In the April 2012 issue of Houston PetTalk, Dr. Baxter, a veterinarian at Central Houston Animal Hospital, presents the analysis of pet insurance including what questions you should ask when reviewing policy benefits, her top 4 picks, contact information for these top 4 plans and her general thoughts about the reasons for pet insurance and who should choose to purchase it. Please note that the statistics in the article are subject to change over time.

Be sure to pick up a copy when the April Issue hits the stands March 27-30 at 1100 locations around Houston including PETCO, Spec’s and many Walgreens.

Due to space restrictions in the magazine, we are publishing Dr. Baxter’s top 4 plan’s list of benefits to compliment her well researched article:

ASPCA: Level 2 plan with Continuing Care option

  • Approx: $31-33/mo dog, $23/mo cat
  • Can upgrade to level 3 at any time for 5,000/per incident limit (but ups premium $50/mo)
  • 80% coverage
  • $100 deductible per policy year
  • $1500/incident limit for life of “problem”
    • Incident limits changing this year: $3000 year 1, then $1000 additional after that (essentially $4,000 total)
  • No annual maximums
  • Coverage is comprehensive as long as not pre-existing
  • Chronic recurrent disease covered with continuing care option only
  • Chronic conditions have lifetime limits
    • Level 2: $2500, Level 3: 3500
  • Hereditary or breed-associated diseases covered only under level 3 and 4 plans: 6 month waiting period
  • Pre-existing condition clause
  • Acupuncture, pre-anesthetic labs not currently covered but being added in near future to level 3 and 4
  • Must be <13Y for dogs, <15Y for cats
  • Reimbursed based on usual & customary fees (determined in a number of ways)
  • Injury coverage effective on policy date which is the nearest 1st/15th of the month, illness coverage after 30 days
  • 12 month waiting period before covered for ACL surgery
  • All medications covered except neutraceuticals
  • Behavior soon to be covered in levels 3 and 4 only
  • Referral appts and 2nd opinions covered
  • Surgical extras and complications covered
  • Client can appeal to department that includes vets
  • Dental coverage for FORLS, abscessed or fractured teeth, stomatitis, but noting relating to simple gingivitis
  • 10% off for multiple pets, AARP, military and service dog discounts.
Pet Plan: Silver Plan: Joseph: (610) 675-2415 – Global presence 33Y

  • Approx: 28-38/month for dogs, ~$10/month for cats
  • Needs annual exam and vax within last 12 months to qualify
  • 80/90/100% reimbursement – you choose
  • Specialists visits always 80% reimbursement
  • $50/100/200 deductible, you choose, good for the life of the problem
  • No wellness option, just injury/illness
  • Compensated on true charges, not customary
  • No per incident/per injury limit (unless exceeds yearly limit)
  • Bronze plan: $8,000/yr, Silver plan: 12,000/yr, Gold plan: 20,000/yr
  • No disqualifying conditions unless pre-existing
  • No age restrictions
  • No breed disqualifiers (Wolf)
  • No disease disqualifications (once enrolled)
  • All hereditary and breed-associated diseases & associated corrective surgeries covered unless pre-existing
  • All chronic recurrent diseases covered for life
  • When paperwork received – 24H to injury coverage, 14D to illness
  • 6 month waiting period before ACLs are covered
  • Rx food covered if for dissolving urine crystals
  • All Rx meds covered
  • Neutraceuticals may be covered only if used to treat (not prevent) a disease
  • Appeals go to a board of multiple vets
  • Acupuncture and holistics covered
  • Behavior not covered except for cognitive dysfunction
  • Referrals and 2nd opinions covered
  • Surgical extras and complications covered
  • Discounts 10% for multiple pets, 10% for microchip, 10% for vets & veterinary employees, 10% for medical service pets, 5% web enrollment discount, Refer a friend gets you $25 gift card = 15% maximum discount

 Sample pricing:

2 YO Labrador silver plan: $28.86/mo

7 YO Labrador $47.06/mo

Mixed breed 50# 2YO @ 80% reimbursement

-Bronze: $19.31/month

-Silver: $21.33

-Gold: $23.51


Pet’sBest (Aetna)

  • Approx: $35-42/mo dog higher cost gets better per incident limit $20-25/mo cat
  • Choose deductible 100/250/500
  • 80% coverage
  • Coverage based on what charged, not customary fees
  • Basic plan = $2500/incident  First = $7000/incident, incident =lifetime of problem
    • Pet’s First plan is recommended plan
  • No annual limit, only lifetime limit ($42,500 First plan or $100,000 Premier plan)
  • Coverage for chronic recurrent disease with hereditary & breed specific disease limitations (plus DM, IMHA, Addison’s, Cushings, etc)
    • List of 15 hereditary and 7 breed spefics that aren’t covered but if pet enrolled before 2-Y-O, limited coverage offered – includes epilepsy in some breeds.
  • Dogs with certain diseases may only qualify for accident coverage
    • Addison’s, Cushing’s, Hyperthyroid
  • No hereditary or  congenital disease coverage
  • Need 12 months of coverage before ACL sx covered (bilateral OK)
  • Premiums vary based on age, breed, location
  • No age limit
  • No breed disqualifications
  • Paperwork in: 3 days to accident coverage, 14D to illness coverage
  • All dogs are covered for back disease
  • Meds covered if acquired from vet or PetMeds, not from pharmacy
  • Appeals go through stages and ultimately decided by 1 vet
  • Surgical extras and complications covered
  • Limited coverage for acupuncture and behavior services (no house-call coverage)
  • Dental coverage for fractures/injury, no coverage for progressive periodontal disease
  • Referrals and 2nd opinions covered
  • 7% multiple pet discount
  • Pre-existing condition clause
  • Dental coverage restricted to accident or disease other than periodontal

 Sample pricing: Pet’s First plan

DSH: $30.00/month

Beagle 2Y: $38.82/month

Lab mix 9Y: $47.24


PurinaCare: Regular plan Gabe Silva: (210) 471-0481

  • Approx: $43/mo dog with $100 deductible, $15/month cat with $100/ded
  • You choose 60,70 or 80% of bills covered – you choose deductible 100/250/500/1000
  • $20,000 annual limit, but no per incident limit – Limit resets annually
  • Once you are covered: chronic recurrent disease is covered for life unless lapse in payment or yearly policy
  • Generally reimbursed within 2 weeks
  • Hereditary & breed associated diseases are covered as long as not pre-existing (2 week waiting period before covered)
  • Must be 8wks or older, no old-age restriction
    • If 8Y or older, needs good lab work to qualify
  • No breed disqualifications
  • Reimbursement is based on what is charged, not customary fees
  • Once policy paperwork received: patient is covered for accidents by 48H, illness by 14D
  • All prescription medication is covered
  • Surgeries for congenital conditions are covered if not pre-existing
  • Clients can file a claim if they disagree with amount reimbursed (reviewed by 1 vet)
  • Dental work covered except for the cleaning/prophy fee (ax, extractions, meds, labs covered)
  • Surgical extras or complications covered
  • Acupuncture covered
  • Behavior appts, diagnostics and meds covered
  • Referral and 2nd opinion appointments covered
  • 5% off for 2 pets enrolled, 10% for 3 or more, vet workers: 5% for 1 pet, 10% for 2 pets
  • Pre-existing clause is very-inclusive
  • Several pre-existing diseases may disqualify the pet from coverage: any heart disease including murmur, cancer or malignant mass such as melanoma, MCT, Diabetes Mellitus, Cushing’s Disease, IBD, Hepatic encephalopathy, FeLV/FIV, Lyme, Hyperthyroidism
  • 4 years in operation: USA and Canada