If your furry companion were to become seriously injured and require emergency medical attention, how would you handle the cost? According to a recent study, many pet owners believe they are financially prepared for such expenses, however, 45% of dog owners and 36% of cat owners were not. To ensure you’re prepared for unexpected veterinary bills, consider purchasing pet insurance. With various providers offering different levels of reimbursement and coverage, you can find a policy that fits your needs and budget. Leading companies offer a range of options, including multiple benefit options, a range of deductibles, and the ability to customize your policy with add-ons.
Top Pet Insurance Providers for January 2023
Number One: Nationwide
Second Place: Figo Ideal for Owners with
Multiple Pets and Offering Discounts:
Best Choice for Pre-Existing Health Issues: ASPCA
Pet Health Insurance Offering Dental Coverage: Odie.
Fastest Claims Processing: Prudent.
Pet Recommended for Military Families: USAA
Understand Nationwide with Pros and Cons
Nationwide is a leading insurance provider that has been offering pet insurance since 1982, currently insuring over 1 million pets. They are one of the few companies that provide coverage for exotic pets in addition to cats and dogs. Nationwide offers four different plans for pet owners to choose from:
- Major Medical: This is Nationwide’s basic policy for accidents and illnesses. It includes coverage for treatments and procedures for sudden injuries or illnesses, with a $250 deductible. The plan has per-condition annual limits, which means the coverage amount varies depending on the condition of the pet.
- Whole Pet: This plan covers unexpected accidents and injuries, with a cap on annual benefits of $10,000 and a $250 deductible. Policyholders can choose a reimbursement percentage of either 50% or 70%. In addition to accidents and illnesses, this plan also covers hereditary and congenital conditions.
- Pet Wellness (Basic and Plus): These plans provide coverage for routine and preventative care, such as wellness exams, vaccinations, and flea and heartworm preventatives. The Basic plan has a $400 overall annual limit, and the Plus plan has a $500 overall limit. These plans can be added to a Major Medical plan.
- Avian and Exotic Pet Coverage: Nationwide offers coverage for birds, reptiles, and other exotic pets. However, less information is available online and coverage for exotic pets can only be obtained over the phone. Nationwide has a 14-day waiting period for both accidents and illnesses.
Current Nationwide customers receive a 5% discount
Coverage options for exotic pets
Additional wellness plans available for purchase
Pets must be enrolled prior to reaching 10 years of age
Limited reimbursement options
Single deductible option available
Understand FIGO with Pros and Cons
Figo is a pet insurance company that stands out by offering a maximum reimbursement of 100%. This means that after reaching your deductible, your veterinary bill will be fully covered. They offer three different accident and illness policies for dogs and cats:
- Essential: Provides up to $5,000 in annual benefits.
- Preferred: Offers annual benefits capped at $10,000.
- Ultimate: Includes unlimited annual benefits. In addition to these policies, Figo also offers optional riders such as wellness plans for vaccines and preventative care, veterinary exam fee plans, and additional benefits like coverage for boarding fees and third-party property damage liability protection. Figo also has a unique feature of a diminishing deductible, where for each year without making a claim, the deductible reduces by $50 until it reaches $0. Founded in 2013 and based in Chicago, Figo’s policies are underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company.
- Injuries have a one-day waiting period, while illnesses have a 14-day waiting period
- Provides reimbursement up to 100%
- No age limit for enrollment
- Additional rider needed for coverage of veterinary exams
- Rehabilitation and alternative therapies require an additional rider.
Understand MetLife with Pros and Cons
MetLife offers a unique feature where pet owners can enroll their pets in a family plan, which allows them to have just one deductible that applies to all of their pets, unlike many other companies that require a separate annual deductible for each pet. This can help save money compared to enrolling pets in individual plans. MetLife provides accident and illness policies for cats and dogs across the nation. The policies have a two-week waiting period for illnesses, but coverage for accidents starts the day after enrolling your pet. In addition to their policies, MetLife also offers routine care riders for coverage of wellness visits and preventative care. They offer multiple discounts, and also work with employers to offer discounted pet insurance to eligible workers. Note that some policy options may vary based on location and pet. MetLife is a major insurance and financial services company founded in 1868. Their policies are underwritten by the Independence American Insurance Company.
- Family plans available
- No age limit for enrollment
- Plans cover veterinary exams and medications
- Annual benefits are capped at $10,000 for online enrollment
- Additional rider required for coverage of parasitic conditions
- A six-month waiting period for cruciate ligament conditions and IVDD
Understand ASPCA Pet Health Insurance with Pros and Cons
It is important to note that no pet insurance company covers pre-existing conditions. If your pet was diagnosed with or showed clinical signs of a condition before your policy’s effective date or during the waiting period, all companies will exclude treatments for that issue.
However, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance stands out from most other companies in handling curable pre-existing conditions. If your pet has a curable condition and is free from treatment and symptoms for at least 180 days after enrollment, the condition is no longer considered pre-existing and future treatments will be covered. This provision does not apply to ligament or knee conditions, so your pet cannot regain coverage for issues such as hip dysplasia or luxating patella.
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance has reasonable waiting periods for all conditions, including orthopedic issues (14 days). It is also one of the few companies that cover stem cell therapy for qualifying injuries or illnesses, making it a good option for breeds known for hereditary or congenital issues.
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance offers two main plans for cats and dogs along with preventative care riders:
- Complete Coverage: This plan is ASPCA’s accident and illness plan. The maximum allowable annual benefit is $10,000 when enrolling online, but more options are available over the phone.
- Accident-Only Coverage: This plan only covers treatments for injuries and emergencies related to sudden accidents. The maximum allowable annual benefit is $10,000.
- Basic/Prime Preventative Care: This add-on reimburses you for routine care such as annual exams, dental cleanings, heartworm/flea prevention, and vaccinations. The Prime plan covers more treatments and offers more reimbursement than the Basic plan. ASPCA also offers separate policy options for horses: Colic + Accidents, Colic + Accidents + Illnesses, and Routine/Platinum preventative care packages. It is worth noting that despite its name, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance is not owned or operated by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Instead, it is owned by Crum & Forster Pet Insurance Group and gets its name through a branding partnership with ASPCA. Crum & Forster Pet Insurance Group has been providing pet insurance since 1997.
- Pets can regain coverage for some pre-existing conditions
- Offers a higher-than-average multi-pet discount
- Covers stem cell therapy
- Limited reimbursement percentage options
- No high-deductible option to decrease premiums
- Some coverage options can only be obtained by calling
Understand Odie with Pros and Cons
Dental diseases are prevalent in cats and dogs, with periodontal disease affecting 80% of dogs over three years of age.
Odie stands out by offering significant protection for dental coverage. If you follow their requirements for dental exams and cleanings, Odie will cover periodontal disease, endodontic treatments, extractions and more. They offer one accident and illness policy, with the option to add riders for coverage of wellness exams and routine care. There is no upper age limit for enrollment, and policyholders can get up to 90% reimbursement for qualifying treatments. Policyholders can choose a deductible between $50 and $1,000, which allows them to adjust their policy to fit their budget. Odie is a relatively new company, founded in 2020.
- No age limit for enrollment
- Lower than average premiums (based on internal research)
- Offers a wide range of deductible options
- Regular teeth cleanings and exams are required for periodontal disease coverage
- Reimbursement is sent through postal mail
Understand Prudent Pet with Pros and Cons
Prudent Pet is known for its fast claims processing, using AI technology to get policyholders their money as quickly as possible.
They offer three plans for dogs and cats:
- Ultimate The Accident-Only and Essential plans have an annual maximum of $10,000, while the Ultimate plan is unlimited and includes additional benefits such as mortality coverage, vacation cancellation reimbursement, and advertising and rewards for lost pets. In addition to their policies, Prudent Pet offers three wellness plan options as an add-on to their policies for coverage of preventative care. Exam fee coverage can also be added. Prudent Pet was launched in 2018, and they issue policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- No age limit for enrollment
- 24/7 veterinary support is available
- Quick claims processing
- A six-month waiting period for cruciate ligament and soft tissue conditions
- Basic plans do not cover office visits
Understand USAA with Pros and cons
Pet insurance can be cost-effective for budget-conscious pet owners through USAA. Most USAA members can get up to 15% off their premiums, and if you are a current or former active duty military member or have multiple pets to insure, you can get up to 25% off.
To purchase insurance from USAA, you must be a current or former member of the U.S. military, or be the spouse or child of one. USAA doesn’t issue or underwrite pet insurance policies, instead it partners with Embrace to provide discounted pet insurance options to eligible members.
Embrace offers accident and illness policies as well as accident-only policies for dogs and cats. Additionally, Embrace offers a wellness plan to help pay for routine care such as vaccinations or microchipping.
- Has a diminishing deductible
- Covers complementary treatments and rehabilitative care
- Offers significant discounts
- Senior pets are not eligible for accident and illness protection
- Bilateral conditions are not covered
- Has a six-month waiting period for most orthopedic conditions
How to Decide the Best Pet Insurance
When deciding whether to purchase pet insurance, it’s important to consider your budget and your pet’s needs. Here are some examples to help you make a decision:
- If your pet has chronic health conditions or is a senior pet: An accident and illness policy may be too expensive, and it may not cover your pet’s care. A discount plan may provide more value, since they don’t exclude senior pets or pre-existing conditions.
- If you want affordable coverage: If you want the least expensive coverage possible, but still want some protection in case of an emergency, an accident-only plan may be a good choice. These plans are available for a few dollars a month, and cover treatments for sudden injuries, such as broken bones or bite wounds.
- If your pet is relatively young: Young, healthy pets that haven’t shown any signs of health issues, are inexpensive to insure. Locking in coverage while your pet is young ensures you have protection against accidents and illnesses later on.
- If your pet needs surgery or chemotherapy: If your pet is already injured or ill and needs treatment, unfortunately, pet insurance won’t help you. Companies have waiting periods before coverage goes into effect, and any issues that existed before your policy enrollment will be excluded.
When choosing a pet insurance company, it’s important to consider the following factors:
- Coverage options: Look for a company that offers a wide range of coverage options, including accident and illness policies, accident-only policies, and wellness plans.
- Reimbursement levels: Compare the reimbursement levels of different companies to see which one offers the most coverage for your budget.
- Waiting periods: Be aware of the waiting periods for coverage to go into effect, as well as any exclusions for pre-existing conditions.
- Customer service: Look for a company with a good reputation for customer service and claims processing.
- Discounts: Check if the company offers any discounts for multiple pets, military members, or current customers.
- Vet network: Some companies have a network of vets, so it is better if you check if they have a network near you.
- Age limit: Check if the company has any age limit for pet enrollment, as some companies do not cover senior pets.
By considering these factors, you can choose the best pet insurance company that meets your needs and budget.
Pet Insurance FAQs
How Pet Insurance Works?
Pet insurance works similarly to health insurance for humans, where you pay a monthly premium and in exchange, you are covered for certain veterinary expenses. Like health insurance, pet insurance policies typically have deductibles, copays or coinsurance, and coverage limits.
Most pet insurance companies process claims through reimbursement, where you pay for your pet’s veterinary care at the time of treatment and then submit a claim to the insurance company for reimbursement. The company will review the claim and if it is approved, they will reimburse you for a portion of the expenses.
The majority of pet insurance policies available are accident and illness plans, which cover treatments for unexpected injuries and diseases such as cancer, kennel cough, and broken limbs. However, there are also accident-only plans that only cover treatments for unexpected injuries, and not illnesses or chronic conditions.
Pet insurance typically does not cover routine care or preventative treatments such as vaccinations, wellness exams, or dental cleanings. However, it is possible to get coverage for these expenses by purchasing a separate discount plan or wellness plan, or by adding a wellness rider to your policy.
Will the cost of my pet insurance increase as my pet gets older?
It is possible to obtain insurance for senior pets, but it’s important to note that the premiums may be higher due to the increased health risks associated with aging. Some pet insurance companies have upper age limits for certain policies, so it’s important to check if your pet falls within the eligible age range. To ensure continuous coverage, it is best to enroll your pet before they reach the maximum age limit.
To find the best options for your senior pet, consider looking for pet insurance providers that do not have maximum enrollment ages. Additionally, it’s important to review the annual deductible options offered by these providers to ensure they meet your needs and budget.
|Pet Insurance Companies With No Maximum Enrollment Age|
|Company||Max Enrollment Age||Annual Deductible|
|ASPCA||None||$100, $250, $500|
Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?
When considering pet insurance, it’s important to consider factors such as pre-existing conditions, age of the pet, breed, and savings. In 2021, the average annual premium for accident and illness coverage for a dog was $583.91 and $342.84 for a cat, significant amounts. Pet insurance can be cost-effective for young and healthy pets, but for senior pets or pets with existing health issues, self-financing may be a better option. It’s also important to note that most pet insurance companies exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions and some breeds may be charged higher premiums. Overall, it’s important to weigh the potential costs and benefits before deciding on pet insurance.