Reviewed by: André Spiteri
Half a million pet owners choose Nationwide as their pet insurance provider. Besides dogs and cats, they also insure birds and exotic pets. Their tiered plans come with lots of perks, including a free vet helpline that’s available 24 hours a day.
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 three tiers of cover: the Pet Wellness plan, the Major Medical plan and the Whole Pet With Wellness plan. All three plans cover vets worldwide, which means you can stick to your vet or specialist of choice. 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.
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 most plans are made according to a benefit schedule. You’ll always get a fixed payout determined by the schedule, irrespective of the amount you actually spent.
This isn’t ideal, because benefit schedule payments may be based on outdated fee structures and might not account for inflation. As a result, you could end up with significant out-of-pocket expenses.
The Whole Pet With Wellness plan is the only tier that offers a percentage reimbursement plan, set at 90% of your bills. Unfortunately, it’s also the most expensive plan.
Nationwide isn’t cheap. Accident and illness cover starts at $19 a month.
That said, you’ll still get many perks, including a free 24-hour vet helpline, the freedom to see the vet or specialist of your choice and 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.
This age limit is relatively low. That said, once your pet is insured it will stay insured even after it passes the age limit, unless you decide to cancel the policy.
There are no age restrictions when you opt for the Whole Pet With Wellness plan.
Nationwide’s exclusions are fairly straightforward and easy to understand.
Like most pet insurance providers, they don’t cover pre-existing conditions.
The catch is that they also class 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.
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.
Nationwide is one of the few pet insurers on the market to cover exotic pets. If you want the best cover, you’ll have to go for the costliest plan. However, their basic plan has some great perks too. The main downside is the benefit schedule payout system. You’ll also need to beware if you own certain breeds, as problems caused by common breed-specific traits might not be covered.
Last Updated: February 2016