Nationwide Launches All-Inclusive Pet Insurance Plan

Whole Pet with Wellness reimburses 90 percent of veterinary expenses after an annual deductible.

Cats and dogs are eligible for coverage under Nationwide’s Whole Pet with Wellness insurance plan.

Cioli/I-5 Studio

Nationwide pet insurance today rolled out what it called the most comprehensive plan in the United States, covering medical and emergency care and wellness visits.

What’s Covered

Whole Pet with Wellness, from Nationwide, reimburses for:

  • Veterinary exams, including wellness, specialty and emergency visits.
  • Vaccinations, teeth cleaning, parasite control and sterilization.
  • Hospitalization and surgeries.
  • Injuries and illnesses, including cancer and hereditary or congenital conditions.
  • Diagnostic testing, including X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds.
  • Prescribed nutritional supplements, therapeutic diets and medications.
  • Prescribed holistic, alternative and preventive care.

Source: Nationwide

The policy comes with a 90 percent reimbursement rate on veterinary expenses, a change from the Brea, Calif., company’s traditional use of a benefit schedule, which pays a set amount for common expenses. Nationwide’s other plans—one that provides limited coverage of accidents, illnesses and hereditary conditions and one that pays for wellness procedures—remain in place.

Companies such as Trupanion and ASPCA also pay 90 percent of expenses, while some return 65 or 70 percent, depending on the level of coverage selected.

Nationwide’s new plan, called Whole Pet with Wellness, features an annual deductible, which the company’s chief pet insurance officer, Scott Liles, described as a “key differentiator.”

“Many pet health insurance companies offer per-incident deductibles, which the pet owner incurs each time he or she takes their pet to the veterinarian for a new issue,” Liles said. “With Nationwide’s Whole Pet with Wellness plan, once the annual deductible is met, members will receive 90 percent reimbursement for eligible veterinary expenses through their annual policy term.”

The cost of Whole Pet with Wellness starts at $64 a month for dogs and $35 for cats. Policyholders may choose annual deductibles of $100 or $250.

Nationwide, the largest and oldest pet insurer in the United States with more than 550,000 animals covered, requires customers to submit their paid invoices before reimbursement is approved. Some competitors allow veterinarians to settle invoices at the point of service.

All the companies exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions.

Michael Hemstreet, the founder of www.petinsurancereview.com, which compares pet insurance products, called Nationwide’s new offering “a top-notch policy.”

“This is completely different; it’s a huge change,” Hemstreet said. “The one feature that is unique is an embedded wellness policy.”

Hemstreet, whose Boulder, Colo.-based website receives 45,000 unique visitors a month, said a benefit schedule has its foes and fans.

“The benefit schedule is just a thorn in the side of some people,” Hemstreet said. It makes a lot of people unhappy—they think they’re covered and then they find that the schedule only covers part of it.”

A benefit schedulethe reimbursement model for other Nationwide policieshas an upside, he said.

“It’s definitely cheaper, and [insurers] can go a long time without raising the rates,” Hemstreet said. “Some people like the certainty. They know they’re going to get ‘X’ amount back for a procedure.”

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