Best Pet Insurance 2017

As featured on ABC News, we've looked at reimbursement policies, coverage, and thousands of real reviews.

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Pet insurance plans cover the medical costs associated with illnesses and injuries that befall your pet. Most providers only cover dogs and cats, but a select few expand coverage to all types of animals. Policies function in much the same way as regular health insurance with deductibles, copayments, and lifetime, annual, or per incident benefit limits. Most pet insurance providers, however, do not communicate directly with your veterinarian and require you to pay out of pocket and wait for reimbursement. 

Given the skyrocketing cost of veterinary care, pet insurance is potentially useful to any pet owner. While the cost to value ratio of wellness plans – i.e. plans covering routine exams and things like vaccinations – is still a contested issue, mainstream accident and illness coverage can literally spell the difference between life and death. Treatment for major conditions like cancer and heart disease can top out these days at up to $20,000. This forces many pet owners into the unfortunate position of having to choose economic euthanasia. 

When deciding on a pet insurance provider it’s important to have a clear picture of the conditions covered and benefit limits particular to a given plan. For example, some companies might advertise “unlimited coverage,” but paradoxically have maximum amounts they will pay per incident or condition. You also should find out what conditions are specific to your pet’s breed and make sure the plan is willing to adequately pay for these. Though all plans have standard waiting periods for accidents and illnesses, be aware that some have per condition waiting periods for relatively common breed-specific ailments like canine hip dysplasia. 

No pet insurance will cover your pet for pre-existing conditions if symptoms are present prior to policy purchase. Pet insurance is a preventative measure, so keep in mind that 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.

Top 7 Companies

#1
Healthy Paws
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9.8 / 10
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  • Consistently #1 in customer satisfaction, A+ BBB
  • Chosen by almost 90% of Consumers Advocate visitors
  • Comprehensive illness and accident coverage
  • Unlimited lifetime benefits + no claim caps!
  • Annual deductible (recommended)
  • Free mobile app & no claims forms
#2
Petplan
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8.9 / 10
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  • Comprehensive Coverage (includes vet exam fee!)
  • Flexible annual reimbursement up to Unlimited
  • Choose Annual Deductible from $100-$1,000
  • 24/7 Customer Service – top rated, always available
  • Use any veterinarian in the US or Canada
  • Fast, paperless claim reimbursement via Petplan App
  • 10% Online Discount & Free Barkbox Offer
#3
Embrace
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8.5 / 10
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  • Strong Illness & Accident Coverage - Use Any Vet
  • Optional wellness plan & Rx coverage covers spay/neuter
  • Benefits limited to $15k/yr
  • Customizable Annual Deductible from $200-$1000
#4
Nationwide
Our Partner
8.4 / 10
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  • First and largest pet insurer in the US
  • Whole Pet & Wellness Plan covers spay/neuter
  • Insurers most birds and exotic pets!
  • $250 annual deductible with Unlimited Claims
  • ​Covers congenital and hereditary conditions
#5
PetFirst
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7.8 / 10
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  • A+ rated with Better Business Bureau
  • Short waiting period before coverage begins
  • Hereditary, congenital & chronic conditions
  • No exam required
  • Coverage for exam fees
#6
Pets Best
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7.7 / 10
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  • No Lifetime Limits
  • Unlimited Plan Option
  • Reasonably good coverage
  • No hereditary or congenital condition limitations

 

#7
Figo
Our Partner
6.8 / 10
  • 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
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Best Pet Insurance: Summed Up

RankCompany NameStrengths
1Healthy PawsBest Overall
2PetplanCoverage, Benefit Limits
3EmbraceCoverage, Reimbursement Models
4NationwideCoverage, Benefit Limits

How We Compare Pet Insurance

Select 2 pet insurance companies to compare
vs
Coverage - 20%
Benefit Limits - 15%
Deductibles - 10%
Reimbursement Models - 10%
Claims & Service - 15%
Pricing - 15%
Enrollment - 15%

Coverage

By and large, pet insurance companies offer two major types of coverage: comprehensive (accident and illness) and accident-only. There are providers, however, that allow more flexibility letting you to mix and match illness and accident coverage, or purchase certain conditions a la carte. Some companies offer wellness plans as add ons. Wellness plans cover the animal for routine care, vaccinations, neutering, etc. Costs can vary widely, with accident-only plans usually being the cheapest option. No pet insurance plan covers pre-existing or congenital conditions if they are present before purchasing the policy. And some have waiting periods for specific congenital conditions (hip dysplasia, cruciate ligaments) when no claim will be allowed.

Benefit Limits

Benefit limits come in a variety of combinations. Some of our top plans feature flat-out 100% unlimited lifetime coverage for all illnesses, procedures and conditions. This means that after you pay your deductible, there will be no upper limit the company will pay to cover your pet's medical bills. Sometimes plans will say they offer unlimited annual or lifetime coverage, but still set caps by condition meaning they'll theoretically pay an unlimited amount in aggregate, but still have $ amount limits per condition. Some companies will set per condition caps AND total annual caps. Still others will set lifetime limits per condition. There are also individual plans that allow you to choose your annual benefit limit in the same way you choose your reimbursment percentage or deductible. Naturally, higher benefit limits will equate to more expensive premiums.

Deductibles

Your plan deductible is how much money you will have to come up with before the pet insurance company starts paying. Higher deductibles ($1,000 for example) translate into lower monthly premiums. A deductible is not to be confused with a co payment. Let's say you have a $500 annual deductible. During the course of that year you will have to pay 100% of vet bills for the first $500. After which your pet insurance plan kicks in 80% of all medical bills (assuming you've chosen a reimbursement level of 80%). You then get a $1,000 vet bill for surgery. Pet insurance pays $800 and you pay $200. The $200 is your co payment.

Reimbursement Models

The reimbursement model is how the pet insurance company calculates reimbursement for a procedure. Most companies will only use one method. However, it is possible to use different methods for each plan.

Claims and Service

Most pet insurance companies have you pay the bill yourself, then reimburse you after you file the claim. They can either do this by sending you a check, or in some cases through direct deposit (obviously the speediest option). A few providers will negotiate directly with the veterinarian or veterinary hospital in some cases.

Pricing

Premiums depend on a multitude of factors. Location, age, and breed all play a major part. Also, as discussed above, type of plan, deductible choice, reimbursement percentage choice, and benefit limit choice all play a part.

Enrollment

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.

FAQ

Does Pet Insurance cover neutering or spaying?

Most Pet Insurance policies don’t cover neutering or spaying, as it’s considered a routine treatment. If your company does cover sterilization, it will usually be as part of an additional, optional wellness rider with spay/neuter benefits. Wellness plans can also cover checkups, flea/tick medications, vaccinations, and other treatments that aren’t part of a regular plan.

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 between one to three days, and fourteen days for illness. If they’re covered, congenital or hereditary diseases have a waiting period between six months to a year.

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. Congenital and hereditary conditions are covered by some policies, but be sure to find out if there are any limits or restrictions on coverage.

Does Pet Insurance cover dental?

Most pet insurance doesn’t cover dental care, unless your pet’s teeth were damaged in an accident, because they view it as routine treatment. However, there are a few plans that do offer dental as a premium add-on, so make sure to read the fine print. Many issues are preventable, though, through good hygiene and care.

What’s the average cost of Pet Insurance?

The average cost of Pet Insurance varies widely depending on your pet’s health history and age, as well as the deductible amount and reimbursement level. That said, 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 shots and vaccinations?

Shots and vaccinations are generally NOT covered by standard pet insurance policies. However, some companies offer “wellness” policies that will cover vaccines and other routine preventative care like physical exams. Wellness plans are offered as additions to standard policies, but in some cases can be purchased alone.

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. However, if your vet visit has to do with an accident or illness, the company will cover the vet bill for whatever amount or percentage specified in your policy.

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. Generally, a higher annual deductible will translate into lower monthly premiums.

Does Pet Insurance cover surgery?

Pet insurance does cover surgery provided the surgery isn’t related to a pre existing condition that was apparent in the animal prior to purchasing coverage. If this stipulation is satisfied, policies cover surgeries relating to all kinds of accidents and illnesses. However, each company has its own exclusions so scrutinize their plans thoroughly.

Is there pet insurance for exotic animals?

Most insurance companies offer coverage for exotic animals. Among others, animals covered can include goats, iguanas, wolves and parrots. Coverage generally includes accidents, illnesses, lab fees, x-rays, prescriptions, prescriptions and hospitalizations.

Does Pet Insurance cover euthanasia?

Most insurance companies will cover euthanasia. In the case of illness or injury, your policy might stipulate a minimum age before coverage activates. Policies might also direct you to certain vets in order to properly certify cause of death.

Is there pet insurance you can claim straight away?

Most insurance companies will not let you initiate a claim straight away. This is to protect against fraud. Many insurance providers stipulate a two day, two week or six month waiting period, depending on the claim in the question. In this case, claims are typically broken up into accidents, illnesses and orthopedic conditions.

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. The greater plans, however, will expand coverage to include prescriptions, surgeries, chronic and hereditary conditions and lab tests, as well as x-rays.

Can you change Pet Insurance?

You can always change pet insurance plans. As your pet’s needs change, then it could be wise to make a corresponding change in your insurance policy. Before looking at expensive new plans based on your pets age or condition, speak to your current provider. They might be able to alter coverage without a large increase in cost.

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