When it comes to protecting yourself, those you love, and your belongings, insurance policies can typically offer the security you’re looking for at a reasonable price. And while you may be used to shopping for home insurance, car insurance, and your family’s health care, many people don’t know that they can also purchase pet insurance.
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Pet owners can save a lot of money by buying an insurance policy for their cats and dogs. Today, the variety of choices for consumers continues to expand. One very popular option to consider is Healthy Paws Pet Insurance.
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance – Company Overview
Healthy Paws Insurance Company has been a leader in the industry since 2009 when the company was founded by Steve Siadek and Rob Jackson, two men who met through their involvement with a local no-kill shelter. The company is based in Washington state and currently offers plans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Option to Pay Vet Directly: Yes
App Support: Yes
Accident Waiting Period: 15 Days
Illness Waiting Period: 15 Days
Orthopedic Waiting Period: 12 Months
Vet Helpline Available: No
Multi-Pet Discount: No
Deductible Type: Annual
Because the company was born out of a shared love for helping animals, at the same time Siadek and Jackson established their new insurance venture, they also created the Healthy Paws Foundation. The Foundation aims to help the over six million dogs and cats that make their way through the country’s shelter systems, many of them part of the homeless pet population. Over the last 14 years, it has donated over $2 million to animal rescues and shelters to pay for food, medicine, and operating costs to run these organizations as well as offering nonprofit grants.
In addition to its own donations, Healthy Paws also sends money through the Foundation every time a prospective customer obtains an estimate for coverage through its Every Quote Gives Hope program. Additionally, when a current policyholder refers a friend, $25 will be donated to the Foundation in their name.
Healthy Paws has partnered with the Aon Corporation (insurance brokerage) and Chubb (insurance underwriter), so its policies remain secure and are backed by reputable companies. This, along with the company’s A+ rating with the BBB gives pet parents the peace of mind they need, knowing they’ve made a sound investment in their pet’s overall health and wellness.
Healthy Paws has a track record of solid customer service and is known for its straightforward approach to providing pet insurance. Because the company only has one plan for dogs and cats and doesn’t offer any add-ons or wellness programs, it’s able to focus its efforts on providing outstanding and efficient service on the limited offerings they do have.
They’ve also gained recognition from customers for having no payout limits – either per incident, annually, or lifetime. This assures policyholders that no matter how high their vet bills get they don’t have to worry about their reimbursements. It also helps to streamline the claims process, and the company boasts one of the fastest turnaround times for processing claims, with most policyholders seeing their claim go through within two business days.
Healthy Paws also has some of the most affordable plans on the market, though they may be subject to more exclusions and limitations than plans from comparable or more expensive providers.
One big exclusion customers should note is that the plans don’t cover exam fees or office visits. They do, however, offer the option to get more expensive treatment pre-authorized where the company will pay your vet directly without you having to act as the middleman.
Pet insurance can help cover the cost of medical treatments for your four-legged family members. And, like other types of insurance, these policies primarily cover unplanned expenses and do not cover routine care (just as your auto policy doesn’t cover tune-ups or oil changes). Almost all pet insurers only cover cats and dogs, and this is true of Healthy Paws as well. Additionally, the vast majority of these policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions.
Healthy Paw only has one policy option for both cats and dogs that allows you to see any licensed vet, so there’s no need to worry about whether your provider is in-network or out-of-network. Both cats and dogs aged eight weeks up to their 14th birthday are eligible for the Healthy Paws plan. The company currently does not offer accident-only coverage options for an older pet. However, if your pet is enrolled before their 14th birthday and remains enrolled, they can stay on the policy for the rest of their life.
Before enrolling, your pet will need a complete vet exam to be eligible for coverage. For dogs and cats under the age of six, this must be done within the previous 12 months or the first 15 days of your pet policy effective date. For pets over the age of six, this must be done within the previous 30 days or the first 15 days of your policy starting. All plans require a mandatory 15-day waiting period for illness and injury coverage.
There is only one policy option when it comes to insuring your puppy or dog, making it easy to get started on a pet insurance plan right away.
- New injuries and illnesses
- Emergency care
- Specialist visits
- Diagnostic testing like x-rays, blood tests, and ultrasounds
- Hip dysplasia coverage if your dog is enrolled before the age of six, though this will generally be subject to a 12-month waiting period. If you enroll them after their sixth birthday, expenses related to hip dysplasia will not be covered.
- Preventative care
- Pre-existing conditions
- Exam and consultation fees
- Spaying and neutering
- Elective procedures
- Ear cropping
- Tail docking
Like dog and puppy insurance, Healthy Paws only offers one easy-to-understand plan that covers all cats and kittens.
- Emergency hospital visits
- Specialist visits
- Urinary tract infections
- Diagnostic testing like x-rays, blood tests, and ultrasounds
- New illnesses and injuries
- Preventative care
- Pre-existing conditions
- Exam and consultation fees
- Spaying and neutering
- Behavioral modification
- Prescription diet food
There are several conditions that will be covered under your policy, but with certain restrictions and conditions in place.
- Genetic conditions: For a hereditary condition or congenital condition to be eligible for coverage, it must appear after enrollment.
- Alternative care (also called complementary treatments): Some types of FDA-approved alternative care will be covered under your standard cat or dog policy. Treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, hydrotherapy, physical therapy, or laser therapy are eligible for reimbursement if they are recommended and performed by a licensed vet. The Healthy Paws policy does not cover herbal medicine treatments or homeopathy.
- Dental Services: In most cases, dental treatments are not covered by pet insurance plans. However, some limited dental services are covered under Healthy Paws’ plan if there is accidental damage to the teeth. In these cases, services like extraction or reconstruction would be covered.
- Cancer treatment: If your pet gets cancer, it will likely need ongoing treatment that can end up costing over $10,000. However, if your pet is enrolled in a Healthy Paws plan before symptoms begin, it will be covered for services like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.
- Chronic conditions: If your pet has a chronic condition like allergies, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, or hypothyroidism before you enroll them on a plan, they will not be eligible for coverage. This makes it all the more important to purchase an insurance plan while your pet is young to ensure coverage of these common disorders.
It’s important to understand the difference between a regular pet insurance policy and a wellness policy. Essentially, most pet insurance policies cover illness and injury (ie. unexpected costs), while a wellness policy covers expected costs for routine and preventive care.
Several pet health insurance providers offer both standard insurance policies as well as wellness plans that customers can tack on for an additional cost (for example, the Wellness Rewards Program through Embrace Pet Insurance, or Wellness Powerup by Figo Pet Insurance). Healthy Paws intentionally does not offer wellness coverage.
The company’s stance is not that wellness services are in any way unnecessary; rather, Healthy Paws doesn’t feel these plans offer consumers any real value for the benefits offered. In fact, it’s found that plans like this can sometimes end up costing a pet parent more than they would have paid for the same services out-of-pocket. Furthermore, the company maintains that because a pet owner can plan and budget for the predictable costs of wellness services on their own, by not including this as an option, it’s able to focus attention on its universal insurance policy, saving both the end customer and the company time and money.
Why aren’t exam and consultation costs covered?
Healthy Paws makes an intentional choice to exclude consultation and exam fees from coverage so it can continue offering its policies at a low monthly premium as well as having no caps on claim payouts.
What if I don’t know what breed my pet is?
Many pets are mixed-breed. When you initially set up your policy there will be a drop-down menu with choices for purebred, mixed-breed, and common crossbreeds like Goldendoodle or Yorkiepoo.
You’ll also find an option simply for “mixed-breed,” or you can specify the predominant breed of the mix (such as Shepard Mix or Terrier Mix). Any information you include here will also be checked against your pet’s medical records.
Does the plan cover end of life care and euthanasia?
When euthanasia is considered medically necessary and recommended by your vet it will be covered under your policy. Note that burial services or cremation are not eligible for coverage.
How are cruciate ligament conditions covered?
A cruciate ligament condition (CL, CCL, ACL injuries) can sometimes be excluded from coverage but this depends on whether there was any indication of a pre-existing condition. When these injuries happen on one side of the body, it often means your pet is predisposed to these and it will likely happen on the other side. Therefore, if your pet has shown signs of a cruciate ligament injury on one leg, or has had treatment or surgery for this, it will be considered a pre-existing condition. This means that if a similar injury happens on the other leg, it will not be covered. This is referred to as a bilateral exclusion.
What’s considered a pre-existing condition?
Any condition, illness, or injury that your pet has experienced before signing up for coverage can be considered a pre-existing condition, and will be ineligible for coverage. Importantly, your pet does not need to have received an actual diagnosis for a condition to be labeled “pre-existing.” It simply means that the condition has already occurred or there have been clinical signs or symptoms of such a condition. Your pet’s medical history will be thoroughly evaluated before any claims are paid out to establish any pre-existing conditions and this is done on a case-by-case basis.
That said, there are some illnesses and conditions that may still be covered even if your pet has had them before. For example, if your cat was treated for a urinary tract infection when they were a kitten and it has cleared up and not returned, a future UTI will likely be covered.
How much does Healthy Paws Pet Insurance Cost?
If you’re interested in obtaining an estimate from Healthy Paws, you’ll get the most accurate quote by contacting the company and providing details about your pet. Several factors go into the overall cost of pet insurance and it’s impossible to predict what your total price tag will be without knowing these details. Below are some of the most important factors that will determine how much you pay for a policy:
- The type of pet you have (dogs are generally more expensive to insure than cats)
- The breed of your pet
- The age of your pet
- Your location (similar to car insurance and homeowners insurance, your rate differs based on your zip code)
To further understand what goes into your quote and what your total costs will be for the coverage period, there are three components to consider:
- Reimbursement rate
- Payout limits
Your reimbursement rate is the portion of your total cost that’s paid back to you by a pet insurance company after filing a claim. At Healthy Paws this can range from 50% to 90%, though most customers receive a 70% or 80% reimbursement rate. The breed of your pet and your location may limit your choice for reimbursement rates, and in most cases follow these guidelines:
- Pets six years and younger: you choose between a 70% to 80% reimbursement level
- Pets six to seven years old: 70% reimbursement level
- Pets eight years and older: 50% reimbursement level
Unlike other companies, Healthy Paws calculates the amount of reimbursement before subtracting your deductible.
For example, let’s say your policy is set at an 80% reimbursement rate with a $250 deductible. If your vet bill totaled $1,000 and you had not yet paid your deductible, your reimbursement rate would be first calculated at $1,000 x 0.8 = $800. Then, your deductible would be subtracted ($800 – $250) leaving you with a payout of $550. This can lead to slightly lower payouts than competitors who subtract the deductible first.
Like a standard health insurance plan, you’ll be required to pay a deductible each annual coverage period before your policy will start reimbursing. Options for deductibles range from $100 to $1,000, but your pet’s breed and your location can affect what’s available to you. For pets younger than six years old you can generally choose between a $250 or $500 deductible, though pets over the age of six are usually subject to higher deductibles.
- Six year old pet: $500 deductible
- Seven year old pet: $750 deductible
- Eight years or older pet: $1,000 deductible
Healthy Paws is one of the few insurers to include unlimited annual coverage with no payout limits.
An insurance policy for a dog will cost around $46.90/month while a cat will cost an average of $22.15/month, though smaller dogs generally cost less to insure than larger dogs. Your actual costs can range from $20 to $100 a month.
There are currently no discounts offered on Healthy Paws policies, whereas most other insurers offer a few rebates such as multi-pet discounts.
Getting an estimate from Healthy Paws is best done using their online quote tool. You’ll be asked to provide your pet’s age, breed, and name along with your zip code since these are the major factors that will determine your cost. You can also request a quote over the phone by calling (855) 898-8991.
Once you sign up, there is a mandatory 15-day waiting period before claims can be filed, and nearly all policies come with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Submitting claims on a Healthy Paws policy is very easy and doesn’t require filling out any claim forms. The most efficient way to start the claims process is by taking a picture of your vet bill (already paid) and uploading it via the online Customer Center or through your Healthy Paws Mobile App.
You can also submit a claim online by logging in to your account. When submitting your claim, you’ll also need to attach an itemized copy of your vet bill.
- Email claims to email@example.com
- Mail claims to Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, P.O. Box 50034, Bellevue, WA 98015
- Fax claims to (888) 228-4129
Claims can take up to 10 days to process, though the company can typically turn around most claims within two days.
Healthy Paws allows customers to request cancellation of their policies either by phone, mail, email, or fax.
Email requests should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Most customers canceling within the first 30 days of their policy will receive a full refund as long as no claims have been filed. However, there are certain states like New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina where this refund will be unavailable.
Most customer service needs can be handled by logging in to your account and accessing the Healthy Paws Customer Center. Here you’ll have access to your policy, claim status, account, and billing information.
You can also call the company at (855) 898-8991 Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM PT, or
Saturday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM PT. Note that offices are closed on Sundays.
Healthy Paws Mobile App
The Healthy Paws Mobile app is the easiest way to submit a claim since you can simply take a picture of your vet bill and upload it on your phone. It’s available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. The app gets favorable customer reviews overall, but many users who have the app through Google Play have voiced frustration that it can be hard to upload pictures of receipts when filing a claim.
When shopping for the best pet insurance policy, there’s no one-size-fits-all plan that will work for all customers. Healthy Paws offers fairly comprehensive coverage for a reasonable price, but like all types of insurance, you should compare its plan against two or three other policies to ensure you’re getting the coverage you want. You can do this easily through Healthy Paws’ free online quote tool that will recommend other insurers if it can’t beat a price.
Since Healthy Paws plans tend to be less expensive than other pet insurance with somewhat more restrictions, it’s an ideal choice for those who can enroll their pet at a young age to guard against exclusions based on a pre-existing condition. The direct-pay option is beneficial for higher-priced procedures that you may have trouble paying for upfront, though these must be pre-approved and are handled on a case-by-case basis.
The company’s unlimited coverage limits are an attractive option to those who like knowing no matter what happens they’ll be reimbursed. When considering Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, compare quotes from other companies to ensure you find the right coverage for your pet’s needs. This way, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing your pet is protected without worrying about expensive veterinarian bills.