1. We researched the companies and products people care most about.
US News analyzed and compared a variety of publicly available data, including internet search data, to determine which pet insurance companies and agencies Americans are most interested in. We found 17 pet insurance companies and agencies that stand out in terms of volume of searches and research among consumers, as well as across the different rating sources.
We then compared the available plans provided by our top pet insurance companies and agencies across several criteria, including cost, wellness riders, waiting periods, plan coverage, claim processing time, unique features, and customer satisfaction. Research shows that these are the most important criteria for people shopping for pet insurance. Sample monthly costs are for a one-year-old female large mixed-breed dog and an under one-year-old male domestic medium-hair cat, respectively. Both are in excellent health and residing in Texas with a $5,000 annual benefit limit, $500 annual deductible, and 90% reimbursement rate.
2. We created objective 360 Overall Ratings based on an analysis of third-party reviews.
US News’ 360 Reviews team applied an unbiased methodology that includes opinions from professional reviews as well as consumer reviews.
Our scoring methodology is based on a composite analysis of the ratings and reviews published by credible third-party professional and consumer review sources. The ratings are not based on personal opinions or experiences of US News. To calculate the ratings:
(a) We compiled two types of third-party ratings and reviews:
• Professional Ratings and Reviews. Many independent pet insurance evaluating sources have published their assessments of pet insurance companies and agencies and their plans. We consider several of these third-party reviews to be reputable and well-researched. However, professional reviewers often make recommendations that contradict one another. Rather than relying on a single source, US News believes consumers benefit most when these opinions and recommendations are considered and analyzed collectively with an objective, consensus-based methodology.
• Consumer Ratings and Reviews. US News also reviewed published consumer ratings and reviews of pet insurance companies and agencies. Sources with a sufficient number of quality consumer ratings and reviews were included in our scoring model.
Please note that not all professional and consumer rating sources meet our criteria for objectivity. Therefore, some sources were excluded from our model.
(b) We standardized the inputs to create a common scale.
The third-party review source data were collected in a variety of forms, including ratings, recommendations, and accolades. Before including each third-party data point into our scoring equation, we had to standardize it so that it could be compared accurately with data points from other review sources. We used the scoring methodology described below to convert these systems to a comparable scale.
The 360 scoring process first converted each third-party rating into a common 0 to 5 scale. To balance the distribution of scores within each source’s scale, we used a standard deviation (or Z-Score) calculation to determine how each company and agency’s score compared to the source’s mean score. We then used the Z-Score to create a standardized US News score using the method outlined below:
• Calculating the Z-Score: The Z-Score represents a data point’s relation to the mean measurement of the data set. The Z-Score is negative when the data point is below the mean and positive when it’s above the mean; a Z-Score of 0 means it’s equal to the mean. To determine the Z-Score for each third-party rating of a company or agency, we calculated the mean of the ratings across all companies and agencies evaluated by that third-party source. We then subtracted the mean from the company’s rating and divided it by the standard deviation to produce the Z-Score.
• Calculating the T-Score: We used a T-Score calculation to convert the Z-Score to a 0-100 scale by multiplying the Z-Score by 10. To ensure that the mean was equal across all data points, we added our desired scoring mean (between 0 and 10) to the T-Score to create an adjusted T-Score.
• Calculating the common-scale rating: We divided the adjusted T-Score, which is on a 100-point scale, by 20 to convert the third-party rating to a common 0-5 point system.
(c) We calculated the 360 Overall Score based on a weighted-average model.
We assigned “source weights” to each source used in the consensus scoring model based on our assessment of how much the source is trusted and recognized by consumers and how much its published review process indicates that it is both comprehensive and editorially independent. The source weights are assigned on a 1-5 scale. Any source with an assigned weight less than two was excluded from the consensus scoring model.
Finally, we combined the converted third-party data points using a weighted average formula based on source weight. This formula calculated the consensus score for each product, which we call the 360 Overall Rating.