Pet Insurance.

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Pet Insurance

What every informed consumer needs to know...

Pet insurance – or veterinary health insurance for your cat or dog - is about being prepared for the unexpected. Having a plan with a top-tier company gives you the peace of mind that if you’re faced with an expensive $2,000-6,000 surgery, then up to 90% of that vet bill will be paid for by your insurance company.

What questions should you ask? And which companies have the best plans for your pet? These are important questions, but getting good answers can be confusing. To help you find the company that’s best for you & your furry friend, our editors have done the work for you.

Pet Insurance Checklist

1) Coverage

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Whether your pet needs a couple stiches 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.

Make sure your Pet Insurance plan covers:

  • Accidents & Illnesses
  • Hereditary, Congential, & Chronic Conditions
  • Diagnostic Tests
  • Emergency Care
  • Hospitalization
  • Specialist Care
  • Prescription Medication
  • Surgery


The Bottom Line

When looking at pet insurance, find a comprehensive plan that will protect you from the unexpected. We don’t suggest wellness or preventative care because these expenses can be budgeted for annually, but pick the plan that is best for you and your furry friend.

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.


2) Benefit Limits


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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.

We prefer companies that have unlimited lifetime benefits, meaning plans that have no payout cap. Veterinary Care costing $5,000 or more is becoming more common and having a plan without limits means you can give your pet the best care possible year after year. However, you may find that a plan with a payout cap works best for your needs and price point. Just remember to plan for the unexpected. 

Before buying, consider the following when it comes to Benefit Limits:

- Some Pet Insurance companies have Benefit Caps on how much you can receive over the lifetime of your pet.

- Waiting periods between enrollment and coverage are common. They typically range from 7 -30 days, and possibly longer with specific conditions.

- Some companies have Age Restrictions for enrollment. However, all of the Top 10 Pet Insurance Companies will cover your pet for life once they are enrolled.


The Bottom Line:

We suggest companies with unlimited benefit payouts, however many companies who do have benefit caps have set them so high that you may not reach them during the lifetime of your pet. Some companies have age restrictions when enrolling your pet, but the best Pet Insurance Companies will never drop your pet’s coverage because of their age. Lastly, it is not uncommon to have waiting periods between the time you enroll you enroll your pet and when your pet is covered. 

Note: If you have a working pet, like a service animal, herding dog, breeding dog or cat, basic Pet Insurance plans may not cover them. Some companies will not cover working pets at all, while others have special plans for these hard working animals.


3) Deductible Type

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Similar to health insurance for people, with pet insurance your deductible is the amount out-of-pocket expense you’re have to pay before your pet insurance company will start reimbursing your costs. As a general rule, deductible amounts are typically inversely correlated to what you pay in monthly premiums such that the lower your monthly premiums are the higher your deductible will be.  

Pet Insurance companies offer one of three deductible types:

  • Annual: You pay ONE deductible each policy year for any condition being treated.
  • Per-Condition (Lifetime): For each condition your pet is treated for you’ll have a separate deductible. Once that deductible is paid, that condition is covered for the rest of your pet’s life.
  • Per-Condition (Yearly): For each condition your pet is treated for, you’ll have a separate deductible AND your deductible will reset each policy year.

The Bottom Line

We suggest a plan with an Annual deductible over a Per-Condition plan. However, if you do select a Per-Condition plan, we suggest the Lifetime deductible

Per-condition and Per-incident mean the same thing, but the wording may be used interchangeably.


4) Reimbursement Models


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When it comes to reimbursement, it’s important to note that most all companies require you to pay for your pet’s vet bill up front, and then will reimburse you for the cost that your plan covers. Top rated companies will also pre-authorize expensive treatments and directly pay the hospital.

Most companies offer reimbursement rates from 70-90%, however there are a few companies that also offer up to 100% of the bill. Remember that the reimbursement rate will directly impact your monthly premiums. The higher the reimbursement rate, the higher your monthly premium.

Actual Cost

Reimbursements are based on the actual cost of the vet bill.



Benefit Schedule

A list that some companies use to determine how much they will payout based on the condition or treatments being covered.

Usual & Customary

Reimbursements are based on the usual & customary cost of pet care based on geographic locations similar to yours.



  #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10
  HealthyPaws PetPlan Trupanion Embrace Pets Best PetFirst VPI Pet Partners ASPCA Pet Premium
Actual Costs        
Benefit Schedule                
Usual & Customary                


The Bottom Line

We suggest a plan that reimburses based on the actual cost of the veterinary bill. This way you will always know up front what you will be paying instead of having to rely on calculations and schedules that Pet Insurance Companies decide on. 

All of the Top 6 Pet Insurance Companies offer reimbursement based on actual cost, which is our preferred reimbursement model.


5) Claims & Service


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Once you have a pet insurance plan, it’s all about service. Make sure that you select a company that has great customer service. Look for a company that is easy to contact by phone, email or both and has a reputation for taking good care of their existing customers, not just potential customers.

Things to know about submitting claims:

- Most pet insurance companies accept claims by mail, email and fax. Several companies also have easy-to-use online portals.

- Reimbursements typically take between 7-14 days to reach you once the claims have been received.

- Some companies also have Direct Deposit. Reimbursement checks will just be deposited into your bank account


The Bottom Line:

Pick a provider who has a good reputation on reimbursing their members promptly and makes submitting a claim simple and straight-forward.

HealthyPaws has a great mobile app for submitting claims, as does PetPlan. With both companies, submitting a claim from your phone, while at the vet’s office, is easy to do in just a few clicks.  


6) Cost


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Your monthly premium (or the monthly bill you pay to ensure your pet is covered for Pet Insurance), is based on many factors including your pet’s age, where you live, and your pet’s breed.

When looking at your monthly premium consider if you are getting what you need for what you’re paying by reading your policy carefully. If your premium seems high, double check to see if you are paying for extras like wellness coverage or emergency hospital boarding, then consider whether these things are necessary. If your premium seems too low, make sure you are getting enough coverage, so you won’t be turned down for a claim because you didn’t understand what your policy covered.

The Bottom Line

When considering your monthly premium, don’t just pick the lowest or highest cost plan. Consider what coverage you are looking for. If the plan you are looking at costs more than the average $1-2 per day, look into the policy to make sure you won’t be paying for things you don’t need.

Did you know that some companies offer discounts for things like multiple pet enrollment, paying the annual premium upfront, military discounts, spay/neuter discounts. 


7) Reviews

Our pets are furry members of our families, and just as we'd want to make sure the 2-legged members of our family are have good health care, we want to make sure our pets are covered as well. It matters a lot. So take the time to do your homework & go read reviews. When you're reading through pet insurance reviews, here are some of the most important things you're going to want to consider. READ MORE

For the best pet insurance for you and your pet, visit the Top 10 Companies here!

Our Top Ranked Companies

Our Partner

10.0 / 10

Our Partner

9.55 / 10

Our Partner

9.1 / 10

Our Partner

8.95 / 10

Other Reviews:  Embrace Pet Insurance  •  Pets Best  •  PetFirst  •  Pet Partners  •  ASPCA Pet Insurance  •  PetPremium  •  24 Pet Watch  •  Banfield Pet Hospital

Resources From Our Editors

Pet Insurance Alternatives Case Study - Why Pepper Got Pet InsuranceShould I Get Pet Insurance?Pet Trackers - Do you know where your pets are?Pet Insurance Cost - Our Money’s Where Our Mutts ArePet Medical InsuranceIs Pet Insurance Worth It?Pet Insurance 101Best Dog InsuranceWellness Pet Insurance Coverage

Common Questions

Do any pet insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions?
What’s the Average Cost of Pet Insurance?
What Should be Covered by Pet Insurance?
What Pet Insurance Doesn’t Cover?
Do Pet Insurance Companies Offer Lifetime Coverage?
Are there Age Restrictions for Pet Insurance?
How quickly will I be reimbursed?
Covered Pet Insurance Services – Should I Be Reimbursed?
Should pet insurance have waiting periods?
Which Veterinarians Can My Pet Visit?
Are All Pet Insurance Plans the Same?

Recent Consumer Reviews

10 / 10

I have had Trupanion for more than 3 years and have filed several claims on both of my dogs. I have found Trupanion to be a fabulous company to wor...  READ MORE
Darin Nelson