Nationwide recently launched its pet health insurance benefit, veterinary helpline, as a subscription option for people who are not members.
Vethelpline offers insurance members and now subscribers 24/7 access to veterinary experts and certified veterinarians who can answer questions about care through an app with a chat function or a consultation telephone.
Heidi Sirota, head of companion animals at Nationwide, says the service saw a 56% year-over-year increase in usage in August.
“During the pandemic, we have seen a huge increase,” Sirota said. “So we jumped in to launch a standalone subscription service for non-insurance members. “
Experts cannot diagnose or prescribe, but they are able to answer a variety of questions related to toxicology, emergency and critical care issues, and general follow-up information.
Sirota said the service is also intended to help with the backlog in hospitals and veterinary clinics. Many veterinary care facilities have seen a pandemic-related increase in appointment requests, new patients and calls.
“We see it as a way to sort it out,” Sirota said. “Help people determine whether or not they need to go to the vet and avoid unnecessary stress on the animal. … Vethelpline can be a real lifeline for families of pets who do not have insurance or who live in rural areas, it is an entry point for care. “
The subscription can be purchased through a monthly subscription or a three or six month plan. It covers unlimited interactions for up to 10 pets in a house. Additionally, subscribers can access articles on pet health, including dog and cat safety tips.
In the future, the service may include additional features such as video telehealth options.
Nationwide pet insurance members will continue to have access to vethelpline as a benefit with coverage.