Best Pet Wellness Plans of 2021: Routine Care & Preventative Health
Our pets are bona fide family members. They share our spaces and deserve plenty of attention.
More than 85 million American households have at least one pet, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
But the North American Pet Health Insurance Association reports less than 3 million pets had health insurance at the end of 2019 — even though pet health insurance can save you money and heartache throughout your pet’s life.
Most pet insurers offer accident and illness coverage to help protect you from unexpected vet bills. But what about routine vet visits? Not every pet insurance offers wellness coverage for routine care like flea/tick prevention or heartworm meds.
Instead, you’d pay 100 percent of the vet bill out of pocket for this kind of care.
So for this post I’ve evaluated more than 30 pet insurers to find the best wellness plans. Some plans call wellness coverage “preventative care” or “routine care” plans.
The 7 Best Wellness Plans
Here are our top seven choices for companies that have routine care pet insurance:
PetPremium Preventative Care Plans
PetPremium pet insurance offers accident and illness plans with a preventive care add-on available.
When you buy the company’s Accident-Only or Total Coverage plan you can customize your annual benefits with flexible spending caps and deductibles.
These policies — without the preventive care add-on — start at $12.28 for dogs and $9.83 for cats ($250 deductible / $2,500 annual benefits cap / 80% reimbursement rate).
Then, if you decide to add on preventive care to your insurance plan, you have two choices:
- Basic Preventive Care Add-on: Adds $9.95 per month and could reimburse up to $250 per year for routine dental cleanings, annual checkups, deworming services, canine heartworm or feline FELV, fecal tests, canine DHLPP or feline FVRCP, canine rabies and Lyme disease or feline FIP.
- Prime Preventive Care Add-on: Adds $24.95 per month and includes the same services as the Basic add-on but with a higher annual payout amount of $700. Prime Preventive Care also covers heartworm and flea/tick prevention, the health certificate, urinalysis and blood tests, and canine bordetella.
Keep in mind the money you spend and get reimbursed through a preventive care add-on will not apply to your deductible or coverage caps for your accident and illness coverage.
And, please note that the maximum payouts for a wellness plan aren’t easy to reach because each individual service has its own small maximum annual payout. For example, if your dog needed $1,000 worth of blood work, your Prime Preventive Care add-on may reimburse only $100 for that procedure.
In other words, your dog or cat would need a lot of different procedures during the year for your reimbursements to reach the maximum payout.
Pets Best Wellness Plans
Pets Best Insurance Services offers three insurance plans for pets that cover prescriptions, surgery, exam fees, alternative therapies, and other services.
All three plans include accidents, illnesses, emergency care, hereditary conditions, and prescriptions, but vary in their annual coverage limits.
Like most top pet insurance companies, Pets Best’s plans are highly customizable to fit your budget and your pet’s needs, and they provide pet insurance with wellness add-ons.
Like PetPremium, Pets Best has two tiers of wellness add-ons:
- EssentialWellness costs $16 per month extra and will reimburse up to $305 a year on rabies vaccinations, flea/tick prevention, heartworm prevention, Titer vaccine, a physical wellness exam, heartworm test or FELV screen, blood, fecal, or parasite exam, microchipping, urinalysis, and deworming.
- BestWellness costs $26 per month extra and will reimburse up to $535 a year on the procedures listed above for the EssentialWellness plan — plus reimbursements for spaying/neutering and teeth cleaning.
So both plans cover the same preventive exams, tests, and procedures except for spay/neuter and teeth cleaning, which isn’t included under the less expensive add-on.
The main difference between these plans is the amount of reimbursement per procedure, which is higher with the BestWellness plan.
For example, Essential Wellness covers flea/tick prevention at $50 and microchipping at $20, while the BestWellness plan includes these at $65 and $40, respectively.
You can opt for the wellness plan add-on when you enroll initially or within 30 days of joining. Otherwise, you’ll need to wait for your annual review to opt-in.
As I pointed out with PetPremium, your dog or cat would need quite a few wellness procedures to maximize your annual benefit of $305 or $535. There is no deductible required to claim these reimbursements.
GEICO Wellness Rewards Program (Not Insurance)
GEICO’s Wellness Rewards add-on offers a different take on wellness plans.
It isn’t an insurance plan but rather a stand-alone routine care budgeting tool that helps you plan ahead for your pet’s regular care.
If you’ve read this far you’ve already noticed that wellness plans have questionable value — your pet would need a lot of health care for you to break even in any given year.
So this GEICO wellness add-on acknowledges that problem. Your monthly payments fund an account you can withdraw from when your pet needs his or her physical exam, vaccines, heartworm medications, dental cleanings and other qualifying procedures.
There’s no co-pay or deductible, and it’s not subject to the 14-day waiting period. After all, this is your money and not an insurance contract.
GEICO policyholders also have 24/7 access to whiskerDocs, a helpline that connects them directly with a veterinary expert to answer any pressing health questions.
Of course, the Wellness Rewards program is available only when you have a GEICO pet insurance policy. GEICO’s plans cost a little more than most other insurers’ plans. But they also include insurance coverage for behavioral therapy, destructive behaviors, and prosthetics and mobility assistance.
Also included are alternative therapies and rehabilitation, veterinary exam fees, cancer treatment, and breed-specific conditions such as dysplasia. GEICO plans let you choose your annual deductible, reimbursement percentage, and annual coverage caps.
Banfield Pet Hospital Wellness Plans
Banfield Pet Hospital is an extensive, nationwide network of more than 900 pet hospitals and clinics, including pet health clinics located inside PetSmart stores.
Rather than selling traditional pet health insurance policies, Banfield Pet Hospital offers routine care pet insurance through an Optimum Wellness plan that covers in-hospital services used for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
These services include comprehensive exams, unlimited office visits, nutritional consultations, and dental care.
Banfield Pet Hospital doesn’t provide accident coverage.
Banfield Pet Hospital has three levels of wellness coverage plus Early Care and Early Care Plus wellness plans for puppies and kittens under six months old.
Depending on the plan you choose, Banfield Pet Hospital coverage includes dental cleanings and illnesses, hereditary, congenital, and chronic conditions, cancer, and breeding. While it doesn’t cover grooming such as nail trims, you could schedule these procedures simultaneously to save time.
Actual treatments covered by these Banfield plans cover diagnostic testing, surgery, hospitalization, prescription medications, emergency, and specialty care, behavioral therapy, prosthetics, and mobility aids.
Some chronic illnesses, such as diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, and renal conditions, require additional coverage options.
A wellness policy also provides a discount of up to 20 percent on extra services and products offered through the hospital. Pet owners who want to shop for supplies during veterinary visits may like the convenience of Banfield’s routine care plan.
And just to be clear: You couldn’t use this insurance anywhere except Banfield locations.
Costco Wellness Plans (for Canadian Pet Parents)
Costco members who live in Canada can access pet insurance that covers wellness, with discounts of up to 15 percent.
Costco has partnered with Pet Plus Us, a Canadian insurer, to provide a wide range of customizable plans to choose from, including a comprehensive plan which covers accidents, illness, and routine preventive care.
You can also opt for a stand-alone wellness plan that includes only routine exams, treatments, and procedures.
Customizable accident and illness plans let you select a $7,500 or $15,000 coverage cap, and a reimbursement amount of 70, 80, or 90 percent. Deductibles range from $100 to $700 and depend on the age of the pet.
The stand-alone or add-on wellness plan has no deductible and no co-pay.
By paying a monthly premium Costco covers 100 percent of scheduled services, including annual exams and six-month exams for puppies and senior dogs.
Also included is deworming, fecal exams, urinalysis, spay and neuter, microchip implantation, heartworm testing, flea treatment and prevention, nail trimming, and routine dental care.
Nationwide Pet Insurance Wellness Plan
Nationwide Insurance, a national full-service insurer, has acquired the former VPI pet insurance company to get into the growing pet insurance line.
Nationwide offers several programs, including two add-ons for Wellness coverage:
- Wellness Basic: $12 for cats / $18 for dog wellness plans — could reimburse up to $400 a year.
- Wellness Plus: $17 for cats / $22 for dog wellness plans — could reimburse up to $500 a year.
Both plans allow for two physical exams per year and could reimburse you $30 to $50 for behavior exam and/or treatment, vaccination or titer, heartworm or FELV/FIV test, fecal test, deworming, nail trim, microchipping, health certificate, fleat/tick control or heartworm prevention.
In addition to all of the above, both plans let you choose one of the following procedures each year for partial reimbursement: blood tests, X-rays, EKGs.
The difference between these two add-ons: The Wellness Plus plan pays a little more per procedure. As I said earlier, with limits on each procedure, you’d need to get almost every procedure during the year to reach the annual maximum benefit of $400 or $500.
Overall, Nationwide’s pet insurance plans — which cover accidents and illnesses with an add-on for wellness — are efficient and easy to access online.
24PetWatch Wellness Plan
24PetWatch provides medical and wellness coverage for dogs and cats, with several levels of pet insurance that include wellness, in a range of customizable policy options.
Most comprehensive plans through 24PetWatch cover hereditary, congenital, and chronic conditions, ambulance, rehabilitative therapies, prescription foods and medications, and alternative treatments.
All plans reimburse at 80 percent.
Annual coverage caps range from $3,000 to $20,000, and deductibles range from $100 to $1,000, depending on the plan and your preferences.
Pets with microchips receive a five percent discount.
The Routine Wellness plan is available for as little as $10 a month and includes annual exams and regular treatments such as fecal screens, heartworm tests, and microchip implantation.
The more comprehensive Advanced Wellness starts at $25 per month and covers basic routine wellness services along with flea prevention medication and dental cleanings.
The Advanced Wellness plan has a higher payout than the Routine Wellness plan.
For example, the Routine plan covers $80 towards spay/neuter, while the Advanced plan pays $100.
All of these plans come with 24/7 access to a vet helpline for the first year.
Shopping For Pet Wellness Plans
Is a pet wellness plan worth your money? Often, it’s not.
Yes, your pet’s health is super important. But insurance exists to protect you from unexpected expenses that could wreak havoc on your family budget.
Based on this definition, accident or illness pet insurance makes a lot of sense. Your puppy could swallow a hand towel. Your adult dog could break bone. This unanticipated vet bill could break the bank.
And then, your accident coverage could reimburse you 70%, 80%, or maybe even 90% of this bill you never saw coming, making you glad you’d bought that policy.
But for wellness, routine, or preventative care, you can plan ahead. You could set aside $100 a month, maybe, to use for your cat’s vaccines, physical exam, and flea/tick prevention.
Then, if you didn’t need all the money you’d saved, you could spend it on something else.
Who Should Buy Wellness Care Coverage?
Someone whose pet needs all or almost all of the individual procedures a wellness plan covers should at least consider an add-on or standalone wellness coverage plan.
Since a small, individual coverage cap applies to each of the covered procedures, you’d need to get most (if not all) of these procedures to maximize your premium dollars.
So here’s what to do:
- Determine how much you would pay out of pocket for the covered services you need each year.
- Calculate how much wellness care coverage could pay. Often, it’s $500 at the most.
- Write down the annual premiums required to buy this wellness care coverage.
If your anticipated wellness plan payout exceeds the money you’d pay in premiums during the year, you’ll come out on top by getting wellness care coverage.
If your payout equals or comes in lower than the amount of your annual premiums, it’s a no-brainer: Stick with the accident and illness pet insurance coverage which provides peace of mind that you’d have some help paying for expensive — and unexpected — pet health care.