UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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About Embrace Pet Insurance
Embrace started out in 2003 with a win in the Wharton Business Plan Competition and sold its first policy in 2006. In 2012, American Modern Insurance Company became the underwriter for Embrace, and by 2017 the company reached the 100,000-policy mark.
The company is headquartered in Cleveland, OH and offers their policies across the U.S. Policies are sold online and over the phone.
Embrace donates $2 for every policy sold to a pet-related charity, and for every insured pet that passes away, they make a $10 donation to a local animal shelter. They also sponsor a variety of other pet-related charitable events, and they run an Office Foster Program for animals in need of foster care.
Unlike most pet insurance companies, Embrace also offers a routine care plan that can be tacked on to the major medical plan.
Embrace offers their standard accident and illness plan, and the option to add on Wellness Rewards to cover preventative care. The Wellness program is only offered as an add-on to the Embrace Plan; at this time it cannot be purchased separately.
The Embrace Plan is an accident and illness plan available to dogs and cats.
What is Covered
This plan covers a comprehensive list of conditions, including some items not covered by other policies. This includes:
- Hereditary and Breed-specific conditions
- Chronic conditions
- Exam fees
- Behavioral therapy, alternative therapy, and rehab
- Diagnostic tests
- Prosthetics and mobility aids
- Dental care
The most common exclusion on pet insurance is pre-existing conditions, which is also excluded here. Additionally, wellness and preventative care are not covered under this policy. Some other exclusions include injury caused intentionally by the owner or through dog fighting, cruelty, or neglect, and cosmetic procedures. These are all common to this type of policy.
The plan can be customized in terms of the coverage limits, deductible, and reimbursement rate in order to meet various budgets and needs.
The maximum available reimbursement is 90%, with options for 70% and 80% as well. Deductibles range from $200 to $1,000. The company also offers a Deductible Rewards program that reduces the deductible by $50 for every year without a claim.
Unlike many policies, there is no unlimited coverage option. The maximum annual coverage limit is $15,000 with this plan.
This plan has a 14-day waiting period for illness and for injury a waiting period of either 48 hours or 14 days depending on the state of residence. There is also a 6-month waiting period on certain orthopedic conditions, which can be waived with an exam.
Prescription coverage is an option that can be added for an additional premium, as is the Wellness Rewards plan.
Embrace’s Wellness Rewards add-on provides coverage for preventative and regular care. The policyholder chooses an annual allowance for this type of care in return for an additional premium.
Coverage is available at $250, $450, or $650 per year. The plan will reimburse 100% of routine care costs up to the selected maximum amount. This section has no deductible or waiting period.
Wellness Rewards is not really insurance – it is a health savings account. You pay into it every month and can then draw upon it to pay your regular vet bills. We did not see any specific statement on unused funds, but it does appear to be a “use it or lose it” situation.
We ran a quote for a one-year-old, medium-sized, mixed breed dog in California. The suggested plan returned included coverage at 90%, a $750 deductible, and had a $15,000 annual maximum. It also included optional prescription coverage. The rate for this plan came out to $42.75 a month. Adding Wellness Rewards at the base level of $250 to this plan increased the rate to $61.50.
The least expensive rate we were able to find was a $5,000 annual maximum with a $1,000 deductible, at the 70% reimbursement rate. Without prescription coverage or Wellness Rewards, the rate was $11.14 a month.
In the opposite direction, we quoted that maximum of $15,000 at 90% reimbursement with the lowest offered deductible of $200. We also included prescription coverage and the maximum of $650 a year for Wellness. That rate came out to $148.86. Without the Wellness Rewards, the same coverage came to $99.44 a year.
We then ran quotes for mixed breed one-year-old cat.
This time, the recommended plan had a $15,000 annual maximum with 80% reimbursement and a $500 deductible. Including prescription coverage, it came to $26. 87 a month. Adding $250 of Wellness Rewards to that plan kicked our rate up to nearly double, at $45.82 a month.
For the least expensive rate, we ran the same coverage as our dog above, returning a rate of $6.25 a month. Our high-end rate with Wellness Rewards, based on the same level as our dog sample, was $105.22. Removing wellness rewards dropped it to $55.80.
As mentioned above, the Wellness Rewards program is not insurance, and its added cost should not be seen as a premium, but rather a deposit into an account. That money can then be “withdrawn” to pay regular vet bills. The total paid throughout the year is actually a little below the maximum amount Embrace will pay out, which means they are covering a percentage of that amount.
Taking Wellness Rewards out of the picture, Embrace’s rates are a bit on the high side considering the highest maximum limit available is $15,000. There are a number of discounts offered, including a multi-pet discount, that could reduce rates.
Embrace Pet Insurance operates like most pet insurance companies on a reimbursement basis. The insured pays the bill up front and then submits a claim to be reimbursed for the covered amount minus any deductible.
The website does not offer an online option for filing a claim directly, which is surprising for a modern pet insurance company.
Claim forms can be downloaded from the customer portal, filled out, and emailed, faxed, or mailed back along with invoices from the veterinarian’s office.
Embrace offers the option to have reimbursement amounts direct deposited into the policyholder’s account rather than sent as a check, but the insured will have to sign up for this service ahead of time.
Embrace also offers the option to apply for pre-certification, which allows the treatment to be pre-approved and the coverage amount stated clearly ahead of time. This can prevent cases of claims being denied after the insured has already paid the bill and was expecting reimbursement.
If a pet medical history has not been previously provided, the company will ask for it during the claims process. It is best to have done this ahead of any claims so that it’s clear what is considered a pre-existing condition.
Embrace offers enrollment either over the phone or online. They cover pets up to age 14 for all risks, but over the age of 14 will only enroll pets in an accident-only policy.
As mentioned, there is no requirement for medical records or an exam at enrollment, but an exam can see the orthopedic waiting period waived and submitting medical records will ensure that you know about any exclusions placed on your policy ahead of time.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Embrace Pet Insurance has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and it has been accredited since 2006. There have been 26 complaints filed in the past three years, 12 of the complaints were closed in the past 12 months.
Consumer Affairs has 20 reviews of the company, 12 of which are one-star reviews. The complaints against this company seem to have the same thing in common – that claims are consistently denied under the pre-existing condition clause using what appear to be unrelated issues. While these complaints are common to pet insurance and often the result of the insured not understanding the policy, a close look at the details of some of these complaints reveals several that appear to be legitimate.
Yelp is where we usually find the largest number of reviews for pet insurance companies, and Embrace has 125 reviews on their page. The overall rating is 3 stars. There are 60 5-star reviews here and 56 1-star, with the rest in between. The positive reviews cite quick, easy claims experience; the negatives reflect what we have seen elsewhere. Again, customers complain repeatedly that Embrace connects unrelated conditions in order to deny under the pre-existing clause.
The Bottom Line
Embrace appears to be a good choice for pet insurance if you are sure to take advantage of their medical review option so that you know what will be considered a pre-existing condition ahead of time; many of the negative reviews might have been avoided in this way. We recommend skipping the Wellness Rewards plan here and simply keeping a savings account for routine care, as there does not seem to be a clear benefit to having to file a claim to get your own saved money.