Pet Insurance in California

California is a dog and pony show…

…Minus the pony.

Farmer’s markets are veritable runways for the latest doggy fashion fads.

dog insurance ca

And it’s not uncommon to see parents pushing baby strollers… Without the babies.

dog stroller los angeles

Dogs are so popular in the Golden State that we renamed the city of Santa Monica after them.

dogtown santa monica

California has gone to the dogs…

While the love affair seems cute to some, others dismiss the over-the-top pampering as perplexing—even obsessive.

But California folks have always marched to the beat of their own drum and there’s no law against projecting human traits, emotions, and intentions onto our furry friends.

But There’s Trouble in Paradise

Cali residents are famous for pampering our pets but according to veterinarians:

98% of CA Pets Aren’t Covered Against Accidents & Illnesses.

With veterinary bills skyrocketing and surgery costs easily exceeding $10,000, thousands of dogs and cats in California are being abandoned or euthanized because their owners can’t afford treatment costs.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, 2,070,760 pets live in California.

But only 2% of those cats and dogs are protected by a health insurance policy.

Fortunately, California is one of just a few states to implement consumer-friendly pet insurance regulations that make pet health insurance plans in CA some of the best in the country.

There are currently 10 pet insurance companies doing business in California.

pet insurers california

With the state government behind California consumers, you can be confident in the coverage you’re buying.

State regulations require CA pet insurers to be forthright with their clients by…

  • bringing uniformity to policy language
  • improving transparency and disclosures, especially concerning limitations and exclusions

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost in CA?

This chart from Embrace pet insurance estimates premium costs for California residents in four major cities:

  • San Francisco
  • Modesto
  • Long Beach
  • Los Angeles

california pet insurance comparison

Depending on your location you should find the best pet insurance for your needs. So what is the best pet insurance for cats and dogs in CA?

We compared a half-dozen pet health insurers to find the best overall value in CA.

The Best Pet insurance Plans in California

#1 Pet Insurance in CA: Healthy Paws

healthy paws california quote

Healthy Paws is the most recommended pet insurance provider in America and the highest-rated company doing business in California.

Healthy Paws has earned a 9.8/10 lifetime satisfaction record by providing the highest payouts, fastest claim processing and best-in-class customer service.

Compare the Best Pet Insurance in California

Customers love Healthy Paws for their unlimited coverage, with no lifetime limits, which customers love.

yelp healthy paws california

Dog and cat owners also like that Healthy Paws covers genetic health problems that many other providers prohibit or severely reduce reimbursements for.

Customers Reeeeaaaaaaaly like Healthy Paws

  • Healthy Paws earned an A+ rating with the BBB
  • Healthy Paws maintains a 5 star Yelp rating
  • Consumer Affairs ranks Healthy Paws 5 out of 5 stars
  • Trust Pilot reviews have Healthy Paws at 5 out of 5 stars
  • Facebook business reviews are 4.7 out of 5 stars

healthy paws yelp bbb ca

Healthy Paws Sample Quote: 1-Year Old Female Golden Retriever in San Diego, CA (zip code: 92121)

Healthy Paws will pay 80% of your vet bills with an annual deductible of $250. For this coverage you’d pay $39.12/mo.

Promo Code for CA residents: If you use this link to enroll you’ll save 10% on monthly premiums for life!

#2 Pet Insurance in CA: Embrace

embrace california quote

Embrace Sample Quote: 1-Year Old Female Golden Retriever in Bell, CA (zip code: 90201)

Embrace covers 80% of your vet bills but your annual deductible will cost $750 vs. $250 for Healthy Paws.

Also, your monthly premium will be $52.89, which comes to $13.77 more per month than Healthy Paws.

That’s $165.24 more that you’ll pay annually for the same coverage if you choose Embrace instead of Healthy Paws.

Embrace also limits claim payouts to $15,000 per year.

A single vet emergency can exceed Embrace’s $15,000 limit, forcing you to pay the balance out-of-pocket.

#3 Pet Insurance in CA: Petplan

petplan california quote

Petplan Sample Quote: 1-Year Old Female Golden Retriever in Sacramento, CA (zip code: 95822)

Petplan reimburses 80% of your vet bills with an annual deductible of $250 — identical coverage to Embrace.

However, Petplan is considerably more expensive than the two plans previously mentioned on this list.

Expect to pay $27.11/mo. extra if you choose Petplan over Healthy Paws.

And you’ll pay $13.34/mo. more if you select Petplan over Embrace.

Also, Petplan limits your annual benefits to $15,000 in coverage.

#4 Pet Insurance in CA: Pets Best

pets best california quote

Pets Best Sample Quote: 1-Year Old Female Golden Retriver in Santa Barbara, CA (zip code: 93101)

Pets Best pays 80% of your medical bills with a $200 annual deductible.

Pets Best will cost you $78.69/mo. and you’ll get 80% of approved vet bills paid but with a restrictive annual payout limit of just $10,000.

In other words, with Pets Best you’ll pay more for less.

#4 Pet Insurance in CA: Trupanion

trupanion california quote

Trupanion Sample Quote: 1-Year Old Female Golden Retriever in San Jose, CA (zip code: 94089)

Unlike the other companies, Trupanion doesn’t offer flexible coverage.

All Trupanion plans reimburse 90% of approved medical bills.

Unfortunately, Trupanion’s Deductibles are per-condition vs. annual.

For example, with the plan pictured below, you’d pay a $200 deductible for every condition your pet was treated for.

And those deductibles renew annually so you have to pay them every year, that can get very expensive.

Trupanion’s membership dues are expensive too — $95.12 for 90% coverage with a $200 per-condition deductible.

The Worst Pet Insurance Plans in California

#1 ASPCA Pet Insurance

aspca california quote

ASPCA Sample Quote: 1-Year Old Female Golden Retriever in Los Angeles, CA (zip code: 90011)

Beware of: $5,000 annual limit.

Also watch out for: Implied trust because of the ASPCA name.

This insurance provider pays a licensing fee to use ASPCA’s famous trademark but isn’t actually associated with American the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

With a $5,000 annual limit, ASPCA should put the word “insurance” in quotes.

California vets charge thousands of dollars for basic procedures, rendering ASPCA’s coverage basically useless.

#2 Nationwide Pet Insurance aka VPI

nationwide california quote

Nationwide Sample Quote: 1-Year Old Female Golden Retriever in Los Angeles, CA (zip code: 90011)

Beware of: Negative reviews and customer complaints.

Nationwide, formerly VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance) is one of the lowest rated pet insurance companies in California.

Nationwide Pet Insurance is criticized for being a scam, refusing to cover reasonable costs, poor customer service and for denying claims that should be covered.

nationwide pet insurance reviews-ca

Also watch out for: Poor customer service, denied claims, long processing delays.

veterinary pet insurance ca


In all fairness, Every company should receive its fair shake. But… With hundreds of negative reviews, it’s obvious that Nationwide’s customers are very dissatisfied.

vpi pet insurance reviews

CA Pet Insurance Q & A

Quick, simple answers to the most common questions asked by California residents.

What is the best pet insurance for cats in California?

Although dogs account for 80% of the pet insurance market in CA, cat owners are quickly discovering the high costs of medical care. Pet health care costs in California have increased 70% in the past 5 years. Because of rising vet care costs, CA residents need to look out for truly comprehensive coverage that will pay for pricey accidents and illnesses. The best rated pet health insurance company in California is Healthy Paws (A+ BBB, 9.8 out of 10 customer rating, 5 out of 5 stars on Trust Pilot, 4+ stars on Yelp).

california pet insurance reviews

Unlike other providers, Healthy Paws has no lifetime or annual coverage limits. Healthy Paws also pays for the most expensive types of health problems, congenital and hereditary health issues — which can cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to treat. Healthy Paws pays up to 90% of your vet bills for genetic health problems and other costly health conditions that your cat or kitten may face.

  1. Reply
    Carrie 12/07/2016 at 8:56 am

    Great advice on pet insurance. Having a good pet insurance and doing the research to find a good company is worth the investment in time and money and can save lots of money in the long run. There is usually a window for getting pet insurance when you first adopt a pet so checking it out while a pet is healthy is super important. Thanks for all this great info.

    • Reply
      Andrea Robinson 12/07/2016 at 10:23 am

      Oh, @Carrie, thanks for that info about a limited window of opportunity when you first get the pet. I’ll definitely take advantage of that the next time around! 🙂

  2. Reply
    Andrea Robinson 12/07/2016 at 10:20 am

    As a California resident and dyed-in-the-wool pet lover, it really alarms me that people are abandoning or euthanizing their pets because they can’t afford treatment costs. As a rescuer, I can tell you that there are a lot of people, especially in rural towns, who simply can’t afford medical treatment and abandon their pets on the roads hoping that some kindly soul will find their animals and take them in. It’s so very sad, especially since California has such comprehensive pet insurance policies. I agree, probably the best in the nation. Yet 98% of CA pets aren’t covered against accidents and illnesses? This is a terrible condition. Thanks for the very clear and honest run-down of the various companies and the best ones to consider.

    • Reply
      Jim Liston 12/08/2016 at 1:28 am

      I agree, Andrea. It is sad that more people don’t take better care of their pets. Even if someone doesn’t have pet insurance they should still take on the responsibility of taking care of their sick or injured pet. I’m glad there are people like you that are willing to help abandoned pets.

      • Reply
        Andrea Robinson 12/09/2016 at 11:40 pm

        Thanks, Jim! 🙂

  3. Reply
    Joelle Ardona 12/07/2016 at 2:30 pm

    As a dog lover, I feel bad every time I read news about pets being euthanized because their owners cannot afford the medical treatments their pets need. People should really invest on pet insurance because it’ll give them peace of mind knowing that there is someone who’ll help them to cover the expenses when needed. 98% of CA Pets that aren’t covered against accidents & illnesses is a serious matter. Thank you for researching the best pet insurance plans to consider and for putting up this post to bring awareness. 🙂

    • Reply
      Sirio 12/07/2016 at 5:13 pm

      Hey Joelle,
      you are so right, people should really invest on pet insurance! And I like that you use the word “invest” and not “spend”. And about $50 a month isn’t much if you think about how much you spend for your pet …

  4. Reply
    Elizabeth 12/07/2016 at 10:22 pm

    This is information some of the most valuable info I have found. My fuzzy little guy is getting older, and I would feel tons better if he had reliable insurance himself. I looked up pet insurance a few years ago, and almost committed to purchasing it. But this is still a fairly new system isn’t it?
    I only found info on Nationwide Pet Insurance, and I’m glad I didn’t go for it, now!
    Vet bills are getting to be just as expensive as human medical bills, and I think it’s important that people know their options and know they don’t have to pay thousands out of their pocket when an emergency arises if they get prepared with pet insurance.
    Hopefully with this information, more than 2% of pet owners in Cali will have pet insurance for their fur baby within the next 5 years.

  5. Reply
    Jim Liston 12/08/2016 at 1:22 am

    With the number of pets in the US, the increase of pet health insurers isn’t surprising. The amount of money you can save with a good pet health insurance plan makes it a great idea. Thanks for the information!

  6. Reply
    Ross Quintana 12/08/2016 at 4:22 am

    This is a very interesting article. I hadn’t actually thought about the need for pet insurance. I have had many dogs, but thankfully, I never had to deal with health issues. This is a great resource and I am a big fan of insurance and taking care of things before they become a problem. I also appreciate the review and ranking of the various pet insurance providers. Sharing!

  7. Reply
    Sirio 12/08/2016 at 3:56 pm

    Very interesting topic! I don’t have pets myself, but a lot of my friends have and they are part of the 98%…
    Honestly I never thought of pet insurance, but it makes sense! You have a life insurance, house insurance etc.
    Why not a pet insurance? When I see my friends again, I will ask them why their pets aren’t insured.
    Very valuable article, I like the comparison between the different pet insurance in california, very transparent!

    • Reply
      Martin 12/11/2016 at 9:09 pm

      Yeah, that is the point. Normally, one realize that one needs an insurance when the bill to pay is already there. I know from some friends that the veterinary costs can be very high. So far I have not had any issues with my dog, but I do not want to wait for that moment, so I will pick one during the next days…

      • Reply
        Pet Insurance U 12/28/2016 at 3:37 am

        Thanks for you comment, Martin. Most people don’t get pet insurance because they think their dog is healthy, but pet insurance is for those times when emergencies occur or an illness arises that can cost thousands at the vet. Pet insurance helps cover the costs of these situations. We hope you find our best insurance reviews helpful, and let us know if you need anything!

  8. Reply
    Francie Eschenower 12/09/2016 at 11:38 pm

    Well, I just got hit with a $1,000 pet bill, and at the time I got this pet, it was way too confusing to get insurance. In fact, the only study I saw was one that said most people would come out even — the cost of insurance would amount to about the same cost as vet care over the years.

    We didn’t have access to anything like this at the time. Look at the detail here: Embrace covers 80% of your vet bills but your annual deductible will cost $750 vs. $250 for Healthy Paws. And on and on, with the Yelp reviews, ratings, cost comparisons. This is the kind of information I could have used at the time. Oh, well, at least I’ll know for the next pet.

  9. Reply
    Alex London 12/09/2016 at 11:45 pm

    98% of pets being uninsured is insanely high. I don’t live in California but can tell you that veterinary bills are only going to keep increasing. As with all insurance policies, the devil is always in the detail. This is a great post for CA pet owners because clearly there is a runaway winner in the state for pet insurance. Healthy Paws not only gives you the best coverage but crucially their customers are happy – so you know that when you need to claim on your insurance, Healthy Paws are reliable and easy to deal with.

  10. Reply
    Martin 12/11/2016 at 9:02 pm

    Hi there,

    Thanks for preparing the article with the rankings and evaluations!
    As a dog owner I know about the importance of having an insurance for my little dog. However, for one reason or other, I had always postponed the task to choose a policy. Now, your review gives me the basis to take an informed decision. Thanks again.

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