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TrustedPals – New Entry Into Pet Insurance Market

A friend sent me an article today about a new company offering pet insurance in the United States.

I visited their website and read a sample policy. From a veterinarian’s perspective, I like what the policy covers.

I like that they cover prescription (therapeutic) diets and recognizes that these diets have diagnostic and therapeutic uses. I believe this makes any insurance policy more valuable because veterinarians frequently prescribe these diets and they make a difference in the management of many diseases. These diets are relatively expensive compared to the foods that most pet owners feed their pets. In fact, for some pet owners, it can be cost prohibitive and that’s unfortunate.

They cover the examination fee. Some companies don’t or make this optional coverage.

They cover behavioral training, therapy and treatment when prescribed by a veterinarian.

They cover nutritional supplements prescribed by a veterinarian. Nutritional supplements that can be purchased without a prescription aren’t covered.

Hereditary and chronic conditions appear to be covered as long as they aren’t pre-existing.

There is a 12 month waiting period after the policy is effective for coverage of hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament injuries. Besides this 12 month waiting period, there doesn’t appear to be a bilateral conditions exclusion that is common in other insurance company policies.

They apply your copayment after you meet the deductible. This is preferable to applying the copayment first as it yields a higher reimbursement.

There are some things that aren’t spelled out in detail and I’d need more clarification from the claims department before purchasing a policy from them. I did call and talk with a representative who did an admirable job answering my questions, but admitted that to get down to nitty-gritty specifics, a claims representative would need to be consulted.

They do offer wellness coverage. It is subject to the deductible and copay. Interestingly, the fees for wellness care (not accident/illness coverage) must meet a reasonable and necessary standard when compared to other veterinarians in your area. They will reimburse up to $750 annually for any procedures your veterinarian performs that are considered preventative eg wellness exams, vaccinations, flea and tick products, etc. Most companies that offer wellness coverage have a list of procedures that they consider preventative and are covered. The person I talked to said whatever your veterinarian considers preventative is how they determine if it is covered. I think this is something that needs more clarification. When I got a quote (Tennessee), this wellness endorsement added $26 a month to the premium.

Another part of the policy that would cause me pause is the section on cancellation of the policy. It states the company can elect to cancel the policy or not renew the policy, but doesn’t specify the reasons they would elect to do so. When I talked with the representative, she gave the following as examples – excessive claims, fraud or dishonesty. The one that gave me pause is “excessive claims.” That definitely needs to be clarified by a claims representative before purchasing a policy. A company shouldn’t penalize you for an unlucky pet that is injured or sick more than other pets. After all, that’s the reason you have insurance.

There are some things that would result in your existing policy being canceled and a new policy issued. This could potentially make any conditions your pet had been treated for and covered for under the old policy being considered pre-existing under the new policy. The representative said such events might be you move to another state where the policy terms are different. If you signed up for coverage under your employer and you change jobs. Here again, this should be clarified before purchasing a policy. You need to always be aware of the ramifications of any changes that might alter your coverage. This applies to any company, not just TrustedPals. Most companies have similar clauses in their policy.

The most important step to take before purchasing pet insurance is read a sample policy – read every word. Anything that isn’t crystal clear, always get clarification from the company.

Here is a quote I got for a male Beagle less than 1 year old in Memphis, TN.

Keep in mind that premiums will vary between insurance companies. Compare policies to determine the value. Generally, I like the coverage this company provides. I also like to get a quote as if my pet were 10 years old and compare this premium with other companies. You’d be surprised how much premiums vary between companies for an older pet compared to a younger pet.

Quote 10

Since the company is a new startup, I couldn’t find any reviews.

In conclusion, I like the coverage offered by this company. Before purchasing a policy, I would try to get clarification on the things mentioned above and anything else you have questions about after reviewing their website and reading a sample policy.

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