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Watch Out For This When Getting A Pet Insurance Quote


 

I get a lot of quotes as part of doing research for my blog, books, and podcast. I’ve noticed that companies don’t always present all the options available on their quote page.

Why wouldn’t they want potential policyholders to know all they have to offer them? 

I’ll explain what I think is going on, but first let’s look at some examples of what I’m referring to. 

 

Nationwide:

Here is a quote on a puppy:

Nationwide < 1yr. quote

 

What they initially showed me was their Major Medical policies with and without wellness care benefits. These policies reimburse according to a defined benefit schedule rather than according to what the veterinarian charges. These policies generally have lower reimbursements and more restrictions on coverage than their newer Whole Pet policy which pays according to what the vet charges and also includes wellness care benefits.

Because I knew they had the Whole Pet policy, I called to inquire about it. I was told I needed to click the “Show more” button to see their Whole Pet policy. I think a lot of people would have missed that. 

After clicking on “Show more,” this is what I saw:

 

Nationwide Whole Pet < 1yr. quote

 

Interestingly, on kitten quotes, they show the Whole Pet option without having to take this extra step. I believe this is because premiums for cats are about half that of dogs and kittens probably don’t have as many claims as puppies.

This is the quote after the same pet turns 1 year old and when the policy renews:

 

Screen Shot 2020-09-16 at 5.48.30 PM

 

The main reason the premium goes down at 1 year of age is that puppies have more wellness care visits (expenses) than a 1 year old dog. Also, puppies may have more accident/illness claims on average than older pets because of being more curious and getting into trouble more often. If you get the Whole Pet policy for a puppy, when the policy renews (a year later), your premium will decrease to reflect their adult dog status.

When Nationwide first introduced Whole Pet, it was displayed when you got a quote on puppies. Remember, whenever a company offers a new product (policy), the actuaries who calculate premiums make educated guesses based on age, breed and zip code and only after a period of time of actual claims experience do they know if the product was appropriately priced.

Nationwide temporarily stopped offering Whole Pet to puppies – only offering their Major Medical policies. After a reset on premiums, they started offering it again to puppies, but they aren’t showing it on their quote page until you click the “Show more” link. My guess is they are still being cautious and continuing to closely evaluate the cost of the product.  

The Whole Pet policy is one of the best, if not the best policy on the market as far as what it actually covers including broad wellness care coverage. Some companies don’t cover wellness care while others make it an optional add-on benefit (for extra premium). Therefore, at first glance, Whole Pet may not appear to be competitively priced to consumers and that may be another reason it isn’t shown to consumers getting quotes on puppies.

I decided to call Nationwide and ask if Whole Pet is offered without wellness care coverage. It is, but I wouldn’t have known it without calling. When offered without wellness care coverage, it has a $10,000 annual maximum rather than Unlimited coverage. The accident/illness coverage is identical to the Whole Pet with wellness policy.

 

Crum & Forster Group:

Crum and Forster has 8 or 9 pet insurance brands in their group. I’ll use three of these companies in my illustrations below. These brands have the same underwriter and offer the same policy (terms and conditions) – what’s covered or not covered, etc. However, each brand has the freedom to offer different coverage options (policy maximum, deductible, reimbursement) on their quote page.

Pumpkin pet insurance decided to offer only one ($10,000) annual maximum and one reimbursement option (90%) with three deductible options. It appears the reason for this is based on this study done by their underwriter:

Based on United States Fire Insurance Company data, August 2019. The data shows less than 1% of insured dog parents typically submit claims totaling over $10,000 in a policy year and less than 1% of insured cat parents typically submit claims totaling over $7,000 in a policy year.

 

Here is a quote on a mixed breed puppy:

 

Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 11.55.07 AM

 

Spot pet insurance, on the other hand, has decided to offer a wide range of annual maximum, deductible, and reimbursement options.

 

Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 12.01.59 PM

 

I selected the $10,000 option for the quote. Notice it is the same as the Pumpkin quote which you’d expect considering both brands are in the Crum & Forster group.

 

ASPCA Pet Insurance is perhaps the most well known brand in the Crum & Forster group. Again, notice that the quote is exactly the same as the Pumpkin and Spot examples:

 

ASPCA $10 000 quote

 

ASPCA has made the conscious decision to only show the above options when someone gets a quote (any age pet; not just puppies). You can see that $10,000 is the maximum annual coverage offered. You wouldn’t know that ASPCA also offers an unlimited option unless you call the phone number at the bottom of the quote and ask. 

 

What You Should Do

You must realize that when you land on a company’s quote page that not all the options available to you may be presented. I’ve been told by multiple companies that the $10,000 annual maximum or less is their most commonly selected policy option by new policyholders.

I’ve also been told the reason some of these companies don’t offer all their options on their quote page is that it causes confusion. I don’t buy that at all and to me is an insult to people’s intelligence and ability to select what’s best for them and their pet.

I would suggest (IMHO) that the real reasons are either the premium quotes for the higher options aren’t competitive or they simply may prefer their target audience (sweet spot) to be people who tend to select the lower coverage options. It may also be that a company wants to collect more costs data (claims experience) with the higher coverage options to make sure they are appropriately priced before offering it on their quote page.

Therefore, if you want to look at all the companies that offer more catastrophic coverage options, look for the “show more” or “more options” instructions (usually in fine print) at the end of the quote.

 

 

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