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wellness plans for pets

Wellness care is different from medical insurance for pets

When surveyed, most pet owners believe pet insurance and wellness plans are the same thing. However, what they cover for your pet differs dramatically.

Medical insurance for pets helps protect your finances while you give your pet the care they need for unexpected injuries and illnesses. It is there to help with things you don’t anticipate happening.

Pet wellness plans, also called preventive plans, is a reimbursement model that provides money back toward common procedures you know your pet will need.

Some organizations, like veterinary hospitals, offer just pet wellness care. Some pet insurance companies offer both medical insurance for pets and pet wellness care. Other companies, like Trupanion, only offer medical insurance for pets.

Here are some examples of what insurance covers, and what insurance does not cover:

Insurance covers
the UNEXPECTED
Insurance does not
cover the EXPECTED
Car Icon
  • Auto accident
  • Weather damage
  • Vandalism
  • Gas
  • Car wash
  • Oil change/brake pads
House Icon
  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Falling trees
  • Burglary
  • New paint
  • Furniture
  • Landscaping
  • Fence
Dag & Cat Icon
  • Broken leg
  • Foreign body ingestion
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Allergies
  • Urinary obstructions
  • Wellness exam fees
  • Vaccinations
  • Spay/neuter
  • Microchip
  • Parasite prevention
  • Routine lab work
  • Dental cleaning

If you want a wellness plan, you should understand how they work

Pet insurance companies that offer wellness plans often reimburse you based on a set benefit schedule.

Here is an example of what some pet insurance companies offer in a basic wellness reimbursement plan:

WELLNESS PROCEDURE REIMBURSEMENT LIMIT
Maximum payout: $400 per year
Physical exam (2 per year) $45 per exam
Behavioral exam $30
Vaccination $50
Heartworm test $30
Fecal test $15
Deworming $25
Spay/neuter $300
Nail trim $20
Microchip $40
Flea control $50

On its own, this wellness plan seems beneficial and you could be reimbursed every time you visit the veterinarian. In general, a wellness plan offered by a pet insurance company could be most valuable if:

  • Your pet uses all of the covered procedures
  • Your veterinarian charges exactly what a wellness plan will reimburse
  • You don’t go over your maximum payout limit

However, most people find it difficult to get value out of a wellness plan offered by a pet insurance company. It’s not always possible to use all covered procedures every year (for example, you will only use the spay/neuter benefit once). Your veterinarian may charge more or less than what a wellness plan will reimburse. Or you could hit the wellness plan’s reimbursement limit.

Here is the same wellness reimbursement plan. It once seemed like such a good investment, but if you can’t commit to using it perfectly, you could end up losing money in the long run.

Here is the same wellness plan paired with how an average pet could use the services:

WELLNESS PROCEDURE REIMBURSEMENT LIMIT
Maximum payout: $400 per year
HOW THE AVERAGE PET USES THESE PROCEDURES THE AVERAGE PET COSTS
Physical exam (2 per year) $45 per exam One exam per year $45
Behavioral exam $30 Not needed $0
Vaccination $50 Uses $70
Heartworm test $30 Uses $25
Fecal test $15 Uses $25
Deworming $25 Not needed $0
Spay/neuter $300 Not needed
(already spayed/neutered)
$0
Nail trim $20 Uses $20
Microchip $40 Uses. Will be charged this next year, even though it is not needed again $40
Flea control $50 Uses $50
Benefit total: $640

This plan charges as if you were using $640 in wellness benefits
Actual total: $275

With a payout limit, the most you would ever get reimbursed from this plan is $400

If you had just saved $300 in your bank account for your pet’s yearly wellness procedures, you wouldn’t have had to pay a pet insurance company extra to get back less.

“There’s a reason 82% of (pet insurance) policies in the US do not cover wellness or preventative care,” reports Consumers Advocate. “Wellness coverage drives up your monthly premiums and makes it so you pay more over the life of your pet for inexpensive procedures that are cheaper to pay out-of-pocket.” We agree that the best pet medical insurance does not need to offer wellness coverage.

Trupanion purposefully chooses not to offer wellness coverage

Veterinarian, Andrea Crabtree, knows that wellness plans from insurance companies are not what is best for pet owners. She says, “Vaccines, spays/neuters, etc. can be planned and saved for. Wellness clinics can perform these for relatively inexpensive fees to pet owners.” 

Why should you pay us for something you can afford yourself? When you can budget for wellness care costs, it doesn’t make sense to pay a middle man more to give that same benefit back to you.

WITH A PET INSURANCE WELLNESS PLAN

Number 1

Your exam fee costs $60

Number 2

The pet insurance company has you pay them $70

Number 3

The pet insurance company pays your veterinarian $60

TOTAL YOU PAID FOR THE EXAM FEE: $70

WITHOUT A WELLNESS PLAN

Number 1

Your exam fee costs $60

Number 2

You pay the vet $60

.


TOTAL YOU PAID FOR THE EXAM FEE: $60

NBC News sees why wellness plans don’t usually benefit pet owners, “It’s just crazy to pay an insurance company to just turn around and pay the vet. Why not pay the vet directly and avoid all the overhead and sales costs from the insurance company?” We agree. Trupanion was founded to help pets get the care they need for unexpected injuries and illnesses, not to help pet owners with routine payments.

What coverage should you get to help your pet?

If you are still interested in a wellness plan for your cat or dog, know that some veterinary hospitals offer wellness plans with much better value for pet owners. These tailored plans are often made specific to your pet’s needs and could give you the most value. Ask your veterinarian if they have a wellness plan that could benefit you.

If you want to budget for wellness care yourself, we recommend asking your veterinarian what wellness procedures your pet should receive every year. Then, you can set aside enough money to pay for those procedures.

If what you really need is help budgeting for unexpected injuries and illness that could cost thousands of dollars, learn more about what a Trupanion policy covers. We believe the combination of Trupanion medical insurance for your pet and a wellness plan offered by a veterinarian often present the best value proposition for loving pet owners.