Pet insurance: It’s like human health insurance, but for your four-legged best friend. But what does it cover and how do you pick the right provider? We’re here to help you sort through the options best suited for any cat lady or doggy devotee.

By Sierra Burgos
August 24, 2020
Advertisement
filadendron / Getty

As a pet owner, you’re likely acquainted with the costs associated with raising a furry family member: food and treats, routine checkups, trips to the groomer, and so on. The bills can add up fast. 

That’s where pet insurance comes in: A policy can help you save money on the routine vet visits that keep your pal healthy. And, in the case of an emergency—say, your four-legged friend decides to swallow your engagement ring—you can have peace of mind knowing that accidents, big or small, are covered.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet Insurance is like health insurance for your dog, cat, or exotic animal. It can cover a portion of big medical expenses and helps you save on regular vet bills. Typically, the insurance company will reimburse you after the pet has received care and you submit a claim. The month-to-month costs vary depending on the plan you choose. We’ve rounded up some of the best pet insurance options for every situation.

What to Look for in a Policy

“We encourage pet parents to do their homework,” Liz Watson, Vice President of Crum & Forster Pet Insurance Group and provider of ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, says. “Research the various providers and understand differences between coverage. While there is much similarity, you’ll certainly find difference.”

  • Cost. Obviously a big factor, cost could vary greatly depending on what kind of pet you have, how many pets, and how much coverage you want. Before you begin your search you should determine how much you are willing to spend a month. Plans with lower monthly premiums often have higher deductibles, meaning you will pay more out of pocket before your provider will cover any expenses. Inversely, plans with high monthly premiums will have low deductibles that you can reach quicker.
  • Age. If you’re planning to or have recently adopted a puppy or kitten, look into insurance as soon as possible to see how early you can get coverage. Many plans start as early as 8 weeks, and getting a policy will ensure any conditions they develop are covered (and not considered “preexisting”). Of course, some plans have an age cap, so you’ll need to do a little research before signing up your senior pal.
  • Coverage. You’ll also need to consider how extensive you want your coverage to be. Do you only need the basic accident coverage in the case of an emergency, or are you also seeking a plan that covers the cost of routine veterinary care or dental care? The more the plan covers, the higher the cost—but with more peace of mind for you and your furry friend. 

Pet Insurance: Our Top Picks

The best pet insurance is the one that meets your specific needs. With the above criteria in mind, here are some companies to investigate and the types of policies they’re particularly known for. 

Best Pet Insurance Overall

Nationwide: With Nationwide pet insurance, you can use any veterinarian and plans start at $35 a month. They are known for being flexible with plan options and reimbursements, and they also cover exotic animals such as birds, snakes, and rats. “Nationwide's Whole Pet with Wellness covers not only common things but also uncommon things. It's the most extensive coverage available—anywhere,” the company says.

Best Pet Insurance for Convenience

Trupanion: Trupanion offers one single policy to simplify things, and that policy pays 90 percent of covered procedures without capping their payouts. Most other pet insurance plans will reimburse you after an appointment, but Trupanion says they are “the only company with the technology to pay your veterinarian directly in minutes at the time of checkout.”

Best Pet Insurance for the Modern Pet Parent

FIGO: FIGO Pet Insurance covers accidents, injury, and illness. Based on your budget, you can choose one of three plans, which keeps things simple and easy to understand. FIGO also has a 100 percent reimbursement option (with a higher premium, of course). All customers have access to FIGO’s “pet cloud” app to keep track of appointments or speak with a 24/7 live vet. The company’s goal is to “provide the modern pet parent with clear choices and the latest technology.”

Best Pet Insurance for Value

Healthy Paws: This company is known for their amazing value—they do not cap reimbursements, so once you reach your deductible, there is no limit to the payout you can receive. Plans start at $15 a month for cats and $20 a month for dogs. Customers love Healthy Paws’ speedy claim payouts, which typically only take a couple of days. “With no more claim forms, we've created the fastest and easiest claim process for our customers. Just take a photo of your vet bill and submit it through the mobile app or your online Healthy Paws customer center.”

Best Pet Insurance for Cat Owners

PetPlan: PetPlan can cover your pet as young as 6 weeks old, and they promise to never cancel your cat’s policy due to old age. Because you can insure your kitten so young, you likely won’t run into limitations with pre-existing conditions (which are most often excluded from pet insurance plans). “At Petplan, we keep things simple for cat owners. We offer flexible reimbursement options to meet your budget and cat's needs.”

Best Pet Insurance for Multiple Pets

ASPCA: The ASPCA’s pet insurance stands out because they offer a 10 percent discount for multiple pets. You can also list all your four-legged friends under the same policy. Their Complete Coverage plan covers all the bases—accidents, illnesses, hereditary conditions, dental diseases, behavioral issues, and more. They also have no network, which allows you to visit the veterinarian of your choice and get up to 90 percent cash back.

Best Pet Insurance for Emergencies

Embrace: With Embrace, you can choose to prioritize emergencies, routine wellness, or both with their three plan options. The Illness and Accident plan protects you from unexpected expenses if your dog or cat gets a little too curious. Their Total Care plan combines both emergency and wellness coverage. Geico Pet Insurance is serviced through Embrace, and they also cover emergency room care.

Best Pet Insurance for Older Pets

Pets Best: Most pet insurance companies won’t design a new plan for an older dog or cat. In fact, 12 is a common cutoff age for pet insurance. But not for Pets Best. “We have no upper age limits for pets and we don’t reduce or cancel coverage based on your pet’s age.” Keep in mind they do not cover preexisting conditions, so you’re covering for potential accidents, new illnesses, or general wellness.