Conceptually, pet insurance is actually a terrific idea, and it can pay off for many customers and their dogs. However, no two insurance providers are exactly alike, so it is important to shop around and find reliable coverage that best suits your particular needs. And those of your dogs, of course!
For this outing, we’re taking a close look at Trupanion Pet Insurance.
Trupanion Company Overview
Trupanion is a rare breed in that it offers coverage for both American and Canadian pet owners. Oh, and you folks in Puerto Rico are covered, too! For the purpose of this article, I’ll be focusing on the American plans. (And hope the Mounties don’t send me to Nunavut for unpatriotic activities.)
The company began in 2000, as Vetinsurance and client number 1 was located in Vancouver, Canada. By 2004, it had become the first pet insurance company in North America to turn a profit. Four years later, their first U.S. client was brought into the fold. At present, they provide coverage for more than 287,000 pets.
The CEO and founder of Trupanion, Darryl Rawlings, lays claim to the title of, “Longest Serving Pet Insurance CEO in North America”. There’s probably no trophy for that, but it does speak to the reliability of the company.
You business-minded types might be interested to know that Trupanion has been publicly traded since 2014. In the U.S., the company is underwritten by American Pet Insurance, which it also owns. Trupanion is underwritten in Canada by Omega General Insurance Company, an insurer based in Toronto, Canada. Omega is in turn owned by Till Capital which has its headquarters in Bermuda.
Trupanion Pet Insurance Plan Options
Trupanion offers one comprehensive plan, but it can be used for either dogs or cats.
The following optional riders are available:
RECOVERY AND COMPLEMENTARY CARE RIDER
- Rehabilitative therapy
- Behavioral modification and therapy
PET OWNER ASSISTANCE PACKAGE
- Liability coverage for third-party property damage
- Advertising and reward
- Boarding fees
- Holiday vacation cancellation costs
- Cremation or burial fees
- Illnesses and Injuries related to breeding, whelping, and queening.
Overview of their Most Comprehensive and Popular Plan
If you’ve read any of the other insurance pieces on this site, then you know that I try to compare apples to apples. Therefore, my look at their plan is based on a 4-year-old male Golden Retriever, neutered, and living in Bell Gardens, California. (If this is the first article you’ve looked at, I’ll let you in on a secret: the zip code for Bell Gardens is 90210.)
The plan Trupanion offers provides 90% coverage for all included services. Pets that are covered can be treated in any hospital in Canada, the United States, or Puerto Rico. They claim to process claims quickly, sometimes the same day. Payment can be made directly to the vet in many cases.
Average Monthly Cost / Cost Range
Trupanion states that insurance costs will vary depending on the age, breed and gender of the pet, as well as where it lives and if it has been spayed or neutered.
The website gave me a free quote with numerous options to choose from. The “most popular” selection gives me a $200 deductible and does not include either of the riders. (Rider number 3, for breeding, does not apply to a neutered male.) The monthly cost would be $96.89/month.
I was also offered a plan with $0 deductible for $164.62, and a third with a $700 deductible for $54.85. A customizable plan is available, where you set your own deductible.
The least expensive plan for my fictional Golden is $40.93/monthly with $1000 deductible. The most expensive plan is $191.17/monthly with $0 deductible and both optional packages.
- Illnesses and Injuries related to breeding, whelping, and queening.
- Illnesses & injuries
- Hereditary & congenital conditions
- Diagnostic tests
- Hospital stays
- Veterinary supplements
- Prosthetic devices & carts
- Herbal therapy
- Prescription food (50% coverage for up to 2 months)
- Bone marrow transplants
- Colloidal silver treatments
- Gold seed therapy
- Herbal therapy
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
- Kidney transplants
- Platelet rich plasma injections
- Polyethylene glycol medication
- Shockwave therapy
- Stem cell therapy
- Vet recommended euthanasia
- Exam fees
- Sales tax where applicable
- Wellness & preventive care
- Pre-existing conditions, including bilateral issues
- Injury or illness caused by repetitive behavior, if the behavior was already observed
- Processing fees
- Injuries due to intentional acts by the owner, or a member of the household
- Cosmetic procedures (like ear cropping and tail docking)
- Anal gland expression
- Bedding, housing, crates, cages, bowls, exercise equipment
- Toys, clothes
- Non-medicated shampoo
- Spaying or neutering
- Parasite control
- Acts of war
- Radiation, nuclear incident, or any type of chemical, biological, biochemical or electromagnetic weapon
Trupanion does not set any limits to the number or dollar value of claims, nor limit the number of claims per issue.
Waiting Period For Payouts
There is a 30-day waiting period for illness, and 5 days for accidents.
Automatic offerings are $700, $200, or $0. However, it is possible to choose anything from $0 to $1000 in $5 increments. What you set your deductible as will have an effect on your monthly premium.
Spay / Neuter Requirements and Limitations
The breeding status of your dog does not impact eligibility for insurance.
Available Options / Add-on packages
Adding the Recovery and Complementary Care Rider would tack on $12.32 each month, based on the recommended plan. The cost fluctuates depending on the main insurance package chosen. The Pet Owner Assistance Package could be had for $4.95 monthly, regardless of your insurance choice.
Minimum age: 8 weeks. (Although selecting 0-7 weeks prompts a message asking you to call or email to arrange coverage.)
Maximum age: 13 years at the time of enrollment. Once enrolled, coverage is good for the duration of the dog’s life.
Working dogs: Working dogs are eligible, and will be covered for work-related injuries in most cases. (I can imagine an unlikely scenario wherein a police dog is injured during a strike or riot and coverage being denied, as these are on the list of exclusions.)
Breeding dogs: An optional rider exists to cover dogs being used for commercial breeding.
Pre-existing conditions: Pre-existing conditions will not preclude coverage, though they are excluded from coverage.
Veterinary exam: Not required for enrollment, but medical records must be provided when making a claim. Teeth must be examined at least once per year in order to receive dental illness coverage.
The policy provides coverage for the entire life of the dog. There’s no limit on the number of claims, and no annual or lifetime cap.
The amount paid is based on the actual charges incurred. Those covered are free to visit any veterinary office, clinic, or hospital desired.
Claims can be made by email, mail, fax, or by taking a picture of the completed form with your smartphone and emailing it to Trupanion.
Reimbursement can be by check or direct deposit into your bank account. In many cases, your veterinarian can be paid directly.
The first claim may take 7 to 10 days because it is necessary to forward all your dog’s medical records. Subsequent filings are typically processed (according to Trupanion) in about four days. They also claim 10% of claims are processed in under 5 minutes, and 65% of all claims are settled within 24 hours.
What sets Trupanion insurance apart from other insurers?
- Reimbursement based on actual bill, not schedule
- 90% coverage on all plans
- Set your own deductible from $0-$1000
- Options for working or breeding dogs
- No annual or lifetime limits
- Direct payments to the vet or hospital may be available
- 24/7 customer service
A.M. Best Rating
A.M. Best is a rater of insurance companies. They provide reports on the financial stability of insurers around the world, and their projected ability to pay claimants. They have been providing this service since 1899; we believe A.M. Best ratings to be free from bias and a good indicator of an insurer's reliability.
Trupanion is listed on A.M. Best’s website but has not received a rating. Their underwriter, American Pet Insurance Company, also has not received a rating, despite being listed. The Canadian underwriter, Omega, is not rated, either.
The lack of information is regrettable but does not necessarily indicate any particular problems. Some insurers intentionally forgo A.M. Best ratings for various reasons.
Better Business Bureau Rating
The BBB, as many people know them, has been monitoring and reviewing business conduct for more than 100 years. They provide an unbiased forum and registry for consumer disputes, and offer a fair assessment of a company’s credibility.
The BBB has given Trupanion an “A+” rating based on its assorted criteria, including the number of complaints consumers have filed, and how the company handled them. “A+” is the highest rating the BBB offers.
Customer Review Rating: 4% positive, 4% neutral, and 92% negative.
Composite Score: 3.76 out of 5 stars
Summary of Trupanion Pros and Cons
- Lifelong coverage
- 90% coverage
- Covers congenital/hereditary conditions
- Variety of deductible options to suit different budgets
- Transferable to new owner
- Coverage offered in all 50 states and D.C., Canada, and Puerto Rico
- Payment directly to care provider in some cases
- Prescription food covered (50%)
- Customer service always available
- No general wellness coverage
- More expensive than some other insurers
- Numerous negative consumer reviews on BBB
- No discount for multiple pets
- Seems more 'corporate' than other providers
Our Overall Impressions and Rating
There are many desirable aspects of Trupanion and its coverage. The ability to contact someone any day at any time is certainly reassuring. And most people will appreciate the times when the vet is paid directly, and your money stays in your bank. Though options for coverage are a bit limited, 90% is a very good number, especially when you submit a pricey claim!
Trupanion insurance leans a bit towards the expensive side, but the coverage is deep. Budget-conscious pet owners can tweak their premiums by playing with the choose-your-own-deductible feature until they see a price they are comfortable with.
As a company, there is definitely a more serious, corporate vibe being exuded online, especially when compared to some of the other providers. Though they always strive to appear to be a “pet-first” company, there’s something about the “Investor Relations” tab that doesn’t feel all that cuddly.
On the other hand, if you really are a numbers person and don’t care if your insurance provider has much in the "touchy-feely" column, the lack of rating for either Trupanion or American Pet Insurance on A.M. Best might be slightly concerning. It’s a little hard to tell if this is a small company with a big heart just waiting to “make it big” or if it’s a wannabe big time insurer that isn’t quite there yet.
There is a lot of good information provided on their website about different breeds and their characteristics, as well as a dictionary of veterinary terms. They have a solid presence on social media; Facebook followers number over 107,000, which is pretty good for an insurance company.
Overall, Trupanion seems to offer a solid insurance product with broad coverage, and flexible payment options. While it feels more corporate in nature than some of the competitors I’ve looked at, in the end, all that matters is they’re there when you need them. They claim to have a 98.66% monthly retention rate, which suggests they are meeting their customers’ needs.
Trupanion may be a good choice for some people, especially working dog owners, and I see no reason not to recommend them.
Jim lives east of Toronto, where he writes and designs marketing material for small businesses. He can be reached at [email protected]"
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