Pet insurance plans. Pet wellness plans. They both seem the same. Not so, says one pet owner.
In April, Deborah Kilian lost her dog Nala from eating contaminated pet food. Kilian took Nala to Banfield Hospital at PetSmart before she passed away. Her emergency room bill totaled almost $700. Little did she know that her Banfield Wellness Plan did not cover emergencies, so she was liable for the bill.
Kilian also had to continue paying her monthly bill of $21.95 even though her dog died. Why? Banfield’s contract states: “If the subscriber cancels for any reason, including to not limiting death or disposal, the provider shall be entitled to retain the entire membership fee.” This means that Kilian will need to pay the monthly payment until the end of the year.
Kimberly May of the American Veterinary Medical Association says that Banfield’s Pet Wellness Plan is not an insurance plan.
She says Killan is not the first to be confused by her animal’s health care plan. There’s a big difference between a wellness plan and insurance. Insurance for pets is similar to insurance for humans.
It’s often medical coverage, most basic policies cover emergency situations, May said
And like human insurance, if the pet dies, you no longer pay on the policy. But a wellness plan is similar to a maintenance plan on a car.
It takes the vaccination, the routine care and puts it in the package, said May.
But because that package covers the entire year, even if your animal dies, most times, you have to keep paying the bill.
Before you start any plan, read the agreement. Also ask your vet for help in deciding whether a wellness plan or pet insurance is right for your animal. It depends on the animal’s age and health.