December 2, 2020

The best pet insurance companies

By haziqbinarif

Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. We may receive a small commission from our partners, like American Express, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • Healthcare costs for pets can be high in the case of an emergency or chronic illness — sometimes in the tens of thousands of dollars.
  • The best pet insurance may cover a portion of those costs, lowering your out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Like human health insurance, pet insurance requires paying a monthly premium in exchange for care and coverage up to a certain amount. In most cases, you’ll pay a deductible.
  • We reviewed an array of US pet insurance options and chose the best overall, best for low monthly costs, best for older pets, and more.
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According to the ASPCA, the annual cost of owning a dog or cat is around $700 to $1,000 per year. That includes the cost of food, recurring medical care, toys, treats, and other pet-related costs. 

But what happens when your pet gets really sick? A major medical treatment can cost $10,000 or more, according to Healthy Paws. Unless you keep that kind of cash on hand for medical emergencies — which many pet owners choose to do — you may want to consider pet insurance for the furriest members of your family.

To assess the best pet insurance providers, we looked at cost, levels of coverage, types of policies available, and other key factors. 

For sample quotes listed below, we used a 6-month-old, mixed-breed, middle-sized dog or a mixed-breed cat in a Southern California zip code as our sample. Pricing will vary based on your pet and location. Costs for purebred dogs can be higher than mixed-breed dogs.

Here’s a look at the top pet insurance providers available today.

Cheapest coverage: $25.34 (dog); $14.48 (cat)

Maximum coverage: $62.93 (dog); $37.69 (cat)

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is a well-known nonprofit for animal rights. In addition to its foundation work, the ASPCA offers pet health insurance plans that do a great job of balancing price and benefits.

  • Annual deductibles of $100, $250, and $500
  • Reimbursement options for 70%, 80%, or 90% of covered costs
  • Annual coverage limits of $3,000 to $10,000 per year

The maximum coverage and lowest deductibles led to a quote of $62.93 per month for our sample dog. For comparison’s sake, the same plan for a purebred golden retriever would be $86.11 per month.

A policy for a medium (26 to 50 pounds) mixed dog that’s 8 weeks to 11 months old starts at $25.34 per month. For a mixed cat, comparable policies start at $14.48 for the lowest coverage and go up to $37.69 for the highest limits and coverage. Accident-only coverage is available at a lower monthly cost.

ASPCA pet insurance includes coverage for accidents, dental disease, behavioral issues, illnesses, and hereditary conditions. Noteworthy exclusions include pre-existing conditions and preventive care. That means shots and healthy-dog checkups are not covered.

However, you can add preventive coverage for $9.95 per month (annual maximum benefit $250) or $24.95 per month (annual maximum benefit $450 per month) for specific common procedures.

ASPCA insurance can cover your dog, cat, or horse. Additional pets cost 10% less per month, which can add up for owners with multiple pets. There is no upper limit on pet age for coverage.

What to watch out for: Pre-existing conditions and preventive care are not included in the Complete Coverage plan and require an extra monthly cost. Cosmetic procedures and breeding costs are also excluded. Pets must be at least 2 months old to enroll.

Cheapest coverage: $24.77 (dog); $9.77 (cat)

Maximum coverage: $52.52 (dog); $20.77 (cat)

Healthy Paws pet insurance earns high marks from customers and covers pets with no per-incident, annual, or lifetime caps. That takes away the financial risk of surgeries, cancer treatments, and other high-cost care.

  • Annual deductibles of $100, $250, or $500 
  • Reimbursement options for 70%, 80%, or 90%
  • No policy limits

For a medium-sized, mixed-breed dog (31 to 59 pounds), costs start at $24.77 per month for 70% reimbursement and a $500 deductible. The highest-cost option is $52.52 per month for 90% reimbursement and a $100 deductible. A mixed-breed cat had rates from $9.77 per month to $20.77 per month.

Policies specifically include illnesses, accidents, hereditary conditions, cancer, prescription medications, emergency care, imaging and testing, surgery, hospitalization, and other treatments. 

What to watch out for: Exclusions for pre-existing conditions, preventive treatment, spay/neuter procedures, and fees charged by your doctor for office visits or exams. Pets must be between 8 weeks and 14 years old to enroll.

Cheapest coverage: $40.40 (dog); $21.52 (cat)

Maximum coverage: $62.93 (dog); $34.45 (cat)

Pumpkin offers a simple and intuitive quoting experience that makes it quick and easy to get an accurate quote for your pet. Pumpkin offers fewer options when choosing coverage, but the options you can choose here are above-average compared to other pet insurance providers.

  • Annual deductibles of $100, $250, or $500
  • Reimbursement rate is 90%
  • Annual coverage limit of $10,000 for dogs and $7,000 for cats

For a medium, mixed-breed dog (26 to 50 pounds) age 6 to 11 months, costs are $40.40 per month for the $500 deductible, $49.78 for the $250 deductible, and $62.93 per month for the $100 deductible. A similar quote for a cat led to pricing of $21.52, $26.97, or $34.45 per month respectively.

Plans specifically cover accidents, illnesses, testing, surgery, treatment, hospitalization, and alternative therapies. They also cover hereditary conditions, dental and gum disease, behavioral issues, sick visit exam fees, microchips, and prescription dog food in some cases.

Preventive coverage comes through the “preventive Essentials Pack.” For the dog in our test quote, the cost was $15.95 per month and includes an annual well-pet exam, a year of parasite treatment, and two annual vaccinations. A similar plan for a mixed cat was $10.95 per month.

If you have more than one dog or cat, additional pets receive a 10% discount. 

What to watch out for: Preventive care requires an additional monthly cost. There are no options for lower reimbursement or annual limit rates for a lower monthly cost.

Cheapest coverage: $18.73 (d0g); $10.70 (cat)

Maximum coverage: $59.27 (dog); $33.84 (cat)

American Kennel Club pet insurance policies, which are underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, are a top choice for low-cost plans.

  • Annual deductibles range from $100 to $1,000
  • Coinsurance ranges from 10% to 30%
  • Annual limits available from $2,500 to unlimited

For a mixed-breed dog between 8 weeks and 1 year old, basic coverage starts at $18.73 per month. The most expensive plan for the highest coverage was $59.27 per month. For a comparable cat, basic coverage starts at $10.70 per month and the highest level of coverage runs $33.84 per month. 

CompanionCare accident and illness coverage includes allergies, broken bones, diagnostics, toxic ingestion, medications, physical therapy, surgery, and hospital stays. Alternative and holistic coverage is included. Pre-existing conditions, physical exams, cosmetic, and preventive care are not included.

You can buy add ons for additional benefits. In the test quote for the mixed-breed dog, coverage for exam fees was $8.45 per month, coverage for hereditary and congenital conditions was $5.28 per month, and costs related to putting down a pet cost $2 per month.

Preventive and routine coverage plans called Defender and DefenderPlus offer varying levels of coverage for $14 per month or $25 per month respectively.

Adding a second pet earns you a discount of 5% per month.

What to watch out for: Many types of care are a la carte and require an add-on subscription. This saves money for people who would skip those extra options but can lead to a more expensive policy for those who want everything available.

Pet Assure isn’t a traditional pet insurance policy. Instead, this plan gets you discounted rates with in-plan veterinarians. The enrollment process is quick and simple. It takes about two minutes to sign up and print your pet’s discount card.

Because it isn’t traditional insurance, there are no waiting periods or deductibles. Instead, you just pay a discounted rate for covered treatments and services.

  • Cost for a single dog: $11.95 per month or $99 per year
  • Cost for a single cat: $9.95 per month or $79 per year
  • Family plan (two to four pets): $16.95 per month or $149 per year
  • Unlimited plan (more than four pets): $21.95 per month or $199 per year

These plans can cover other types of pets, too, not just dogs or cats.

Discounted treatments include dental exams, dental cleanings, X-rays, spay/neuter procedures, routine care, cancer care, hospitalization, well-pet visits, surgery, allergy treatment, illness, injury, parasite screenings, and more. There are no exclusions, including pre-existing conditions. Any medical treatment provided in-house by a participating vet is covered.

What to watch out for: Discount plans don’t make any payments toward your pet’s care. While your monthly payments are a lot lower than traditional pet insurance, the benefits are limited to discounts.

Cheapest coverage: $35.82 (dog); $20.68 (cat)

Maximum coverage: $140.91 (dog); $70.63 (cat)

Trupanion pet insurance, which is underwritten by American Pet Insurance Company, offers flexible coverage to meet your needs.

  • Annual deductibles can be any amount and range from $0 to $1,000 on a sliding scale
  • Reimbursement rate is 90% of the costs paid for after reaching your deductible

A quote for a medium, mixed-breed dog with a $0 deductible led to a monthly cost of $140.91. The highest $1,000 deductible led to a $35.82 monthly price. 

A cat would cost $70.63 per month with a $0 deductible and $20.68 for a $1,000 deductible.

Injuries and illnesses are covered, including hereditary conditions and congenital conditions. Medical coverage includes testing, surgeries, hospital stays, medications, vet visits, prosthetics, and other needs.

Additional coverage is available for an added fee. Recovery and complementary care coverage adds $3.96 per month in costs, and pet assistance for less-happy occasions, like a lost pet reward or cremation costs after a death due to an accident, costs $4.95 per month.

Waiting periods and some exclusions apply. Exclusions include pre-existing conditions, preventive care, exam fees, vaccinations, and other treatments.

What to watch out for: No coverage for preventive treatment or pre-existing conditions. Pets older than 14 cannot enroll in the program.

Cheapest coverage: $35.78 (dog); $19.28 (cat)

Maximum coverage: $109.55 (dog); $62.03 (cat)

Nationwide is a well-known insurance company for cars, homes, and life insurance, among other coverage. Nationwide also offers pet insurance policies with no age limits for older pets. Nationwide offers coverage for dogs, cats, birds, and some exotic pets.

  • Annual deductible is $250 for all plans, but annual limits differ based on each type of treatment
  • The highest-cost plan has no limit for annual benefits

For our medium-sized dog, there were three policies available. Major Medical coverage runs $35.78 per month and includes accidents, illnesses, cancer, and some hereditary conditions. The expanded Major Medical with Wellness plan costs $53.78 per month and adds on vaccinations, flea and heartworm preventive treatments, blood tests, and urine tests.

The highest-end Whole Pet with Wellness plan runs $109.55 per month and adds on coverage for spay/neuter procedures, alternative treatments, prescription diets, and behavioral treatments.

Comparable cat policies were $19.28 per month, $37.28 per month, or $62.03 per month respectively.

Additional pets get you a 5% discount. There is no age limit for pets on Nationwide insurance policies.

What to watch out for: Lower-cost plans don’t include preventive treatments. The most comprehensive plans can be expensive, at over $100 per month.

To earn a top spot on the list, insurers or discount-plan providers had to offer quality plans at competitive prices. Here are some other plans to consider that could still be a good fit for your needs, but come from smaller providers or those that were not quite as competitive for pricing, terms, or other conditions.

Prudent Pet: Prudent Pet offers plans starting at $10 per month for accident-only coverage and $16 per month for accident and illness. It offers deductibles of $100, $250, or $500 with reimbursement rates from 70% to 90% available.

Hartville: Hartville offers plans starting at $10 per month for acciden-only coverage and $16 per month for complete coverage. You can find common $100, $250, or $500 deductibles with 70%, 80%, or 90% reimbursement rates.

Embrace: Embrace offers plans from $13 per month to $100 per month. It has flexible deductibles from $100 to $1,000 and copays of 10%, 20%, or 30%. 

Eusoh: Eusoh costs $250 per pet per year to join and there are no pet age restrictions. Coverage starts 30 days after signing up. This plan offers reimbursements, including for healthy pet care, of about 80% for common pet medical needs up to an $8,500 annual reimbursement limit.

PetPartners: PetPartners has plans from $5 per month to $90 per month. Choose between 70%, 80%, and 90% reimbursement after a deductible of $100 to $1,000. There is no upper age limit for older pets.

PetsBest: PetsBest has plans starting at $6 per month with options to choose between 70%, 80%, or 90% reimbursements. Deductibles range from $50 to $1,000 per year.

SPOT: Rates start at $10 for accident-only coverage or $16 for full coverage. Choose between 70%, 80%, and 90% reimbursement rates and $100, $250, or $500 annual deductibles. This insurer earns very high customer service ratings.

Lemonade: Lemonade is an insurer that started with competitively priced homeowners insurance and renters insurance. It recently expanded into pet insurance with plans starting at $12 per month with additional add-ons available for preventive, wellness, and extended accident/illness coverage for an additional fee. You can save 10% by bundling with other insurance products at Lemonade. You can choose $100, $250, or $500 deductibles with 70%, 80%, or 90% reimbursement rates. Policies have annual limits between $5,000 and $100,000 with no lifetime limits. This product launched on July 15, 2020 in 33 states and aims to offer an easy online experience for pet insurance.

Why trust our recommendations?

Personal Finance Insider’s mission is to help smart people make the best decisions with their money. We understand that “best” is often subjective, so in addition to highlighting the clear benefits of a financial product, we outline the limitations, too. We spent hours comparing and contrasting the features and fine print of various products so you don’t have to.

How did we choose the best pet insurance?

We combed through hundreds of online reviews to understand what pet owners are looking for in insurance, and what they do and don’t like about their pet insurance providers. We also compared pricing and options from pet insurance providers of all sizes to determine which companies offer the most coverage for your dollar.

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance is a type of health insurance for the furry members of your family. Dogs, cats, and sometimes other pets can be covered by these types of policies.

Like personal health insurance policies, most require a monthly premium that is paid regardless of whether or not your pet needs medical treatment. If treatment is required, you are generally required to pay the full cost up to an annual deductible. Costs over that deductible are split between you and your insurer based on the policy’s terms.

Pet insurance often covers accidents and illnesses, but rarely covers pre-existing conditions. Many policies require your pet to be at least 8 weeks old and under 14 years old, but there are many exceptions to the rules around age.

Is pet insurance worth the cost?

Pet insurance is worth the cost to some households, but not others. It ultimately comes down to how healthy your pet is and how often you use your insurance.

According to a report from the Washington Post, both dog and cat insurance is worthwhile if your pet needs a high level of care. Pets that are generally healthy tend to cost less overall without the monthly insurance cost.

While there is no crystal ball that tells you your pet’s future, the best guideline to follow around pet insurance is how often your pet will need medical treatment. Insurance guarantees a certain minimum cost, but it can save you a lot of money in the long-run if your pet is ever seriously ill or injured.

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