One in three pets will experience an unexpected health issue each year according to Petplan, a pet insurance company on a mission to ensure healthier, longer lives for North America’s four-legged family members. Unless they have insurance coverage, these emergencies can take a vicious bite out of pet parents’ budgets. In fact, the average cost of an unexpected trip to the vet ranges from $769.56 in North Dakota to $1,521.18 in California.
Fortunately, dog and cat insurance plans from Petplan can help you provide the emergency care your pets may need without damaging your finances. RewardExpert spoke with Petplan’s Vice President of Channel Development, Steven Shell, about the company’s history, insurance products, and tips for making the most of your coverage.
Inspired by a Love for Pets
Founded in Philadelphia in 2003 by Chris and Natasha Ashton, then students at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Petplan North America was inspired by a Birman cat named Bodey.
“The Ashton’s cat became very ill and they received a $5,000 veterinary bill from the UPenn veterinary hospital,” Shell explained. “They were originally from the U.K. where pet insurance was quite common, and they wished they had purchased pet insurance in the U.S.”
However, when Petplan’s founders began looking into the U.S. pet insurance market they discovered that there weren’t a lot of options available. Most of the products they found had very limited flexibility and significant limitations on coverage.
“When they graduated from Wharton, they launched the business out of their apartment in Philadelphia,” Shell continued. “Today, it has grown into a company with almost 200 employees and over $100 million in written premiums.”
Industry-Leading Coverage and Claims Convenience
Unlike most pet insurance companies, Petplan offers dog and cat insurance for pets of any age and does not exclude coverage for hereditary or chronic conditions. It also covers the cost of the non-routine veterinary exam as well as imaging for diagnosis and treatment, laboratory and diagnostic testing, prescription medications, cancer treatments, surgery, rehabilitation, alternative therapies, and referral and specialist treatment.
Shell said this industry-leading comprehensive coverage leads to better outcomes for pets and their parents. “Our policy holders are able to do what the veterinarian recommends and choose the best treatment options available to cure their pet,” he explained. “While an uninsured pet owner may have to negotiate the services they’re willing to accept because of cost, our insured pet owners can accept the veterinarian’s Plan A treatment, ensuring the best medical outcome.”
Once the pet receives treatment, Petplan makes it very easy for the pet parent to submit a claim for quick reimbursement of up to 90 percent of the bill (depending on the coverage chosen) minus the deductible.
“Our app allows for instantaneous submission of claims,” Shell said. “Just open a claim form in the app, take a photo of the invoice and any medical records you need to provide, hit submit, and your claim is submitted into our system.” If a pet parent doesn’t want to use the app, he or she can still scan the necessary documents and then email or upload them online.
But that’s not the only way Petplan takes the sting out of paying for emergency veterinary visits. If an insured pet needs a surgery or other treatment that results in significant costs, Petplan can pay the veterinary practice directly for the reimbursable portion of the expenses. “In that case, the pet owner is only responsible for their out-of-pocket expense related to the deductible and copay,” Shell continued. “We have this ability if the veterinarian and the policy holder desire us to work with them on that.”
The annual cost of a Petplan pet insurance policy varies based on the age of your pet, its breed and where you live as well as the annual coverage limit, deductible and reimbursement level you choose.
Get the Best Care for Your Pet With Petplan
Shell urged anyone who loves their pet to purchase a pet insurance plan. “You can’t plan for the unexpected that will happen to your pet in its lifetime,” he said. “It’s hard to predict when a pet is going to swallow a bone and require surgery. You can’t predict when a pet is going to tear a cruciate ligament.”
“You clearly can’t predict things like hit by car or a laceration at doggy daycare, let alone cancer and diabetes,” he continued. “These are all common but unpredictable events that put a lot of strain on people’s budgets, but that’s what pet insurance covers. We cover the unexpected that allows people to get the best care for their pet without having to make really hard decisions about their pocketbook.”
While Petplan offers insurance for pets of any age, Shell still encouraged pet parents to purchase coverage as early as possible. “When they are healthy is the best time to insure them,” he explained. “If you wait until they become sick, the issue may not be covered because it will be preexisting in the policy.”
He also noted that puppies and kittens tend to be more prone to injuries and illnesses because they get into things that they shouldn’t. “Our advice is always the earlier the better,” he said.