Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Written by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

Dr Pippa Elliott BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years experience in companion animal practice. In 1987 she graduated from the University of Glasgow, with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. A love of the sea meant accepting her first job in the port town of Portsmouth, England. A fter working in private practice for two years, her next position was as a vet at the People’...

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Reviewed by Dr. Pippa Elliott BVMS, MRCVS
Veterinarian Dr. Pippa Elliott BVMS, MRCVS

UPDATED: Jun 10, 2021

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Pet Insurance U receives compensation from the third parties included on this site. This includes payment for clicks from our site to insurance providers’ sites and quote requests generated. Our rankings and reviews are not affected by payments from the insurance companies. The compensation we receive allows the site to be free and regularly updated. Our goal is to review every pet insurance provider, but not all companies are listed on the site.

And many of the companies we review do not pay us anything. We simply rate, compare and review their plan because we feel it will be valuable to you. Our reviews are guaranteed to be unbiased, professional and advertising compensation does not influence rankings.

We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about pet insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything pet insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by pet insurance experts.

Pet insurance is a great and worthy investment if your dog, cat or even bird gets sick or has an injury.

As we all know, the costs of treating our pets can become expensive and that is why pet insurance is such a life-saver, sometimes literally and usually financially!

There are many decisions you need to make when signing up with a new policy: the company, what type of coverage you want as well as pricing.

Our quick primer on how pet insurance works can give you an overall idea of what to look for in coverage and how to make the most of a pet insurance plan.

There are also many things that are not included in a pet insurance policy and are usually found under “exclusions”.

Each pet insurance company is different in what they exclude so it’s important to read the fine print carefully.

Need Pet Insurance?

FACT: Pet insurance pays up to 90% of vet bills when your pet is sick or injured!

The Typical Coverage Exclusions are the following:

Pre-Existing Conditions

All pet insurance companies will not cover any pre-existing condition or illness that your pet has developed prior to signing up with the new company.

Any condition or illness that is on your dog or cat’s medical record will be excluded from coverage.

The reason pet insurance companies exclude sickness or conditions is to help keep the insurance prices down.  If all pets that signed up were pets were sick or injured the prices would be astronomical.

The waiting period when signing up for a policy is just for this purpose…to make sure that all conditions that are pre-existing are disclosed.

Because pre-existing conditions are always excluded, it’s best to insure your dog or cat when they are young.

Related: 10 Things You Must Know Before You Buy Pet Insurance

Routine Procedures

Any preventative care procedures are not included in a typical pet insurance plan.

They typically include the following:

  • Annual Checkups
  • Vaccinations
  • Teeth Cleaning
  • Flea & Tick Control
  • Spaying and Neutering
  • Heartworm
  • Microchipping
  • Ear cleaning

However, there are some pet insurance companies that offer a wellness plan that will cover a certain amount of these costs at an additional fee.  Wellness plans are added on to a pet insurance policy.

These routine procedures are easily paid out of pocket and not worth the additional costs.

Real Cost Savings from PetFirst Clients


PetFirst saved his parents


A happy energetic Luna one morning couldn’t hold her food down. After months of multiple costly vet visits to specialists and an endoscopy, the problem was discovered and fixed. Luna put 22 pounds back on in no time and her parents were grateful for having PetFirst by their side to pay the bills.

Office Visits and Exam Fees

Some pet insurance plans exclude the vet office fee visit when you take your dog or cat in for an exam.

Yet, most will pay for the diagnostic testing that accompanies the exam.

Most that have a payout limit will include the exam fee, while other plans that have unlimited benefit limits won’t pay the fee.

For example, Figo, if you choose the benefit limit level that has a maximum of $15,000, it includes the exam fee.

And, Healthy Paws, which has unlimited annual and lifetime benefits does not include the exam fee.  Which makes sense because they are paying for all other unexpected and big expenses.

Age Limits

Some pet insurance companies have limits on the age when you can enroll your dog or cat (usually up to 10 years) while others have no upper age limits.

However, most companies will not deny your pet coverage at any age once enrolled.

Deliberate Injuries

Any deliberate injury to your dog, cat or even turtle is not covered.  These will usually include injuries that are inflicted at home and injuries and illnesses after a fight as well as injuries resulting from cruelty and neglect.

Injuries that are a result of dogfighting or racing are also not included and for good reason!

Injuries due to an accident, however, are covered.

Treatments That Haven’t Been Approved by the Vet

Most pet insurance companies will not cover treatments that aren’t prescribed by the vet.

Prescriptive Food

Some pet insurance companies will not cover prescriptive food.  There are some that will pay half of the prescriptive food if the food is for an illness and not merely being overweight.

Pet food, vitamins and supplements are not covered.

However, all pet insurance companies will cover prescription medicine from your vet.

Boarding Costs

Most pet insurance companies won’t cover boarding costs while you travel.


Breeding, or anything related to pregnancy, is not covered.

Cosmetic or Elective Procedures

Elective procedures such as ear cropping, tail docking, nail trimming or claw removal aren’t covered.

DNA Testing/Organ Transplant

DNA testing, stem cell therapy or Organ transplants.

Real Cost Savings from PetFirst Clients


PetFirst saved his parents


Artemis was a beautiful and friendly cat to all who were willing to pet him. Unfortunately, he developed feline diabetes which required regular vet visits and medications that his Mother could not otherwise afford on her fixed income. Having PetFirst insurance, she called and discussed the problem with a friendly PetFirst agent. To her surprise, she found out that Artemis’ ongoing required vet visits and medication would be covered by his PetFirst insurance. Artemis was able to live out the rest of his life with proper medical care and medicines thanks to PetFirst insurance.

Grooming Costs

Anything related to the grooming of your pets which includes bathing, hair trimming, removal of anal glands, or anal sacculitis.


Flea, tick or any parasite prevention or treatment even including any illness that is transmitted by parasites


Unless covered by a dental plan, orthodontics, endodontics and/or the removal of the deciduous teeth.

Behavioral Training

Most plans will not cover behavioral training, while there are some that cover behavioral therapy that is a result of an accident or illness. Or considered as a treatment of both.

Avian Flu

Most pet insurance plans, even those for birds will not cover Avian Flu.

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Final Thoughts on Pet Insurance Exclusions

While it seems like there are many exclusions, there are also many, much more expensive veterinary expenses and treatment that are covered when you insure your pet.

Before signing up with any pet insurance company, make sure you understand what is included AND excluded in the policy.

Our top 10 pet insurance companies are all very reputable, honest companies that can tell you what is covered in your policy.

Other articles you may find helpful: 


Is Exotic Pet Insurance Necessary? 

The Best Pet Insurance By State 

What Is Pet Insurance?

Fun Facts, Dog FAQ, And Unsolicited Dog Advice

5 Training Commands to Save Your Dog’s Life

The Ultimate Guide to Safe Foods for Dogs

Dog Health Problems

Dog Breeds


Cat Health Problems

Cat Breeds


Pet insurance is similar to other insurances but does have some major differences as compared to your health insurance. Below you will find a definitive list of frequently asked pet insurance questions to help in your decision.


What is Pet Insurance

Types of Pet Insurance Coverage

Comprehensive Pet Insurance Explained

Accident Only Pet Insurance

Pet Wellness Plans

Insurance vs. Wellness Pet Insurance Plans

Is Pet Dental Insurance Worth the Extra Cost

How does Pet Insurance work

Best Pet Insurance Plans with Shortest Waiting Periods

Pet Insurance Deductibles

Pet Insurance Coverage Exclusions and Limits

Pet Insurance Reimbursements

Pet Insurance Benefit Limits Explained

How to Make a Claim on your Pet Insurance

Is my Pet too Old for Pet Insurance Coverage

Top Reasons to Purchase Pet Insurance

How much does Pet Insurance Cost

Is Pet Insurance Worth It

Compare Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance for Multiple Pets

Pet Insurance that Covers Spaying and Neutering

Does Pet Insurance Cover Shots

Pet Insurance with Pre-Existing Conditions