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Pet Health Insurance Company Interview: Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI)

10 Questions Answered


VPI logo

VPI logo

Veterinary Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance Interviews > Veterinary Pet Insurance

This is the first in a series of pet health insurance company interviews. I will be using the same ten questions for each of the veterinary health insurers so that viewers can learn about each company and compare what plans are available. In this interview, Brian Iannessa, Public Relations Supervisor for Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), answers ten questions about pet care plans available through VPI.

Question 1: How long has your company been in business, and where are you based?

Answer 1: Veterinary Pet Insurance was founded in 1980. We issued our first policy in 1982 to television's Lassie and have since been protecting America's pets for more than 25 years. Our headquarters is located in Brea, California.

Question 2: Are clients able to go to any veterinarian, or only through your insurance providers?

Answer 2: VPI Pet Insurance policies are portable, meaning that policyholders have the luxury of visiting any licensed veterinarian anywhere. Our policies follow the indemnity insurance model. Basically, policyholders pay their veterinarian at the clinic for any testing and/or treatment performed on their pet. After the visit, they are asked to submit a claim form with definitive diagnosis and itemized clinic receipt to VPI. VPI in turn reimburses the policyholder for the eligible expenses, based off a published benefit schedule.

Question 3: Are hereditary and breed-related conditions covered?

Answer 3: Currently, hereditary and congenital defects are not eligible for coverage in an effort to make our premiums affordable for all pet owners.

Question 4: Are age-related (senior) checkups, illnesses, and medications covered?

Answer 4: Senior checkups would be covered by our Pet WellCare ProtectionSM plans, which reimburse for routine veterinary procedures. Senior eligible conditions (illnesses) and the medications used to treat them are covered by our base medical plans. It's important to note that VPI does not enroll dogs and cats over the age of ten. However, we do continue coverage for insured dogs and cats that turn ten when they are already insured (as long as there are no lapses in coverage after that pet turns ten).

Question 5: Are age-related (senior) checkups, illnesses, and medications covered?

Answer 5: VPI offers what we call our Pet WellCare ProtectionSM plans that can be added on to a base medical plan. The Premier and Core coverage boast $400 and $250 in annual available preventive care benefits, respectively. Procedures covered include wellness exams, vaccinations and titers, deworming, flea preventive, and more.

Question 6: What types or levels of health insurance medical plans are offered?

Answer 6: VPI offers two base medical plans for dogs and cats - the VPI Standard Plan and the VPI Superior Plan. Both medical plans cover the same multitude of conditions related to accidents and illnesses, but the Standard Plan's monthly premiums and reimbursement allowances per condition are more modest. The VPI Standard Plan carries a maximum annual benefit of $9,000. VPI's Superior Plan is our flagship medical plan. The monthly premium is higher than that of the Standard Plan, but the reimbursement allowances per condition are considerably higher. Its maximum annual benefit is $14,000.

Question 7: If a wellness plan is available, can it be added to, or incorporated with, the medical health plan?

Answer 7: Our Pet WellCare Protection plans can be added to any base medical plan, but cannot be purchased alone. When a wellcare plan is added to a medical plan, it is treated as a separated premium (between $12 and $22 a month).

Question 8: Is there an annual or lifetime benefit cap?

Answer 8: VPI Pet Insurance medical plans have annual benefit caps, but no lifetime limits. The VPI Standard Plan annual benefit cap is $9,000 and the VPI Superior Plan boasts an annual benefit cap of $14,000.

Question 9: How are "usual and customary" fees determined?

Answer 9: "Usual, Customary and Reasonable" is a phrase some insurance providers use to place a cap on claims reimbursements. Typically, these companies claim to pay 80% of policyholders' veterinary bills up to what they consider "usual, customary and reasonable" fees. How companies calculate what is usual, customary and reasonable is somewhat of an unknown to us.

Veterinary Pet Insurance does not reimburse according to a "usual, customary and reasonable" fee list. VPI uses a benefit schedule based on national averages for veterinary care calculated from VPI's several years of actuarial data. VPI's benefit schedule is provided to all policyholders upon enrollment and can be viewed or downloaded for free from the company's Web site (petinsurance.com). The benefit schedule clearly lays out what is covered and gives policyholders an idea of what to expect in terms of reimbursement with allowance columns provided for all eligible conditions.

Question 10: What specific things stand out about your company?

Answer 10: Veterinary Pet Insurance is the oldest and largest pet health insurance provider in the nation. We are backed by a solid underwriter (National Casualty Co.) and boast a strong track record of paying policyholder claims since 1982.

We offer Pet WellCare Protection plans for preventive care coverage and are the only provider in the U.S. that extends coverage to dogs, cats, birds, and exotic pets. VPI is also the number one recommended pet insurer by veterinarians. Close to 1,700 companies currently offer VPI Pet Insurance as a voluntary employee benefit.

VPI's workforce includes ten veterinarians and more than 60 veterinary technicians, equipping us with sound expertise in the claims processing space.

Thank you, Brian Iannessa, for taking time to answer these questions.

Please visit VPI's web site to learn more and ask any specific questions you may have.
Company web site: Veterinary Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance Interviews > Veterinary Pet Insurance

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