UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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About Pets Best
Pets Best company history is a bit confusing and required a little digging to clarify. After an incident in 1979 when a dog was euthanized due to the cost of treatment, veterinarian Dr. Jack Stephens set out to find a better solution for pet owners. The company he founded in 1980 was Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), which later became a part of Nationwide. In 2004, Stephens left VPI and founded a new company, Pets Best, a competitor for the first company.
The Pets Best website does not make all of this clear; the wording makes it appear that they are the first veterinary pet insurance company and that they wrote the first policy in North America for Lassie. Both of those honors actually belong to VPI.
In 2008, the year that Dr. Stephens founded the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, Pets Best expanded into Japan. They continued to grow and offer their plans across the country.
Pets Best is headquartered in Boise, Idaho. They support multiple pet-related charities both locally and across the country.
Policies can be purchased online for both dogs and cats, or over the phone.
Pets Best Insurance Plans
Pets Best’s main plan is their accident and illness plan. They also offer an accident only plan, and the option to tack on a wellness plan to any of the above.
Pets Best accident and illness plan is called BestBenefit, which has a range of options available to suit needs and budget.
What is Covered
The BestBenefit plan covers a long list of common services for accidents or illnesses. These include:
- Diagnostic tests
- Hereditary conditions
- Cancer treatment
- Behavioral conditions
- Dental care, with restrictions
Most of the exclusions on the plan are common; as with all insurance plans, pre-existing conditions are not covered. Elective and preventative care are also excluded, as are food, special diets, and holistic treatments.
Some plans do cover extended services, including exam fees, rehabilitation, and parasite care. Unlike most pet insurance, prescriptions are not covered under all plans, but the coverage is available as an option.
Plan benefits can be selected from either a cap of $5,000 a year or unlimited annual coverage. The reimbursement levels are similar to most companies, with the choice of 70, 80, or 90%.
Deductible options range from $50 up to $1,000.
There are three plan levels: Essential, Plus, and Elite, with each adding extra benefits. At the Plus level, exam fees are covered, and at the Elite level rehabilitation, acupuncture, and chiropractic care are also included.
Pets Best offers accident-only coverage at a flat rate. This plan covers only accidental injuries and does not offer coverage for illnesses including cancer, hereditary conditions, or non-accident-relates surgery.
This add-on plan is available at two levels and can be purchased in conjunction with any other plan.
Essential Wellness is the base plan, and BestWellness is the higher end plan. Both plans offer a scheduled list of benefits, with BestWellness having higher coverage caps across the board. The low-end plan adds up to a total of $305 in available coverage, with the high plan covering up to $535 worth of care.
Our sample quote returned rates for a one-year-old, mixed breed, medium-sized dog in California.
The recommended coverage offered the Plus plan at the unlimited level with a $250 deductible and a 90% reimbursement rate. The premium for this plan is $51.01 a month. This is a reasonable rate for this level of coverage compared to other companies. It costs a few more dollars to kick up the coverage to the Elite plan.
We adjusted to the lowest level of coverage available; the Essential plan with a $5,000 cap, a $1,000 deductible, and 70% reimbursement. That rate came out to $12.82 a month. Again, that’s reasonable for the coverage level.
The system would not allow us to quote an unlimited plan with a deductible lower than $100. At that level, with 90% coverage, the Elite plan was quoted at $69.98 a month.
The Routine care add-on is a flat rate. It was offered at $16 a month for Essential or $26 a month for Best Wellness.
We then ran the same quotes for a one-year-old mixed breed cat. The recommended coverage came out to $30.20 a month. At the lowest coverage option, the rate came out to only $7.59 a month. Our most expensive quote, Elite with a $100 deductible, unlimited coverage, and 90% reimbursement, came out to $41.43 a month.
The routine care add-on prices did not change for a cat versus a dog, which is unusual.
According to the website, the accident only plan has a flat rate of $6 a month for cats and $9 a month for dogs in most states.
These rates are not the lowest we have seen, but they fall into the lower end of the average range for this type of coverage.
Unlike most pet insurance companies, Pets Best offers the option to have reimbursements paid directly to the vet. This is convenient with very large bills that may be difficult to pay up front. The vet’s office will have the option to accept this form of payment; using a pre-authorization will help to obtain consent. In order to use direct pay, the vet must sign a release that is sent to the company.
Claims can be filed online, or the form can be downloaded and submitted via email, fax, or by regular mail.
Pets Best pays either by check or direct deposit and estimates a five-day turnaround time, which is faster than most.
Claims can be managed through the online customer account section of the website.
Pets Best accepts enrollment online and over the phone. There is no upper age limit for enrollment, which starts at seven weeks old.
The waiting period after enrollment for accidents is three days; 14 days for illness and routine care coverage is available the day after enrollment. There is a six-month waiting period for cruciate ligament injuries.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Pets Best has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), where they have been accredited since 2005. There are 47 complaints on file in the past three years. Of those, 13 were closed in the past 12 months.
There are 138 reviews on Yelp, with an overall 2-star rating. Of the reviews, 27 are 5-star, and 90 are 1-star. The negative reviews follow the same pattern as we have seen with other pet insurance companies – many denied claims, particularly on the grounds of a pre-existing condition.
Google has 151 reviews, with an overall 3.8-star rating. Reviews here trend much more positively, with many happy customers citing a great customer service experience. Scattered among the glowing reviews are some negatives; again, denied claims are the top complaint.
Overall, there are quite a few positive reviews to balance some of the negative. As with all pet insurance companies, it is vital to get a clear understanding of how pre-existing conditions coverage works with your plan to avoid denied claims in the future. Pets Best does offer the option of pre-authorization, which reduces the odds of a claim being denied and may have prevented some of the complaints.
The Bottom Line
Pets Best has flexible plans with reasonable prices and offers comprehensive coverage with the option for wellness care. They have a good reputation and a solid background in the industry that gives them experience beyond the number of years they have been in operation. Although they are not the least expensive, Pets Best is a good option for those seeking plans that cover a lot of services at a pretty good price.