Best Pet Insurance Companies of 2023
Pet insurance is a type of insurance that covers costs related to accidents, illnesses, or even routine care for animals. The best pet insurance companies offer a variety of coverage options, including emergency and preventative care for a wide variety of animals. In this guide, we’ll explore what pet insurance is, how it works, and how it can help you cover the cost of caring for your pet.
What is pet insurance?
Pet insurance is a type of coverage designed to provide financial protection for pet owners in case their animals need medical care. Much like health insurance for humans, pet insurance can cover various costs, including expenses related to accidents, illnesses, surgeries, and sometimes even routine veterinary care. The specifics of what is covered can vary significantly from one policy to another, but the primary purpose is to mitigate the costs of veterinary services and treatments.
In addition to covering unforeseen health issues, some pet insurance policies also cover routine veterinary care. This may include regular check-ups, vaccinations, and preventative treatments. These plans can help ensure that pets receive regular, preventative healthcare, which can often avoid more serious health issues later on. However, because coverages vary by policy and provider, it’s important for pet owners to carefully consider their specific needs and research different options before buying coverage.
What does pet insurance cover?
Pet insurance policies vary widely in terms of what they cover. While some policies cover only accidents and illnesses, others offer more comprehensive coverage, including holistic care and prescription medications. Here are the primary categories that pet insurance can cover:
Accident coverage: This is the most basic level of coverage and is included in almost all pet insurance policies. It covers treatments required due to accidents such as fractures, burns, or ingestion of foreign objects. If your dog breaks a leg while playing in the park, the costs of casts, surgeries, and other necessary treatments would be covered.
Illness coverage: This covers the cost of treating illnesses ranging from minor ear infections to serious conditions like cancer. For instance, if your cat develops diabetes, the cost of insulin and related treatments would typically be covered.
Wellness coverage: Some insurance companies offer wellness coverage as an add-on or separate policy. This includes routine care like vaccinations, annual exams, flea and tick prevention, heartworm medication, and teeth cleanings.
Hereditary and congenital conditions: This covers the treatment of conditions your pet was born with or is prone to because of their breed. For instance, if your purebred German shepherd develops hip dysplasia, a common hereditary condition, the cost of any necessary surgery will likely be covered.
What doesn’t pet insurance cover?
As beneficial as pet insurance can be, every policy also has limitations. Pet insurance doesn’t cover everything, and understanding what’s normally excluded can help you decide which policy is right for your pet’s needs. Here are some common exclusions:
Pre-existing conditions: Most pet insurance policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions – or health issues that your pet was diagnosed with before the start of coverage. For example, if your cat has already been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, the costs of ongoing treatment and medication for this condition won’t be covered.
Cosmetic procedures: Procedures deemed cosmetic or aesthetic, such as ear cropping or tail docking, are not usually covered.
Breeding costs: Expenses related to breeding or pregnancy are often not covered under standard pet insurance policies. So, if your dog becomes pregnant and needs a cesarean section, the cost would likely not be covered by your policy.
Behavioral issues: Many policies exclude treatment for behavioral issues, such as anxiety or aggression. If your dog requires professional training to address aggressive behavior, these costs are often not covered.
Grooming and boarding: Pet insurance does not usually cover routine grooming and boarding costs, as these are not directly related to your pet’s health or wellness.
Each policy may have additional exclusions, so review the policy details carefully to ensure they align with your expectations and needs before buying coverage.
How does pet health insurance work?
Once you find the right pet insurance policy for your pet, the first step is to buy the policy. After you’ve bought coverage, the process of filing a claim is relatively straightforward. You’ll typically need to pay your vet bill upfront and submit an itemized invoice and other information to the insurance company. After receiving all required documents, the insurance company will send you a reimbursement check for part or all of the cost.
In addition to filing a claim, some pet insurance companies offer services such as 24/7 access to a virtual vet. You can use this service to get advice from certified veterinarians and even receive prescriptions for common medicines without visiting the vet’s office in person. This is especially useful if you live in an area with limited access to veterinary care.
Every policy has specific items that aren’t covered. When researching policies, be aware of some common restrictions and limits of the policies you consider. One important limitation is the maximum benefit limit for each policy. This determines how much the insurance company will pay out in a single claim, in a given period (usually a year), or over an entire policy period. You should also check for any exclusions related to specific breeds or pre-existing conditions, as some policies may not cover certain illnesses or treatments.
Most pet insurance policies include a waiting period. This is the time that must pass after you buy a policy before coverage kicks in. The length of the waiting period can vary, generally ranging from a few days to several weeks, depending on the provider and the policy.
Waiting periods are implemented to prevent fraudulent claims, such as when a pet owner notices a health issue, secures a policy, and then immediately files a claim. Sometimes, there are two waiting periods – one for accidents and another for illnesses. The waiting period is typically shorter for accidents, often just a few days. However, the waiting period may extend to a month or more for illnesses or certain specific conditions.
Some pet insurance companies operate on a network basis, similar to human health insurance. This means they have a predetermined list of veterinarians and clinics that they consider in-network, and pet owners must use these providers to get the highest level of coverage. Visiting an out-of-network veterinarian might only be partially or not covered.
If you have a vet that you’d like to continue using, you’ll want to ensure that they’re included in your prospective insurance company’s network. Alternatively, you could seek out a policy that offers more freedom in choosing a vet – though these might come with higher premiums.
Some policies may also restrict coverage for certain types of veterinary services. For instance, they may not cover alternative therapies such as acupuncture or physiotherapy, even if recommended by your vet.
How much does pet insurance cost?
The cost of pet insurance can vary widely based on several factors. These factors include the type of pet, the pet’s age and breed, the type and amount of coverage, the deductible, and reimbursement levels. Typically, monthly premiums can range from $15 to $100.
Here are some factors that contribute to the total cost of pet insurance:
Premiums: This is the amount you pay monthly or annually for your pet insurance policy. An insurer will calculate your premium based on various factors, including your pet’s age, breed, and health status, the level of coverage you choose, your deductible amount, and the percentage of reimbursement offered by the policy. For example, the monthly premium for a comprehensive policy for a young, healthy dog might be $20, but it could go up to $100 or more for an older dog more likely to have health problems.
Deductibles: The deductible is the amount you must pay out-of-pocket before your pet insurance begins to cover costs. Deductibles can range up to $1,000 or more. The deductible may be applied annually or per incident, depending on the policy. An annual deductible means you only need to meet the deductible once a year. In contrast, a per-incident deductible means you must meet the deductible for each separate illness or injury.
Copay and reimbursement levels: After you’ve paid your deductible, your pet insurance will cover a percentage of the remaining cost. This is the reimbursement level, and it typically ranges from 70% to 90%.
Caps or limits: Many policies have caps or limits on the amount they will pay out annually, per incident, or over the pet’s lifetime. Any costs exceeding these limits must be paid out-of-pocket by the pet owner.
Add-ons: Some pet insurance providers offer optional add-ons for an additional cost. These can include wellness coverage, which pays for routine care like vet check-ups and vaccinations, or coverage for alternative treatments like acupuncture or chiropractic care.
Out-of-pocket expenses: These are not covered by the pet insurance policy. They can include the cost of any treatments for pre-existing conditions, cosmetic procedures, out-of-network or behavioral treatments, or veterinary costs that exceed your policy’s caps or limits.
Remember, the cost of pet insurance can vary greatly, and it’s essential to consider all the factors and costs involved when choosing a policy. Get quotes from several companies and carefully review the details of each policy before making a decision.
Factors that affect pet insurance costs
Several factors can influence the price of a pet insurance policy. Understanding these variables can help pet owners make a more informed decision when choosing the best pet insurance.
Type of pet: Generally, insurance for dogs is more expensive than for cats due to the higher costs associated with canine healthcare. Certain exotic pets may have insurance premiums that reflect the specialized care they require.
Breed of the pet: Your pet’s breed can significantly impact the cost of pet insurance. Some breeds are prone to specific health conditions, which can increase the risk – and, hence, the cost – of insuring them. For example, Golden retrievers are prone to hip dysplasia and certain cancers, leading to higher insurance costs.
Age of the pet: The pet’s age is another major factor in determining the cost of pet insurance. Older pets are generally more expensive to insure as they are more likely to develop health problems.
Geographic location: Where you live can affect the cost of your pet insurance. In areas where veterinary costs are higher, such as in major cities, pet insurance can be more expensive.
Coverage level: The more comprehensive the coverage, the higher your premium. A policy that covers accidents, illnesses, and wellness care will be more expensive than one that only covers accidents.
Deductible amount: The deductible amount can significantly impact the cost of pet insurance. Higher deductibles usually lead to lower premiums but also mean more out-of-pocket expenses when you file a claim.
Reimbursement level: The percentage of the veterinary bill the insurance company will pay after the deductible is met is known as the reimbursement level. Choosing a higher reimbursement level will increase your premium.
Pet insurance discounts
The cost of pet insurance can vary widely based on a multitude of factors, such as your pet’s breed, age, and level of coverage, but there are several discounts insurance providers offer to help pet owners manage these costs. Here are some of the most common pet insurance discounts and how you can qualify:
Multi-pet discount: Many pet insurance providers offer discounts if you insure more than one pet. By grouping multiple pets under a single policy, you streamline your insurance management and save on the overall cost.
Military discount: To honor the service of military personnel, some insurers offer discounts to active, retired, or reserve members of the military. This discount is usually applicable to the entire duration of the policy. However, proof of military service may be required.
Annual pay discount: If you can afford to pay your pet insurance premium in a lump sum upfront, you may qualify for an annual pay discount.
Spaying/neutering discount: Spaying or neutering your pet can lead to a healthier, longer life for your pet, thus reducing the risk for the insurer. Many insurance companies encourage this responsible pet ownership practice by offering a discount on policies for spayed or neutered pets.
Microchipping discount: Microchipped pets are easier to identify if lost and, therefore, have a higher chance of being reunited with their owners. Some pet insurance companies offer a discount for pet owners who have their pets microchipped.
Wellness rewards: Some insurance providers offer discounts or rewards for pets that receive regular wellness care. This can include regular vet check-ups, vaccinations, and preventative medications. These measures can help detect potential health issues early, reducing the risk of expensive treatments down the line.
Bundling discount: Some pet insurance companies offer discounts for those who bundle their pet insurance with other services such as home or auto insurance. Ask your provider if they offer this type of discount and find out how much you can save.
Group/employer discount: If you are employed, inquire with your employer about whether it offers group pet insurance plans for their employees. This type of plan is often cheaper than individual policies and can reduce your costs.
How to find the best pet insurance for you
Choosing the best pet insurance policy for your pet can seem complicated. However, by considering your pet’s unique needs and evaluating the offerings of different insurance providers, you can find a policy that offers the best combination of coverage, cost, and customer service. Here are some tips to guide you in finding the best pet insurance:
Understand your pet’s needs. Different pets have different healthcare needs. Factors such as pet type, breed, age, and prior health conditions can significantly influence the kind of care your pet will need. Understanding these needs can help you identify critical coverage areas for your pet’s insurance.
Evaluate coverage options. Pet insurance policies can range from covering only major medical events, like accidents and illnesses, to including wellness visits and preventive care. Consider the pote healthcare costs you may face and choose a coverage level that suits your financial circumstances and your pet’s anticipated healthcare needs.
Compare providers. Not all pet insurance providers are created equal. Research multiple providers and consider the reputation, customer service, claim processing times, and policy terms and conditions of each. Online reviews and pet owner forums can provide valuable insights into other pet owners’ experiences.
Consider costs. While the cost of a policy shouldn’t be the sole determining factor, it is an important consideration. Be sure to understand the monthly premium, deductibles, copays, and maximum payouts. Try to balance the cost of coverage and out-of-pocket costs when you file a claim.
Look for customizable policies. Some providers offer flexible plans that allow you to adjust coverage items, deductibles, and maximum payouts to better fit your budget and your pet’s healthcare needs. Some also have extra features and benefits you can add for additional cost.
Ask about discounts. Many providers offer discounts that can help lower the cost of your pet insurance. Inquire about these discounts and factor them into your cost calculations.
Read the fine print. Ensure you fully understand all the terms and conditions of any policy you’re considering. This includes understanding the waiting periods, exclusions, and requirements for your pet’s care.
By carefully evaluating your pet’s healthcare needs, the offerings of various insurance providers, and your financial circumstances, you can find a pet insurance policy that provides the best possible care for your pet. It’s worth remembering that pet insurance aims not just to save money but also to provide peace of mind and ensure your pet can receive the best care possible.
Is pet insurance worth it?
Pet insurance can be a lifeline in cases of unexpected illnesses or accidents. Still, its value depends largely on individual circumstances. Given the unpredictable nature of pets’ health, investing in pet insurance can provide reassurance that you’re financially prepared for any unforeseen emergencies. Here are some situations where pet insurance may be worth it:
Breed-specific conditions: If your pet belongs to a breed prone to certain medical conditions, insurance can help cover the costs of these probable health issues.
Young pets: Pets, particularly young ones, can be curious and adventurous, often leading to unexpected accidents. Pet insurance can be a financial safety net in these instances.
Chronic conditions: If your pet has a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment, insurance can help manage these recurring expenses – so long as it’s not excluded as a pre-existing condition.
Expensive treatments: Certain treatments, surgeries, or medications are quite costly. Insurance can be beneficial if you’re unable to shoulder these costs out-of-pocket.
Peace of mind: Above all, pet insurance can provide peace of mind, knowing you can always afford the care your pet needs without breaking the bank.
Most insured pet breeds
As most pet owners know, some breeds of pets can be particularly prone to health care issues. These are the most commonly insured dog breeds:
- Golden retriever
- German shepherd
- French bulldog
- Yorkshire terrier
- Shih Tzu
The most insured cat breeds according to pet insurance quote data are:
- Domestic shorthairs
- Domestic medium hair
- Mixed breed
- Domestic longhair
- Other breed
- Maine coon
- American shorthair (purebred)
Common pet insurance claims
These are some common pet insurance claims:
Digestive issues: Pets often ingest foreign objects or suffer from conditions like gastroenteritis, putting digestive issues atop the list of most common claims.
Urinary tract infections: These are common in both cats and dogs and can lead to severe complications if not treated promptly.
Ear infections: Ear infections can be quite common in dogs, particularly those with floppy ears. They can be caused by allergies, bacteria, or yeast and can require expensive medications to resolve.
Skin conditions: Various skin conditions such as allergies, infections, or dermatitis are frequent reasons pet owners file claims.
Eye conditions: Eye conditions like conjunctivitis or corneal ulcers are common in pets, leading to a significant number of insurance claims.
Cancer: Unfortunately, pets can also be affected by various types of cancers. The cost of treatment is often high, leading to significant insurance claims.
Orthopedic issues: Conditions like hip dysplasia or cruciate ligament tears are common in certain breeds, leading to frequent claims.
Dental disease: Oral health issues such as periodontal disease or tooth abscesses are more common than most pet owners realize and can lead to costly treatments.
Respiratory conditions: Respiratory issues, like bronchitis or asthma, are common reasons for insurance claims – especially for cats.
Diabetes: Just like humans, pets can also suffer from diabetes, which requires ongoing treatment and monitoring, leading to regular insurance claims.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best pet insurance?
The best pet insurance varies based on individual needs, pet breed, age, and health conditions. Popular insurance options offer comprehensive coverage, including accident and illness policies, wellness plans, hereditary conditions coverage, and customizable deductibles and reimbursement rates.
Our choice for the best pet insurance plan is Pumpkin Pet Insurance because it covers all breeds 8 weeks and up with no upper age limits. It includes discounts for multiple pets and offers optional preventative care for comprehensive coverage. You can choose your own vet and receive up to 90% reimbursement on covered vet bills without sneaky add-on fees, per-condition deductibles, or confusing annual limits.
Is pet insurance expensive?
The cost of pet insurance can vary widely based on several factors, including the pet’s breed, age, and health condition, and the type of coverage chosen. On average, pet insurance can range from $10 to $100 per month. While it may seem like an additional cost, it’s important to consider the potential financial strain of paying out-of-pocket for unexpected veterinary expenses, which can far exceed the cost of monthly premiums in the event of severe illness or injury.
Is pet insurance tax deductible?
Pet insurance is not typically tax deductible unless the pet is a certified service animal. Service animals’ expenses, including insurance, can be claimed as medical expenses. However, rules may vary, so it is good to consult with a tax professional for specific circumstances.
Does pet insurance only cover cats and dogs?
Pet insurance is not limited to cats and dogs. Many insurance providers also offer coverage for a variety of other pets, including birds, rabbits, and exotic animals like reptiles. However, the coverage options and costs may vary significantly based on the provider and type of pet, so be sure to research providers thoroughly before buying a policy.
At what age should you get your dog or cat pet insurance?
It’s best to get pet insurance for your dog or cat as soon as possible – ideally when they’re still puppies or kittens. Most insurers will allow you to start a policy when your pet is as young as eight weeks old. Insuring your pet at a young age can allow for a broader range of coverage and lower premiums.