About Nationwide Pet Insurance
Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) was founded in 1980 with the cooperation of 750 veterinarians, creating the first pet insurance plan to originate in the United States. Their first client was a famous pet – TV’s Lassie – and that cemented them in California. By 1985 they had expanded across the country.
In 1998 the company introduced their wellness plan to cover things like annual vaccinations and dental care, again a first in the U.S. In 2000 they expanded from just cats and dogs to add coverage for rabbits, birds, reptiles, and exotic pets.
Nationwide purchased the company in 2008, but they did not officially change over to using that name until 2015 when the VPI name was retired. The company covers over a million pets in the U.S.
Nationwide’s product offerings are far more varied than those seen at other companies, with a range of accident and illness plans as well as wellness plans. They also cover far more types of animals than most pet insurance companies.
Nationwide Pet Insurance Products
Nationwide offers both accident and illness with their Major Medical plan, a wellness plan called Pet Wellness, or a joint plan called Whole Pet. They also have an Avian and Exotic Pet plan that covers a long list of pets outside of cats and dogs, and a few other specific plans.
Nationwide’s accident and illness plan covers a wide range of conditions and can be purchased for cats and dogs.
What is Covered
The plan has broad coverage, and it includes many of the common services we have seen with other plans, including some things others do not automatically cover.
- Diagnostic tests
- Prescription medications
- Chronic conditions
- Some hereditary conditions (with restrictions and some waiting periods)
Cruciate ligament injuries are covered, but with a 12-month waiting period. This plan does not cover some hereditary conditions at all, and others with specific waiting periods. Also excluded are:
- Pre-existing conditions
- Congenital abnormalities and developmental disorders
- Routine care
- Special Diets
The Major Medical plan operates on a benefit schedule system rather than a percentage of cost. That means there is a set amount that the plan will pay for any given service, and there is no additional coverage beyond that amount.
This plan also has a deductible, but it has no annual maximum limit.
This plan is a routine and preventative care plan that covers regular veterinary costs. This plan can be purchased independently of an accident and illness plan, which is relatively unusual in pet insurance.
What is Covered
The wellness plan pays for the regular care of a dog or cat, including:
- Flea and heartworm treatment
- Regular wellness tests and treatments
This plan again operates on a benefit schedule. There are two levels of coverage; the first has a $400 annual maximum and the second a $500 annual maximum.
There are set limits for each covered service, and they are not covered beyond that amount even if you have not met your annual maximum.
Whole Pet with Wellness is a combined major medical and routine care plan that provides far broader coverage than the Major Medical alone.
What is Covered
This plan covers an entire spectrum of veterinary costs, including all of the items listed for both individual plans above. In addition, it expands hereditary conditions coverage and removes the waiting periods. It also adds coverage for things like:
- Special diet pet food
- Dental cleaning
- Nutritional supplements
- Spay or neuter
- Skin allergies
The main exclusion on this policy is pre-existing conditions. The Whole Pet plan will not pay for grooming or any non-medical charges, and behavioral training is also excluded.
Unlike the other two plans, this plan operates on a percentage basis, paying the entire covered portion of your vet bill at 90%.
The plan has a $100 deductible that must be paid before coverage kicks in. There is no annual maximum.
Avian and Exotic Pet
This plan covers a wide range of animals, from birds and lizards to hamsters and gerbils, to even goats. While most pet insurance covers just cats and dogs, the vast majority of pets can get covered under this plan. This plan cannot be purchased online.
This plan covers accident and illness; this includes exams, diagnostic tests, and most of the same items covered under the Major Medical plan.
We were unable to find details as to how benefits are handled on this plan.
Nationwide has several other plans aside from the big ones; these include a cat-specific plan, and also plans for cats and dogs with per-incident deductibles and other options.
There are also accident-only and illness-only plans that can be purchased; Nationwide recommends calling for information on these plans.
We ran a quote for a one-year-old mixed breed dog in California and received rates for all three of the main options.
The basic Wellness plan came out to $17.75 a month with a $400 annual maximum.
The Major Medical plan was quoted with a $250 deductible and came back at $33.22 a month.
Finally, the Whole Pet plan was quoted with a $100 deductible at a rate of $57.66 a month. Not only is the Whole Pet Plan the clear winner in terms of value with Nationwide, it is one of the best values we have seen anywhere for a plan that includes very comprehensive coverage and includes routine care. Many companies charge around that same amount for the accident and illness coverage alone, without wellness coverage.
We then ran the same quotes for a one-year-old cat. The rates returned for the same coverage were $11.40 a month for wellness alone, $17.90 a month for major medical alone, and $31.06 a month for Whole Pet.
Again, Whole Pet is the clear winner in terms of value.
A look at the sample claims on the Nationwide website shows Whole Pet to be the better option for accident and illness coverage, with the percentage system covering a lot more than the scheduled benefits system.
Nationwide does offer a 5% discount for insuring multiple pets.
Nationwide does not offer online claims filing on their website, but claims can be submitted via the company’s mobile app.
Forms can be downloaded from the website and then submitted either by email, by regular mail, or by fax.
Nationwide operates similarly to most pet insurance companies, where the pet owner pays the veterinarian and then submits the claim to the insurance company for reimbursement.
Nationwide accepts pets under 10 years of age for new enrollment, and the main plans can be purchased directly on the website. This is the youngest age limit we have seen from any insurer and may be part of the reason they can keep rates lower.
All other plans can be purchased by calling the toll-free number.
The website does not indicate whether or not a medical exam is needed prior to enrollment. It is likely that they will request medical records at some point, however, to determine what conditions might be pre-existing. Many pet insurance companies do this at the time of the first claim.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
While the old VPI Better Business Bureau (BBB) page is still up, it no longer handles complaints for the company since the official name change. The Nationwide BBB page has an A+ rating, with 342 complaints in the past three years. This page does not have much in terms of direct bearing on the pet insurance branch of the company since those complaints include all of Nationwide’s business across the country. That means auto insurance, home insurance, and other complaints are mixed in, and as a really big company, we would expect to see higher numbers in that area.
Consumer Affairs does have reviews that center specifically on pet insurance. There are 265 reviews, with 55 in the past year. Of those 55, 49 are one-star ratings. A look through the complaints shows a lot of claim denials for pre-existing conditions, where the policyholder felt this was not accurate. This type of claim is always difficult to judge without all the information from both sides.
There are 485 reviews of Nationwide Pet Insurance on Yelp. Once again, we see many complaints of denied claims. The overall rating is two stars, and the vast majority of reviews are one star. Mixed among the negative reviews are highly positive reviews citing an excellent experience and fast claims payment.
While the number of complaints looks high at first glance, Nationwide Pet Insurance insures over a million pets – that makes the actual complaint volume relatively low.
The Bottom Line
Nationwide Pet Insurance offers a very comprehensive package policy at a reasonable price, with the rare opportunity to combine accident and illness insurance with wellness coverage. As with all such policies, it is important to read all of the fine print of the policy and have a clear understanding of what constitutes a pre-existing condition. With a long history, good products, and good pricing, Nationwide Pet Insurance looks to be a good choice.