Pets Best Insurance Review: Coverage Plus 24/7 Pet Helpline

Our Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

As a former consumer electronics salesperson, I’ve been asked many times if I thought the extended warranty was, “worth it”. Of course, an extended warranty is essentially insurance for a product.

My answer: “No one wants to have to use it, but no one who ever cashed in regretted buying it.”

The same applies to the concept of pet insurance. Naturally, you don’t want to see your dog sick or hurt, but if it happens and you’re covered, you won’t regret a single premium.

Let’s have a look and see what your money gets you with Pets Best pet health insurance.

Pets Best Company Overview

The company was founded in 2005, but its roots run deeper. Company founder Dr. Jack Stephens, a veterinarian, started North America’s first pet insurance company in 1981. The first policy was presented to television star, “Lassie”.

He was evidently inspired to help people pay for medical treatment for their pets after euthanizing a dog in 1979 who’s owners could not afford the diagnosis and treatment procedures. The company claims eliminating financially motivated euthanasia is still its mission today.

Pets Best is based in Idaho, and offers coverage across the United States. They are underwritten by American Pet Insurance Company, the same underwriter for Trupanion, Pet Partners, and American Kennel Club Pet Insurance.

Pets Best Pet Insurance Plan Options

Pets Best offers three pre-packaged levels of insurance, “Essentials,” “Plus,” and, “Elite.” As you might imagine, each offers a different level of coverage, from stripped down to fully loaded.

  • Essentials offers the minimum coverage and an annual cap.
  • Plus also has an annual cap, but includes extra coverage Essentials does not.
  • At the top of the heap, Elite includes the same benefits as Plus and then some, and has no annual coverage limit.

If none of the ready-made plans suits you, you can tinker with the numbers by adjusting either or both of the deductible and the reimbursement level.

For those on a budget, or for those whose dog is excluded from illness coverage, Pets Best offers Accident Only coverage for $9 per month.

Deductible options range from $50 to $1000, and reimbursement level can be 70, 80, or 90%.

Policyholders can choose to visit any veterinarian clinic or hospital in the United State, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

Overview of their Most Comprehensive and Popular Plan

The Plus plan shows as being the most popular default plan. This makes sense, as it’s right in the middle as far as cost goes, and provides wide-ranging coverage. For our test quote, this is what I selected, without adding the optional riders, though those are discussed later, including pricing.

Average Monthly Cost / Cost Range

As with other plans, Pets Best insurance varies in cost according to location, breed, and age.

For the sake of consistency, I have based my quotes on a fictional 4-year-old male Golden Retriever, who lives in the sunny zip code of 90210. (Not even close to where I live.)

Plus gets my imaginary dog $5000 in annual coverage with a $500 deductible and 70% coverage for $36.63 monthly. It also comes with two extra benefits, namely Accident and Illness Exam Fees coverage, and Rehabilitative, Acupuncture and Chiropractic Coverage.

The lowest cost plan, which consists of the Essentials package with a $1000 deductible and 70% coverage is $16.75 per month. You can max out your coverage with the Elite plan set to $100 deductible and 90% reimbursement, plus the BestWellness add-on for routine care, for $117.48 monthly.

What’s Covered

Coverage varies, depending on the plan level selected. Our sample Plus plan covers the following:

  • Accidents
  • Poisoning
  • Foreign object ingestion
  • Illnesses
  • Cruciate ligament injuries
  • Skin/ear infections
  • UTIs
  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer (including blood work, MRIs, surgery, meds, chemo)
  • Hereditary and congenital conditions
  • Emergency care
  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery
  • Pre-anesthesia tests
  • Most prescription medications
  • Chronic conditions that were not pre-existing
  • Diagnostics (CAT scans, X-rays, blood work, etc.)
  • Rehabilitation therapy
  • Behavioral conditions
  • Dental care
  • Prosthetics
  • Euthanasia for humane reasons
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic treatment

Exclusions

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Elective procedures (tail docking, ear cropping, etc.)
  • Grooming/bathing
  • Anal gland expression
  • Preventative procedures (vaccines, parasites)
  • Testing or treatment for parasites
  • Taxes
  • Administration fees
  • Waste disposal
  • Transportation, shipping, and handling
  • Herbal treatment
  • Holistic treatment
  • Experimental treatment/medication
  • Food/special diets
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Cremation

Payout Limits

Essentials – $5000/yr.

Plus – $5000/yr.

Elite – None

Waiting Period For Payouts

After enrolling, accident coverage begins in three days. Illness coverage begins after 14 days have passed. Routine care plans kick in the next day.

Deductibles

All three plans come with a $500 deductible as a default. You can choose from $50, $100, $200, $250, $500, or $1000.

Spay / Neuter Requirements and Limitations

Procedure is not covered. Being spayed or neutered does not affect pricing, eligibility, or coverage.

Available Options / Add-on packages

All plans can add on a routine care package. There are two levels offered: BestWellness and EssentialWellness. For our phony pup, BestWellness is $26/mo., and EssentialWellness is $16/mo.

EssentialWellness provides the following coverage (shown including annual limit):

  • Spay/Neuter —
  • Teeth Cleaning – $0
  • Rabies – $15
  • Flea/Tick Prevention – $50
  • Heartworm Prevention – $30
  • Vaccination/Titer – $30
  • Wellness Exam – $50
  • Heartworm test or FELV screen – $25
  • Blood, fecal, parasite exam – $50
  • Microchip – $20
  • Urinalysis or ERD – $15
  • Deworming – $20

Total value: $305 per year

BestWellness provides the following coverage:

  • Spay/Neuter —
  • Teeth Cleaning – $150
  • Rabies – $15
  • Flea/Tick Prevention – $65
  • Heartworm Prevention – $30
  • Vaccination/Titer – $40
  • Wellness Exam – $50
  • Heartworm test or FELV screen – $30
  • Blood, fecal, parasite exam – $70
  • Microchip – $40
  • Urinalysis or ERD – $25
  • Deworming – $20

Total value: $535 per year

Eligibility requirements

Minimum age: 7 weeks

Maximum age: None (but expect very high premiums for a senior dog)

Working dogs: Hunting and line-of-duty accidents are covered.

Breeding dogs: No special inclusions or exclusions.

Pre-existing conditions: Not covered, of course. Certain pre-existing conditions (such as Cushing’s Disease, or Diabetes) will preclude the purchase of regular plans. An ‘accident only’ plan is available as an alternative, to which routine wellness care can be added.

Veterinary exam: Not required. Full medical records required with the first claim.

Payout structure

Depending on your selection, Pets Best will reimburse you for 70, 80, or 90% of the bill, minus exclusions.

Customers can file a claim online through the customer portal, or via fax, email, or regular mail. Payment is via paper check or direct deposit.

Pets Best says most claims are processed within five business days. Direct deposits will appear as early as two business days after processing, while a check in the mail could take two weeks.

What sets Pets Best insurance apart from other insurers?

There is nothing about Pets Best that leaps out as a major differentiating factor between it and other insurers. However, that’s not to say they aren’t offering a quality product.

They do offer a nice bonus to customers, namely access to a service called 24/7 Pet Helpline, provided by a company called whiskerDocs. This service allows pet owners to phone, email, or live chat with a “veterinary expert” at any time with questions about their pet’s health.

For example, if your Golden just chowed down on a box of chocolates, or ate the eyes off a teddy bear, you can call for advice free of charge. If you were to subscribe to this service on your own, it would run you $99.99 annually. That’s a nice bonus!

A.M. Best Rating

A.M. Best rates insurance companies and posts reports detailing their financial stability and their projected ability to make good on a claim. They’ve been doing this since the end of the 19th Century, so we like to think they know what they’re doing. A good rating from A.M. Best should give a potential customer a feeling of confidence.

Neither Pets Best, nor their underwriter, American Pet Insurance, have opted for an A.M. Best rating.

A little surprising for a company headed by the man who started the pet insurance industry in North America.

Better Business Bureau Rating

Since the early 20th Century, the BBB has monitored and reviewed business conduct across many customer-facing industries. Their reports give us an unbiased analysis of customer-centricity, offering a fair assessment of a company’s credibility.

The BBB has given Pets Best an A+ rating, which is the highest score they offer.

The number of reviews is low, hence the skewed Customer Review Rating. Most complaints seem to stem from customers not understanding waiting periods or “pre-existing conditions.”

Customer Review Rating: 91% negative, 9% positive

Composite Score: 3.80 out of 5 stars

Summary of Pets Best Pros and Cons

PROS

  • Highly customizable coverage
  • Access to veterinary help by phone 24/7
  • No upper age limit
  • Discount for multiple pets (in 47 states)
  • Online claim submission
  • Coverage for work accidents
  • Routine care coverage available
  • Moderate pricing
  • Supports numerous pet charities

CONS

  • No holistic/alternative coverage
  • Limited customer service on weekends
  • Direct payment to the vet not available

Our Overall Impressions and Rating

Pets Best lands somewhere in between an insurance company and a place that just wants to help your pet, as far as their corporate feel is concerned. To me, that’s a good space to occupy.

The website is comprehensive and easy to navigate and clearly explains their policies. There’s a lot of good general pet wellness and ownership content, too.

As much as I would have liked to have a better feel for the strength of the company through an A.M. Best rating, it’s good knowing that the founder is a true veteran in the industry, and their underwriter backs up several pet insurance providers.

Pets Best offers an impressive level of coverage, and I like how customizable it is. You can create a plan that suits your budget and your potential needs, minimizing the risk of overpaying and having coverage for unlikely issues.

We recommend this insurance product without hesitation for most dog owners.

Our Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Check out our review of PetFirst Insurance.