Eric Stauffer is a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. His priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.

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UPDATED: Sep 16, 2020

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With a history that goes back to 1976, Petplan is one of the oldest pet health insurance companies around. They are an international company providing coverage for cats and dogs in several countries.

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About Petplan

Petplan was created in the U.K. in 1976 and came over to the United States in 2003 when a couple recently moved from England founded Fetch, Inc. in response to a large vet bill for their cat. The Philadelphia-based company was licensed to sell Petplan products that same year. Petplan further expanded into Canada in 2011, and now also operates in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, and France.

Policies through Petplan are underwritten by XL Specialty Insurance, a part of Allianz Global, in both the U.S. and in Canada. Today they are the biggest pet insurance company in the world.

Petplan is the official pet health plan provider for the AARP. Their philanthropic initiatives include donations to pet charities for every policy sold and in memory of every plan member to pass away. Policyholders receive the company’s Fetch! Magazine as well as access to 24/7 assistance from veterinary experts to answer questions.

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Petplan Insurance Policies

Petplan’s policies are designed to cover dogs and cats of all ages.

What Is Covered

Like many pet insurance companies, Petplan is designed for unexpected illness and injury and does not cover preventative care. They advertise more comprehensive coverage than their competitors, and covered services include:

  • Diagnostic tests
  • Treatment of covered injuries or illnesses
  • Surgery
  • Prescriptions
  • Treatment of hereditary and chronic conditions
  • Treatment for periodontal disease
  • Vet exam fees
  • Alternative therapies

Although the list of covered services is longer than those we have seen at other pet health plans, there are still some exclusions. The biggest one is common to all pet health plans – they do not cover pre-existing conditions.

While some other plans do not cover hip dysplasia, or have a waiting period for coverage, Petplan does offer coverage.

Benefits

Petplan allows their policies to be customized by coverage limit amount, deductible, and percentage of coverage.

Coverage limits range from $5,000 to unlimited, while deductibles have a wide range of choices starting at $100 and going up to $1,000 in increments of $50. Reimbursement level is either 70%, 80%, or 90%.

This range of coverage choices allows for a lot of tweaking to fit the policyholder’s budget and coverage needs.

Over in the FAQ section is a statement that some conditions have a per condition deductible rather than just the annual deductible. This deductible applies to each condition once per the calendar year, any following claims within that year for the same condition will not be subject to that deductible again. We were unable to find details as to the amount of the deductible.

Rates

Like all pet insurance, the size, breed, age, and location of the pet all impact rates. We ran quotes for both a dog and a cat for comparison

We used a sample of a one-year-old mixed breed dog in California. The recommended policy coverage came back with a $300 deductible, a $15,000 annual limit, and a reimbursement level of 80%.

We compared this to the highest level of coverage – unlimited, with a $250 deductible and 90% reimbursement, which came back at $56.74. We have seen lower rates for unlimited coverage with a lower deductible at other companies, although Petplan does include some coverage the others do not – like dental coverage – that add value.

We also ran a one-year-old mixed breed cat through the quoting system. At the same recommended coverage level that the system had selected for our first quote, we were given a rate of $22.51 for the cat.

At the high end of the coverage choices, the rate went up to $32.87 a month.

We then compared both our dog and cat quote at the lowest available coverage level the system would allow us to select. That offered a limit of $2,500 at 70% reimbursement, with a $1,000 deductible. The rate came back at $15.88 a month for our dog and $11.33 a month for our cat.

This low-end coverage is clearly not worth it; after the deductible and the 70% reimbursement level, it provides only $1,050 in coverage annually. At those rates, much better coverage is available elsewhere.

All of these rates include a 5% discount for enrolling online.

Overall, Petplan’s rates are on par with most of their competitors. We have noted that they do offer some standard coverage that others do not, so the importance of that coverage may make a difference to some pet owners. It should also be noted that there is a per condition deductible, as we mentioned above, that reduces the amount paid for each claim, and again affects the value of the policy.

Claims

Petplan does not offer direct online claim filing, on their website, but they do offer it on their mobile app. Policyholders can, however, download and print a personalized claim form from the website after logging into their account. That form can then be sent in via email, fax, or regular mail.

Like most pet health insurance companies, claims are paid by reimbursement. That means that the policyholder must pay the vet bill directly and can then submit to have the insurance company pay back the covered portion.

Petplan requires all claims to be completed within 30 days of receiving all the required information, but the website states that the usual claim processing time is 5 to 14 days.

Worth noting is the pre-authorization option they offer, which can expedite claims and also reduce any concern regarding how much coverage the plan will offer for any given service. This can avoid the common issue of surprise denials we have seen in many pet insurance complaints.

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Enrollment

Enrollment can be done entirely online or over the phone. Petplan does not require any medical records, although a medical history questionnaire is part of the enrollment process.

Dogs and cats of 6 weeks of age and older can be enrolled; there is no upper limit on age. The age of the pet will, however, impact rates.

Waiting periods on the policies depend on the underwriter and are either 14 or 15 days. The policies also have a specific waiting period for cruciate and patella injuries, although this can be waived only with a veterinarian exam certifying no existing problems with the knees.

There is no fee to enroll, and there is a 30-day money back guarantee on all policies.

Ratings and Consumer Reviews

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) page for Petplan appears under the name Fetch, Inc., and the company has an A+ rating. There have been 40 complaints filed in the past three years, which is low for such a large company. Of the complaints listed 12 were closed in the past 12 months.

There are 19 reviews on Consumer Affairs, most of which are negative. They cite increasing rates and denied claims, common complaints with similar companies.

The bulk of the reviews for this company can be found on Yelp, where there are 367 reviews for an overall 3-star rating. The negative reviews here seem to reflect the same complaints listed above – rates going up unexpectedly and claims being denied. Mixed among the negative reviews are a solid number of positive reviews reflecting a good claim and customer service experience.

We did find a note from the company explaining that the rate increase was due to a change in underwriters. In some of the cases of claim denial, there appears to be some misunderstanding regarding coverage and exclusions.

The Bottom Line

Petplan has been around a long time and offers more comprehensive coverage than some competitors, but their rates are a bit high for the limits offered, and they also have dual deductibles. Their reputation seems relatively good, but the change in underwriters that led to premium increases appears to have reduced customer satisfaction somewhat. If you are not on a tight budget and want the most items possible covered on your pet insurance plan, Petplan might be for you. Budget shoppers might find a better rate elsewhere.

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