Amy MacDonald has worked for Nationwide Insurance for nearly 20 years and is now on the pet insurance team. She fused her personal passion for pets with her professional insurance career to create her dream job. On an episode of Awkward Insurance, she helps us understand why we should have pet insurance.
How did you enter into pet insurance?
Believe it or not, that was just my normal development. One day I scrolled through job descriptions at Nationwide and researched. I found the job, called the recruiter, and learned that I could talk about pets all day. It just sounded like fun.
Now, I work on the team that deals with group benefits and I get to talk to employers and HR managers about adding pet insurance for their employees. We do trade shows, and direct-to-consumer sales and help employers attract and retain employees. Everybody loves their pets and it’s a lot more fun to talk about than critical care insurance, death benefits, and even dental.
How long has pet insurance been available?
Nationwide pet insurance has been around for 40 years. Our first insured dog was Lassie! The foundation of pet insurance came from frustrated veterinarians. Back in the day, pet owners were making decisions based on the dollar amount and not the best care options for their pets. Now, vets can do pretty much everything we do for humans for pets. They have access to cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. The insurance industry now cares for both common and rare pets.
What gets you excited about pet insurance?
I just think it’s so cool and it’s a growing field! Many people who were stuck at home during the pandemic got a pet or were home with their pets more and started taking better care of them. I think pet insurance is only going to keep growing because pets continue to be a huge part of our lives.
What kind of pets does pet insurance cover?
It depends on your pet insurance company. At Nationwide we insure dogs and cats with no exclusions on breeds. We also insure birds like parrots, cockatoos, love birds, and doves. We insure exotic pets like turtles, reptiles, and iguanas; and small pets like hamsters, rabbits, and sugar gliders.
What about working dogs?
Show dogs, canine cops, and therapy dogs are all covered.
How does pet insurance help me?
Emergency clinic visits, accidents, illnesses, and injuries are covered. Specialists are covered by most pet insurance companies as a reimbursement. You can also visit any veterinarian since there are no in-network or out-of-network requirements like with human health insurance.
Pre-existing conditions are excluded but normal stuff like ear infections and broken bones are seen as individual acute instances.
Does pet insurance cover end-of-life stages?
Yes, pet insurance does cover your pet’s end-of-life. So, when you’re faced with that terrible, horrific time, pet insurance helps cover the bill via reimbursement.
Does it matter how many pets I have, or do I have to schedule each one of my pets?
It’s individual coverage.
How do I choose the right pet insurance?
It’s like picking your auto insurance. The coverages are going to be very similar so go with the name you trust and look at some out for features that differ, like deductibles. Some policies are annual or per occurrence or they may have higher or lower deductibles. Some have exclusions.
Preexisting condition exclusions are standard for all carriers but some of them have exclusions per heredity. For example, with dachshunds, some companies automatically exclude back issues because they pretty much know they’re going to have them. Another example is German Shepherds and hip dysplasia. Since it’s a common issue, that’s something that’s excluded. Make sure to check with the veterinarian to find out what coverages are available to you.
When’s the best time to buy pet insurance?
It’s always a good time to buy pet insurance because you never know what’s going to come up. It’s never too late, even at the end of life. At that time, there’s usually more testing and screening that needs to happen and all of it is expensive. Even if the pet has an ailment that the owner chooses not to medicate or care for, the cost to figure out what it could be is still high.
Ideally, you want to insure your pet before they have any major ailments. But even if one item is excluded, there is still coverage for everything else. You can also enroll in pet insurance time at any time. There’s no need qualifying event.
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Amy MacDonald has worked for Nationwide Insurance for almost 20 years and moved to the pet team 6+ years ago. Being able to tie her personal passion for pets and her professional insurance career has been a dream. The peace of mind that insurance brings when things go wrong is why she loves her job.
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