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How to Find the Best Pet Insurance for Emergency Vet Costs

Insurance Ranked - Updated January 9, 2023
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How to Find the Best Pet Insurance for Emergency Vet Costs

Your pet is more than just a pet -- they are family. And this means that you'll do anything for them, including vet visits, whether it is for a checkup or something more serious like an illness or injury. Unfortunately, you may end up facing a high vet bill -- the average emergency vet visit is $800 to $1500 -- so it's always a good idea to have a plan in case of an emergency.

Below, we cover how you can find the best insurance for your fur or feather baby, and what you can do if you don't have pet insurance.

Pet Insurance Pros & Cons

Pet insurance is one method to offset expensive vet costs. Generally, around 60-90% of the cost of emergency vet care can be reimbursed. Depending on your situation, pet insurance may or may not be worth it:

Pros

  • Some pet insurance companies offer coverage for pet owners on a budget
  • Many pet insurance companies offer accident-only coverage that covers issues like broken limbs, accidental swallowing, and more
  • Pet insurance can cover the high cost of treating lifelong illnesses so you don't have to worry about costs other than your monthly premiums

Cons

  • Buying a policy when your pet is elderly will usually be more costly, so you'll need to carefully weigh whether future bills will be covered.
  • Pet insurance may not be able to cover every type of illness or need. Still, we believe that pet insurance is usually worth the cost in the long run, especially to protect your furry/feathery/hairless friend.
  • Pet insurance doesn't cover pre-existing conditions, so it's extremely important that you get coverage for your pet as soon as possible. It's also unlikely that you will be able to switch policies in the future with multiple pre-existing conditions. However, if your pet has a number of health issues, you may want to build savings for their future visits.

How To Choose Pet Insurance

cat-vet

With so many options available, deciding on the right pet insurance plan is determined by your pet's needs and what you can afford to pay.

Compare coverage, flexibility, and benefits before you follow through on buying a plan and contact multiple pet insurance companies to request a quote from them before you decide on the best plan for you.

It's important to read your policy thoroughly to make sure your pet receives the coverage they need and you'll be reimbursed for emergency vet bills.

Pet insurance coverage should cover the necessities of pet care. Some coverage factors to look for in your plan include:

  • Wellness coverage that covers dental cleaning or vaccinations (some individuals opt to pay this out of pocket since the cost is generally lower than other services)
  • Accident coverage, such as broken bones or swallowing an object
  • Illnesses
  • Chronic conditions
  • Congenital conditions
  • Hereditary conditions
  • Treatments for life-threatening illnesses such as cancer treatment
  • Coverage for additional expenses like lab tests, blood work, prescription medication, X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and more
  • Coverage for animal hospitals and vet offices, since hospitals are usually more expensive (and you're more likely to visit during an emergency)

A good pet insurance plan has deductible options between $0 and $1,000, and high-deductible plans have lower monthly payments so if you can occasionally afford a high one-time emergency payment, then a higher deductible with low monthly payments is for you.

Pet insurance companies will usually let you choose the best reimbursement option -- the amount insurance pays after you've met your deductible -- for your needs. (The remaining percentage, or coinsurance, will still have to paid by you.) A good pet insurance company will offer 70%, 80%, 90%, or 100% reimbursement -- and in general, the higher the reimbursement, the more costly the plan.

You also need to consider the type of pet you are insuring, since quotes between dogs and cats are wildly different since insurance for dogs is typically more expensive. (The average monthly premium for dogs is around $45 while the average monthly premium for cats is around $28.) Exotic pets (small mammals, birds, etc) will usually have much higher quotes and currently, only Nationwide offers exotic pet insurance plans.

Finally, look online for reviews on reputable sites like Trustpilot to read real customer reviews. Take both good and bad reviews into account before making a decision.

We like Pumpkin and Embrace Pet Insurance, due to their coverage, benefits, and good customer reviews.

Can't Get Insurance? Here Are Your Options.

Without insurance, your emergency vet costs will be high. However, you do have some options to ease the high bill and take care of your beloved pet.

Emergency animal clinics may offer a payment plan or even waive part of the bill. While it's not likely that your bill will be much lower, it never hurts to ask.

Ask your vet if they offer in-house payment plans that you can pay off in installments.

Check local animal shelters, rescue groups, and humane societies like the SPCA for low-cost emergency services and regular wellness checks. The Animal Humane Society has an extensive list of resources for vet assistance, amongst other important services. Best Friends Animal Society has a list of state-specific programs and resources for individuals with assistance dogs.

Many veterinary schools have clinics for emergency services. You may be able to find one nearby at The American Veterinary Medical Assocition or VeterinarySchool.com.

You can apply for veterinary grants and funds, which can be used to help cover part or all of the costs of vet bills. Check the Banfield Foundation or Waggle for an extensive list.

CareCredit is a type of card used for healthcare and medical financing that can be used for veterinary services. Check with your vet provider to find if they accept this. 


Can I get pet insurance if my pet is already sick?

Absolutely. The expenses that come with treating that issue may not be covered immediately by the new plan, but you'll receive coverage in the future.

What does pet insurance cover?

Pet insurance covers the unexpected illnesses and accidents that your cat, dog, or exotic pet may face.

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