Protect your pet with a pet insurance plan. Discover our top choices today! See which insurance plan was rated our best. You can trust us.
Any time you see sites boasting to be able to direct you to the “best” pet insurance, know right away they are selling something.
♦ Do a little price comparison and you will find that the more expensive plans tend to be rated the highest. These plans often pay more in referral fees.
Of course, the “best” plans will have tons of glowing reviews and very few if any negative ones. Customer service will be great and claims will be processed quickly. These are all the things people hope they will be getting, not what most people actually do receive.
♦ All sites weave in words to pressure the reader to buy insurance because it is the right thing to do if you love your pet.
There will be a story or two about a very ill pet needing very expensive treatment, all covered by insurance. There will be no mention of how often claims are denied nor the average amount paid out.
• All of these sites claim to have done an “in-depth investigation,” so you can trust them. But curiously, there is never any mention of hefty premium increases a few years later. So hefty that most people end up dropping the insurance three to four years down the road.
Okay … you are worried about your pet and want to do your best for him or her. What to do besides putting a little money away for emergencies?
Below is a list of the better-known companies. Most have been around for a number of years.
There are some new players but they are a bit risky as new players sell low to get clients hooked but are fast and furious with price increases.
AKC Pet Insurance
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance
We provide a brief history on each company near the end of this article. Price comparisons are what most people want to see first.
♦ We compare prices at each company for a young cat (1 year old) and an older cat (10 years old). It gives you a feel for how prices vary with age.
We ran price comparison for our cat, Ms. Coco. She is a 10-year-old Siamese. The table below shows prices are very similar for all except one, PetsBest.
• PetsBest beats everyone on price. They also have convenient options to allow you to vary the annual limit, deductible and percentage reimbursement. This in contrast to PetPlan and Healthy Paws that gave us only one take it or leave it choice.
• Nationwide was over double everyone else, which suggests they would rather our older cat go somewhere else.
• Healthy Paws isn’t in the game. They offered only a steep deductible with a poor 50% reimbursement. Trupanion, which appears to go paw-to-paw with Healthy Paws, was willing to cough up 90% for the right price.
• AKC would only offer Ms. Coco accident only coverage.
If we were serious to purchase pet insurance, we would spend much more time scrutinizing PetsBest’s plan.
We would review their policy looking for wiggle words they could use to get out of paying a claim. How they define pre-existing conditions would be critical to understand because at 10-years old most insurers are likely to scour her medical history.
PetsBest has had 51 Better Business Bureau complaints in the last 3 years, mostly dealing with paying for things. This is a bit better than Healthy Paws that had 83 complaints in the last 3 years. So maybe not any worse than anyone else.
|Plan||Monthly Premium||Deductible||Reimbursement||Annual Limit|
Below is a price comparison for a 1-year-old Siamese cat. She is young so she is welcomed by everyone, except Nationwide. PetsBest again comes back with the best price.
|Plan||Monthly Premium||Deductible||Reimbursement||Annual Limit|
What to expect ….
Simply, pet parents are happy happy at first when their pet is young, premiums low and claims small. But owners are pissed off when their pet is older, premiums are hefty and claims are high.
Read the details
If you are going to buy pet insurance do it after you review the plans carefully.
• Read sample policies, look for lists of things excluded and vague references to ways they can avoid paying.
• If you are concerned about certain tests being covered like x-rays and MRI’s look for clarification in the policy documents.
♦ Make note of any waiting periods, there always are some.
• Most policies do not state clearly how they will change premiums but you must expect them to go up over time.
• How do they pay? Is it based on a percentage or a schedule of benefits? Most plans will try to use the words Reasonable and Customary to give them wiggly room to pay lower rates than a lot of veterinarian’s charge. It will be tough to find this explained clearly in the policy documents but look for stuff like this.
• Is there a maximum and what is it? A yearly maximum, lifetime maximum or condition maximum? You need to understand this stuff before you buy not years down the road.
Not insurance for life
Pet parents join these plans with the expectation of insuring they family member their entire life. Most have to make the heartbreaking decision to drop this insurance a few years down the road because they cannot afford it.
• Most pet parents sign up for insurance when their pets are young and monthly premiums are low. Premiums gradually rise at first. Trupanion reported in 2016 to the Insurance Commissioner of Washington State that the average policyholder insures their pet for only three years.
♦ Around four or five years, most companies start to aggressively raise premiums. This is because six years of age seems to be the anticipated age where vet bills start to climb and insurers would prefer you drop coverage before that happens.
Don’t be sad if you have to drop Woofy’s insurance. Setting aside a little money every month for emergencies can work just as well for most people, especially if you have a smaller dog or cat.
24PetWatch provides Pet Protection Services and Pet Insurance policies. Many animals adopted from rescue centers have microchips with monitoring by 24PetWatch. They are located in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. You get a 5% discount if you have one of their microchips.
AKC Pet Insurance
They originated in the United Kingdom in the 1980s. They tied up with the American Kennel Club in 2003. In 2017, they were bought up by The IHC Group. A quick quote for Coco our cat finds she can buy an accident only plan, no illness coverage. If she were 9 years old she could buy injury and illness coverage.
The ASPCA is not an insurer. They only lend their name to these policies for a royalty fee. ASPCA plans are underwritten by the United States Fire Insurance Company and administered by Crum & Forster Pet Insurance Group based in Akron, Ohio. This same group has plans under the Hartville Pet Insurance name.
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plans say they do not have any requirements around your pet’s exams, dental care, vaccinations, or preventive medications, while other companies may deny claims if you did not provide your pet routine care. You have the option to select the annual maximum, deductible and coinsurance that you are comfortable with.
Embrace is located in Cleveland, Ohio. They sold their first policy in 2006. Little is known about them. They offer what they refer to as a Healthy Pet Deductible.
They allow enrollment up to 20 years old for both dogs and cats.
Your pet must have been examined by a veterinarian in the past 12 months or first 14 days with access to the exam chart notes in order for coverage to begin. You have the option to select the annual maximum, deductible and coinsurance that you are comfortable with.
Figo is located in Chicago. They are relatively new. They started offering plans in 2015. Figo has three levels of coverage for its pets: Essential, Preferred and Ultimate. These range in what they cover as well as the annual benefit, typically ranging from $10k in annual benefits up to unlimited annual benefits for a higher monthly premium. The lowest deductible Figo would allow our 10-year-old cat to have was $500, which is rather high.
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance was started in 2009. They are located at Bellevue, Washington. Healthy Paws competes head-to-tail with Trupanion. They offer coverage and prices very similar to Trupanion.
One main difference is that Healthy Paws has an annual deductible, whereas Trupanion's deductible is per-condition and lifetime. We found Healthy Paws offers our 10-year-old cat only a $1,000 deductible plan. This amount of deductible is crazy high for a cat.
• They do not cover hip dysplasia if your pet is six years of age or older at the time of enrollment.
• Healthy Paws limits coverage to 13 years old and younger.
For pets younger than 6 you'll have to provide documentation of a complete physical within the last 12 months. Pets older than 6 must have had a complete examination within the last 30 days. If not then they must have an exam not later than 15 days after the policy issued.
Nationwide owns Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI). VPI was founded in 1980. VPI is most famous as being the company that insured Lassie.
• VPI was the first to insure exotic pets in 2000.
In 2008, VPI joined with Nationwide. In 2015, the VPI name was retired. They are one of the larger providers of pet health insurance. MetLife has been promoting Nationwide pet insurance along with their own products as one more form of company benefit. Pricewise they were not even in the same ballpark for Ms. Coco’s plan.
PetFirst started in 2004. They are located in Jeffersonville, Indiana. They have no age limit.
They state something interesting that most plans do not about their review of past medical history. “We only require the last 12 months of veterinary records upon your first claim.” They also state, “We do not require pet parents to administer and treat their pets with all preventative care recommendations from their veterinarian, and we will not cancel your pet’s policy or deny a claim based solely on wellness care provided to your pet.” They give you only a few choices for different limits.
PetPlan is a sister company of PetPlan, UK. PetPlan, UK was founded in 1976 and is the largest insurer of pets in the UK. PetPlan has licensed companies based in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, the Netherlands and France.
PetPlan, USA started selling policies in 2006. They insure dogs and cats of all ages. They cover exams as long as they are not routine.
PetsBest was founded in 2005. It is located in Boise, Idaho. They offer plans for dogs and cats. Pets Best also has no age restriction. They have over 125,000 policies in effect.
They appear to offer lower prices but some plans do not cover exam fees or some treatments.
They state clearly in the policy that premiums increase at renewal and will take into consideration the age of your pet. You have the option to select the annual maximum, deductible and coinsurance that you are comfortable with.
Trupanion was founded in Canada in 1999. In 2005, the company expanded into the United States. They are what is called self-insured. They created a separate underwriter called American Pet Insurance Company. This company also underwrites for some AKC plans in addition PetPartners and PetsBest plans.
Trupanion has a lifetime per-condition deductible. This means you have to pay a deductible once for a condition. This could be a cheaper way if your pet has to receive repeated treatments for the same condition over more than one year. Usually, this type of plan is too confusing for most people to budget for. It is difficult to understand how many different conditions our pets may need to see a veterinarian for during their lifetime.