Pet insurance information
Whether they have two legs or four, every family member deserves quality health care. That’s why our pet health insurance plans give you the freedom to use any vet, anywhere, including specialists and emergency providers.
Also, your dog or cat won’t be dropped from coverage, regardless of age or number of claims filed. And if you’re a current Nationwide member, you can save 5% on a pet insurance policy.
Rest easy knowing your pet can always get the best care possible
Choose from three levels of coverage:
The best pet insurance for your dog or cat. Medical and wellness protection in one plan, with 90% back on vet bills. 1
- Accidents and illnesses
- Surgeries and hospitalization
- Chronic conditions
- Hereditary conditions (no waiting period)
- Wellness exams and tests
- Flea/heartworm prevention
No age restrictions or maximum benefit. Plans start at $64/month. 2
A budget-friendly pet insurance plan with dependable coverage for common medical costs.
- Accidents and illnesses
- Surgeries and hospitalization
- Chronic conditions
- Some hereditary conditions (after a one-year waiting period)
Set benefit amounts renew in full each year. Plans start at $34/month. 2
Just right for just the essentials. Coverage for common wellness costs to keep your pet healthy.
- Wellness exams and tests
- Flea/heartworm prevention
No age restrictions. Plans start at $22/month. 2
Get a pet insurance quote today
Whether you need coverage for the little things that add up or you’re looking for plan that offers total peace of mind, we’ve got you covered. Get a free, no-obligation quote today.
1 Items such as grooming, tax, waste disposal, boarding, or pre-existing conditions are not eligible for coverage. See policy documents for a complete list of exclusions.
2 Premiums vary based on the species of the pet, plan type and state of residence. Wellness plans not available in all states.
Insurance plans are underwritten by National Casualty Company, an A+15 rated company. Policies in California are underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company. Insurance terms, definitions and explanations are intended for informational purposes only and do not in any way replace or modify the definitions and information contained in individual insurance contracts, policies or declaration pages, which are controlling. Such terms and availability may vary by state and exclusions may apply. Discounts may not be applied to all policy coverages.
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10 Best Pet Insurance of 2018
We’ve looked at reimbursement policies, coverage & helped over 4 million pet parents make informed decisions about pet insurance.
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The following companies are our partners in Pet Insurance: Healthy Paws , Embrace , Pets Best , PetPremium , Petplan , PetFirst , Nationwide , ASPCA , and Figo .
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In Canada? See our list for the best pet insurance in Canada
What is Pet Insurance?
Pet Insurance costs $38-70/month & covers a significant portion of vet bills that can cost $5-$10k.
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 financial protection; in the event you’re faced with an expensive $2,000-6,000 surgery for your pet, a good insurance policy will pay up to 90% of that vet bill.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
- Accidents & Illnesses
- Hereditary, Congenital, & Chronic Conditions
- Diagnostic Tests
- Emergency Care
- Specialist Care
- Prescription Medication
- 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.
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.
- 1 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
2 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.
3 Annual Per Incident
This is the maximum dollar amount the company will pay for a particular illness, condition, or procedure in a given year.
4 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 you pet has a chronic condition such as athma or allergies, you can quickly hit the benefit limit.
Unlimited Lifetime Benefits!
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.
Maximum payouts: Unlimited
For illustration purposes only. Rates vary by pet breed and geography.
Data compiled from multiple providers based on a 1yr old puppy.
Deductibles: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.
Deductible Types:There are generally 3 types of deductible schedules offered by pet insurance companies. Annual deductibles include all conditions, accidents, and illnesses in a given year under one umbrella. Once the deductible is met, the company starts paying according to the given reimbursement model. When the year is over the deductible resets. Per Condition Lifetime separates varying deductibles by condition. Once that deductible is met the company pays out for that condition according to the given reimbursement model for the rest of the pets life. Per Condition Annual is the same as lifetime only the condition deductible will reset annually.
Reimbursement Model:Companies typically employ three different options. Actual cost means that, once you have satisfied your deductible, you will be paid a percentage of your actual veterinarian bill. Most plans that use this model allow you to choose the percentage. Benefit Schedules are when the company has predetermined a fixed amount you will be reimbursed for each procedure, condition, or illness. These types of plans have somewhat fallen out of fashion in favor of actual cost reimbursement. In the past, consumers would often be surprised to find out a given condition had low $ amount restriction on reimbursement. Although we recommend against benefit schedules, if you are considering a plan with one, we recommend you scrutinize the contract for benefit limits on conditions common in your pet’s breed. The least used model is Usual & Customary. This means the company has determined a fixed amount you will be reimbursed for each procedure based on your location.
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 are also important.
Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?
Like medical coverage for people, pet insurance policies are complicated. Here’s what we found when we analyzed the coverage from three health insurers.
Two years ago, Elizabeth Newsom-Stewart’s cat Fawkes ate part of a lily plant leaf. Newsom-Stewart, then a veterinary student at Cornell University, immediately knew the danger he was in, and rushed him to an animal hospital.
“Some lily plants are toxic to cats” she says, and may cause kidney failure. “Symptoms can take 12 to 24 hours to show. By the time kidney failure occurs, it’s almost always fatal.”
Emergency treatment, which included three days in intensive care, medication, tests, and lots of IV fluids, cost $1,783. But just three months before, Newsom-Stewart bought pet insurance, and it covered $1,327 of the bill. And Fawkes, now 4, made a full recovery.
A serious illness or injury can take a financial toll, even when the patient is a pet. Cancer treatments can easily run $5,000; surgery to fix a torn ACL from, say, a poorly executed jump off the sofa can cost about $3,300. Pet insurance is sold with the promise that by helping to cover some of your pet’s medical bills, you won’t be forced to consider “economic euthanasia” in the most dire circumstances.
But as helpful and emotionally comforting as it might be, is insurance really worth the price?
About 1.4 million pets in the U.S. and Canada were covered by a plan at the end of 2014, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, a trade group. That’s less than 1 percent of about 174 million pet cats and dogs, but up from 680,000 policies in 2008. Some of the increase may be linked to a surprising fact: Pet insurance is one of the fastest-growing optional employee benefits.
Major policy providers include the ASPCA (through Hartville), Embrace, Healthy Paws, PetFirst, Petplan, and Trupanion. Most cover only cats and dogs, but one company, Nationwide (formerly Veterinary Pet Insurance), also insures birds, rabbits, snakes, turtles, and other animals.
If you’ve got a pet, you’ve probably got pet fur or hair all over your home. Find the best vacuum to deal with the mess.
How the Plans Work
Like people insurance, pet policies come with a variety of deductibles, co-payments, and premiums. Unlike people coverage, you usually have to pay the vet bills in full and wait for reimbursement. But Trupanion launched a service in February that can disburse payments directly to vets on the day of service. The company says about 60 percent of its bills are already processed that way.
The cost of coverage can increase depending on your pet’s breed (purebreds cost more to insure because they’re more prone to some hereditary conditions), age (plans may cost more as your pet gets older), the rising cost of veterinary care, and the coverage options you choose, such as your deductible amount. Embrace and Healthy Paws pay a flat percentage of covered costs after your deductible is met. Other companies calculate reimbursements based on the “usual and customary costs” of vet care in your area. Embrace lets you pick the annual maximum amount it will cover each year ($5,000, $8,000, $10,000, or $15,000); Healthy Paws and Trupanion have no annual ceiling.
Almost all policies exclude pre-existing conditions and may exclude breed-specific conditions (or charge you more to cover them).
What They Cover
You can pick a plan that insures costs due to accidents (such as injuries caused by motor vehicles), or accidents and illness (including arthritis, cancer, and colitis). Some providers also offer wellness coverage for certain routine care, like annual exams, flea and tick treatments, and vaccinations. Eighty-one percent of pet insurance policies are accident and illness plans for dogs; 14.6 percent provide the same kind of coverage for cats and other pets. Only about 4 percent of the market is made up of accident-only and wellness coverage.
The insurance trade group says that accident and illness coverage per year averaged $473 for dogs and $285 for cats in 2014. Accident-only policies ran $158 and $132, respectively.
To compare costs, we asked four providers—Embrace, Healthy Paws, Nationwide, and Trupanion—whose parent companies comprise roughly 75 percent of the market, to estimate what their accident and illness policies would cover for a specific dog and cat. After initially agreeing, Nationwide decided it would only provide data for its policy that had accident, illness, and wellness coverage, so we didn’t include the company in our analysis.
We used the vet bills of Guinness, an almost 12-year-old Labrador mix from Westchester County, N.Y., and Freddie, a mixed-breed cat from Fairfield County, Conn., who’s almost 9.
Guinness had few health problems over the years until he was diagnosed with skin cancer last fall. Treating him required two costly surgeries and expensive follow-up care.
Freddie has been relatively healthy; he had one pricey dental cleaning under anesthesia, and has been prescribed cat food and medication to treat infections. We did our analysis assuming that their owners had signed them up for coverage when they were just a few weeks old, and we adjusted each medical-care charge into present-day dollars to judge how their expenses would have been covered.
Playing the Odds
For Freddie, only the Healthy Paws policy would have paid out more than it cost, in part because of its lower premiums.
If you have a pet like Guinness with a costly condition or illness you want to treat, we found that pet insurance may pay out more than it costs you. In our exercise, a Healthy Paws plan was the only one that paid more than it cost.
But if his owner continues to cover cancer treatments, all three plans may be worth it. In 2015, for example, Healthy Paws and Trupanion would have reimbursed the owner over $3,000 more than they would have charged for coverage. Embrace would have covered more than $4,000 over the cost of its plan.
Of course, our results are for a single cat and dog; vet bills are different for every animal, and there’s no way to predict whether your pet will become sick or injured. But if you’d like help with unexpected, large vet bills, a plan may be worth considering.
Talk with your vet about the medical costs your pet’s breed will usually incur, and ask about his experience with different pet insurers.
Download sample policies from insurance websites and read them thoroughly for limitations, exceptions, and co-payments. Consider skipping wellness coverage if possible and paying for it out of pocket. Last year routine vet care cost cat owners just $196 and dog owners only $235, according to the American Pet Products Association.
If you don’t want to pay for pet insurance, consider starting an emergency savings fund for pet care instead. If you find you need help with a big pet medical bill, the Humane Society has a list of organizations that may help pay for it.
More Ways to Save
Take steps to keep your pet healthy to trim medical costs.
- Ask your vet which vaccines you can skip. Some effectively prevent serious and costly diseases, says Louise Murray, D.V.M., a veterinarian and vice president of the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City. But ringworm, for example, is a mild condition and its vaccine isn’t that effective, she says.
- Guard against parasites. Fleas can cause life-threatening anemia, and ticks can spread Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. An inexpensive topical solution can keep the bugs at bay.
- Spay or neuter your pet. Doing so can help prevent health problems, including some cancers. Many sheltersor chapters of the ASPCA provide low-cost or no-cost spayor neuter surgery.
A Tale of Two Critters
How much, if anything, would the owners of Guinness the Dog and Freddie the Cat have saved over the years on their healthcare if they had had pet insurance?