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Is Wellness Pet Insurance Worth It?

Colin GrubbMar 28, 2017

What Is Wellness Pet Insurance?

Wellness Pet Insurance, also referred to as Routine Care, is a pet insurance policy or add-on that covers everyday, non-emergency exams, medications, and procedures. Unlike human health insurance, pet insurance typically only covers accidents and injuries. A wellness plan is preventative in nature and pays for vaccines, neutering, routine vet visits, etc.

Traditionally, pet insurance was designed to help mitigate the outrageous cost of unplanned accidents, emergencies and diseases.

As people, if we are insured, we typically go through life more or less unaware of what our medical care actually costs. We hit our deductible, pay our copayment and don’t know what the hospital or doctor is charging the insurance company for things like routine visits, childbirth, or surgeries unless we take an interest. Most of the time, we pay our portion and are happy to be out of there.

While medical costs for pets are rising, they are still much less than medical costs for humans. Since less than 1% of the nation’s pets are insured, pet owners are often shocked to hear the quoted, uninsured price of a given treatment or surgery. For example, cancer treatment in dogs and cats can range anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000. Heart disease is similarly expensive to treat, and broken bones from accidents can run $200 to $5,000.

This reality often puts owners on a budget in the awful position of having to decide between going into debt and their pet’s life. This is why pet insurance has been traditionally geared toward helping with the unexpected and cataclysmic, and not the everyday preventative visits and procedures that, as we humans take for granted, will be covered under our plans.

As a result of this, many pet owners neglect regular checkups and diagnostic tests because of cost. After all, if the family dog looks fine and it behaving as normal, then what’s the problem?

Does it Make Sense to Get Wellness Coverage?

Typically, wellness coverage for pets is not worth the money. The cost of routine care, i.e. vaccinations, heartworm, physical exams is usually negligible, even in the first couple years of life. As pet wellness plans generally cost $20-$25 a month, the yearly cost is more or less what you would pay out of pocket anyway.

This doesn’t mean you should neglect preventative care. One of the selling points wellness plans employ is that, by offering coverage for all the individual items in one place, they enable and motivate you to stay more on top of your pet’s healthcare the year through. However, this is simple enough to do through a little organization and open communication with your veterinarian. This is important, because regular vet visits and tests can detect a problem before it becomes life threatening and is easier to treat.

An area of particular concern, though, is dental care. Most pet owners don’t think much about it until the animal is middle aged, and develops a painful dental condition. Regular cleanings and inspections can stop periodontal disease before it starts. What's more, bacteria can enter the pet's body through the gums and cause heart disease, diabetes, and kidney failure.

Doing what you need to do to maintain your pet’s health will prevent future sickness and disease which can be costly. 

What Do Wellness Pet Insurance Plans Cover?

  • Physical exams
  • Behavioral exam
  • Behavioral treatment
  • Vaccines and boosters
  • Spay and neuter
  • Blood work
  • Dental exam and cleaning
  • Deworming
  • Fecal tests
  • Urinalysis
  • Flea and tick treatments
  • Heartworm prevention
  • Nail trim
  • Microchip

Companies that Offer Wellness Coverage

Not all pet insurance companies offer wellness coverage. Out of the providers we review the following have a wellness component:

  • Embrace
  • Nationwide
  • PetFirst
  • PetsBest
  • PetPartners
  • PetPremium
  • Banfield Pet Hospital

If you think a Wellness Plan is the right idea for your pet, have a look at our Top Pet Insurance Providers of this year. All the above companies are reviewed, and you can compare routine care plans to find the best one for you.