cat lounging on wooden chair tapping puppy's nose with pawcat lounging on wooden chair tapping puppy's nose with pawcat lounging on wooden chair tapping puppy's nose with paw

When looking into medical insurance for your pet, it’s very important to get the facts and read the fine print. Be sure to do your research before making your decision. To make life a little easier, we’ve done some of that for you—read on to learn some of the differences between Trupanion and VPI/Nationwide.

Direct payment to hospitals We can pay your veterinarian directly within minutes at checkout Reimbursement after pet owner has paid entire veterinary bill
Breed-based restrictions in payouts and coverage

We don't exclude issues specific to certain breeds

Some plans offer limited coverage for conditions more likely to occur with specific breeds
Payout limits We don't restrict the amount of care your pet can receive. Ever. Payments are determined on a benefit schedule
Availability Our experts are available to answer questions about anything – 24/7/365 24-hour helpline for veterinary questions only
Financial flexibility We have no deductible and you choose your payout percentage Two deductible options: $100 and $250

We can pay your veterinarian directly

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 our portion directly to the hospital while you’re checking out. That means you’re only paying the veterinary hospital your share of the invoice. We don’t want you to wait for a reimbursement or worry about what’s going to get covered, and we think you probably don’t either. In many cases, our direct pay option requires no paperwork and no phone calls from the pet owner.

VPI/Nationwide only reimburses pet owners after they’ve paid their entire veterinary bill with no option for direct payment to hospitals.

Ask your hospital if they have the ability to accept direct payment from Trupanion. If they don’t, ask them to contact us so we can work with them to help ensure you’ll have the best experience possible.

We have no breed-based restrictions in payouts and coverage

The Trupanion Plan doesn’t discriminate or restrict coverage for different breeds at enrollment. No matter what breed or mix you have, your pet will always be able to choose the highest- quality coverage that the Trupanion plan offers.

VPI/Nationwide has several pet insurance products available. One of their plans, Major Medical, has significant limitations and exclusions when it comes to the things that may be more likely to happen to specific breeds. Collectively known as congenital and hereditary conditions. For example, cardiac arrhythmia in Boxers could be considered a congenital condition, and deafness in Dalmatians could be considered a hereditary condition.

Major Medical excludes all congenital conditions from coverage, considering them pre-existing even if there are no signs of the condition prior to enrollment or during waiting periods. The policy does cover some hereditary conditions, but not all, and those they do cover are only after a 12-month waiting period. Hereditary and congenital conditions are often costly to treat, and may require veterinary care for the rest of your pet’s life. Some of these conditions are very common for many breeds. Why pay for coverage that doesn’t cover what you may need it to?

VPI/Nationwide Pet Insurance - major medical restrictions

See these exclusions on VPI/Nationwide’s website:

Excluded Hereditary Conditions
Excluded Congenital Conditions
Common Disorders and Defects

In addition to the potential of having certain conditions exempt from coverage, there are other details to take into consideration. Think countless restrictions, limits, caps, and long waiting periods—like 12 months for cruciate ligament and meniscus (knee) injuries. Cruciate ligament injuries happen to be one of the top conditions we’ve helped cover for our members, many within their first year with Trupanion. With the majority of VPI/Nationwide plans, if your pet has a cruciate issue within the first year of enrollment, it wouldn’t be covered.

See this on VPI/Nationwide’s website:

Nationwide/VPI cruciate injury policy screenshot

VPI/Nationwide website: Screenshot taken 11/22/2019.

With Trupanion, your full coverage kicks in after a 12-day waiting period. That’s right—not 12 months, 12 days.

We have no limits on the amount of care your pet can receive

No one wants their beloved cat or dog to get sick or injured, but sometimes unexpected things happen. That’s where medical insurance can help. But if your coverage is limited, you may find yourself in a tough situation.

Other companies often have annual limits, so if your pet is unlucky and has a few really big bills, you may find yourself paying out of pocket pretty quickly. If your pet is experiencing a health issue, the last thing you want to worry about is whether your pet’s medical insurance policy will actually pay the bill.

With The Trupanion Plan, there’s no limit on the amount of care your pet can receive. We pay based on the actual veterinary invoice, and no matter how high the veterinary invoice or how many claims we’ve paid for your pet, you never have to worry about running out of coverage.

One of VPI/Nationwide’s plans, Major Medical, reimburses policyholders based on a benefit schedule. A benefit schedule is a list that details the fixed payout amounts a provider will pay for each condition and veterinary procedure. Their maximum reimbursement amount may not cover the full extent of your actual bill. If the maximum reimbursement is $10,000.00 and your veterinary bills total over $15,000.00, you’re on the hook for $5,000.00.

See an example VPI/Nationwide’s benefit schedule:
Major Medical benefit schedule

And what seems like a reasonable limit today may be very limiting in a few years’ time. When purchasing medical insurance, consider what your coverage needs may be like three, five, or 10 years from now. You just never know what might happen. Which is why getting medical insurance for your pet is a smart choice. And when you don’t have to worry about keeping a tally of your veterinary invoices, you can stay focused on the health of your pet.

We’re here for you 24/7/365

Our call center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year—even on holidays. Trupanion remains committed to our members whenever they need us. We know that those midnight calls can make a difference when your veterinarian is treating a life-threatening situation. That’s why we make sure we’re there for you whenever you might need us.

VPI/Nationwide is only available for coverage questions Monday through Friday, 5am–7pm, and Saturday 7am – 3:30pm PST. That means they’re open less than half of the week, as opposed to Trupanion being open 100% of the week. VPI/Nationwide has a 24-hour veterinary helpline, but this helpline cannot answer coverage questions.

We are committed to helping our members whenever they need us. We know those midnight calls can make a difference in the way your veterinarian treats a life-threatening situation. That’s why we make sure we’re there for you whenever you might need us.

We offer financial flexibility with no deductible

We offer the most flexible payout available, so that you’re in control of your monthly costs. When you sign up, you get to pick what we pay. This means you have maximum control over your monthly costs by choosing a payout percentage that works for you.

VPI/Nationwide has two deductible options available to you for their Whole Pet with Wellness product: $100 and $250. This makes it difficult to ensure that you can fit this particular coverage into your monthly budget.

And let’s talk about deductibles for a minute. With The Trupanion Plan, you never have a deductible to meet. That’s right, we don’t have a set amount you have to pay before your coverage kicks in. Instead, you pick the payout percentage, and if something happens to your pet, The Trupanion Plan starts paying out immediately.

We can’t exclude covered conditions at renewal

Our members receive a personalized Medical Record Summary that details a pet’s health history, listing anything that existed before coverage began. This report outlines what you can expect from your pet’s coverage for life.

VPI/Nationwide has language written into their policy that gives them permission at your yearly renewal to exclude conditions your pet has developed over the previous year—including related conditions that could potentially develop because of the original condition. That means one day a condition will be covered and the next day it may not. VPI/Nationwide may not choose to add additional exclusions onto a pet owner’s policy at renewal, but the language that enables them to do so is right there in the policy.

See this in VPI/Nationwide’s own policy wording below:

VPI/Nationwide Pet Insurance - policy exclusions

Nationwide Whole Pet with Wellness Policy. Percent of Invoice Plan & Coverage Form, page 3, Section 7, What We Do Not Cover–Exclusions. Screenshot taken 11/22/2019.

And if you want to challenge the addition of the excluded condition, you must go through an administrative process where VPI/Nationwide makes a final decision. It’s important to note that chronic conditions are never eligible for review:

VPI/Nationwide Pet Insurance - policy review

Nationwide Whole Pet with Wellness Policy. Percent of Invoice Plan & Coverage Form, page 5, Section 13, Review. Screenshot taken 11/22/2019.

We designed our plan to be there for the life of your pet, so we 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 won’t suddenly declare it pre-existing just because it’s in our best interest.

We don’t raise rates just because your pet has a birthday

Trupanion is unique because we are the only provider of medical insurance for pets that uses your pet’s age at enrollment to determine your plan’s price—for life. For example, if you sign up your puppy at 8 weeks old, we’ll price them as an 8-week old for their entire life.

This doesn’t mean your rates will never change as a Trupanion member. All insurers must increase or decrease rates due to changes in the cost of veterinary care. And while your pet has Trupanion coverage, your monthly cost will go up or down based upon the underlying costs of all pets within your subcategories. That’s how we share the risk fairly among all of our members.

Trupanion considers cost for the entire life of your pet. Our pricing reflects a shared risk with all responsible, loving pet owners like you that sign up their pets at the same age. This is regardless of whether the pet was signed up last month or last decade. When we have a price increase, it ultimately means that we can continue to offer our members the same value as we always have. This is our pricing promise to our members.

But some providers, including VPI/Nationwide, use what’s called “birthday pricing.” Birthday pricing means that an insurer will automatically raise your rate when your pet gets older—on top of all other increases that account for inflation or other factors.

With VPI/Nationwide, your 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 again, it’s extremely important to understand that these guaranteed rate increases are in addition to any other adjustments that may occur.

See VPI/Nationwide’s rate filing for their Major Medical product:

VPI/Nationwide Pet Insurance - age rating factors

VPI/Nationwide’s rate filing for Major Medical Effective 10/1/2019. Screenshot taken 1/13/20.

So, what we are showing above is very “insurance-y,” but we’ve included it here because it’s the published age rating factors that VPI/Nationwide use for the Whole Pet with Wellness product. From age 0 to 2, the 1.00 is the base rate of the monthly cost. As the pet ages beyond 2 years, VPI/Nationwide assigns rates associated with the age of the pet. Each increase adds to the “base rate.” As an example, for dogs the increases amount to:

  • 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.

In the chart below, we’re looking at a pet that was signed up at less than a year old and stays insured over the next 13 years. We compare our rate against the guaranteed rates when using VPI/Nationwide’s filed age rating factors (solid lines). We then compare what those rates could be with the addition of the potential 10% per year inflation (dotted lines).*

VPI/Nationwide Pet Insurance - age chart

When enrolling at less than a year old, VPI/Nationwide and Trupanion have similar rates. However, when all monthly rates are added together and averaged over the lifetime of this example, a member would pay on average:

  • VPI/Nationwide + 10% inflation: $274.05
  • VPI/Nationwide (no inflation, just guaranteed age rating): $118.44
  • Trupanion + 10% inflation: $129.88
  • Trupanion (no inflation): $65.00

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. We believe that with such an important decision, one that will be there for the life of your pet, it’s worth thinking about the long term.

* For illustrative purposes. Inflation may not change at this 10% rate.

We won’t drop coverage for no reason

When you look at VPI/Nationwide’s policy wording below, they have drafted in certain states that they can cancel your policy with only 10 days notice—for no reason at all. Or they can choose not to renew it when your anniversary comes up.

See this in VPI/Nationwide’s policy wording:

VPI/Nationwide Pet Insurance - policy termination

Nationwide Whole Pet with Wellness Policy. Percent of Invoice Plan & Coverage Form, page 5, Section 10, Termination of Insurance. Screenshot taken 11/22/2019.

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 pay out. Your bill can be $100 or $100,000, and we’ll be right there, so we don’t have this wording in our plan. That way responsible pet owners can have peace of mind knowing they’re covered.

We don't share members' private information

VPI/Nationwide is a huge company with over 30 individual insurance products. They share policyholders’ private information to sell their other products, like car and home insurance. See this in VPI/Nationwide’s Privacy Policy included with a pet owner’s policy.

VPI/Nationwide Pet Insurance - privacy policy

National Casualty Company, Privacy Statement, page 1. Screenshot taken 11/22/2019.

We believe that veterinarians should manage wellness—not insurance companies.

While a wellness plan from your veterinary hospital can be a great addition to your pet’s healthcare, it isn’t the same as planning for the unexpected. Trupanion doesn’t offer wellness coverage of any kind. We believe that you will receive the most value if we cover what you’re least expecting. You can easily budget for annual check-ups and flea preventives. But it’s difficult to plan for an accident or sudden illness when you don’t know when it will happen or if costs will fluctuate.

We strongly believe that insurance companies shouldn’t manage or dictate the pet owner’s relationship with their veterinarian. Your veterinarian is the expert on your pet’s health. They can—and should—choose which preventive care programs and treatments are most ideal for your pet. Trupanion believes that the best treatment plan for your pet is the one decided upon by you and your veterinarian, not an insurance company.

We love informed decisions. See our plan for full coverage details.

Have questions? Call 866.615.0126.
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