A reliable web resource Consumers Advocate has published a list of the best US-based insurance companies to choose from for your pet insurance in the coming year. The company’s team has invested more than 200 hours, reviewed over 30 sources, and vetted 15 companies to make their 9 top picks.
Here is the result of their research.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What is Pet Insurance
- How to choose the right Pet Insurance
- 9 Best Pet Insurance Companies
- FAQ on Pet Insurance
Photo Credit: free pictures of money/Flickr CC
WHAT IS PET INSURANCE
Pet insurance – or veterinary health insurance for your cat or dog - is about being prepared for the unexpected. It costs $38-70/month & covers a significant portion of vet bills that can cost $5-$10k.
Having a plan with a top-tier company gives you financial protection; in the event, you’re faced with an expensive surgery for your pet, a good insurance policy will pay up to 90% of that vet bill.
What you need to know
- Some policies reimburse up to 90% of vet expenses
- Wellness coverage can often be paid out-of-pocket
- Check that hereditary diseases common to your pet’s breed are covered
- Look for a plan that allows you to choose your vet
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PET INSURANCE
Coverage & Benefit Limits are the most important factors to consider when comparing pet insurance.
Whether your pet needs a couple of stitches put into an injured paw or if they’re facing a serious life-threatening condition like cancer, you want a plan that has broad coverage & has few exclusions. After all, pet insurance is for the unexpected, and while some breeds are pre-disposed for specific health problems, the only thing you can really expect as a pet parent is that the unexpected will happen.
An exception to the broad coverage rule is wellness coverage, also referred to as preventative care, which covers routine procedures such as checkups & vaccinations. Despite sounding like something you might want to have included as part of your pet insurance plan, wellness coverage is not a good deal.
There’s a reason 82% of policies in the US do not cover wellness or preventative care. Wellness coverage drives up your monthly premiums & makes it so you pay more over the life of your pet for inexpensive procedures that are cheaper to pay out-of-pocket.
In general, we don't recommend wellness coverage because you're usually better off paying out-of-pocket.
Primary Types of Coverage
Comprehensive (Accidents & Illnesses)
The best pet insurance should cover accidents and illnesses. These include broken bones, swallowed objects, cancer, diabetes, ear infections and numerous other conditions.
Accident-only coverage's main benefit is savings. They are usually the cheapest policies and will cover your pet for all manner of mishaps from getting bit by other animals to poisoning, but they do not cover illnesses or diseases.
Wellness Coverage (Preventative Care)
Wellness plans cover routine procedures such as annual exams, vaccines, flea and heartworm prevention. We don’t recommend this because these expenses can be budgeted for annually.
Make sure your Pet Insurance plan covers:
- Accidents & Illnesses
- Hereditary, Congenital, & Chronic Conditions
- Diagnostic Tests
- Emergency Care
- Specialist Care
- Prescription Medication
All of the top pet insurance providers have a full breadth of coverage:
Vet Selection & out of state coverage
- Most plans will allow you to visit any licensed vet or veterinary hospital. Other companies will restrict you to an in-network provider, we recommend avoiding these plans.
- Most companies will cover pets anywhere within the United States.
- NAPHIA, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, can be an invaluable resource for finding a reputable and trustworthy pet health insurance company from their membership.
Depending on the Pet Insurance company, your plan may provide unlimited lifetime benefits or your benefits may be capped on an annual, lifetime, or per-condition basis.
4 Types of Benefit Limits
- Unlimited Lifetime (Highly Recommended): After you pay your deductible, there will be no upper limit the company will pay to cover your pet's medical bills.
- Annual Maximum: Some companies will cap payouts on an annual basis (e.g. $15,000/year). Once you reach that limit, you will no longer be reimbursed for treatments that year.
- Annual Per Incident: This is the maximum dollar amount the company will pay for a particular illness, condition, or procedure in a given year.
- Lifetime Maximum (Least Favorite): This is the maximum amount the company will pay out either in total or per condition for the lifetime of the pet. If your pet has a chronic condition such as asthma or allergies, you can quickly hit the benefit limit.
Deductibles & Reimbursements
Your plan deductible is how much money you will have to pay out of pocket before the pet insurance company starts paying.
Reimbursement is the percent of the vet bill your insurance will pay. Most plans will allow you to customize the deductible and reimbursement options.
Premiums depend on a multitude of factors. Location, age, and breed all play a major part. Also, the type of plan, deductible choice, reimbursement percentage choice, and benefit limit choice are also important.
Other factors to consider
All companies have different processes, waiting periods, and restrictions on enrollment. Here we look at how easy it is to get your pet coverage considering age and preexisting conditions. We also look at specific per condition waiting periods and assess the total enrollment process as a whole.
- Max Enrollment Age: Most pet insurance providers have a maximum enrollment age, and deny coverage to dogs and cats once they have reached this.
- Min Enrollment Age: Conversely, most companies also have a minimum enrollment age as well, usually expressed in weeks.
- Accident Waiting Period: Most pet insurance companies require a waiting period between enrollment and when you can make a claim for accidents. In some cases, accident coverage starts within 24 hours.
- Illnesses Waiting Period: Usually longer than the accident waiting period (15 – 30 days).
- Free Look Period: Free Look Period means the period of time allowed for a new policyholder to look over the terms and conditions of the policy after delivery.
Claims and Service:
Most pet insurance companies have you pay the bill yourself, then reimburse you after you file the claim.
A few more tips
- No pet insurance will cover your pet for pre-existing conditions if symptoms are present prior to policy purchase, i.e. you can’t buy a policy when your pet is already sick.
- Most plans allow you the ability to customize your deductible, reimbursement percentage, and benefit limits. Tinkering with these three factors determine what you are going to be paying monthly.
- Watch out for plans that operate on a “benefits schedule,” or per-condition limits. Plans that feature high or unlimited annual or lifetime coverage are preferable.
9 BEST PET INSURANCE COMPANIES
#1 HEALTHY PAWS (Best Overall)
- Chosen most often by Consumers Advocate visitors who get a quote or buy
- #1 company for customer satisfaction
- Top-rated choice by both LA Times & Seattle Times
- A+ BBB - accredited with over 97 out of 100 rating
- Comprehensive illness and accident coverage
- Unlimited lifetime benefits + no claim caps!
- Annual deductible (recommended)
- Free mobile app & no claims forms
#2 Fetch by the Dodo(Most comprehensive)
(*Information updated in February 2022)
- Recommended by The Dodo, the #1 animal brand in the world
- No signup fees, no add-ons, cancel anytime
- Accepted by all veterinarians in the U.S. and Canada
- Comprehensive Coverage (includes vet exam fee!)
- Flexible annual reimbursement up to Unlimited
- Great customer service – top rated, always available
- Fast, paperless claim reimbursement via Fetch App
- Breed-specific conditions covered
- Every tooth covered
#3 EMBRACE (Best for Customer Service)
- Get up to 90% back at a vet
- Benefits up to $30K/yr
- Comprehensive illness & accident coverage – no levels
- Optional wellness plan covers routine veterinary, grooming, & training costs
- Customizable annual deductible, annual limit, & reimbursement percentage
- Pet insurance’s only diminishing deductible feature
- Use your own veterinarian
- No lifetime or per-incident limits
- Coverage for dogs and cats seven weeks and older
- No upper age limits
- Your choice of deductible and reimbursement percentage
- Includes rare coverage options, like injury coverage for working pets and dental illness coverage
- PetFirst is partnered with the Humane Society
- Short waiting period before coverage begins
- Hereditary, congenital & chronic conditions
- No exam required
- Coverage for exam fees
#6 NATIONWIDE (Largest Provider)
- First and largest pet insurer in the US
- Whole Pet & Wellness Plan covers spay/neuter
- 24/7 vethelpline access
- Discounts available on home and auto
- Insurers most birds and exotic pets!
- $250 annual deductible with Unlimited Claims
- Covers congenital and hereditary conditions
#7 PRUDENT PET
- Premium policies have no annual benefit caps
- Low deductibles
- No lower or upper age limits
- Dental coverage, wellness checks, and preventative care
- Get care from any licensed vet in the US or Canada, including specialists
- 14-day waiting period for new policies
- Full money-back guarantee if policy canceled in 30 days and has no claims against it
- Extremely comprehensive coverage
- Waives copays and deductible for lifesaving care
- Up to 100% reimbursement
- Includes exam fees
- Innovative cloud-based platform to manage your pet's lifestyle
- Visit any licensed emergency hospital, veterinary practice, or specialist
- Plans averaging less than $1.50 per day
#9 PETS BEST
- No Lifetime Limits
- Unlimited Plan Option
- 24/7 veterinary support line for all customers
- Reasonably good coverage
- No hereditary or congenital condition limitations
FAQ on Pet Insurance
Is there Pet Insurance for exotic animals?
Most insurance companies offer coverage for exotic animals like goats, iguanas, wolves, and parrots. Coverage generally includes accidents, illnesses, lab fees, x-rays, prescriptions, and hospitalizations.
Can you change Pet Insurance?
You can always change the pet insurance company. Nevertheless, before looking at new plans, speak to your current provider. They might be able to alter coverage without a large increase in cost.
Do Pet Insurance companies offer multi-pet discounts?
For those who have more than one furry companion they’d like to enroll in, some pet insurance companies will offer the perk of discounting the plan by a certain percentage.
Do Pet Insurance plans cover prescription medicines and supplements?
The majority of pet insurance plans include medications to treat a covered illness. However, most companies do not cover even prescribed supplements. Those that do are Fetch, Nationwide, and Trupanion.
Does Pet Insurance cover euthanasia?
Most companies will cover euthanasia. In the case of illness or injury, your policy might stipulate a minimum age for that. Policies might also direct you to certain vets to certify the cause of death.
Does Pet Insurance cover x-rays?
X-rays are only covered on certain pet insurance plans. Basic plans will cover wellness exams, vaccinations, and flea prevention.
Does Pet Insurance cover shots and vaccinations?
Shots and vaccinations are generally not covered by standard pet insurance policies. Some companies offer “wellness” policies that will cover vaccines and other routine preventative care like physical exams.
Does Pet Insurance cover dental?
Most pet insurance doesn’t cover dental care unless your pet’s teeth were damaged in an accident. However, there are a few plans that do offer dental as a premium add-on.
Does Pet Insurance cover surgery?
Pet insurance does cover surgery provided the surgery isn’t related to a pre-existing condition. If this stipulation is satisfied, policies cover surgeries with some exceptions.
Does Pet Insurance cover neutering or spaying?
Most Pet Insurance policies don’t cover neutering or spaying. If your company does cover sterilization, it will usually be as part of an additional, optional wellness rider with spay/neuter benefits.
Does Pet Insurance cover pre-existing conditions?
Most Pet Insurance companies will not cover pre-existing conditions unless it’s under one of their more expensive policies, and even then, there are exceptions.
Is there Pet Insurance you can claim straight away?
Most companies will not let you initiate a claim straight away to protect against fraud. Many insurance providers stipulate a two-day, two-week, or six-month waiting period, depending on the claim.
What is a Pet Insurance waiting period?
A Pet Insurance waiting period is the time between when you enroll in a policy and when you can get coverage. Most companies have a waiting period for accidents of 1-3 days and 14 days for illness.
What is an annual deductible for Pet Insurance?
An annual deductible is the amount of money you must pay out of pocket before the pet insurance company starts paying. Some companies offer you the ability to choose the amount of this deductible.
What’s the average cost of Pet Insurance?
The average pet health insurance premium is usually between $20 and $50 per month, with cat plans normally costing less than plans for dogs.
Does Pet Insurance cover vet visits?
By and large, pet insurance will not pay the fees associated with routine physical exams unless you have purchased a “wellness” plan or if your vet visit has to do with an accident or illness.
For additional information about how pet insurance works and the pet insurance companies, visit ConsumersAdvocate.org.
Comments ( 2 )
Kathryn Ann Stewart-McDonald says
Hello ! I am so happy to find you, once more in my mailbox! I believe I previously used the address for Coluzzi, this is the name I have used since 76 for copyright purposes.
Thank you for pet insurance information. My elderly aunt had a dog for 19 years , she is on a fixed income. Sadly the dog passed after numerous surgeries and regular visits to the vet, her veterinary bill was 12,000.00. The dog was part of our family, the dog loved his 2 cats, which are now my my 15 year old kittens, who until just a few weeks ago would go to dogs bed and actually mew, this is the spot where all three slept after they cleaned his ears. Insurance would have made all of our lives easier. It is soon going to be the right time to find a new dog for the cats. Thank you for this fantastic service,
Sure, there should be a dog :)