Trupanion vs. VPI/Nationwide

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. Coverage is for the life of your pet so take your time and read the fine print. 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.

VPI/Nationwide can only reimburse pet owners after they paid their entire veterinary bill. Trupanion is changing the "reimbursement" game by offering payment directly to the hospital at checkout, 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 about Trupanion as payment

VPI/Nationwide has language written into their policy that gives them permission to exclude conditions your pet has developed over the past year that were covered by their policy (or related conditions that could potentially develop because of that original condition) when you renew your policy. 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.  Read more about covered conditions at renewal

VPI/Nationwide uses “Birthday Pricing,” where policyholder’s rates increase due to their pet aging. These guaranteed rate increases grow by 8 - 13% over the years and are in addition to increases from factors like inflation or cost of care. Why we don't do birthday pricing


When you look at the policy wording, which is taken directly from VPI/Nationwide’s policy on their website, in certain states, VPI/Nationwide has drafted their policy to allow them to 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. Why we offer lifetime coverage

Major Medical, one of VPI/Nationwide’s plans, provides limited coverage for the things that may be more likely to happen to specific breeds. These things are collectively known as congenital or hereditary conditions and include conditions such as cardiac arrhythmia in Boxers or deafness in Dalmatians.  Why we cover breed-specific conditions

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. Read more about privacy

One of VPI/Nationwide’s plans (Major Medical) reimburses policyholders based on a Benefit Schedule. Benefit Schedules aren't unlimited - they have a maximum reimbursement amount that may not cover the full extent of your actual bill. If your maximum reimbursement is $10,000 and your vet bills total over $15,000, you're on the hook for the rest of the cost. See more about covered costs

When a pet owner enrolls, VPI/Nationwide’s underwriters check to make sure that a pet doesn’t appear to be a liability for them, usually “approving” a pet within 3 days. They’ll also make a decision about what plan a pet qualifies for. Read more about easy approvals

Trupanion has pet-loving specialists available 24/7. That means you can call us anytime and speak to a human to ask questions about the Trupanion policy. VPI/Nationwide does have a 24-hour veterinary helpline, but this veterinary helpline is not available for coverage questions. Get 24/7 member support

VPI/Nationwide has two deductible options: $100 and $250. This gives little flexibility in making sure coverage fits a monthly budget. Pick your deductible

Because we believe that we should focus on providing the coverage that, in our opinion, gives the pet owner the most value—covering conditions that are often the most costly to treat: injuries and illnesses. Why we don't cover wellness

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 VPI/Nationwide’s “pet insurance” stack up to Trupanion’s medical insurance?

Major Medical benefit schedule plan

VPI/Nationwide's Major Medical plan excludes certain conditions based on breed

VPI/Nationwide has several pet insurance products available, one of which, Major Medical, has significant limitations and exclusions when it comes to the things that may be more likely to happen to specific breeds. Collectively, these things are known as congenital and hereditary conditions. 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 plan 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?

In our view, excluding conditions based on breed is not fair. No pet deserves to be punished for being their specific breed. And we don’t want this to be any pet owner’s experience. That’s why Trupanion covers all hereditary and congenital conditions, as long as they are not pre-existing, in our ONE core policy.

See these exclusions on VPI/Nationwide's website:

Major Medical plan reimburses according to a benefit schedule, not your bill

One of VPI/Nationwide’s plans, Major Medical, reimburses policyholders for conditions that are covered based on a Benefit Schedule. Benefit schedules attribute a fixed cost to different medical conditions. If you exceed the cost on that benefit schedule - too bad. You're responsible for the rest of the cost.

For example, let's say your pet develops a medical issue that has a $5,000 maximum on your benefit schedule. If it actually takes $8,000 to treat that issue, then you wouldn't be covered at all for the remaining $3,000. 

Trupanion never uses a benefit schedule. Instead, we cover 90% of the actual cost of your pet's treatment, based on the invoice that your veterinary hospital gives you. No caps, no limits, no maximum payouts.

See an example VPI/Nationwide's benefit schedule:

VPI/Nationwide has lots of limits and some long waiting periods

Waiting periods aside, there are other issues to take into consideration. Think tons of 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:

Screenshot showing Nationwide does not cover cruciate ligament injuries within the first 12 months of coverage

VPI/Nationwide offers wellness plans

We believe wellness plans are great - your veterinarian may even provide one. We just don't think they provide value when what you're looking for is insurance. Your car insurance doesn't cover your oil changes because they expect that you know you will have to do that to maintain your vehicle. While a wellness plan from your veterinary hospital can be a great addition to your pet's healthcare, it isn't planning for the unexpected.

Trupanion does not offer any wellness coverage of any kind. We believe that you will receive the most value if we cover what you're least expecting. You can plan for annual check-ups and flea preventive - do you know how to plan if your pet is unlucky in their health? 

We also believe that insurance companies should never manage or dictate the pet owner’s relationship with their veterinarian. Your veterinarian is the expert on your pet’s health, and they can and should choose which preventive care programs or what treatments are best 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.

If you think about it another way, when you adopt a pet from a shelter or breeder, you already know there will be some expenses—regular checkups, vaccines, and flea control.

Medical insurance should not be purchased to cover these things, just as you wouldn’t use your pet’s insurance to buy leashes and toys. Let us do what we do best, protect you and protect your dog or cat.

We can'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 design our policy to be 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 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.

VPI/Nationwide has wording in their policy that allows them to add exclusions to your policy every year when you renew your policy. The language in their policy gives them permission to exclude conditions that 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) when you renew. We don’t believe that’s fair to you or your pet.

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. You may not want to risk gambling your coverage.

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

Screenshot of What is Not Covered from Nationwide insurance

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:

A screenshot of Nationwide's medical records requirements

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

VPI/Nationwide participates in something we call “Birthday Pricing,” where, simply put, your rates increase because your pet is growing older. These guaranteed rate increases would be in addition to any changes applied due to inflation.

These birthday-induced rates grow by 8% - 13% over the years. 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 the Whole Pet with Wellness product:

A screenshot showing Nationwide increases rates when a pet has a birthday

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 developed 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 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 VPI/Nationwide’s filed age rating factors (solid lines), and then what those rates could be with the addition of a potential 10% per year inflation (dotted lines). In reality, inflation may not change at this 10% rate, this is just for illustrative purposes.

A screenshot showing Nationwide rates greatly increase as your pet ages

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 pet, which remains insured for 13 years, 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, 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—we cannot guarantee that. Like VPI/Nationwide or other companies, we too must increase or decrease rates due to changes in the cost of veterinary care. As we mentioned before, when you enroll your dog or cat with Trupanion, we associate him or her with a subcategory 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 values that help us determine an appropriate monthly payment for your pet. During your time as a Trupanion member, your monthly payment will go up or down based upon the average costs of all pets within your subcategory. 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.

But it’s important to know that we 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. 

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.

See this in VPI/Nationwide’s Privacy Policy included with a pet owner’s policy:

VPI/Nationwide's Privacy Policy
National Casualty Company, Privacy Statement, page 1. Screenshot taken 8/22/2018.

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 need another pet lover to talk to—we’re just a phone call away.

VPI/Nationwide is only available for coverage questions M-F, 5:00am – 7:00pm (PST), and Saturday 7:00am – 3:30pm (PST), that means they’re open less than half of the week. VPI/Nationwide does give their policyholders access to a customer knowledge base and a veterinary helpline 24 hours a day. But they aren't available by phone for coverage questions 24/7.

Trupanion remains committed to our members whenever they need us. We know that those midnight calls can make a difference to the way your veterinarian treats a life-threatening situation and that's why we make sure we're there for you whenever you might need us.

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 qualifies for their Whole Pet with Wellness Plan. With Trupanion when you enroll, you’re just…enrolled. Right away, no approval needed. Unless your pet is 14 years or older, any dog or cat is approved for the one simple, comprehensive plan right on the spot.

We don't have a policy that can drop coverage for no reason

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! But in some states, VPI/Nationwide's policy says otherwise. When you look at the policy wording below, which is taken directly from VPI/Nationwide’s policy on their website, in certain states VPI/Nationwide has drafted their policy to allow them to 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.

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:

A screenshot showing how Nationwide can terminate your policy

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 won’t drop your coverage, and so we don't have this wording in our policy. Plus, our policy only lets us cancel your coverage for fraud or non-payment. That way responsible pet owners can have peace of mind knowing they're covered.

We offer financial flexibility

VPI/Nationwide has two deductible options available to you for their Whole Pet with Wellness product, $100 and $250. This makes it awful hard to ensure that you can fit this particular 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—so there’s 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. A lifetime per condition deductible does not mean you must pay a deductible every time you file a claim, instead your chosen deductible only applies when your pet is diagnosed with a NEW condition. This is great when your pet suffers from allergies or develops a chronic ailment. So, if your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, for instance, and you have a $250 deductible, once you meet the $250 deductible with Trupanion, you’ll never have to pay a deductible for claims relating to your pet’s diabetes or any conditions relating to diabetes that may occur ever again. For the entire life of your pet. 

Now, for a very unlucky pet that experiences several different, unrelated conditions in a single year, say diabetes and a broken leg, the per condition deductible may prove to be a bit less effective. But we’ve found that most pets only suffer a few different, unrelated conditions in their whole lifetime. And pet owners that are concerned about paying a lifetime per condition deductible can choose to not have a deductible at all when they enroll with Trupanion, which is not an option with VPI/Nationwide.

Deductible chart

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.

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 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.

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.

Our commitment

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 look at the coverage VPI/Nationwide is offering and make the decision that is best for their pet, for their entire life—think about the restrictions and limits on most of their plans, their ability to cancel your Whole Pet with Wellness policy at any time, and the lack of time they make available for their customer’s needs.

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.

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