for several breed categories including Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, and Labradoodles because we discovered that their cost of care was not as high as we had predicted. That’s how we share the risk among everyone. A price increase ultimately means that we can continue to offer our members the same value as we always have. It’s not about making money, it’s about providing our members what we said we would. And that includes our promise to never increase your monthly payments due to your pet aging or just because your pet has been unlucky and has faced some medical issues.
VPI/Nationwide participates in something we call “Birthday Pricing,” where, simply put, your rates increase each year because your pet is growing older. These guaranteed rate increases are in addition to changes due to inflation. Does that sound fair?
These birthday-induced rates grow by 15-18% per year. With VPI/Nationwide, your original premium is guaranteed to double by the time your dog or cat is 6 years old, and jump by nearly 150% by the time they are 10 years old. And it’s extremely important to understand that these
guaranteed rate increases are in addition to any changes due to inflation.
See VPI/Nationwide’s rate filing for the Whole Pet product:
So, what we are showing above is very “insurance-y,” but it documents the age rating factors that VPI/Nationwide uses for the “Whole Pet” product. Basically, from age 0 to 2, the 1.00 is the base rate of the monthly cost. Every addition on to that 1.00 as the pet ages accounts for an increase in the base rate. So for dogs:
0 – 2 years =1.00 (base rate)
9% increase of the base rate on 3rd birthday
38% increase by the 5th birthday
71% increase by the 7th birthday
143% increase by the 10th birthday
229% increase by the 13th birthday
Let’s see how that compares to the rates at Trupanion over the lifetime of a pet. When enrolling at less than a year old, while Trupanion and VPI/Nationwide’s rates are in line for the first few years, VPI/Nationwide’s quickly skyrocket when both their Birthday pricing and potential 10% per year inflation increase is taken into consideration. On average, over the lifetime of this pet (a Labrador Retriever from Walnut, CA), a member would pay $274.05 a month with VPI/Nationwide, and $129.88 with Trupanion.
To be fair, VPI/Nationwide is similar to most “pet insurance” providers in that their rates automatically go up based on age, but you might not realize this, as this fact is not easily available via their marketing materials or on their website. And we understand that it can often be hard to plan for the future, no one is sitting around thinking about how much medical insurance for their pet may cost three years from now. But, we believe that with such an important decision, one that will be there for the life of your pet, it’s worth it to think about the long term.
When it comes to pricing Trupanion is different. We know medical insurance is for the life of your pet, so we share the risk with all responsible, loving pet owners like you who enroll their pets at the same age, regardless of whether they enrolled last month or last decade.
Now, we aren’t saying that your rates will never change if you enroll with Trupanion. Like VPI/Nationwide or other companies, we too must increase or decrease rates due to changes in the cost of veterinary care. But as stated previously, a price increase ultimately means that we can continue to offer our members the same value as we always have. It’s not about making money, it’s about providing our members what we said we would.
But it’s important to know that we promise to never increase your monthly payments due to your pet aging or just because you’re pet has been unlucky and has faced some medical issues.
We don't share your private information
Nationwide is a huge company, with over 30 individual insurance products. Don’t be surprised if, after you enroll, they try to sell you car and home insurance. And not only that, they can share your private information with third parties to do so.
National Casualty Company, Privacy Statement, page 1. Screenshot taken 4/7/2016.
We believe that your private information is just that, private, and most of it isn’t anything a pet insurance provider would even need access to in the first place.
We're here for you 24/7
Our call center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even on holidays. We know that pets can get sick or hurt at any time, and if you need us at 3am on a Sunday because you have a question about the policy or you’re stressing about a treatment — we’re just a phone call away.
VPI/Nationwide has “regular” business hours and are only available M-F, 7:30am – 4:30pm. Try calling them at 3am on a Sunday, and all you’ll get is an automated robot.
We don't need to "approve" you for coverage
Just like when you are purchasing a home, and the mortgage underwriter reviews your financials to make sure you can pay, VPI/Nationwide’s underwriters check to make sure that your pet doesn’t appear to be a liability for them. They’ll also make a decision about what plan you “qualify” for. Try enrolling an older pet, say 10 years old, and you’ll see your plan choices drastically decreased. With Trupanion when you enroll, you’re just…enrolled. Right away, no approval needed. Unless your pet is under 8 weeks old or 14 years or older, any dog or cat is approved for the one simple, comprehensive plan right on the spot.
We don't drop coverage
Do you think that if you pay your monthly cost consistently when due, and follow all the rules of the policy, that you should be able to keep your insurance for as long as you want? We do too! However, VPI/Nationwide have the ability to cancel your policy with only ten days’ notice, for absolutely no reason at all. Or they can choose not to renew it when your anniversary comes up.
Now, they may choose not to enforce this, but then again, it’s right there in their policy. Do you really want to gamble with your pet’s coverage, especially as they get older and you need it the most?
See this in VPI/Nationwide’s policy wording below:
Nationwide Whole Pet with Wellness Policy, Percent of Invoice Plan a Coverage Form, page 3, Section 8. Termination of Insurance. Screenshot taken 4/7/2016.
It, quite frankly, puts a black mark on the whole industry. We’ve seen too many horror stories of people and their pets left high and dry when they need their insurance most.
With Trupanion you have coverage for your pet’s entire life. It doesn’t matter how many health issues your pet may face, or how much we need to pay out — your bill can be $100 or $100,000 — we will NEVER drop your coverage.
We offer financial flexibility
VPI/Nationwide has two deductible options available to you, $100 and $250. This makes it awful hard to ensure that you can fit coverage into your monthly budget.
With Trupanion you can pick what you pay, because you can choose your deductible, anywhere from $0 to $1,000. Pretty neat, huh? Medical insurance doesn’t have to be out of your budget!
And let’s talk about deductibles for a minute. Trupanion has a lifetime per condition deductible — no need to pay your deductible over and over again every year when you’ve already met it for that condition or a related condition. This is great when your pet suffers from allergies, or develops a chronic ailment. For a very unlucky pet that experiences several different, unrelated conditions, the per condition deductible may prove to be a bit less effective, but we’ve found that most pet’s only suffer a few different, unrelated conditions in their whole lifetime. Pet owners who are concerned about a lifetime per condition deductible, can choose a $0 deductible with Trupanion, which isn't offered by VPI/Nationwide.
We don't cover wellness
Some pet medical insurance companies offer wellness coverage, but Trupanion does not. Why? Because we believe that we should focus on providing the coverage that gives you, the pet owner, the most value — and that lies in covering those unexpected conditions that are often the most costly to treat, injuries and illnesses.
We also believe that insurance companies should never manage or dictate the pet owner’s relationship with their veterinarian. Your veterinarian choosing which preventive care programs or what treatments are best for your pet strengthens the bond between the two of you — which ultimately leads to a healthier, happier pet.
Plus, it just makes more sense for pet owners to pay their veterinarian directly for expected costs that are easy to budget for, rather than to pay through an insurance company “middleman.” What’s more, the insurance company most likely has a one-size-fits-all “bundle” of preventive care services that may or may not include the best care options for a specific pet. Why pay year after year for spay and neuter services, when a pet will only need this one time?
When you adopt a pet from a shelter or breeder, you already know there will be some expenses — regular checkups, vaccines, pet food, a leash, and toys. Lots of toys.
Medical insurance should not be purchased to cover these things, just as you don’t use insurance to buy new furniture for your home or an oil change for your car. Medical insurance is to here for you to help if you must face the unexpected with your pet. Let us do what we do best, protect you and protect your dog or cat.