Pet Insurance vs Pet Wellness Plans

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Contributor, Benzinga
February 7, 2022

Pet insurance and pet wellness plans are two different concepts. Many pet owners want coverage for routine veterinary care. There are plans to cover routine care, but it is important to read the fine print to ensure coverage. 

Learn more about pet insurance and pet wellness plans now.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Pet insurance is there in case of an emergency or an expected illness. Pet insurance plans cover accidents and illnesses and the costs associated with diagnosing and treating the problem. However, it doesn’t cover everything. 

Pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions. A pre-existing condition is defined as anything that your pet was experiencing before your pet insurance coverage began. 

A pre-existing condition doesn’t have to be diagnosed, either. If your pet was exhibiting symptoms of a pre-existing illness at their vet visit, that might prohibit coverage for a similar issue in the future. 

For example, if you bring your cat to the vet for respiratory symptoms before you have pet insurance, the symptoms will be noted in their medical records. Let’s say that in this case, your vet sent you home with some antibiotics for your cat, and the issue was resolved after a week or two. Most people wouldn’t think about it again. But then if your cat goes back to the vet for respiratory symptoms after your pet insurance coverage has started, you might run into issues with getting that visit covered. 

Your pet insurance company might look at your cat’s medical records and determine that vet visits for respiratory symptoms are not eligible for coverage because your cat had respiratory symptoms before you bought pet insurance.

In addition to pre-existing conditions, pet insurance plans typically don’t cover congenital conditions or some breed-specific conditions. Some pet insurance plans cover care for behavioral health or alternative therapies as long as they are performed by a certified veterinarian or behaviorist. You should also check with your pet insurance policy to see whether it covers vet exam fees and diagnostics such as X-rays and blood work. 

There are also accident-only pet insurance plans, which only cover accidents and not illnesses. Accident-only plans will cover things like your dog eating a sock or injuring their leg, but won’t cover illnesses like a urinary tract infection or skin infections.

What is a Pet Wellness Plan?

Pet wellness plans are what cover routine and preventative care for your pet. Routine care includes your pet’s annual wellness visit and vaccinations. It also includes services such as spay and neutering, grooming and routine teeth cleaning. Pet wellness plans may also cover preventative treatments such as monthly heartworm and flea and tick preventatives. 

Try Chewy Care Plus

When you want access to a wellness plan for your pets, you can try Chewy CarePlus. There’s a range of insurance and wellness programs available, reasonable waiting periods and affordable premiums.

  • securely through Chewy Care Plus's website
    securely through Chewy Care Plus's website
    Best For:
    Annual Check Ups

Does Pet Insurance Cover Wellness Services?

A standard pet insurance plan does not cover wellness services. It is only designed to cover unforeseen expenses, such as a sudden illness or injury that your pet faces. Standard pet insurance plans do not cover routine visits for your pet, nor do they cover other common wellness services recommended by veterinarians. Vaccinations, heartworm and tick-borne disease testing, fecal testing and routine blood panels for senior pets are all considered routine wellness services.

Some pet insurance companies do offer separate wellness coverage plans. If you’re applying for a pet insurance plan, you may see the option to add this coverage when you are finalizing your plan. Most pet insurance companies that offer wellness coverage do so at an additional monthly cost that you can pay all at the same time. 

You can also seek out plans for your pet’s wellness services from an individual provider. This gives you the flexibility to only purchase wellness coverage if you don’t want standard pet insurance. 

Even if you do already have a pet insurance plan, you can purchase a wellness services plan separately from a different provider. Wellness services from some providers may be available at a one-time enrollment fee or membership cost.

Does Your Pet Need Wellness Services?

Every pet should visit the vet annually for a routine wellness exam. But that doesn’t mean that you need to purchase a wellness plan for them. Without a wellness plan, you can still visit your veterinarian and pay for your pet’s routine services as usual. 

When determining whether you should buy a wellness plan for your pet, it’s important to consider the costs. Check with your veterinarian to see how much regular visits for your pet usually cost, and compare that with the annual cost for a pet wellness plan. You should also see exactly what the pet wellness plan you are considering covers. 

The type of pet that you own should also be taken into consideration. If you have a cat who is low-maintenance and just needs to go to the vet for a yearly checkup and regular vaccines, a pet wellness plan may not be worth it. But if you have a dog who needs regular grooming and you find a pet wellness plan that will cover that, it might be worthwhile.

Your personal preference matters, too. The nice thing about routine care for pets is that the cost of it is predictable, unlike the accidents and illnesses covered by pet insurance. If you’re the type of person who likes to set money aside each month throughout the year to save up for your pet’s annual vet visit, a pet wellness plan might be a good way to do that. 

Compare Pet Insurance

Whether you’re considering pet insurance on its own or with a wellness plan, Benzinga has got you covered. We’ve researched and reviewed all of the top providers to bring you the most up-to-date information about the best pet insurance on the market. Take a look at some of these providers to get started.

  • securely through Chewy Care Plus's website
    securely through Chewy Care Plus's website
    Best For:
    Annual Check Ups
  • securely through Wagmo's website
    securely through Wagmo's website
    Best For:
  • securely through Pumpkin Pet Insurance's website
    securely through Pumpkin Pet Insurance's website
    Best For:
    Families with multiple pets
    Read Review

    Limitations apply. For terms and conditions, visit Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. (NPN#19084749) (“Pumpkin”) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance plans underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company. Preventive Essentials is not an insurance policy, and is not available in all states.

  • securely through Spot Pet Insurance's website
    securely through Spot Pet Insurance's website
    Best For:
    Prescription food and supplements
    Read Review
  • securely through Pets Best's website
    securely through Pets Best's website
    Best For:
    Prompt Claim Payments
    Read Review

Does Pet Insurance Cover Wellness Visits?

Pet insurance does not cover wellness visits. Wellness visits are routine visits that are recommended by your veterinarian. Most pets should visit their veterinarian for an annual visit. 

Some veterinarians may suggest that pets have wellness visits more frequently if they’re a senior or have certain health conditions. For example, if your dog is on medication that could affect their kidney levels, a veterinarian might want to see them twice per year for bloodwork. This veterinary visit for blood work would not be covered by pet insurance because it is considered a routine matter.

What is a Veterinary Wellness Plan?

Some veterinarian offices offer their own wellness plans for pets. One example of this is Banfield Pet Hospital's wellness plans. These plans are specifically offered by the veterinary practice, so wellness services will only be covered if you visit a Banfield practice. 

Veterinary wellness plans may cover unlimited office visits as well as a few virtual visits per year. It might also cover a certain number of routine physical exams, diagnostic testing and vaccinations. The benefit of a veterinary wellness plan is that it may come with additional discounts that you can use on other products and services from their office.

These are different from wellness plans that are offered by pet insurance companies or other pet wellness plan providers. Most pet wellness plans are not affiliated with any veterinarian or veterinary hospital. It is not like human health insurance because veterinarians cannot opt-in or opt-out of accepting specific pet insurance or wellness plans. 

While a veterinary wellness plan may come with some perks that make it attractive, it’s important to consider where you go to the vet most often. If you want to have coverage no matter where you bring your pet, a wellness plan that is not affiliated with any specific veterinarian or veterinary hospital may be a better choice.

Find Your Pet Plan Today

Pet wellness plans offer a completely different set of coverages than pet insurance. It’s important to compare and consider both types of plans to find the best coverage for your pet’s needs.