Pet Assure is a different kind of veterinary assistance company. They are a discount plan, offering 25% percent off all services when subscribers go to a participating veterinarian. They claim that 10% percent of all veterinarians in the U.S. are Pet Assure providers, but this will, of course, vary by region.
For new pet parents, there is no reason not to pick your vet from the list of their veterinarians. We recommend picking your veterinary provider carefully just like you would your own doctor.
The one major issue that we could find in our Pet Assure review, is that unfortunately, there are not always participating vets in rural areas. So make sure you check using their online vet locator tool.
If you are willing to change vets, or your vet is on the list of contracted providers, great, Pet Assure will save you money. It almost certainly will save you even more money if you have multiple pets and live in an expensive area, or if your pet needs treatment for an ongoing illness such as allergies or diabetes that does not require specialist care.
In fact, if you have a older dog or a pet with pre-existing conditions, which are not covered by an insurance policy, Pet Assure discount program is perfect for those circumstances. It was makes them so unique and superior to a pet insurance policy.
Comparison to Insurance
Pet insurance is a relatively new concept, but it has gained significant traction in Europe and is becoming more popular in the U.S. However, most pet insurance plans have deductibles, coverage limits, and multiple exclusions. This means that they may be a good option for covering the potential cost of expensive specialized procedures, but they are generally not helpful when it comes to the day-to-day expenses of owning a pet.
Because there is nothing quite like Pet Assure savings program on the market, it usually gets lumped in with pet insurance. However, it is not pet insurance. The things that Pet Assure vs pet insurance will help with include all types of basic care and things that might not be covered by insurance:
- Spay/neuter surgery
- Routine exams
- Exams for illness or injury
- Treatment for chronic conditions
- Diagnostic procedures
- Dental care
Insurance usually does not cover pre-existing conditions, often does not cover problems that are common within the breed (this is the exact reason the founder started the company), and may not be available for older pets. In these circumstances, their plan can provide savings for financially over-burdened owners.
Some people choose to have both a Pet Assure membership and pet insurance, which is a good way to do things if you can afford it. In that scenario, Pet Assure vet discount plan would help you pay for all of the routine veterinary care, and the insurance would pick up the tab for any major covered expenses.
Pet Assure offers four plans for pet owners:
- Single Cat: One cat or a small animal
- Single Dog: One dog or a large animal
- Family Plan: 2-4 animals of any size
- Unlimited: Every pet in your household
The cost of a Pet Assure membership ranges from $79 to $199 per year. Paying yearly gets you a discount, but you can also pay monthly if you like. The monthly rates range from $9.95/month to $21.95/month. The best deal is for people with multiple pets because the $149/year Family Plan covers up to four pets but only costs 1.5 times as much as the Single Dog plan.
It is worth noting that the cost of a membership is the same no matter where you live, while veterinary costs differ widely. This means that it will take longer for the membership to pay for itself in some areas than others. Most people with multiple pets in expensive cities will easily spend more than $600 per year (the break-even point for the Family Plan), but people in cheaper areas with one pet might not spend more than $400 per year (the break-even point for the Single Dog plan). Of course, if your pet suddenly gets sick or injured, you could wind up spending much more.
They way the cost reduction works best and pays for itself in a matter of just a visit or two, is with primary clinic for routine veterinary care. Which is why most of the clinics represented in their network are primary care clinics since they need the help to fill appointments slots as opposed to the specialty practices that are often fully booked for weeks in advance.
Examples of Savings Covered
The main two questions many have are these: 1) Is Pet Assure worth it? and 2) What does Pet Assure cover? The short answer is yes! and a lot!, but let’s dig in…
It is not uncommon for a spay surgery to cost more than $400. If the spay is being done on a dog whose owner is a member of Pet Assure, the discount for this procedure would be $100. If they paid for their Pet Assure membership with the yearly option that costs $99, it would already have paid for itself. Any other veterinary costs during the year would result in an extra true total savings of 25% percent.
Dental cleanings on pets can easily run $1,000 or more. One dental cleaning on a Pet Assure-covered cat would result in $250 or more in savings, which is several times the cost of a one-cat membership ($79 per year). In this case, the owner would have saved about 17% percent, overall, after considering the cost of the membership. Not a bad outcome.
Members also receive 15% percent off at the online PetCareRx pharmacy. Otherwise, medications, prescription foods, and other things purchased at the vet to take home are not eligible for the discount. The only other medical procedure not eligible for the Pet Assure discount is diagnostics done at an outside lab (if blood work is sent out, for example).
The number of providers in the Pet Assure network varies depending on your area. Obviously, in areas where there are more veterinarians, there are going to be more choices. Most providers are general practice vets rather than emergency or specialist veterinarians. Although Pet Assure discounts veterinary care for any animal, you may or may not be able to find Pet Assure providers for animals other than dogs and cats in your area.
According to their website, in a very densely populated part of the San Francisco Bay Area, there were eight Pet Assure veterinarians within 12 miles of a given zipcode and 99 non-member vets. This is a little less than 10 percent, but still a fair amount of choices. When we looked up Kearney, NE, however, there was just one Pet Assure vet listed and they were 40 miles away. There were 34 veterinarians closer. Luckily, the website makes it extremely easy to find out which vets in your area are members before you even start the signup process.
The company claims that veterinarians become members because they are looking for clients who are dedicated to their pets. This is probably true, due to the fact that pet owners who are looking for ways to pay for regular veterinary care are clearly interested in providing their pets with regular veterinary care. Veterinarians who have holes in their schedules are also likely to become members. This is not necessarily a bad thing–it might just mean that a vet is new, or not that good at doing PR.
Any program like this is bound to get complaints, some even posted negative Pet Assure reviews on public sites to share their experience with others. The most common one is that veterinarians who are members simply jack up their prices in order to make up the difference. This is rare.
While it may occur here and there, it seems unlikely to occur, especially since Pet Assure has a zero tolerance policy for any clinic that practices this sort of price schedule manipulations and kick out any vets from their network found to be engaging in this kind of price gouging.
Costs vary widely between veterinary practices, regardless of whether they are members or not. This means that in one area, it might be true that the Pet Assure vets are more expensive, but that does not necessarily have anything to do with their membership in the program. The only way to know for sure what the situation is in your area is to plugin your zip-code in their clinic finder and see who is the closest one to you.
Another complaint is a lack of specialty vet clinics in their network. In our opinion, this makes sense as their program is not suitable for specialty clinics.
The way I see it, you can mix and match. Use the primary care clinic in the network for most of your pet’s routine exams and care services it needs and save money, and for the rest, use a specialty practice.