Being a licensed insurance agent myself, even I had trouble assessing the coverage options available for my new Bernedoodle puppy, Max. There are already so many choices to be made when bringing home a new pet, supplies to get, and research to be done that this felt like one more item on the list; and it was the thing that kept falling to the bottom as it was going to take some research to get right.

That being said, I eventually did buckle down to do the research and put what I learned to good use. In honor of National Pet Month and in celebration of bringing home my first pet on May 2nd, I wanted to write about my experience comparing pet insurance options. My hope is to help other pet owners out when it comes to choosing pet insurance and answer some key questions.

Do you really need pet insurance?

Sandy Haley, an Iscential agent and animal lover, says “my guidelines on pet insurance are fairly specific for those who ‘need’ versus those who ‘don’t need.’ However, I like all of my clients to understand that having even basic coverage in place is better than nothing at all. For example, large breed dogs with potential for hip and joint issues are a ‘need.’ Puppies in the 0-4 year old range when they are more reckless with their baby bodies, more likely to eat something they shouldn’t, and more likely to require emergency treatment are a ‘need.’ Certain breeds with smooshed faces tend to have breathing issues sooner rather than later and wrinkly dogs who will likely end up with skin issues are a ‘need.’ Dachshunds will most likely end up with a spinal problem at some point simply due to their shape, so they fall into the ‘need’ category. Older dogs are the neediest group of all, however, pet insurance is also not typically cost effective past the age of six for dogs. Cats are the lowest need group, but they are usually cheaper to get coverage for. Valuable pets (puppies and kittens you paid a lot of money for) tend to be worth the premiums as there are some birth defects that may be covered, saving you the trouble of paying a lot of out of pocket on something you had no control over.

With Max, falling into both the valuable pet and the 0–4-year-old puppy categories, I decided insurance for him was definitely a ‘NEED.’

Who offers the best pet insurance?

You guessed it… TRICK question! The question should really be what pet insurance is the best fit for me and my pet? There is no one-size-fits-all approach or a simple answer, that is why working with someone like Sandy at Iscential can make choosing the right pet insurance so much easier. Leave it to the pros! In the meantime, I will take you on my own journey of deciding what was the best fit for Max and I.

Although there are tons of different options on the market, I made the choice to go with Nationwide Pet Insurance for these reasons:

  • Coverage schedule (some exclusions for certain conditions and limits of coverage amounts)
  • Options for wellness and preventive care coverage
  • Competitively priced for Max (based on age and breed)

Ultimately, I ended up going with Nationwide Pet Insurance’s ‘s Major Medical with no Wellness Coverage and a $250 deductible. For me, this fit was based on a couple of considerations. First, I felt the yearly premium was very fair in regard to getting coverage for a major accident or health condition that Max, being a young puppy, could potentially run into. Second, I believe insurance is for the unexpected costs rather than the expected. I had been saving for Max’s expected and routine costs for the past several months in preparation for bringing him home. I was prepared to pay these costs out of pocket and really wanted the insurance just for those potential major events. Finally, with Max being a mixed breed and coming from a reputable breeder with certain health guarantees and genetic testing, I did feel his likeliness for hereditary conditions was much lower. However, I was still concerned any future health conditions might be claimed as “hereditary” and not be covered. I reached out to Sandy for further clarification: “Most Veterinarians are going to record primary and secondary diagnoses codes and often times these have a positive impact on coverage that may have appeared on the surface as an ‘excluded’ issue. An elbow dysplasia, for example, could really be caused by injury rather than a hereditary issue. If you look at the schedule, there would be at least a small amount able to be reimbursed for the injury and treatment in that case.”

With Sandy’s feedback in mind, I felt good about the insurance I was providing Max and that it would give me the coverage to pay for emergency or major medical treatments should he need them one day.

However, like many pet parents, I still watch him like a hawk and hope he will be the happiest and healthiest dog!

Because many of us are pet owners, we want the same for your pets that we want for our own. That’s why we are here to help you!

For help purchasing the right pet insurance for your family member, visit or reach out to Sandy Haley at [email protected]

About Sandy Haley: Sandy has over a decade of experience in the insurance industry specializing in Farm, Pet, Auto, & Home insurance. Sandy is Iscential’s Nationwide Pet Ambassador. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family, which also includes her 14 cows, 20 chickens, three dogs, cat, and horse.

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