Compare the Best Pest Insurance Companies
Here are the best pet insurance companies and plans according to our independent review standards:
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance
Paw Protect Pet Insurance
What Is Pet Insurance and How Does It Work?
Pet insurance is a contract between you — the policyholder — and a company that helps pay for unexpected veterinary bills when your pet gets sick or hurt. In exchange for this coverage, you pay regular premium payments.
The standard pet insurance plan covers accidents and illnesses, though some providers (such as Spot) have an accident-only plan. While pet insurance doesn’t include preventive or routine vet care, many companies offer pet wellness plans or add-on coverage for an additional monthly fee.
Pet insurance works differently than human health insurance. The most obvious difference is the reimbursement system.
While your health insurance provider pays your doctor directly for treatments covered under your policy, pet insurance works on a reimbursement system. That means you pay your veterinarian for the full cost of care then file a pet insurance claim for retroactive payment.
Claim approval isn’t guaranteed. If the claim is approved, your provider still may not cover 100% of the costs. Your policy’s reimbursement rate is the percentage of covered claims (after your deductible) the provider will pay. The remainder is your copay, which you are responsible for. Typical reimbursement rates are between 70% and 90% of the bill minus your deductible.
For example, suppose you have a $250 deductible and an 80% reimbursement rate, and you file a $1,000 claim. If approved, you would be responsible for your $250 deductible and 20% of the remaining $750 (which is $150), totaling $400. Your provider would reimburse you $600 (or 80% of $750).
Below, we break down other important aspects of how pet insurance works.
- Deductible: Like personal health insurance, pet insurance doesn’t start paying until you’ve met your deductible or the amount you owe out of pocket first. Pet owners are typically only responsible for paying their deductible once per year.
- Annual limit: Each pet insurance policy comes with an annual coverage limit, which is the maximum amount the provider agrees to pay over a year for your pet’s veterinary expenses.
- Waiting periods: Pet insurance coverage doesn’t start immediately after enrollment. Instead, providers impose a waiting period before coverage begins. A waiting period is the period of time your insurer requires you to wait until your pet is eligible for reimbursement on specific conditions.
- Exclusions: No pet insurer will cover pre-existing conditions, which are any health issues noted by a licensed veterinarian before the start of your policy or during its waiting period. Pet insurance policies often include a list of additional exclusions, such as routine care, grooming and breeding costs, and non-veterinary related costs like food or supplements.
- Choice of veterinarian: Pet insurance providers don’t have networks of preferred caregivers. You can usually visit any licensed vet, providing more freedom in finding the right medical care for your animal.
What Does Pet Insurance Cover?
Pet insurance covers unexpected vet bills resulting from accidents or illnesses involving your pet. This may be a swallowed sock, ingested toxin, cancer or a breed-specific issue. However, the extent of your pet insurance coverage depends on the policy you choose.
There are three main types of pet insurance policies: accident and illness, accident-only and wellness plans.
- Accident and illness: This is the most common and comprehensive type of pet insurance plan. It covers your pet for any labs, treatments, medications and fees related to accidents and illnesses sustained while the policy is in force and after the waiting period has expired.
- Accident-only: An accident-only plan covers the same injuries as the accident and illness plan, such as broken bones, swallowed objects or lacerations, but it doesn’t cover disease, illness and other conditions.
- Wellness: Wellness or preventive care plans usually cover routine checkups, flea and heartworm treatments and preventive procedures, such as vaccinations. Some pet insurance companies cover neutering and spaying in wellness plans, and others offer coverage as a separate add-on.
What Is Not Covered by Pet Insurance?
No pet insurer covers pre-existing conditions, which are symptoms, diagnoses or treatments listed on your pet’s medical records before being insured. For example, you take your dog to the vet before buying pet insurance and they show allergy symptoms. Your pet insurance provider won’t cover any treatments or medications for allergies because it’s classified as a pre-existing condition.
“Taking insurance out before the first vet check, when congenital diseases like heart murmurs and limb deformities can be picked up, is a real no-brainer,” says Dr. Linda Simon, a veterinary surgeon and consultant at FiveBarks.
Pet insurance doesn’t cover a variety of other treatments, known as exclusions. The exact exclusions you have will depend on your policy and provider but commonly include:
- Behavior issues
- Death and theft
- Dental disease
- Elective procedures
- Hip dysplasia
- Pregnancy and birth
- Preventive care
Learn more: What Does Pet Insurance Not Cover?
How To Find the Best Pet Insurance Plan for Your Pet
Although our 2022 pet survey respondents named plan premiums as the most important factor when choosing a pet insurer, cost isn’t the only thing that pet parents should shop for.
Each pet insurance carrier and policy has different pricing, coverage options and extra features, such as discounts, wellness plans or customer service tools — making it overwhelming to find the best plan for you and your pet’s needs.
Here’s how to shop for pet insurance.
- Pick a pet insurance plan type: Do you want comprehensive coverage sparing no expense, or are you satisfied with limited coverage at a cheaper rate? Maybe you’re only concerned about smoothing out the costs of routine pet care. Deciding whether you want standard accident and illness coverage, minimum accident-only coverage or comprehensive wellness coverage will narrow your options.
- Choose appropriate coverage limits: Every pet insurance plan includes a deductible and coverage cap that affect the price you pay for premiums. Many pet insurers allow you to adjust these to fit your financial and coverage needs.
- Consider waiting periods and exclusions: “Understanding what is and is not covered, claim procedures and turnaround times, and reimbursement policies are especially important,” says Dr. Jamie Whittenburg, veterinary director with Senior Tail Waggers.
- Compare quotes: We recommend requesting quotes from at least three different pet insurance providers before choosing a plan. Pay attention to cost, coverage, exclusions and additional coverage options. You should also consider other factors that may be important to you, such as 24/7 customer service or a mobile app.
- Look for available discounts: Pet insurance companies often offer discounts for annual payment, policy bundling, military members, veterinary employees or multi-pet coverage. Below are the discounts offered by top pet insurance providers:
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
The highest percentage of pet owners from our pet insurance survey — or 36% of respondents — paid only $25 to $40 monthly for pet insurance. However, your individual cost depends on several factors, such as the species and breed of your furry companion.
According to quotes we gathered from top providers, pet owners can expect to pay between $30 and $50 per month for dog insurance and $15 to $30 per month for cat insurance.
Dogs are more expensive to insure than cats, and breeds with known health issues, such as the French bulldog, demand higher premiums. The tables below represent the average costs for dog and cat insurance by provider.
Factors That Impact the Cost of Pet Insurance
Your premium price depends on various factors determining your pet’s unique risk level. In addition to the species and breed, your pet’s age and location affect your insurance premiums.
Here are the major factors that determine your pet insurance policy’s cost:
- Species: Cats are generally more affordable to insure than dogs due to their relatively predictable health.
- Breed: Your pet’s breed also influences the cost of your pet insurance. For example, golden retrievers are more expensive to insure than mixed-breed dogs due to their susceptibility to certain conditions, such as hip dysplasia and skin conditions. “Being familiar with your pet’s genetic disease predispositions and aware of the risks and costs of treatment are good points to consider when choosing an insurance policy,” says Pangolia’s senior in-house veterinarian, Dr. Paola Cuevas.
- Age: Older pets are more likely to get sick or injured, so they’re more expensive to insure than younger animals. Insuring your pet as early as possible is the best way to save on high premiums and ensure you get the most out of your pet’s coverage.
- Location: Pet insurance companies will consider how much your local veterinarians charge for services to determine how much you’ll need to pay monthly for a policy. Your state may also place regulations on how much providers can charge for coverage.
How Pet Insurance Helps You Avoid High Vet Bills
Though emergency pet insurance can be a smart way to protect yourself financially, some vet bills are avoidable. When you become a pet parent, it’s important to ensure that your pet’s environment is conducive to their happiness and health.
Dr. Linda Simon, veterinary surgeon and consultant for FiveBarks, has four simple suggestions for keeping your pet out of trouble — and out of the vet clinic. She advises owners to:
- Ensure dogs are up-to-date with their preventive care, like vaccines and dewormers.
- Keep toxic items like paints, human medicine and grapes away from curious pets.
- Ensure pets don’t have the opportunity to munch on indigestible things like plastic, bones or corn cobs.
- Remove dangerous flora from your garden or yard, especially if your pet has unsupervised access to it.
Common Pet Insurance Claims
Data compiled by Healthy Paws shows that the most common conditions among dogs and cats are gastrointestinal (stomach) issues caused by inflammation, toxic ingestion or another severe illness. Without pet insurance, treatment for these conditions could cost up to $29,000 or more. Compare that to a pet insurance policy for $120 to $1,200 annually, and you can see why pet insurance could be a worthwhile investment.
Here are the most common reasons for vet visits and the potential costs, according to Healthy Paws:
Although it’s clear that even common vet visits can be expensive, it’s important to be able to take your fur baby to the vet without insecurity about the cost of care.
“Animals do not speak. They are also very good at masking disease, and by the time most owners start to realize that something is going on with their pets, they are usually very sick,” says Dr. Cuevas. “There is no better way of caring for our beloved family members than having the peace of mind that their medical needs will be covered.”
Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
Yes, pet insurance is worth it for most pet parents. In our pet insurance survey, 93% of respondents said pet insurance is worth it to them and 73.5% were either satisfied (40%) or very satisfied (33.5%) with their pet insurance provider.
When we asked a licensed veterinarian if she would recommend pet parents invest in pet insurance, she said that while many pet owners believe pet insurance is unnecessary, it is often worth it.
“When any of my clients contact me about a new pet coming into the family, the first thing I tell them to do is get pet insurance … It is the most important investment an owner can make. I have had pet insurance for all my dogs and I am a veterinarian … Over the years, pet insurance has paid me more than I have paid the [company],” says Dr. Shannon Barrett, veterinarian and owner of Downward Paws.
Read more: Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
The Bottom Line: Which Is the Best Pet Insurance Company?
With so many pet insurance companies to choose from, finding the right one can be difficult. But whether you’re looking for a low monthly premium, fast claims or the most robust wellness plan, there’s a pet insurer for you on this list.
We recommend Lemonade for its extensive customization options, high maximum coverage limit and easy-to-use mobile app. Still, other providers may be a better fit depending on your pet’s needs. For example, Embrace has a variety of unique savings opportunities, Figo offers unlimited coverage with total reimbursement and ASPCA has a long-standing reputation and years of experience.
To ensure you meet your goals when shopping for pet insurance, we recommend requesting three quotes from at least three providers. This allows you to easily compare coverage, unique benefits and pricing.
Methodology: Our System for Ranking the Best Pet Insurance Companies
Our review of pet insurance companies is based on in-depth industry research that includes reading hundreds of customer reviews, scoping quote and purchasing processes by secret shopping, speaking to representatives on the phone to assess the customer service experience, and surveying 1,000 dog and cat owners nationwide to determine the most important elements of pet insurance coverage.
We scored each provider on a 100-point scale based on those elements. We then divided this final score by 20 to calculate an overall star rating out of 5.0 stars.
Here are more details about each factor and how it’s weighted:
- Monthly pricing (25%): The best pet insurance companies combine comprehensive coverage and plan options with affordable rates.
- Plans (15%): The top pet insurance companies offer accident-and-illness plans, accident-only plans and wellness or preventive care add-ons to give customers the option to choose a plan that’s best for their pet.
- Covered treatments (15%): We scored companies based on the treatments and procedures they cover. Companies with a breadth of included treatments and unique coverages received more points than providers with more standard or general policies.
- Customization options (10%): Providers with more annual limit, deductible and reimbursement-rate options earned the highest scores.
- Customer care (10%): We scored companies on their website accessibility and overall usability, customer service availability, mobile apps (if any), money-back guarantees and veterinarian telehealth options, awarding points to the insurers with more customer experience offerings.
- Industry reputation (10%): We reviewed up-to-date ratings and accreditation information from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and scored companies on their years of industry experience and state availability.
- Waiting periods (10%): Companies with shorter accident, illness and orthopedic waiting periods between the sign-up and coverage start date scored higher than companies with longer waiting periods.
- Eligible age (5%): Some companies don’t offer policies for pets over a certain age. We deducted points from providers that have age limits for covered pets.
We used our rating system to compare and contrast each company against key factors to help us determine the best pet insurance companies in the industry. To learn more, read our full pet insurance methodology for reviewing and scoring providers.
Mike Miller is a writer with a decade of experience in various editorial roles. Before joining our team, he wrote for several high-profile clients producing content in the digital space. He has extensive experience producing product and service content to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. Mike has a bachelor’s degree in creative advertising. In his spare time, Mike enjoys riding and fixing motorcycles, reading a good book and spending time with his wife and two cats.
Sabrina Lopez is an editor with over six years of experience writing and editing digital content with a particular focus on topics in home services and products, as well as personal finance. Prior to her editorial experience, Sabrina earned her bachelor’s degree and a certificate to teach English for middle and high school. When she is not working on articles to help consumers make informed decisions, Sabrina enjoys creative writing and spending time with her family and their two parrots.
Dr. Patrik Holmboe lives in Amsterdam and currently serves as Head Veterinarian for Cooper Pet Care, the leading veterinary telemedicine provider in the Netherlands. He has previously worked for over five years as a companion-animal vet in Australia, Dubai and the Netherlands.