Nationwide Insurance dropping policies for around 100,000 pets

SEATTLE — Nationwide Insurance has announced that it is dropping insurance policies for about 100,000 animals across the country.

The company put out a statement saying it is because of financial factors and other reasons.

Many pet owners like Karla Garcia, got a letter telling her that coverage for her six-year-old dog Luna, would soon be ending.

“It’s pretty frustrating you know when your dog has an ailment that they can’t recover from,” she said. “People who already have it should have been grandfathered in and they just wouldn’t have it available for new people and it kind of sucks they’re not looking for solutions.”

The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner said it is aware of the situation but that what the company is doing is legal. Companies can decide not to renew policies for any reason as long as they provide 45 days of written notice to the customer.

“It can certainly feel like a bit of a betrayal but for most consumers there’s other options out there.”

Aaron VanTuyl, who is with the WA State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, said. Garcia said she asked Nationwide about switching to another plan, but that’s not an option.

“If I were to be put into a different plan with them what would happen to her coverage and they said it is now considered pre-existing so they would no longer be able to cover it,” she said. Jessica Sleater, a consumer protection lawyer, told us that’s one of the issues she’s investigating.

“Typically, Nationwide has represented to its customers that you can switch your plan during the renewal period, and they would still be doing so as an existing customer unfortunately that is not happening,” Sleater said. “They are not allowing people that have received the non-renewal to switch their plans and that’s what’s caused the uproar now for a lot of pet parents.”

Another potential problem Sleater says she’s looking into is the fact that companies urge pet owners to get coverage when pets are young and healthy, before they develop and diseases, but older dogs are harder to insure.

“You know you’re paying in the beginning when your pet is young and healthy, but you know later on you might not have the means to pay when your pet is diagnosed with cancer or something like that so that’s an issue we’re looking at,” Sleater said.

Garcia has two other dogs and one of them still has Nationwide insurance, but she said she may just opt out of pet insurance all together.

“Instead, I’d be putting $200 a month in a savings account specifically for them,” she said.

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