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The History of Pet Health Insurance

The history of pet insurance began more than a century ago in Sweden.

As long ago as 1890, Swedish animal insurers covered livestock and horses.

They did not, however, extend insurance policies to pets until 1924.

Twenty years later, an insurance company in England sold its first pet insurance policy.

Pet insurance was not readily available in the USA until the 1980s.

The North American Pet Health Insurance Association, or NAPHIA, was established in 2007 to oversee the ethics, standards and best practices of the pet insurance industry.

Today, a number of reputable insurers routinely offer pet insurance policies for dogs and cats.

Notable animal rights group American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA licensed its name to Hartville Group Inc.) was one of the first out of the gate to form one of the major pet insurance outfits in the nation.

Additionally, Hartville Group offers pet health insurance under the Pet Insured, Pet Premium and Pets Healthcare Plan brands.

Which Companies Offer Pet Health Insurance?

Our love for pets continues to grow with more than half of the U.S. households owning pets.

And many of those homes have 2 to 4 pets!

In fact, approximately almost 70% of U.S. households, or more than 88 million families, own a pet to two, according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey.

We understand the importance of keeping our pets healthy and always want to be able to afford the best care for them, especially if something dire were to occur.

And more pet insurance companies got the message. Consumers need more choices!

Trupanion and Nationwide, formerly VPI, were established in the late 1980s and were the premier go-to pet insurance companies out of the gate.

Today, there are at least 15 – 20 pet insurance providers.

The good news is that because the pet insurance market is competitive, there are many choices to get the right price and coverage for your pets.

Is Pet Health Insurance Worth It?

Couple petting dogEmotionally, yes. Financially? It really depends on your dog, cat or even bird.

The real benefit of having pet insurance is to know that if your pet gets really sick or in an accident, you have the financial resources to pay the vet bill.

If your pet is young and healthy, you might be able to skip it. But, here’s the caveat.

When they are young, they don’t have any pre-existing conditions.

Therefore, if you can insure them before some major illness or condition occurs, you will invariably save money in the long run.

If you have an indoor domestic cat that you take to the vet once a year, then maybe pet insurance isn’t worth it.

Just put money aside each month to be safe!

However, there are certain breeds of cats and dogs are predisposed to certain hereditary illnesses and conditions.

With these breeds, pet insurance can certainly help offset costs.

What Do Experts Say?

Consumer Reports, in 2016, had a very popular and often quoted study which essentially stated that most pet insurance policies cost more than they pay out.

Are they right?

Sure, there will be some years that you have a healthy pet all year and the pet insurance premiums feel like a waste of money.

BUT, all it takes is that one word, Cancer, or that horrible accident, and you are so relieved to have pet insurance.

Consumer Reports also mentioned that if you do buy pet health insurance, buy wisely.

Read every word of the company’s policy and note any and all service fees, deductibles, co-pays, and limitations.

Which is absolutely correct and goes for whatever new insurance you purchase.

Why Should I Purchase Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is useful when it comes to paying the rising costs of vet bills, but what many people don’t realize are the ADDED EXTRAS that are automatically included in many pet insurance policies.

Most pet insurance companies provide public liability cover as standard – in the event your dog bites someone, for example – as well as paying out on advertising and reward should your four-legged friend go missing.

Vet bills are arguably the biggest expense and it’s for this reason most people enroll in pet insurance.

The cost of treatments can be extremely high, and unexpected illnesses or accidents can really hit you where it hurts the most – your bank balance.

If you’re fortunate enough to have plenty of savings put aside, you might be better off without monthly insurance payments that build up to a high overall lifetime cost.

If you don’t, paying a small sum every month will be far more welcome than receiving a bill for up to $15,000.

It takes the worry out of not providing your dog or cat the best care if something drastic occurs.

As always, it’s important to shop around before signing up with a new policy.

There are vast variations in price and coverage and it’s important to make sure you get what you need.

Weigh the pros and cons of pet insurance before enrolling your pet in a policy.

Types of Pet Insurance Coverage

Comprehensive Coverage

The best most well-rounded coverage is comprehensive coverage which covers virtually all accidents and illnesses AND the treatment for these occurrences.

It’s the best type of coverage to have if your furry companion develops a long-term condition, such as diabetes or even an on-going ear infection.

Accident Only Coverage

Accident Only Coverage is pet insurance that covers only accidents.

It’s less expensive, but for just that reason. It doesn’t cover any illnesses or conditions.

Wellness Plans

Wellness plans are essentially coverage for certain routine vet visits.

You can add this to a comprehensive package for a fee each month.

If you are low on income, you can skip on the wellness plans because the routines costs of pet care are very affordable.

Benefit Limits

The benefit limits are the maximum amount that the pet insurance company will pay out each year.

Policies with unlimited lifetime benefits, like the one that Healthy Paws offer, are always a good choice because you know there will never be a maximum amount the company pays for your pet if they develop a serious illness.

Other Factors That Affect Premiums

There are other factors that can affect the cost of insurance premiums:


The reimbursement level you choose, generally from 70% to 90% can affect your premiums.

The lower your reimbursement level, the lower your premium.


The deductible is the first payment you make before the pet insurance company reimburses you.

The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.


If your pet is considered old – generally around 8 to 10 years old – then you might notice a large increase in the cost of your policy.

It’s always best to insure your pets while they are young.


Your zip code or location has a big impact on your premiums because it’s linked to average vet prices.

Big cities like New York’s vets tend to charge more than those in rural locations, meaning pet owners in major cities are likely to pay far higher costs than their country-dwelling cousins.


The breed of your cat or dog can affect the price of coverage since certain breeds are predisposed to certain health issues.

What Isn’t Covered

Read over the small print and make sure you’re aware of the things that aren’t covered by your new policy.

The most common restrictions are the following:

  • Pre-Existing Conditions
  • Preventative Care – Flea Control, Vaccinations, and Other Routine Costs
  • Anything Birth-Related
  • Cosmetic Procedures

Final Thoughts

The reason there are so many different pet insurance companies today is that there is a demand for it.

Our pets have become such an integral part of our family and we never want to be in a position where we can’t pay for their best care in the event of an emergency.

Your vet is always the best resource to talk about the health of your pet and the conditions your pet might encounter in the future.

With so many pet insurance company choices, the best thing you can do it to get a quote from a few providers to see if it makes sense for your pet and your financial situation.

A price comparison tool is a great way to see a snapshot of all the different companies and what they have to offer.

Our best pet insurance companies is a great place to start!

  1. Reply
    Andrea Robinson 11/17/2015 at 4:20 am

    I always paid out of pocket for all vet bills, but over time, my finances dwindled and I found myself skipping treatments and trying to really conserve as much as possible. That might have been fine, but most people don’t take in as many strays and fosters as I do, I had 21 dogs and cats at the high point, but many more had been through.

    I think that pet insurance is a very viable option for those who can afford it, because it might just make the difference between keeping a pet alive and being forced to put it down. All kinds of unexpected things can happen, and it’s truly awful to have your cat or dog in the hospital and wonder if everything is going to be all right. Having insurance at least makes it possible to give the best possible treatment, the best possible chance of recovery.

    Great info about the lifetime care possibly including liability! That’s great to know! 🙂

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