The costs of day-to-day pet care can be substantial and are more than some pet owners are able to pay. Veterinarians report that the cost of their services is the number one reason pet parents ignore treatment recommendations.
In response, the pet insurance industry has looked for ways to help manage these costs. A pet wellness plan is one. Pet wellness plans are a form of pet coverage specifically designed to mitigate routine expenses. Here’s what you should know about how they work, what they cover, and when one might be worth purchasing.
Definition and Examples of Pet Wellness Plans
Pet wellness plans are a type of pet care coverage that helps owners afford regular examinations and other preventative treatments which may reduce future health complications in their pets.
Covered services and reimbursement limits vary by provider, but may include the following:
- Annual physical exams
- Recommended vaccinations
- Routine blood work
- Fecal and urinalysis tests
- Flea, tick, and heartworm medications
- Dental care
Wellness plans may be offered in tiers, which let pet owners select one that most closely resembles the level of care they expect to need. In general, as the monthly premiums go up, so will the reimbursement limits and the breadth of services covered.
- Alternate name: pet preventive care plans
What Do Pet Wellness Plans Cover?
Pet wellness plans cover routine services that keep your pet healthy, ideally preventing them from needing more drastic (and expensive) procedures later. Each plan’s coverage is unique, but you can generally expect plans to cover traditional preventive pet healthcare costs.
Here are sample coverages from three top providers for a general idea of costs. Your exact fees may vary by your pet’s species, plan, location, and more.
|Nationwide Plus||Pets Best Essential||Wagmo Classic|
|Monthly Premium||$17 to $22||$16||$36|
|Maximum Annual Benefit||$500||$305||$650|
|Annual Service Coverage||2 Physical exams ($30 each)
1 Behavior exam and/or treatment (Up to $30)
|Wellness Exam (Up to $50)||1 Office visit (up to $100)|
|Nail trim (Up to $20||Grooming (Up to $100)|
|Vaccination or titer (Up to $75)||Vaccination/Titer (Up to $30)
Rabies Vaccine (Up to $15)
|3 Vaccines (up to $150)|
|Heartworm or FeLV/FIV test (Up to $35)||Heartworm test or FELV screen (Up to $25)|
|Flea control or heartworm prevention (Up to $75)||Flea/Tick Prevention (Up to $50)
Heartworm Prevention (Up to $30)
|Flea, tick, heartworm medication (Up to $100)|
|Fecal test (Up to $25)||Blood, fecal, parasite exam (Up to $50)||1 Routine blood work (up to $100)
1 Fecal test (up to $50)
|Deworming (Up to $25)||Deworming (Up to $20)|
|Microchip (Up to $40)||Microchip (Up to $20)|
|Urinalysis or ERD (Up to $15)||1 Urinalysis (up to $50)|
|1 Additional Test (Up to $75)|
|Health certificate (Up to $40)|
Generally, prevention plans only cover expenses incurred during the term of the plan, which usually begins after the first premium payment is processed.
Pet wellness plans do not cover treatment for any injuries or illnesses. To get coverage for major or unexpected health conditions, you’ll likely need to purchase a pet insurance plan.
How Do Pet Wellness Plans Work?
Pet wellness plans usually follow a structured claims and reimbursement process, though exact processes vary by company. For example, Pawprint Wellness plans require policyholders to submit a picture of their entire itemized invoice and include the following information:
- Provider name, phone number, and address
- Pet’s name
- Full list of procedures or items billed (including any items not reimbursable), discounts, and taxes
- The total amount billed and proof of payment
The invoices have to be on letterhead or some other verifiable form. Policyholders must submit all documentation as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days after the expiration of their membership. Pawprint then issues reimbursements within 48 hours.
Do I Need a Pet Wellness Plan?
Pet wellness plans make sense for people who need help managing pet expenses. You probably can’t know ahead of time if you’d spend more on pet services than the amount you’ll spend on premiums. But you can purchase, in advance so to speak, a menu of services that can help your pet thrive.
Since there are a range of plans available, it makes sense to closely examine the offerings of a number of plans to determine which services you’re most likely to use. For example, of the three plans compared above, the Wagmo classic is the only one to provide $100 in grooming services.
Fortunately, pet cost data from the ASPCA suggests that annual premiums for wellness plans are likely to be below your annual wellness costs without a plan.
- Pet wellness plans are a form of preventive care coverage that helps pet owners afford the cost of routine veterinary services that keep their pets healthy.
- Coverage terms vary but plans generally cover services like routine physical exams, vaccinations, and bloodwork.
- Pet wellness plans are not equivalent to pet insurance and don’t cover major accidents or illnesses.
- Pet wellness plans may make sense for pet owners who need help managing routine pet costs.