Trupanion vs. Petplan
When looking into medical insurance for your pet, it's very important to get the facts and read the fine print. What are the top reasons to choose Trupanion over Petplan? Check out this video for a summary:
WE CAN PAY YOUR VETERINARIAN DIRECTLY
Petplan can only reimburse pet owners once they have already paid their veterinary bill. Trupanion is changing the "reimbursement" game by offering payment directly to the hospital, which means pet owners aren’t out of pocket. This also means claims can be closed and paid in as little as 5 minutes. Read more >
WE'RE FAIR WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR DEDUCTIBLE
One of Petplan's deductible options includes charging the policyholder both annually and per-condition. This means, policyholders pay more out of pocket over the lifetime of their pet — and will re-pay deductibles for conditions where they’ve already been met, year after year after year. Read more >
WE DON'T RAISE RATES WHEN YOUR PET HAS A BIRTHDAY
Petplan utilizes “Birthday Pricing”, where policyholder’s rates are guaranteed to increase each year due to their pet aging. These rates grow by 15-18% per year and are in addition to inflation changes. Read more >
WE PROCESS YOUR PAYOUTS FAIRLY
Unlike most insurance companies, Petplan applies the co-insurance first, then applies the deductible, which always results in pet owners receiving less money reimbursed. Read more >
WE DON’T RESTRICT COVERAGE WITH LONG WAITING PERIODS
Petplan has a 6 month waiting period for any treatment associated with damage or rupture of cruciate ligaments, luxation of the patella, or other soft tissue disorders of the knee.Read more >
WE OFFER FINANCIAL FLEXIBILITY
With Petplan, if even one claim has been filed, policyholders with never be able to decrease their deductible or co-insurance amount, so they have very little choice in deciding what they pay for their coverage. Read more >
WE DON'T PENALIZE PET OWNERS WITH UNEXPECTED RESTRICTIONS If your pet does not receive an annual health exam, any conditions that may be discovered at the next annual exam will now be considered pre-existing even though you’ve had continuous coverage. Read more >
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 and 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.
We’re committed to helping all pets get the best medical care. We’re committed to being the best value proposition for responsible, loving pet owners. And we’re committed to doing what we say, changing the industry for the better, and focusing on what’s best for pets, pet owners, and veterinarians.
Finally, 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 Petplan's “pet insurance” stack up to Trupanion’s medical insurance?
We can pay your veterinarian directly
We mentioned this before. But we think it’s worth repeating. Rather than the traditional insurance reimbursement model, Trupanion has changed the game and created a process that, once again, puts our members first. We can pay your veterinarian directly, before you even leave their hospital. No more filing paperwork, no more waiting for a check — just peace of mind that you are covered.
We don’t want you to pay out of pocket and we think you probably don’t either. We don’t want to waste your time, and we don’t want you to have to worry about what’s going to get covered. In many cases, our direct pay option requires no paperwork and no phone calls from the pet owner.
We're fair when it comes to your deductible
While, Petplan does offer you the choice of your deductible type, either an annual deductible or an annual per condition deductible, there may be some confusion about which option a pet owner should choose. If you choose the annual per condition option, Petplan charges your chosen deductible both annually and per-condition. As a reminder, with Trupanion you pay your deductible once per-condition for the entire life of your pet, or you may never have to pay a deductible if you’ve chosen a $0 deductible at the time of enrollment. A $0 deductible is not an option with Petplan.
Petplan’s annual per condition deductible results in you paying more out of pocket over the lifetime of your pet — and you will re-pay deductibles for conditions where they’ve already been met, year after year after year.
If you choose the annual deductible, Petplan will require you to pay your deductible once a year, even for conditions where you’ve already paid it. Your pet’s medical insurance is for life, you don’t want to have to worry about meeting your deductible for the same conditions over and over, year after year.
Most pets deal with only a few unrelated conditions over the course of their life. For a pet that is insured for 13 years you might end up paying your deductible 3 or 4 times over those 13 years with Trupanion’s lifetime per condition. With an annual deductible, you’ll be paying your deductible 13 times, and with Petplan’s annual per condition deductible, you can expect to pay your deductible at least 16 or 17 times if all the conditions affect your pet a single time, and if it’s a chronic condition, expect 26 deductible payments.
In this example, with a lifetime per condition deductible, if your pet suffered from both allergies and diabetes, you would need to pay your $250 deductible twice, once for each condition, or a total of $500. With annual deductible plans you would have to pay the $250 every year, here we are estimating your pet maintains their insurance for 10 years so you would pay $250 ten times, or a total of $2,500. If you purchase a policy with an annual per condition deductible, you would have even higher deductible payments as shown.
See this in Petplan’s own policy wording below:
Fetch Insurance Services, LLC, dba Petplan, Pet Health Insurance Policy Terms & Conditions, page 7, Section IV. Co-pay and Deductibles. Screenshot taken 6/28/2016.
We don't raise rates just because your pet has a birthday
Petplan 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 any changes driven by inflation.
These birthday-induced rates grow by 15-18% per year. With Petplan, your premium is guaranteed to double by the time your dog or cat is 7 years old, and more than triple 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 Petplan’s rate filing:
Fetch Insurance Services, LLC, dba Petplan, Fetch Pet Health Insurance Program, Rate Manual, Policy Option Pricing, Pet Age, page 8. Screenshot taken 6/29/2016.
So, what we are showing above is very “insurance-y”, but it shows the published age rating factors that Petplan use for their product. Basically, for a pet enrolled at less than 1 year old, the 0.850 is the base rate of the monthly cost. Every addition on to that 0.850 as the pet ages accounts for an increase in the base rate. So for dogs:
- Less than 1 year = .850 (base rate)
- 26% increase of the base rate on 3rd birthday
- 67% increase by the 5th birthday
- 121% increase by the 7th birthday
- 237% increase by the 10th birthday
- 413% increase by the 13th birthday
Let’s see how this compares to the monthly rates at Trupanion over the lifetime of a pet. In the below chart, we are looking at a pet that is enrolled at less than a year old and that stays insured over the next 13 years. We compare the guaranteed rates when using Petplan’s filed age rating factors (solid lines), and then what those rates would be with the addition of a potential 10% per year inflation (dotted lines).
When enrolling at less than a year old, while Petplan and Trupanion have similar rating, Petplan’s monthly rates quickly skyrocket when both their guaranteed birthday pricing and the potential 10% per year inflation is taken into consideration.
When all monthly rates are added together and averaged over the lifetime of this example pet, which remains insured for a total of 14 years, a member would pay, on average:
- Petplan + 10% inflation: $273.85 a month
- Petplan (no inflation, just guaranteed age rating): $133.67 a month
- Trupanion + 10% inflation: $93.92 a month
- Trupanion (no inflation): $47.00 a month
These are some significant differences.
To be fair, Petplan’s birthday pricing is similar to other “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 that enroll their pets at the same age, regardless if they enrolled last month or last decade.
Now, we aren’t saying that your rates will never change if you enroll with Trupanion. Like Petplan or other companies, we too must increase or decrease rates due to changes in the cost of veterinary care. 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.
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. 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.
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 process your payouts fairly
Like most people, you probably don’t often think about how your deductible and co-insurance is applied when you make a claim. Trupanion, and most other insurance companies apply the deductible first and then the co-insurance. However, Petplan switches these and applies your co-insurance before your deductible. Seems innocent, but that little reversal can cost you big bucks over the life of your pet. When the co-insurance is applied before the deductible, pet owners will always get less money reimbursed.
Let's do the math:
Say you have a $250 deductible with 90% coverage (your co-insurance is 10%). You take your dog to your veterinarian and receive a bill with $1,000 of eligible costs.
- Petplan would pay you: $650
- Trupanion would pay you: $675
($1,000 - $100 co-insurance = $900 - $250 deductible = $650)
($1,000 - $250 deductible = $750 - $75 co-insurance = $675)
That $25 may not seem like a lot, but it adds up quickly, especially when you’re paying deductibles over and over again every year with Petplan.
See this in Petplan’s own policy wording:
Fetch Insurance Services, LLC, dba Petplan, Pet Health Insurance Policy Terms & Conditions, page 7, Section IV. Co-pay and Deductibles. Screenshot taken 6/29/2016.
And just to demonstrate this issue again, in Petplan’s own example from their policy wording above, where they quote that they would pay $800 (of $1,000 eligible costs with 10% co-insurance and a $100 deductible), Trupanion would pay $810, enough for a latte for you and a bag of treats for Fluffy.
We don't restrict coverage with long waiting periods
Like all companies, Petplan has waiting periods for injuries and illnesses following enrollment, this is completely normal, and Trupanion has them too. However, what most pet owners may not know is that there is a 6 month waiting period for any treatment associated with damage or rupture of cruciate ligaments, luxation of the patella, or other soft tissue disorders of the knee.
Six months may not seem like a long time to wait, but we’ve found that cruciate ruptures and luxating patellas are two of Trupanion’s most commonly claimed conditions and some of the most costly to treat. A Labrador Retriever that is between the ages of 2 and 7 years old, for instance, is 80% more likely than the average dog to experience a cruciate rupture, and treatment will likely cost the pet owner nearly $4,000.
You can have the 6 months waived by Petplan, but in order to do so you must visit your veterinarian within your first 30 days of enrollment and get a special examination that documents that your pet doesn’t have any pre-existing conditions related to their knees. This is just one more restriction that costs you time and money. And if you miss that window to waive this restriction (which is not heavily advertised), unfortunately, you could find yourself in a tough spot.
Is it worth it to have coverage that restricts your pet’s care for a condition that may be likely to happen to your pet?
See this in Petplan’s own policy wording:
Fetch Insurance Services, LLC, dba Petplan, Pet Health Insurance Policy Terms & Conditions, page 8, Section V. General Exclusions. Screenshot taken 6/29/2016.
We offer financial flexibility
As mentioned before, not only does Trupanion offer a choice of no deductible or a lifetime per condition deductible up to $1,000, but we also let you change your deductible in order to adjust your monthly payment to fit your budget at any time. Petplan has a big restriction on changing your coverage. You can decrease your coverage or increase your deductible by requesting it in writing at any time, however, if you have filed even just one claim you will never be able to decrease your deductible or decrease your co-insurance amount ever. Unfortunately, that means, you don’t have much choice in what you are paying with Petplan.
See this in Petplan’s own policy wording:
Fetch Insurance Services, LLC, dba Petplan, Pet Health Insurance Policy Terms & Conditions, page 13, Section VII. General Conditions, section 10. Screenshot taken 7/1/2016.
We don’t penalize pet owners with unexpected restrictions
Most pet owners will take their pets to their veterinarian at least once a year for a checkup, this is a good practice for maintaining your pet’s health. Trupanion does require an annual dental exam, which should be part of a comprehensive wellness exam, and most other companies require you to take your pet for an annual exam. Petplan, too, requires an annual wellness exam, and there’s nothing wrong with that, however, what’s a little concerning is that they can actually use it as a way to restrict future coverage.
Petplan requires any pet that is under the age of 6 to have been examined by a veterinarian within the past 12 months, 30 days for all pets 6 and over, at enrollment. If your pet has not been examined according to these conditions, they require that you have the exam within the first 30 days of the effective date of the policy, at your own expense. Any conditions found at this exam, even if it’s past the required waiting periods, will be considered pre-existing. And any conditions related to those that may pop up in the future will also be excluded. Now, this all seems pretty standard, and it’s not particularly concerning.
What is concerning is that this same stipulation applies to new policies and to your continuous coverage. If for some reason you miss that annual health check they require, that next exam will be used to determine any conditions that will be excluded. We’re not sure how severely they adhere to this—what if, for instance, you are just a few weeks past due for that annual exam? It appears any conditions that may be discovered at that next annual exam will now be considered pre-existing even though you’ve had continuous coverage. It also seems that even previously covered conditions will now be considered pre-existing, as well.
While it’s quite normal to require that a pet receive an annual health checkup, the condition of using this as a way to exclude conditions seems a bit harsh, especially in regards to renewals where the coverage is continuous with no breaks. Petplan mentions this condition at least 3 times in their policy, so clearly they are taking it very seriously, so pet owners should be very much aware of this policy stipulation.
See this in Petplan’s policy wording:
Fetch Insurance Services, LLC, dba Petplan, Pet Health Insurance Policy Terms & Conditions, page 12, Section VII. General Conditions, section 6. Care for your Pet. Screenshot taken 7/5/2016.
We support veterinarians
Trupanion prides itself on forming lasting partnerships with hospitals and veterinary staff. We know they are the experts when it comes to pet health and their recommendation of medical insurance is paramount. In fact, Trupanion’s policy was created by veterinarians, and veterinarians continue to manage it.
Petplan, however, have partnerships that actually can cause erosion of a pet owner’s relationship with their trusted veterinarian. For instance, Petplan partners with internet pharmacies to offer discounts on medications to pet owners. While a benefit to their policyholders, this can prompt a client to refrain from purchasing at the in-hospital pharmacy, severely affecting the hospital’s bottom line. And in fact, one of Petplan’s partners published an article to their thousands of members that advocated avoiding buying medicine and other items from the veterinary hospital, and instead filling prescriptions at other stores. That doesn’t sound like a company that is supportive of the veterinary industry.
Trupanion never wants to interrupt or interfere with the relationship between pet owner and veterinarian, which is why we don’t offer extra benefits of the kind mentioned above, why we don’t offer wellness care, and why we don’t dictate treatments. We just strive to always do what is best for pets, pet owners, and veterinarians.
We are Trupanion. We’re medical insurance for pets and we’re committed to helping all pets be able to get the best medical care. We’re committed to being the best value proposition for responsible, loving pet owners. And we’re committed to doing what we say, to changing the industry for the better, and to focusing on what’s best for pets, pet owners, and veterinarians.
We urge all pet owners to really look at the coverage Petplan is offering and make the decision that is best for their pet, for their entire life—think about the restrictions, unnecessarily long waiting periods, how they process claims to result in a lower payout for you, and their practice of birthday pricing.
Our commitment to getting this right has remained as steadfast and strong as when we first entered this industry — and it will remain that way for as long as we’re here.