Pet insurance helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives. How?
Pet insurance pays up to 90% of vet bills, so you can give your pet the best possible medical care without worrying about cost.
But policies can be confusing and not all companies are reliable. How do you find the best pet insurance? With pet insurance reviews you can trust.
Vet-Verified Pet Insurance Reviews
Our pet insurance reviews are unbiased and vet-verified. We research cost, coverage, and real customer feedback to help you find the best insurance for your dog or cat.
2018 Best Pet Insurance
We reviewed each policy’s annual updates and factored them into our pet insurance rankings. Here is our top pick for the best plan of 2018:
#1 Healthy Paws
Average cost: $37.28 per month
Healthy Paws has the best coverage and price. It is the only pet insurance that provides unlimited lifetime benefits with an annual deductible. Healthy Paws coverage includes accidents, illnesses, genetic conditions, and alternative treatments.
The Healthy Paws waiting period is only 15 days for accidents and injuries. It’s the shortest of all the plans in our pet insurance reviews.
Consumers Advocate rated Healthy Paws the Best Pet Insurance Company in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 based on customer satisfaction, claim approval, and reimbursements. Our vets are proud to rank Healthy Paws as the #1 pet insurance.
Other Pet Insurance Reviews
Average cost: $71.64 per month
Our vets ranked Embrace as the 2nd best pet insurance. Embrace’s plans are completely customizable. Every policy includes coverage for alternative treatments.
You can add wellness coverage to your Embrace policy, and it really pays off. Pet parent forums and Yelp pet insurance reviews praise Embrace for generous wellness care that covers routine vet visits, flea prevention, and even dental cleanings! You won’t find this with other pet insurance companies.
Average cost: $46.71 per month
Pets Best has three pet insurance policies. The lowest plan covers accidents only. The highest plan covers accidents, illnesses, and certain hereditary and congenital conditions. You can choose your own deductibles and reimbursement levels, which lowers your monthly premium.
We ranked Pets Best 3rd in our pet insurance reviews because of limitations on coverage. But, we like that it has fast reimbursements and alternative care is included in its top plan.
Average cost: $47.41 per month
Petfirst is our top choice for senior pets. We’re often asked about coverage for senior pets from pet parents who read our pet insurance reviews. Petfirst is always our first recommendation. Petfirst offers full coverage for older dogs and cats.
Average cost: $57.07 per month
Petplan used to have three different pet insurance plans to choose from. Now, it offers one truly customizable policy with up to unlimited annual coverage. Sounds like an upgrade, right?
Unfortunately, Petplan raised prices and increased exclusions when it changed plans. Maybe its prices will improve over time. For now, we rank Petplan as the 4th in our 2018 pet insurance rankings.
Average cost: $51.58 per month
PetPremium limits on how much it will reimburse per incident. It also has restrictions on coverage for older pets. Additionally, PetPremium has a six month waiting period for all hereditary and congenital conditions.
Although we put PetPremium at the bottom of our pet insurance reviews, we read feedback from happy customers that makes us optimistic about the company’s customer service.
Nationwide pet insurance, formerly VPI pet insurance, has the worst reputation in the pet insurance industry. We highly recommend that you avoid putting your pet’s health at risk with Nationwide. Instead, check out the #1 customer rated pet insurance, Healthy Paws, and trust that you and your pet are in good hands.
Read Nationwide Reviews
Pet Insurance U’s Ranking Criteria
In order for a pet insurnace company to be considered for our rankings, we require:
- Accident and illness coverage
- Hereditary and congenital coverage
- No limits or generous limits on annual claims
- Lifetime benefits
The pet insurance reviews you read on this site have received ratings from our own veterinarians, the Better Business Bureau, and thousands of existing customers.
You can compare plans side-by-side with our comprehensive pet insurance comparison chart.
How to Find the Best Pet Insurance Plan
Pet Insurance U’s team of veterinarians offers updated, unbiased, and thorough reviews of the most popular pet insurance plans.
The best plans cover breed-specific conditions, with no exclusions. These conditions include genetic and hereditary illnesses, which are more common in pure-bred dog and cat breeds than in mixed breed animals. Our pet health articles provide information on diseases that each breed is prone to.
We recommend that you read about breed-specific health problems along with the information in our pet insurance reviews in order to choose a plan that fits your pet’s needs.
When Should I Get Pet Insurance?
Veterinarians suggest insuring your pet’s health as soon as possible. Puppies and kittens are more accident-prone than adult animals, and pet insurance will help cover the cost of a trip to the veterinary emergency room.
Most importantly, enroll your pet in an insurance plan BEFORE they show symptoms of an illness. If not, it will be considered a pre-existing condition and could cost you thousands of dollars over your pet’s lifetime. Unfortunately, even the best pet health insurance won’t pay for pre-existing conditions.
Additionally, the sooner you get pet insurance, the sooner the waiting period begins. For example, some plans require a one year waiting period before they will cover hip dysplasia. In the unfortunate event that your puppy has this hereditary condition, he or she will be covered for treatment sooner if you enroll them early.
However, not all companies pay for genetic conditions. Our pet insurance reviews tell you exactly which plans cover or exclude hereditary and congenital conditions. For example: Healthy Paws, the top rated pet insurance, covers all genetic conditions and has a one year waiting period for hip dysplasia.
Is Pet Insurance Worth it?
Many pet parents think so, but this was not always the case.
Pet insurance had a rocky start. Years ago, some companies (see VPI and Nationwide pet insurance reviews) gave the industry a bad reputation because they denied claims and refused reimbursements. Customers trusted them to honor their policies and help pay veterinary costs, but many pet parents were let down.
Things are very different now. All over the internet, there are hundreds of pet insurance reviews from customers thanking insurance for saving their dog or cat’s life. The most reputable pet insuranace companies show up repeatedly on forums and trusted third party review sites like Yelp and Consumers Advocate.
Veterinary care is very expensive, and it gets more expensive every year. Pet insurance has saved pet owners thousands of dollars in veterinary costs. Here are some examples of actual claims submitted for reimbursement:
• $3,000: Ingestion of foreign object and surgery
• $4,025: Patellar luxation, surgery, and pain medications
• $5,100: Glaucoma, ongoing medications, and surgery
• $5,100: Parvo gastroenteritis and medication
• $5,300: Cancer treatment and chemotherapy
• $5,400: Cruciate ligament tear surgery
• $7,800: Hip dysplasia, ongoing medications, and surgery
• $8,300: Fever and pneumonia, emergency surgery, and hospitalization
• $10,500: Diabetes, blood tests, and ongoing medications
Many pet parents cannot afford to pay these out of pocket. Pet insurance reimburses up to 90% of vet bills, so your pet can receive the care they need to live a longer, healthier life.
According to veterinary records, 1 out of every 3 pets may need urgent vet care every year. You have a higher chance of filing an insurance claim on your dog or cat than you do on your home or car!
1 in 3 pets may need urgent vet care every year
How Much does Pet Insurance Cost?
Pet parents spent an estimated $60.59 billion on their pets in 2015, with about 25 percent of the costs, or an estimated $15.73 billion, going toward vet bills. Routine vet care cost an average of $235 for dogs and $196 for cats in 2015, while surgical vet visits cost dogs an average of $551 and cats an estimated $398.
- $786: Average annual vet bills for dogs in 2015
- $594: Average annual vet bills for cats in 2015
That means pet owners can expect to spend between $594 and $786 per year on vet costs alone – and that’s if your dog or cat decides to stick with the average costs. If they end up as the 33 percent of pets that require urgent vet care, or otherwise become ill or injured, vet costs can soar far above the average.
Pet Insurance vs. Savings Account
You’ll find plenty of discussions on online forums and articles that mention setting up a savings account for emergency vet care instead of investing in medical insurance. That way you get to keep and control the money, simply dipping into it when and if your pet needs some type of medical care. While the strategy may be great in theory, it can fall flat in reality.
The number one danger is that you won’t have built up enough funds to cover the cost of whatever emergency or illness that comes your way.
Keep in mind your emergency savings fund will only reach the maximum if your pet cooperates by never getting sick or injured. Also keep in mind that going uninsured is playing the odds that your pet will indeed cooperate, avoiding any emergencies or medical mishaps over his entire lifetime.
Trupanion CEO Darryl Rawlings noted about 1 in 10 pet insurance policyholders file a claim every month, with some pet owners being reimbursed 500 to 700 percent more than they’ll end up paying in premiums over the lifetime of their pets. Rawlings also had a few words of wisdom about playing the odds on your pet’s health care coverage:
“If you’re independently wealthy, you can roll the dice,” said Trupanion CEO Darryl Rawlings.
Puppy Ate a Ball? Pet Insurance Can Help
Let’s say you have a new puppy and you’re going to put $50 each month into your savings account in case of emergency. By the end of the first year, you’ll have $600 on hand.
Now let’s say an emergency hits when he’s 1 year old, like him getting a bit overzealous and eating a batch of tennis balls (true story). Surgery to remove the foreign objects from his stomach can cost around $3,000. Your $600 doesn’t go very far for covering the cost of the operation.
If you had instead paid a monthly premium of $50 (or less) for your puppy, and you had a plan that covered emergencies such as eating tennis balls, your insurance could pick up the bulk of the surgery cost. Many plans let you pick your own deductible and co-pays, which would determine how much of the overall cost the plan would actually cover.
For instance, if you had a $100 deductible and 90 percent reimbursement level, you would be reimbursed $2,600. You’d be responsible for $100 for the deductible as well as 10 percent of the surgery cost, or $300, for a total of $400.
Paying $400 certainly beats paying the full $3,000, especially when it would take five years of $50 monthly investments in your savings account to reach the $3,000 needed for that single surgery.
True, you had to pay a premium every month to get those kinds of benefits. But premiums are something that can be much more easily budgeted into your overall expense plan than a $3,000 unexpected surgery can.
Savings accounts can work great to cover routine vet costs, but they may not measure up when it comes to paying for unforeseen injuries, illnesses or emergencies.
Tips From One Pet Parent to Another
Reviewing and comparing features, benefits and other plan details lets you find the one that best fits your needs and your budget. Basing your decision on price alone can be tricky, since prices vary widely. You need to dig deeper than the price tag to ensure you’re getting a good value for the money.
Let’s say you saw a trip from Los Angeles to New York priced at $100 and another priced at $500. While you may instinctively want to book the $100 trip, you have no clue what you’re getting. Perhaps the $500 trip gives you a non-stop flight with caviar whereas the $100 trip gives you a five-day journey, with frequent stops, crammed in the back of a pickup.
A more strategic way to master the basics of pet insurance is to decide on the type and level of coverage you want for your pet. Coverage options can be loosely broken down into several categories:
Low Coverage Plans
• Usually cover: Accidents only
• May not cover: Any illnesses
Example: May cover treatment for pet hit by car, but not ear infections.
Medium Coverage Plans
• Usually cover: Accidents and many illnesses
• May not cover: Hereditary and congenital conditions
Example: May cover treatment for accidents and ear infections, but not hip dysplasia
High Coverage Plans
• Usually cover: Accidents, illnesses, certain hereditary and congenital conditions
• May not cover: Wellness care
Example: May cover accidents, ear infections and hip dysplasia, but not routine wellness care such as flea, tick and heartworm prevention, spaying or neutering, annual vet visits
Broadest Coverage Plans
• Usually cover: Pretty much everything, including wellness care for routine vet visits
• May not cover: Specific exclusions outlined in policy
Example: May cover the full gamut of treatments as well as routine wellness care
Riders: Wellness care is often offered as an add-on in the form of a rider. You may also find riders for additional coverage for things such as breeding and pregnancy care as well as alternative care and medications when they’re not included in base policy.
Read the fine print carefully. Then read it again.
Each policy can vary by state, by your pet’s age, by its coverage on bilateral conditions, by types of treatments covered, by frequency of treatments for the same ailment, and a gamut of other factors. Provided you are receiving care related to a condition that’s covered in your policy, coverage for that care usually extends to:
• Treatment for the condition
• Diagnostic tests
What’s Not Covered
Pre-existing conditions are generally not covered by any pet health insurance plan. Most also do not cover routine dental cleanings, preventative flea or parasite treatments, and specific hereditary and congenital conditions. Carefully check the exclusions portion of your policy for a detailed outline of conditions or ailments that are not covered. And check those exclusions before you sign on the dotted line.
Talk to your vet about common health issues associated with your particular breed of dog or cat, and then get a clear understanding of what’s different between policies to ensure you choose one that covers those issues.
Other Considerations: For those who like to do the math, we’ve gathered a number of factors to consider when researching your options. You’ll notice a huge consideration is the cost of treating an unexpected emergency or illness, which is the primary reason pet insurance exists.
Remember These Things When Shopping For Pet Insurance
• Age and type of pet
• Breed and common conditions that come with that particular breed
• Deductible, which is the amount you pay per year or per condition before coverage kicks in
• Reimbursement level, which is the percentage of costs or set amount the insurance company pays for covered treatments
• Premium, which is the monthly cost of keeping your policy active
• Overall cost of premiums over lifetime of pet vs. anticipated vet costs
• Peace of mind your pet will get medical care when needed most
• Cost of treating an unforeseen emergency or illnesses
Unforeseen emergencies or illnesses are the clincher – if they never happen, you may be A-OK without insurance. But if they do, your pet may not be A-OK without insurance.
Beware of Exclusions, Limitations and Bad Coverage
• Schedule of premium increases
• Policy renewal conditions and lifetime coverage options
• Coverage for breed-specific conditions
• Age limitations on enrollment or coverage options
• Limits on certain conditions, either with limits capped on amount of reimbursements per condition or exclusions on things like bilateral conditions, such as hip dysplasia, which can occur on both sides of the body. Some companies will only cover one side of the body with bilateral conditions, leaving you out of luck (and funds) if the condition occurs on the other side of the body down the line.
When you trim away all the considerations, equations and other extended thought processes that go into the pet insurance decision, it all boils down to the single question below:
Would You Rather:
a. Roll the dice and hope for the best
b. Pay a monthly premium for the peace of mind that comes with knowing lack of coverage won’t make you choose between getting your pet help and putting your pet down?
Some people like living on the edge. We get it. But it’s not something that’s typically recommended when the life of a furry family member is at stake.
If you do say insurance is a go, you’re not only joining over 1 million other folks who already insure their pets, but you’ve already found the most comprehensive resource for pet health![/vc_column_text]