In a Nutshell
- Free 24-hour vet helpline
- No networks, so you can see your regular vet
- Wellness coverage available
- Limited coverage for hereditary conditions
- Payouts limited by benefit schedule on most plans
- Most popular pet insurer in the US.
- Insures exotic pets.
What’s Included In Your Pet Insurance
Unlike other insurers, Nationwide doesn’t just cover dogs and cats. It also covers birds, rabbits, reptiles and other unusual species, including chinchillas, hamsters, pigs and sugar gliders.
You can choose from 3 tiers of coverage:
- The Pet Wellness Plan
- The Major Medical Plan
- The Whole Pet With Wellness Plan
All 3 plans cover vets worldwide, which means you can stick to your vet or specialist of choice, and travel without worrying about being out of network. You’ll also get access to a 24-hour vet helpline, completely free of charge.
The Pet Wellness plan is the cheapest and most basic plan. It covers microchipping, vaccinations, annual wellness exams and bloodwork, de-worming and flea and heartworm prevention.
The second tier, the Major Medical plan, covers accidents and illnesses (including cancer), as well as chronic conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes and IBS. Cover includes exams, lab tests, x-rays, surgery, hospital stays and prescriptions. However, you’ll have to pay for annual wellness separately.
The Whole Pet With Wellness plan is the most expensive tier, but also has the most complete coverage. Besides annual wellness, accidents and illness, it also covers neutering, cesarean sections, therapeutic foods and nutritional supplements.
Crucially, both the Major Medical plan and Whole Pet With Wellness plan cover surgery for torn ligaments. This is one of the most common injuries in dogs, but it’s rarely covered by pet insurance providers.
Limits and Deductibles
Nationwide’s policies have a single annual deductible. Pay it once and you’re covered for the whole year, no matter how many times you claim.
However, payouts on the Major Medical Plan and the Pet Wellness Plan are made according to a benefit schedule. You’ll always get a fixed payout determined by the schedule, capping reimbursement on a certain amount for each condition or service, regardless of the amount you spent. The Whole Pet with Wellness plan offers payments based on 90%, so you’ll pay for the plan with higher payouts when you need them.
This isn’t ideal if you need a certain amount back, because benefit schedule payments may be based on expected fees that do not fit your vet’s actual prices. You could end up with out-of-pocket expenses.
Value For Money
Nationwide isn’t the cheapest pet insurance provider, with accident and illness coverage starting at $35 a month.
That said, you’ll receive a higher standard of basic coverage than most other baseline plans from other providers. Nationwide offers a free 24-hour vet helpline, the freedom to see the vet or specialist of your choice, and only a single annual deductible. The free helpline alone is worth the price of admission.
Nationwide won’t insure pets that are 10 years old or over, except for the Whole Pet with Wellness Plan, which has no age restrictions.
This age limit is relatively low and there are other companies offering insurance for pets up to 14. That said, once your pet is insured, he’ll stay insured even after it passes the age limit unless you decide to cancel the policy. It’s also cheaper to insure a younger pet, so the best way to get your best friend insured through his old age, is to sign him up when he’s a puppy.
The Fine Print: What Isn’t Covered Under The Policy
Nationwide’s exclusions are straightforward and easy to understand. Like most pet insurance providers, it doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions.
It does unfortunately classify most congenital anomalies as pre-existing conditions. This means that problems caused by breed-specific traits such as brachycephaly and kinked tail (brachycephalic breeds include Boxers, Bulldogs, Pugs and Persian cats, just to name a few), will not be covered. Certain cancers may also not be covered, if it’s shown that they’re caused by congenital anomalies or hereditary traits of your pet’s breed.
Under the Major Medical plan, there is a 12-month waiting period for cruciate ligament surgery and hereditary condition cover. You’ll need to opt for the Whole Pet With Wellness plan for the waiting period to be waived, or get coverage before your pet has expected medical concerns around the corner.
Nationwide is one of the few pet insurers on the market to cover exotic pets. The basic plan has some great perks in terms of what it covers and the veterinary helpline is really helpful for off-hours medical needs. The main downside is the benefit schedule payout system for the two cheaper plans. You should also be aware of certain breed specific conditions, as problems caused by those common traits might not be covered.