Pet insurance originated in Sweden nearly a century ago, but Americans didn’t start buying pet insurance policies until the early 1980s.
Now, more than 2 million pets have health insurance in the United States. These plans reimburse thousands of dollars in vet bills each year to policyholders.
Companies like PetFirst have helped fuel this increase in pet insurance coverage in America. Let’s take a close look at PetFirst to see whether you should buy a plan for your furry friend.
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Founded in 2004 and based in Jeffersonville, Indiana, PetFirst Healthcare LLC sells accident and illness coverage for cats and dogs in all 50 states.
This insurer has earned some of the better reviews in the industry thanks to its simple application process, its short waiting period before coverage begins, and its easy-to-understand payout guidelines.
PetFirst Reviews and Customer Service
We gave PetFirst pet insurance a score of 4.8 out of 5, indicating “excellent” coverage. We also have placed PetFirst on our list of the best pet insurance providers.
Part of our grade is based on PetFirst’s BBB ratings. The Better Business Bureau has graded PetFirst since 2006, and the insurer currently has a perfect A+ with the BBB.
That score reflects the company’s responsiveness to complaints. It doesn’t mean every customer is a happy customer. In fact, of the 14 customer reviews on the BBB’s site, most give the company only 1 star.
This is true for most insurance companies when you read online reviews on Yelp, TrustPilot, or Consumers Advocate. Often, happy customers don’t take the time to write a review; only customers who have a disagreement with the company feel compelled to write about their experience.
The takeaway here is that PetFirst, unlike so many other pet insurance companies, takes the time to listen to its policyholders — a good omen, but not the end of the story. So let’s dig deeper into this pet insurance plan to see how PetFirst works.
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PetFirst Company Contact Information
- Company Phone: (866) 937-7387
- Headquarters Address: One Quartermaster Court, Jeffersonville, IN 47130
- Simple Application Process
- Accident & Illness Coverage for Cats & Dogs
- A+ BBB Rating
- Flexible Policy Options
- Free Online Quotes
- Available Discounts
PetFirst insures only dogs and cats. It does not cover exotic animals. Like any pet insurance plan, your policy wouldn’t cover your pet’s pre-existing conditions.
And, you’d have to pay for your pet’s veterinary care and then file for reimbursement with PetFirst because this insurer doesn’t pay the vet directly.
It’s easy to buy a PetFirst policy. The company does not have an upper age limit so older dogs and cats can enroll. Keep in mind older pets pay higher premiums and are more likely to have pre-existing conditions that PetFirst wouldn’t cover.
PetFirst does not require a vet exam before enrolling. Accident coverage begins at midnight on the day you enroll in a policy, and illness coverage kicks in 14 days after, with no fee if you choose to cancel during that two-week period.
Dog and Puppy Pet Insurance
Plans for dogs and puppies begin at $15 per month.
PetFirst’s dog insurance lets policyholders take their pup to any licensed vet, emergency clinic, or specialist in the United States. After paying the vet, you could be reimbursed — according to your policy’s guidelines — within two weeks.
Cat and Kitten Pet Insurance
Cat owners could pay as little as $9 a month for coverage.
Other than the lower price, cat and kitten insurance resembles PetFirst’s policies for dogs and puppies.
There is no network of providers to work within, claims are processed in two weeks or less, and there is no age limit, although cats that are 11 years or older are considered senior and will cost more to insure.
PetFirst Pet Insurance Application Process
To get a free online quote from PetFirst, simply go to the company’s website, petfirst.com, and fill out a form that includes your pet’s species, sex, name, age, color, and breed.
Pet owners will also be asked to enter a ZIP code and email address before proceeding to the next page, which allows you to select any discounts which may apply to you.
After submitting those answers, you will see quotes for three different coverage options which vary in price and annual benefit limits.
Customizing Your PetFirst Policy
Now it’s time to customize your policy — and this step will be key to your policy’s performance and cost. Here are the factors to consider.
Annual Benefit Limits
PetFirst will cap the amount of money you could be reimbursed during a single year beginning on your first day of active coverage. You could choose an annual limit of:
A higher annual benefit will increase your premiums.
Unlike most pet insurers, Pet First has a per-incident deductible instead of an annual deductible. You could set your per-incident deductible at:
A lower deductible will add to your premiums but I still recommend going low here because of PetFirst’s per-incident deductible. If your cat or dog has one chronic condition that requires multiple vet visits this style of deductible won’t hurt you. It could actually save you money.
But if your pet has several different accidents or illnesses during the year, you’d have to meet the deductible each time you filed a claim. It’s a lot easier to meet a $100 deductible several times a year than to do the same with a $500 requirement.
The other big factor is the rate of your reimbursement after a visit to the vet. You can choose:
The most affordable plans reimburse only 70% of what you spend at the vet. You’d get a receipt and submit it with your claim form — either online or through the mail — and then wait a couple weeks. Within two weeks you should receive a check from PetFirst reimbursing its portion of the bill.
Remember that these reimbursements apply only to covered procedures. Elective procedures or cosmetic surgeries wouldn’t qualify for reimbursement. And, your deductible would be subtracted from your payout.
How you adjust your reimbursement rate, your deductible, and your annual limit will have a direct impact on your monthly premium amounts.
Once you’ve crafted a policy you are comfortable with, you can move on to checkout.
Procedures Covered by PetFirst
To get reimbursed, your pet’s care must fall within the right category. PetFirst’s coverage categories include:
- Chronic Conditions
- Congenital conditions
- Diagnostic Tests
- Emergency Care
- Exam fees
- Hereditary conditions
- Hip Dysplasia
- Holistic care
- Prescription Medications
PetFirst Waiting Periods
Any pet insurer enforces a waiting period between the time you buy the coverage and your eligibility to file a first claim. PetFirst’s waiting periods are reasonable compared to many companies’ policies:
- Accident Waiting Period: Less than 24 hours; you could file your first claim if the accident happens the next day after you bought coverage. If you bought the policy at 9 pm, your coverage would be effective three hours later — at midnight.
- Illness Waiting Period: 14 days before your dog or cat is eligible for reimbursement. Pre-existing conditions discovered during this waiting period will not be covered.
- Special Waiting Periods: Cruciate ligament conditions and disc disease won’t be covered for 12 months after you buy the coverage.
PetFirst’s Routine Care Add-on
Plan options also include a routine care rider. Your accident + illness coverage would not reimburse you for preventative care like vaccinations, spaying or neutering, or microchipping.
But you could add on a routine wellness care rider to help pay for these expenses. I don’t recommend doing this, though. I don’t think it’s worth it.
To get the best value from any insurance policy, your potential payout should far exceed your annual premiums. That’s where the peace of mind factor comes in. Your premiums leverage a much larger amount if needed.
With a routine care add-on, you might spend as much on premiums as you got back in benefits. So why not just save up some money for these sorts of expenses?
If you would like to consider this add-on, it can help you pay for:
- Annual vet exams
- Behavior training
- Flea/tick/heartworm prevention
- Routine tests and screenings
- Spaying and neutering
- Teeth cleaning
Each of these conditions will have a maximum payout for the year. To get the most value for your monthly premium dollars, your dog or cat would need to get most of these procedures done each year.
(Obviously, microchipping and spaying/neutering would not be repeated annually.)
- Flexible Policy Options
- Free Online Quotes
- Available Discounts
- Simple Application Process
- Accident & Illness Coverage
- A+ BBB Rating
4.8 out of 5
Insurance companies love to dazzle customers with discounts because discounts show tangible reductions in your insurance costs.
Life insurance providers, for example, hand out savings as a reward for healthy behavior; carriers with multiple lines of insurance will reduce costs when customers bundle two or more types of coverage.
The practice is less common for pet insurers because they still operate in a niche market. Most carriers provide only pet insurance, though Progressive, Nationwide, and GEICO — three of the most popular multi-line insurers, are now part of the industry.
PetFirst is an exception. It offers quite a few different discounts which are presented to potential policyholders during the application process.
Pet Insurance Internet Discount
A one-time $10 to $20 discount on the first monthly premium payment offered exclusively to pet parents who buy their pet health insurance policy online. This discount varies in amount depending on state approvals, and is not available at all in Alaska.
Multiple Pet Insurance Policies Discount
For families with multiple pets, PetFirst offers a 5% discount on a second pet insurance policy, and a 10% discount on the third policy and beyond.
This discount will apply automatically in the quote process, so when getting a quote, it’s best to start with the animal that will likely be cheapest to insure. Keep in mind cats usually cost less to insure than dogs, and younger animals are less expensive to insure than older animals.
PetFirst honors the sacrifice military members have made by offering those who are currently serving our country, or have previously served our country, a 5% discount on cat and dog insurance plans. This discount is not available in Tennessee and New York.
Animal Care Employee Discount
Employers can offer PetFirst to their employees at a 5 to 10% discount. This discount is not available in Alaska, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, and Tennessee.
Corporate Employee Member Discount
A 5% to 10% pet insurance premium discount for employer or member groups that have signed up to provide PetFirst pet insurance as a voluntary benefit for employees. This discount is not available in Alaska, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, and Tennessee.
Who Should Buy PetFirst Pet Insurance?
I’ve tried to hit the high marks about PetFirst in this pet insurance review.
As you consider this company, remember to:
- Watch out for those per-incident deductibles — these could cost you more out of pocket if your pet has multiple problems. If your pet has more than a couple health conditions, I’d recommend Healthy Paws instead.
- Skip the routine care coverage — you could just save up the money for the annual vet visit. If you want a way to budget for routine care expenses, consider GEICO’s wellness plan which lets you set up a savings account for this purpose.
- Watch out for pre-existing conditions — all pet insurers exclude them from coverage. If your pet has a few health conditions already, pet insurance won’t do you much good. Instead, you may like Pet Assure, a discount program that many vets participate in.
At its best, pet insurance companies should help insulate you from unexpected expenses after your dog or cat’s vet visit.
PetFirst can provide the peace of mind that you’d have a way to pay for emergency care, an unplanned surgery, or a newly diagnosed chronic condition.