Trupanion vs. Petplan

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 Petplan.

Are these features important to you?


Trupanion Petplan
Short waiting periods 15 day waiting periods for injuries, 30 days for illnesses 6-month waiting period for any treatment of cruciate ligaments or luxation of the patella
Unexpected restrictions

Does not punish pets with surprise restrictions

Can make previously covered conditions pre-existing at renewal
Vet Direct Pay Can pay participating hospitals directly No automatic process to pay veterinarians directly
No birthday pricing No rate increases just because your pet has a birthday Automatically increases rates just because your pet gets older
Lifetime per condition deductible You only meet your deductible once per condition for your pet's entire life Deductibles reset every policy term, potentially reducing lifetime coverage

We don't have long waiting periods for any condition

Like all companies, Petplan has waiting periods for injuries and illnesses following enrollment. This is completely normal, and Trupanion has them too. However, 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.

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. According to our data, a Labrador Retriever that is between the ages of 2 and 7 years old 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 waiting period 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. If you miss that window to waive this restriction, 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:

A screenshot of the Petplan policy on damage or rupture of cruciate ligaments, luxating patells or other soft tissue knee disorders

Fetch Insurance Services, LLC, dba Petplan, Pet Health Insurance Policy Terms & Conditions, page 8, Section V. General Exclusions. Screenshot taken 6/29/2016.

We don’t penalize pet owners with unexpected restrictions

It's important for your pet's health to take them to their veterinarian for a checkup once a year. This is a crucial part of your pet's normal veterinary care, but unfortuantely Petplan has the potential to reduce your pet's coverage because of their annual wellness exam.

Petplan requires any pet under the age of 6 to be examined by a veterinarian within the past 12 months at enrollment. If your pet has not been examined according to these conditions, Petplan requires 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. This all seems pretty standard and 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 if any conditions 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, in our opinion the condition of using this as a way to exclude conditions seems a bit harsh, especially when it comes 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. That’s why we think pet owners should be very much aware of this policy stipulation.

See this in Petplan’s policy wording:

Petplan screenshot of veterinary examinations and more in their policy

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 can pay your veterinarian directly

Only Trupanion can pay veterinarians directly with our unique software system that can close claims in as few as 5 minutes.

There’s no more paying out of pocket and waiting for reimbursement. All you have to do is pay your portion of the bill, and we cover the rest directly with your veterinary hospital.

In many cases, our direct pay option requires no paperwork or phone calls from the pet owner.

Petplan only reimburses pet owners once they have already paid their veterinary bill or if you call in during their open hours and request a special pre-approval.

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

Trupanion is unique because we are the only pet medical insurance company that always use your pet's age at enrollment to determine your policy's price.

Petplan, like all other pet health insurance companies other than Trupanion, use what is called "birthday pricing."

Birthday pricing means that an insurer will automatically raise your rates when your pet gets older, on top of any rate changes for inflation or other factors.

If your pet has a Trupanion policy, in our eyes they will always be the age they were when they enrolled. For example, if your dog enrolls when they’re 8 weeks old, we’ll price them as an 8-week old for their entire life.

Based on their filing, Petplan has set rate increases based only on your pet's age. Basically, for a pet enrolled at less than 1 year old, 0.850 is the best rate of the monthly cost. Every year as the pet ages, there is an increase in the base rate. These are their automatic rate increases for dogs:

  • 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

These are some significant differences.

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. With Petplan or other companies, we too must increase or decrease rates due to changes in the cost of veterinary care.

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-categories. That’s how we share the risk fairly among all Trupanion members.

A price increase 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.

We're fair when it comes to your deductible

Petplan has two deductible options to choose from: an annual deductible or an annual per condition deductible.

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 only once per -condition for the entirety of your pet's life.

Petplan’s annual per condition deductible results in you paying more out of pocket over the lifetime of your pet — and you may re-pay deductibles for conditions that have 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 for which you have already paid it. Your pet’s medical insurance should be for life — you don’t want to have to worry about meeting your deductible for the same conditions over and over, year after year.

Many 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 optional 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 could pay your deductible at least 16 or 17 times if all the conditions affect your pet only a single time. If they have chronic conditions, you could pay 26 deductible payments.

See this in Petplan’s own policy wording below:

Screenshot of Petplan's policy discussing co-pay and deductibles

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.


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