How to Pick the Best Pet Insurance for Your Furry Friend

Pet insurance is a type of insurance policy that helps pet owners cover the costs of veterinary care for their dogs, cats, birds, and other household pets. It works similarly to health insurance for humans, with pet owners paying a monthly premium in exchange for financial assistance when their pet needs medical treatment.

The concept originated in Sweden in the late 1800s, but pet insurance didn’t become popular in the United States until the 1980s. Today, an estimated 2-3% of pets in America are insured.

Pet insurance can provide peace of mind for pet owners by helping them shoulder the burden of high veterinary bills. Without coverage, a major accident or illness could easily cost thousands of dollars in exams, surgeries, hospital stays and medications.

Some of the main pros of getting pet insurance include:

  • Having help covering expensive vet treatments and emergencies
  • Potentially avoiding having to make heartbreaking decisions about euthanasia or surrender due to financial constraints
  • Access to more comprehensive care and advanced treatment options for your pet
  • Peace of mind knowing you can afford necessary care for your furry family members

However, there are some downsides to consider as well:

  • Monthly premiums, deductibles and co-pays make policies an ongoing expense
  • Pre-existing conditions are often excluded from coverage
  • Reimbursements don’t happen immediately; you still have to pay upfront and submit claims
  • Not all plans cover routine/preventive care like exams and vaccines
  • Restrictions can apply for pets over a certain age

Overall, pet insurance can be a wise choice for owners who would have difficulty self-funding a high veterinary bill. But it’s important to read policies closely and understand what they do and don’t include before signing up. Thorough research allows owners to manage their expectations and find the most suitable plan.

Why Get Pet Insurance?

Vet bills can get expensive, especially in emergencies or if your pet develops a chronic illness that requires ongoing care. Pet insurance helps take the financial worry out of pet health by covering a portion of your vet costs. Here are some of the key reasons to consider insuring your furry friend:

  • Cover unexpected vet costs – Accidents and illnesses happen when you least expect them. Whether it’s an emergency surgery, medication, hospitalization, or diagnostic tests, bills can easily reach thousands of dollars. Pet insurance kicks in to cover a percentage of these costs, helping ease the financial burden.

  • Prevent putting your pet down due to money – Without insurance, some families face the agonizing decision to euthanize a pet simply because they can’t afford treatment. Pet insurance ensures you can make medical decisions based on your pet’s best interests, not your wallet.

  • Peace of mind – Knowing you have insurance as a financial safety net provides comfort. You can relax knowing treatment you might not otherwise be able to afford is covered.

Pet insurance protects unpredictable, expensive vet care. For pet parents, it offers assurance that their furry family members will get the best treatment possible when they need it most. Considering the emotional bond we share with pets, that peace of mind is invaluable.

Types of Pet Insurance

There are three main types of pet insurance plans: accident only, accident & illness, and comprehensive.

Accident Only

Accident-only pet insurance covers veterinary treatment for injuries from accidents, such as broken bones, bites, cuts, and foreign object ingestion. It does not cover illnesses. This type of insurance typically has lower premiums but less coverage.

Accident & Illness

Accident & illness plans cover both veterinary treatment for accidents and illnesses. Illnesses that are covered often include cancer, diabetes, ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, and more. However, accident & illness plans may have caps on coverage for certain conditions. These plans have higher premiums than accident only, but provide more coverage by including common illnesses pets can face.


Comprehensive pet insurance provides the most extensive coverage. Along with accident and illness coverage, it also includes additional services like behavioral treatment, alternative therapies, boarding fees if the owner is hospitalized, lost pet advertising, and more. Comprehensive plans often reimburse a higher percentage of vet bills after the deductible. However, they also have the highest monthly premiums. Comprehensive coverage is ideal for pet owners who want robust protection against unexpected vet costs.

What Pet Insurance Typically Covers

Pet insurance plans vary, but most cover these common medical expenses for dogs and cats:

  • Accidents and injuries – Getting coverage for things like broken bones, cuts, eye injuries, poisoning, and gastrointestinal obstructions from eating foreign objects.

  • Illnesses – Covering diagnostics and treatment for illnesses like cancer, diabetes, infections, digestive issues, ear infections, skin problems, urinary tract infections, and more.

  • Cancer treatment – Including coverage for cancer diagnostics, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and medications.

  • Emergency care – Getting reimbursement for emergency vet visits for things like heat stroke, allergic reactions, seizures, difficulty breathing, and any life-threatening conditions requiring immediate care.

  • Surgeries – Having expensive procedures like orthopedic surgery, soft tissue surgery, knee/hip surgery, tumor removal, and other medically necessary operations covered.

  • Prescription medications – Having prescribed medications, specialty foods, supplements, and treatments covered when medically necessary.

Most pet insurance plans also cover things like blood tests, x-rays, hospitalization, specialists, and ongoing chronic care. However, maximum benefit limits, deductibles, reimbursement rates, and exclusions apply so policies should be reviewed carefully.

What Pet Insurance Often Excludes

Pet insurance plans do not cover every expense. There are some common exclusions to be aware of when choosing a policy.

Pre-Existing Conditions

One of the biggest exclusions is pre-existing conditions. If your pet already has a diagnosed illness or injury before enrollment, expenses related to that condition will not be covered. This includes conditions your pet has shown symptoms for but has not yet been officially diagnosed.

Exam Fees

Wellness exams, vaccinations, heartworm tests and other preventative care are generally not covered. These are routine healthcare costs you’ll need to budget for separately.


The cost of spaying or neutering your pet is also typically excluded. Some providers may cover sterilization procedures if you enroll your puppy or kitten early, but not for adult pets. Check the fine print.


Dental cleanings, extractions, and other oral health issues are often excluded or only partially covered. You may need to purchase separate dental insurance.

Other Non-Covered Care

Insurance also won’t reimburse you for grooming, microchipping, prescription foods, supplements, training or other care they consider non-essential. And any illness or condition related to activities not covered by your policy, like breeding or commercial use of your pet.

Knowing the exclusions can prevent surprises when filing a claim. Be sure to understand what care is excluded before committing to a pet insurance provider.

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

The cost of pet insurance varies widely depending on the pet’s breed, age, pre-existing conditions, policy limits, deductible amount, and other factors. Generally, expect to pay $25 to $100 per month in premiums for a dog and $15 to $50 for a cat.

Top Pet Insurance Providers

When looking for pet insurance, it’s important to find a reputable provider that offers comprehensive coverage at a reasonable price. Here are some of the top pet insurance companies to consider:


Nationwide is one of the largest and most established pet insurers in the United States. They offer a basic accident-only plan as well as more comprehensive options that include illness coverage. Nationwide has a well-rated mobile app and online customer portal. However, their policies have caps on annual benefits.


The ASPCA is a trusted name in animal welfare, so their pet insurance plans may appeal to pet owners. They work with Crum & Forster Pet Insurance Group to underwrite policies. The ASPCA offers both accident-only and accident & illness coverage. Their plans do not limit annual benefits.


Petplan is frequently rated as a top pet insurer. They offer flexible customization of plans with options like low reimbursement rates or unlimited annual benefits. Petplan does not restrict coverage based on age. However, their accident & illness plans have high premiums compared to some competitors.


Embrace Pet Insurance is a fast-growing company focused entirely on pet insurance (not other forms of insurance). They offer many personalized options including wellness rewards programs. Embrace claims to have fast, convenient claims processing through their mobile app. However, customer satisfaction ratings are more mixed than top providers.


Trupanion provides accident & illness insurance with a simple benefit structure. All conditions are covered as long as they are not pre-existing or breed-specific. Trupanion payments go directly to vets for convenience. However, their premiums tend to run higher than competitors.


Figo Pet Insurance delivers an affordable option for accident & illness coverage. Their policies are straightforward with just three plan levels. Figo offers unlimited annual benefits with flexible reimbursement amounts. The main downside is their smaller coverage network compared to other providers.

Healthy Paws

Healthy Paws is consistently rated as a top pet insurer for customer satisfaction. Their comprehensive accident & illness plans come with a free quote tool for easy rate comparison. Healthy Paws offers customizable annual limits and reimbursement rates. However, their policies do exclude some hereditary conditions.

When selecting pet insurance, it’s important to read policy details closely and shop around for the best coverage and price. The providers above are a good starting point for finding a quality insurer that meets your pet’s needs.

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