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Pet insurance coverage differs enormously between providers. A common complaint among pet owners is that their insurance policy doesn’t cover everything they thought it did, despite trying their best to decipher the fine print in their policy documents. When we reviewed the benefits and exclusions included in Embrace’s pet insurance plans, we were pleasantly surprised. Our delight only increased when we saw how affordable policy premiums were. But there’s one downside: The provider’s wellness plans are sorely lacking and may even hurt you more than they help.
Is Embrace the right pet insurance provider for you? That really depends on the type of coverage you’re looking for. In this review, we’ll explain whether you could benefit from an Embrace policy or if you should simply pass.
Learn more: See who made our list of the best pet insurance companies.
The idea for Embrace came about in 2003 at the Wharton School of Business, when the concept became the winning project in that year’s Wharton Business Plan Competition. It wasn’t until 2006 that the company was officially started and issued its first policy. Embrace grew rapidly for several years, partnering with American Modern Insurance Group as an underwriter in 2012 and launching a series of digital initiatives in 2015. Most recently, the company’s Ohio headquarters was named one of the state’s best workplaces.
Among Embrace’s most notable achievements is that the company is Geico’s official partner for pet insurance. Customers that go to Geico for pet policies are ultimately rerouted to Embrace to purchase coverage. Embrace also has a charitable arm, donating $2 from every policy to shelters and rescues and funding three veterinarian technician scholarships each year.
Covers most types of care
Includes a free medical history review
Accident-only coverage available
Offers a vanishing deductible
No unlimited or zero-deductible options
Limited wellness benefits
Not all policies available online
- Covers most types of care: From exam fees to specialist care, almost every type of veterinary care is either included or available through additional coverage.
- Includes a free medical history review: After you sign up, Embrace will review your pet’s veterinary records free of charge and notify you of potential pre-existing conditions that won’t be covered. If they find something you don’t like, you can cancel within 30 days for a full refund.
- Multiple discounts: Embrace offers discounts to pet parents who enroll multiple pets, pay annually, or are in the military.
- Accident-only coverage available: Looking for a cheaper policy with basic coverage for emergencies? Embrace’s accident-only policy will protect you in case of an extreme event like your pet being hit by a car or eating something he shouldn’t.
- Automatic vanishing deductible: For every year that you go without filing an accident or illness claim, Embrace will reduce your annual deductible by $50.
- No unlimited or zero-deductible options: When you purchase an Embrace policy, you’ll be restricted to a minimum deductible of $200 and a maximum annual limit of $30,000.
- Limited wellness benefits: Although Embrace offers reimbursement for wellness claims, this coverage is only available through an expensive non-insurance option that effectively acts as a savings account and caps out at $650 in benefits per year.
- Hidden fees: Embrace charges a one-time enrollment fee in addition to monthly installment fees if you don’t pay up front.
- Not all policies available online: Certain policies, such as accident-only coverage, can only be purchased over the phone.
Embrace offers a number of plans for cats and dogs with different types of coverage to match your needs. The provider’s core accident and illness plan provides reimbursement for most treatments that don’t result from a pre-existing condition. Customization options are good, with five different limits, five deductibles, and three reimbursement amounts to choose from. An accident-only plan is also available, although you’ll be limited to a single choice of a $100 annual deductible, $5,000 limit, and 90% reimbursement.
The accident and illness plan can be supplemented with Embrace’s wellness rewards program, an optional non-insurance add-on that covers preventive care such as vaccines and microchipping. This coverage reimburses up to $650 per year in wellness treatments.
The table below lists the different types of coverage available through Embrace’s most popular accident and illness plan, plus the additional benefits that can be included through the wellness rewards program.
For accident and illness coverage, Embrace has some of the most reasonable policy pricing you’ll find. Basic coverage starts at under $6 per month for cats and $12 for dogs. However, the wellness rewards program isn’t quite as budget-friendly. By adding this coverage, you might easily double or triple your monthly premium in exchange for relatively few benefits. Then, by the time you pay the year’s premiums, you’ll only save about $25 before you hit your annual limit. This is much more of a budgeting tool to help you spread out the cost of preventive care over the course of the year than an actual insurance policy. You could even end up losing money if you don’t use the full coverage amount in a year, as unused funds don’t roll over and aren’t reimbursed.
Something else to keep in mind is that Embrace tacks on quite a few hidden fees that you might not notice until it’s time to pay. A one-time enrollment fee of $25 is due when signing up, something that most competitors don’t charge. You’ll also be docked $1 every month in installment fees if you don’t pay for the entire year in advance.
Embrace’s waiting periods are on the shorter end of average. Accident coverage starts just two days after the policy begins, much sooner than the majority of other pet insurers. You’ll have to wait 14 days for illness benefits to begin, though, which is more in line with industry standards. As with most competitors, certain orthopedic conditions may be subject to a six-month waiting period.
Pre-existing conditions are not covered through Embrace pet policies, which is nothing new. However, the provider does try to help pet parents by offering a free medical history review once you sign up for coverage. With this service, Embrace will review the past 12 months of your pet’s medical records and let you know if they identify anything that would qualify as a pre-existing condition. If this does end up being the case and you decide you no longer want coverage, you can cancel for free as long as it’s within the first 30 days of the policy start date.
While Embrace doesn’t offer any policies with unlimited benefits, there are some extremely high-limit options that even the most accident-prone pets would have trouble reaching. Annual reimbursement limits go as high as $30,000, although this will cause your monthly premiums to go up significantly. There are no lifetime limits.
Aside from pre-existing conditions, we were hard-pressed to find any significant exclusions from Embrace’s policies. Of course, the important thing to keep in mind is that you’ll still need to pay nearly full price for treatments covered under the wellness plan. Embrace also limits newly enrolled pets over the age of 14 to accident-only coverage, but pets that are signed up for coverage before this milestone won’t be dropped from illness coverage when they get older.
Embrace helps streamline the claims process by creating custom forms for each pet, which are accessible from the provider’s website or by downloading the Embrace Pet Insurance smartphone app. On average, claims take 10 to 15 business days to process and can be reimbursed via direct deposit or paper check.
While many competitors offer more tech-friendly customer support options like live chat, Embrace limits customers to reaching out by phone or email. But it’s not all bad. A pet health line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide help and guidance with emergency medical advice, behavioral issues, and more. This particular service is offered via web chat and video conferencing in addition to phone service.
Embrace and its underwriters get very good ratings from third parties. The company itself has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau in addition to accreditation. Embrace’s primary underwriter, American Modern Insurance Group, has been given an A+ (Superior) financial stability rating from AM Best.
Competition: Embrace vs. AKC Pet Insurance
Embrace and AKC Pet Insurance both charge nearly the same amount for mid-tier coverage with equal benefits. Upon closer examination, however, you’ll soon see that AKC isn’t quite up to par. While these two policies may seem identical, AKC’s coverage includes astoundingly few benefits. Exam fees, genetic conditions, and end-of-life expenses all require an additional monthly rider that could drive the listed premium up significantly. Each of these coverage types is already included in Embrace’s base policy, making this provider an easy winner.
For accident and illness coverage, Embrace is one of the best pet insurance providers out there. The company’s base policy is set at an extremely reasonable price that includes more services than most other policies without the need for riders. But don’t be fooled by Embrace’s wellness rewards program. This coverage option doesn’t even remotely resemble an insurance policy; in fact, it’s more of a savings account that you contribute to each month in exchange for nominal savings. The difference is that the funds can only be used for specific services, and if you haven’t used them up once the year is over, they’re gone. If you’re concerned about having the funds to pay for preventive care, you’d almost be better off putting your cash into a real savings account where it can accumulate interest until a rainy day.
How We Review Pet Insurance Carriers
Our reviews of pet insurance carriers are methodically based in quantitative research. We’ve spent countless hours researching dozens of insurers, comparing the specifics of coverage and noting exclusions with each policy. We research pricing to make sure you’re getting the best deal out there and look for discounts to help you save. And while pricing is important, we know service is, too. To round out our analysis, we consider the quality of service customers get as a major factor.