A Vet's Review of Hartville Group Pet Insurance

(ASPCA / Hartville / Protect Your Bubble / PetPremium and PetsHealth Pet Insurance)

by Frances Wilkerson, DVM

This review discusses coverage and payout structure

To get the most from this review, please read the Guide to Pet Insurance first.
For a detailed look at these companies, see the Hartville Group Comparison Sheet.


Please Note:
Protect Your Bubble is no longer offering Pet Insurance in the US.



Overview

ASPCA / Hartville / Protect Your Bubble / PetPremium and PetsHealth Pet Insurance brands are all under one company, Hartville Group, Inc.

Hartville Group, Inc has offered pet insurance since 1997.

This review refers to the following plans: Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4 (Old Plans) AND Complete Coverage (New Plan).



Coverage Overview

In general, ASPCA / Hartville / Protect Your Bubble / PetPremium and PetsHealth Pet Insurance covers examinations, diagnostics and lab tests, surgery, treatments, hospitalization, and prescription medications for accidents/injuries and illnesses as long as the condition is not pre-existing, has not occurred during the waiting period, and you have not reached your maximum payout.

Non-routine dental coverage is limited.



Coverage For Chronic Diseases & Continual Coverage For Chronic Diseases

Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 Plans
These plans offer coverage for chronic diseases, but if your pet develops a chronic disease that is hereditary/congenital in nature, you will only be covered if you purchased the Level 3 or Level 4 Plan.

These plans offer continual coverage for chronic diseases in its Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4 plans, however...

The monetary payout for the condition after the first year has limits. In addition, the copay increases to 20%.

Because these plans have monetary payout limits, their continual coverage for chronic conditions is low to moderate.

It is not clear at this time whether the per incident limit for continual coverage is reset each policy year. If it is not reset each policy year, the coverage is low. If it is reset every year, the coverage is moderate.

Complete Care Plan
This plan has chronic diseases coverage and continual coverage for chronic conditions as part of the base policy, as long as the condition is not pre-existing, has not occurred during the waiting period, and you have not gone over your annual maximum payout per policy year.



Hereditary & Congenital Coverage

Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 Plans
Coverage for hereditary and congenital conditions is available in Level 3 and Level 4 plans, however...

The monetary payout for these types of conditions has limits. These limits are very low.

Complete Care Plan
Hereditary and Congenital Conditions are covered, as long as the condition is not pre-existing and has not occurred during the waiting period.

These conditions are covered up to your selected Maximum Annual Payout.



Cancer Coverage

Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 Plans
These plans offer cancer coverage, however...
  1. Cancers that are considered to be hereditary or genetic may not be covered in plans that do not cover Hereditary/Congenital conditions.
  2. To get Continuing Care coverage for cancer you must purchase the Level 2, 3, or 4 plan.
  3. The Continuing Care coverage has its own deductible, copay, and monetary payout limits. (See 'Coverage For Chronic Diseases & Continual Coverage For Chronic Diseases above')

Complete Care Plan
Cancer conditions are covered, as long as the condition is not pre-existing and has not occurred during the waiting period.

These conditions are covered up to your selected Maximum Annual Payout.



Coverage For Breed Specific Conditions

Breed specific medical conditions often occur as hereditary/congenital issues.

Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 Plans
These plans cover hereditary/congenital conditions, however, the monetary payout for these types of conditions has limits and these limits are very low.

Complete Care Plan
Hereditary and Congenital Conditions are covered, as long as the condition is not pre-existing and has not occurred during the waiting period.

These conditions are covered up to your selected Maximum Annual Payout.



Maximum Payout Structure

Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 Plans
These plans have a per-incident maximum payout structure. This per-incident maximum payout may work for people whose calculated "Worst Case Scenario Costs" are on the moderate to low end...but if your calculated "Worst Case Scenario Costs" are high, this payout structure may not meet your needs. (See: Picking the Right Maximum Payout)


In addition, Hereditary/Congenital conditions and Continual Care for Chronic Conditions have monetary limits lower than the per-incident maximums stated above. These are two of the most costly situations in veterinary medicine. ASPCA / Hartville / Protect Your Bubble / PetPremium and PetsHealth's monetary coverage for these situations may not meet those with moderate to high "Worst Case Scenario Costs".

Complete Care Plan
This plan has annual maximum payout structure and offers an array of annual maximum payouts that can fit the needs of those with high "Worst Case Scenario Costs" and those with low "Worst Case Scenario Costs". (See: Picking the Right Maximum Payout)



Summary of Coverage and Payout Structure

Gotchas

  • [Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 Plans] - Low monetary coverage for Hereditary/Congenital conditions
  • [Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 Plans] - The per-incident payout structure may not be enough for those with high "Worst Case Scenario Costs"
  • [Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 Plans] - There are monetary payout limits for chronic conditions after the first year they occur. In addition, the copay increases to 20%.
  • [Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 Plans] - If a cancer is shown to be hereditary or genetic, it may not be covered if you do not buy a plan with Hereditary/Congenital coverage
  • Non-routine dental coverage is limited
  • PetPremium is a newer company in the US



Good Points

  • Strong underwriter
  • Coverage when travel out of state or to Canada
  • [Complete Care Plan] Provides comprehensive coverage for Hereditary & Congenital Diseases, Chronic Diseases, and Cancer
  • [Complete Care Plan] Provides full continual coverage for chronic diseases



Additional Comments Regarding All Pet Insurance Companies:

  • Make sure you research what customers are saying about the company. A company may have the 5 components that should be part of a pet insurance plan, but the company may not be a hit with customers. Sites to check include but are not limited to, Yelp.com and PetInsuranceReview.com. Things to look for include but are not limited to: How fast are payments paid?, What are customers saying about the pre-existing conditions policy?, How often are claims denied and for what reason?, What is the customer service experience like?
  • Make sure you understand what the waiting periods are.
  • Make sure you understand their bilateral conditions policy.
  • Make sure you understand any requirements that you must adhere to to maintain coverage.
  • Make sure you read the terms and conditions to get a thorough understanding of all exclusions.
  • Make sure you understand how and when your premium can increase.
  • If you change plan levels, there is a possibility that all medical conditions present under the old plan will be considered pre-existing in the new plan. Make sure you ask the company if this is the case.
  • For some companies, pre-existing conditions can be based on symptoms alone, a diagnosis is not needed. For example, if your pet had a cough before you applied for pet insurance and this cough was discussed and written in the pet's medical record, there is the possibility that all future cough conditions, no matter what the cause, would be considered pre-existing - even if there was no treatment given. Make sure you ask the company if this is the case.
  • Pet insurance companies are businesses. The top priority of any business is to make a profit for their stakeholders. Pet insurance companies can and may change your rates and terms to meet that top priority. A change of business ownership or underwriters can also be a catalyst for changes in your rates and terms.

    When you purchase pet insurance make sure you have a realistic understanding of this and how it can affect you.


Additional Reviews:

AKC | ASPCA | Embrace | Figo | Healthy Paws | PetFirst | PetPlan | Pets Best | Trupanion | VPI | 24 Pet Watch


**Disclaimer:This review is meant to supplement not replace your own due diligence. Please read all terms and conditions of the pet insurance plan before you buy.

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