Best Pet Insurance Companies

Pet Assure offers low costs plans for many types of pets

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Many pet parents enroll in pet insurance plans to help manage costs and prepare for unexpected veterinary emergencies. These policies typically incur a low monthly cost, but can pay for up to tens of thousands of dollars in unanticipated vet bills—coverage that could equal a life-saving operation for your pet.

The best pet insurance companies offer generous accident and illness coverage, flexible premiums and deductibles, and transparent terms. They also offer discounts for insuring multiple pets, some preventive care coverage, and add-on riders for additional protection.

Best Pet Insurance Companies of 2021

Best Overall : Pet Assure

Investopedia's Rating
4.1

Pet Assure

 Pet Assure

  • Coverage types: Discount plan
  • Starting price: $99 per year
  • Deductible: $0
Why We Chose It

While Pet Assure doesn’t fall under the standard pet insurance umbrella, its low cost and flexibility make it our top pick for owners of all types of pets.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Low monthly fees

  • Covers all types of pets

  • No annual limits or deductibles

  • Not subject to waiting periods

  • Pays for pre-existing conditions

Cons
  • Limited to in-network veterinarians (which number about 5,600)

  • Covers only 25% of costs

  • Prescriptions not covered

Coverage

Pet Assure offers plans for a single cat, a single dog, a family plan for up to four animals of any size, and an unlimited plan for all pets in your household. Best of all, there’s no waiting period before you can use your coverage. All of Pet Assure’s plans come with discounted veterinary services, including treatments related to:

  • Accidents
  • Illnesses
  • Preventive care
  • Pre-existing conditions
Pricing

Pet Assure insurance is pretty affordable, plus there is no deductible. You can save some money on your policy if you choose the annual billing option. These are the rates for each insurance plan:

  • Single cat plan: $9.95 per month 
  • Single dog plan: $11.95 per month
  • Family plan: $16.95 per month
  • Unlimited plan: $21.95 per month
Usage

Instead of paying for veterinary costs in full and out-of-pocket, Pet Assure members simply need to visit a participating veterinarian and present their membership information to get discounted services. The Pet Assure network limits you to one of more than 5,600 participating vets spread throughout the country and will reimburse 25% of veterinary costs.

  • Deductibles: None
  • Annual limits: None
  • Copays: 75%
  • Waiting period: None
  • Network size: 5,600 providers

Read the full Pet Assure pet insurance review

Best for Routine Care : PetFirst

Investopedia's Rating
4.0

PetFirst Pet Insurance

 PetFirst Pet Insurance

  • Coverage types: Accident and illness, preventative
  • Starting price: $125 per year
  • Deductible: $250
Why We Chose It

PetFirst’s wellness rider gives the best value for routine care with flexible benefits that can be tailored to your average annual expenditure.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Wellness benefits available from $125 to $575 annually

  • Deductible of just $250

  • Accident coverage begins the day after enrollment

  • Online resource center

Cons
  • Each preventive treatment has its own individual limit

  • Accident and injury limits max out at $10,000 per year

  • Doesn’t offer an accident-only plan

Coverage

PetFirst offers a single insurance policy that provides coverage for pet injuries, illnesses, and related treatments, including:

  • Hospitalizations
  • Surgeries
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Exam fees
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasounds
  • Medications
  • Holistic care
  • Alternative therapies
  • Emergency care

You can begin using the accident coverage just one day after your enrollment begins, but you have to wait 14 days before using the coverage for illnesses. 

Pet owners also have the option to add PetFirst’s Routine Rider Coverage, which pays for the cost of your pet’s annual vet exam, vaccines, behavioral training, microchipping, and more. This rider is available in five tiers, with $125 to $575 in annual coverage.

Pricing

PetFirst’s accident and injury pet insurance plan has a fixed deductible of $250. You can get a personalized insurance quote through the website, but these are the starting premiums for accident and illness coverage:

  • Dog insurance: $15 per month
  • Cat insurance: $9 per month

The company also offers a handful of discounts. Professionals who work in certain fields, including with animals, are eligible for a 10% discount on their pet’s policy. Multi-pet families can save 5% or more.

Usage

You can use PetFirst pet insurance at any licensed veterinarian in the United States, including emergency animal hospitals and specialists. Once you’re approved for coverage, you can begin using your accident plan within one day after enrollment. However, you have to wait 14 days before you can use the coverage for illnesses.

  • Deductibles: $250
  • Annual limits: Up to $10,000
  • Copays: 20%
  • Waiting period: One day for accidents, 14 days for illnesses
  • Network size: Unlimited

Read the full PetFirst pet insurance review

Best for Multiple Pets : ASPCA

Investopedia's Rating
4.0

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

  • Coverage types: Accident, illness, and wellness
  • Starting price: $150 per year
  • Deductible: $100 to $500
Why We Chose It

The ASPCA covers dogs and cats and also offers a 10% multi-pet discount, making it the best choice for homes with multiple furry family members.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Multiple pet discount (10% off per pet)

  • Covers dogs and cats

  • Offers a smartphone app

  • Visit any licensed veterinarian in the U.S. or Canada

Cons
  • Doesn’t offer unlimited benefits

  • Not directly administered by the ASPCA

  • Wellness benefits subject to per-treatment limits

Coverage

ASPCA partners with Crum & Forster Insurance to offer pet insurance for dogs and cats. There are two plans available—one that includes accident and illness coverage and an accident-only plan. You can start using your coverage after a 14-day waiting period, but you can use preventive care coverage the day after enrollment begins.

ASPCA’s Complete Coverage policy includes the following coverages:

  • Accidents
  • Illnesses
  • Hereditary conditions
  • Dental diseases
  • Behavioral health

ASPCA’s Accident-Only Coverage policy exclusively pays for accident-related injuries and treatment, such as:

  • Torn ligaments
  • Bite wounds
  • Broken bones
  • Swallowed objects
  • X-rays
  • MRIs
  • Ultrasounds
  • Surgery
  • Hospitalization

In addition, pet owners can add a preventive care coverage rider to either policy to get coverage for vaccines, dental cleanings, routine screenings, and more.

Pricing

The cost of ASPCA’s pet insurance depends on the type of pet you have, your pet's age, and the specific plan. You can get a personalized quote online to see how much coverage will cost for your pet. Deductibles range from $100 to $500, and coverage is available up to $10,000. For households with more than one pet, ASPCA offers a 10% discount for each subsequent pet that you add to the policy. 

Usage

Getting care for your entire household of pets is incredibly easy through the ASPCA. Simply visit any licensed veterinarian in the United States or Canada, and save a copy of the bill. Once you’ve paid, it takes only a few minutes to snap a photo and upload it to ASPCA’s free My Pet Insurance app.

  • Deductibles: $100 to $500
  • Annual limits: Up to $10,000
  • Copays: 10% to 30%
  • Waiting period: 14 days for accident and illness coverage, one day for preventative care
  • Network size: Unlimited

Read the full ASPCA pet insurance review

Best for Emergencies : Embrace

Investopedia's Rating
4.0

Embrace

Embrace

  • Coverage types: Accident, illness
  • Starting price: $145 per year
  • Deductible: From $200 (discounts available)
Why We Chose It

In case of an injury, Embrace has plans that will cover your pet’s emergency bills at any licensed veterinary hospital. Accident benefits start after just two days, a shorter waiting period than most competitors.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Covers emergency care and hospitalization at any licensed clinic

  • Short waiting period for accidents

  • Accident-only plan available

  • Vanishing deductible program

Cons
  • Doesn’t offer zero-deductible or unlimited benefit options

  • Additional fees for enrolling and paying monthly

  • Mediocre wellness options

Coverage

Embrace offers two pet insurance policies: one for accidents-only and one for accidents plus illnesses. There is a two-day waiting period before you can use your accident coverage benefits and a 14-day waiting period for illnesses 

The Accident and Illness pet insurance policy from Embrace offers “nose to tail coverage” and includes a wide range of treatments and services, such as:

  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery
  • Exam fees
  • Emergency care
  • Hereditary conditions
  • Congenital conditions
  • Chronic conditions
  • Cancer treatment
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Diagnostic screenings
  • Prescriptions
  • Rehabilitation

Embrace’s Accident-Only pet insurance plan is available for dogs (and is uniquely available for those over the age of 15). It covers costs related to:

  • Swallowed objects
  • Car accidents
  • Injuries
  • Poisoning
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Prescription drugs for covered conditions

Embrace also offers Wellness Rewards for Routine Care rider, which helps pay for things like annual check-ups, vaccines, prescription diet food, and microchipping.

Pricing

Pet insurance from Embrace starts at $145 per year, and it’s easy to get a customized quote online based on your pet’s age, breed, and the amount of coverage you want. Deductibles range from $200 to $1,000 for the accident and illness plan, while the accident-only plan has an annual deductible of $100. 

A unique aspect of Embrace is that it offers a Healthy Pet Deductible discount. For every year with Embrace that you don’t file an accident- or illness-related claim, the company will reduce your deductible by $50. There’s also a 10% multi-pet discount (one-time discount for policies with two or more pets), a 5% military discount, and a 10% discount if you get coverage through your employer.

Usage

With an Embrace pet insurance policy, you can take your dog or cat to any licensed veterinarian office or animal hospital for treatment. Claims are filed online by logging into the MyEmbrace customer portal. Claims usually get processed within 10 to 15 business days as long as you include all the necessary information upfront. Keep in mind that you’ll need to wait 14 days before using your coverage for illness and two days for accidents.

  • Deductibles: $100 to $1,000
  • Annual limits: Up to $30,000
  • Copays: 10% to 30%
  • Waiting period: Two days for accidents, 14 days for illnesses
  • Network size: Unlimited

Read the full Embrace pet insurance review

Best for Holistic Care : Figo

Investopedia's Rating
4.0

Figo
Figo
  • Coverage types: Accident, Illness
  • Starting price: From $92 per year
  • Deductible: $100 to $750
Why We Chose It

Figo is the friendliest insurer for pet parents who prefer to seek alternative treatments for their pets.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Base plan includes holistic care

  • Visit any licensed veterinarian

  • 24/7 virtual vet visits available

  • 30-day money-back guarantee

  • Flexible customer service

Cons
  • Exam fees not covered in base plan

  • Recommends an enrollment exam

Coverage

Figo offers three pet insurance plans that cover accidents and injuries. Coverage is available in three tiers—Essential, Preferred, and Ultimate—that include varying levels of annual coverage:

  • Essential plan: $5,000 
  • Preferred plan: $10,000
  • Ultimate plan: Unlimited

Figo’s accident and injury pet insurance policy includes coverage for the following treatments and services:

  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization
  • Diagnostic testing
  • Hereditary conditions
  • Congenital conditions
  • Chronic conditions
  • Cancer treatment
  • Surgeries
  • Holistic and alternative treatments
  • Behavioral health

Figo has recently added a wellness plan to their mix. This is obtained by a Wellness Rider for preventative care and can be enhanced with the Extra Care Pack and Exam Fee power-ups.  

Before you can use your coverage, you’ll have to wait one day for an injury visit and 14 days for an illness visit. Plus, some orthopedic conditions can have a six-month waiting period.

Pricing

Pet insurance from Figo starts at $92 per year, but we recommend getting a personalized rate quote online for your pet. Deductibles are available between $100 and $750. On its website, Figo mentions that discounts are available, but they vary by state and are subject to a maximum discount percentage. Your best option is to reach out to customer service and ask about the savings opportunities where you live.

Usage

Figo doesn't have any network limitations, so you can bring your pet to any licensed veterinarian, clinic, or animal hospital and file a claim for covered services, including holistic care. Just remember that there is a waiting period of three days for an injury visit and 14 days for an illness visit. In the meantime, you'll have access to a 24/7 virtual veterinarian through Figo Pet Cloud in case you have any questions about your pet's health.

  • Deductibles: $100 to $750
  • Annual limits: $5,000 to unlimited
  • Copays: 0 to 30%
  • Waiting period: One day for illness, 14 days for accidents
  • Network size: Unlimited

Read the full Figo pet insurance review

Best for Older Dogs : Hartville

Investopedia's Rating
3.9

Hartville

Hartville

  • Coverage types: Accident, illness
  • Starting price: From $138
  • Deductible: $100, $250, or $500
Why We Chose It

No matter how old your pet is, Hartville will let them sign up for a policy. Not only can senior dogs get accident-only coverage, they can still get illness and accident coverage too.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No maximum age limit

  • Illness, accident, and wellness coverage for all ages

  • One-month trial period

  • Helpful online resources

  • Multiple pet discount (10% off per pet)

Cons
  • High premiums

  • Scheduled preventive care benefits

  • Long waiting period for injuries

Coverage

Hartville pet insurance covers all dogs and cats, regardless of their age. Policies are underwritten by Crum & Forster Insurance, which is the same insurer that provides coverage for the ASPCA.

There are two policies available from Hartville. The Complete Coverage policy includes coverage for accidents and illnesses, including conditions like:

  • Hereditary conditions
  • Dental diseases
  • Behavioral health
  • Cancer
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Diabetes
  • Eye disorders

As an alternative, pet owners can buy an Accident-Only Coverage plan that exclusively pays for accident-related injuries and treatment, including:

  • Exam fees
  • X-rays
  • MRIs
  • Ultrasounds
  • Surgery
  • Swallowed objects

In addition, Hartville sells a Preventive Care Coverage rider which pays for the cost of routine wellness visits, vaccines, and dental cleanings. You must wait 14 days before you can use your plan for accidents and illnesses. 

Pricing

Pet insurance through Harville starts at $138 per year, but you can easily get a quote online for your pet’s age, breed, and the amount of coverage you want. You can select a deductible between $100 and $500, with the option for unlimited annual coverage limits (minimum of $5,000). Pet owners can save 10% on their premium for each additional pet they insure.

Usage

Hartville doesn’t work with a specific network of providers, so you can take your pet to any veterinarian in the country and you’ll be able to use your insurance to pay for covered services and treatments. Just remember that there’s a 14-day waiting period to use your coverage for both accidents and illnesses. After your pet’s visit, you can submit a claim online through the Member Center.

  • Deductibles: $100 to $500
  • Annual limits: $5,000 to unlimited
  • Copays: 10% to 30%
  • Waiting period: 14 days for accidents and illnesses
  • Network size: Unlimited

Read the full Hartville pet insurance review

Best for Chronic Conditions : 24PetWatch

Investopedia's Rating
3.9

24 Pet Watch

 24 Pet Watch

  • Coverage types: Accident, illness
  • Starting price: From $340 per year
  • Deductible: $100 to $1,000
Why We Chose It

If your pet battles a chronic condition, 24PetWatch’s $20,000 maximum annual limit will be more than sufficient to cover treatment. And, most pre-existing conditions are no longer excluded from coverage after 24 months without symptoms.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • High annual limit

  • Pre-existing conditions reconsidered after 24 months symptom-free

  • Coverage includes trip cancellation and boarding

  • Visit any licensed veterinarian

Cons
  • Expensive premiums

  • Veterinary exam or medical records required

  • Age limits for dogs and cats

  • Plans difficult to understand

Coverage

24PetWatch offers four pet insurance policies for cats and dogs. The only difference between these policies is the annual limit available. Here’s how much coverage is offered with each plan:

  • The Extra Plan: $3,000 in annual coverage
  • The Classic Plan: $5,000 in annual coverage
  • The Superior Plan: $10,000 in annual coverage
  • The Champion Plan: $20,000 in annual coverage

Every plan from 24PetWatch covers accidents, illnesses, and related treatments, such as:

  • Exam fees
  • Hospitalization
  • Surgeries
  • Physical therapy
  • Lab tests
  • X-rays, ultrasound
  • Medications
  • Alternative treatments

Plus, 24PetWatch will pay up to $500 for additional costs without requiring a deductible or coinsurance. These extra coverages include:

  • Boarding kennel fees 
  • Trip cancellation 
  • Additional living expenses
  • Lost pet recovery costs

There is an option for a Wellness Coverage rider to add to any policy for a few extra dollars per month. It reimburses the cost of routine and preventative care for your dog or cat, including annual exams, vaccines, and dental care. You can start using your plan’s injury coverage two days after the policy takes effect, but you have to wait 14 days to use it for illness coverage.

Pricing

The starting price for a pet insurance policy from 24PetWatch is $340 per year. However, the actual price you'll pay depends on the annual coverage limit you choose, the deductible, and the reimbursement percentage of your policy, in addition to your pet's age and breed. Deductibles are available between $100 and $1,000 for most policies. Owners can receive a 5% discount for registering their pet's microchip number.

Usage

Pet owners can use a 24PetWatch insurance policy at any vet clinic or animal hospital in the United States. The waiting period is two days for accidents and 14 days for illnesses.

  • Deductibles: $100 to $1,000
  • Annual limits: $3,000 to $20,000
  • Copays: 20%
  • Waiting period: Two days for accidents, 14 days for illnesses
  • Network size: Unlimited

Read the full 24PetWatch pet insurance review

Best for Servicemembers : USAA

Investopedia's Rating
4.0

USAA

 USAA

  • Coverage types: Accident, illness, wellness
  • Starting price: From $68 per year
  • Deductible: Not public
Why We Chose It

USAA is the go-to military provider for all types of insurance, and pet policies are no exception. Pet parents can qualify for up to a 25% discount on their premiums.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Discounts of 15% to 25% for those who qualify

  • Visit any licensed vet in the U.S.

  • Multiple types of policies to choose from

  • Pre-existing conditions covered after one year symptom-free

  • No age restrictions on accident-only plan

Cons
  • Only available to military members and their families

  • Takes 10 to 15 days to receive funds after claim approval

  • Unlimited benefits not available

  • Policies administered by a third party

Coverage

There are several USAA pet insurance plans to choose from that are administered through Embrace, including accident-only coverage, accident and illness coverage, and a wellness benefits rider.

USAA’s accident-only pet insurance policy will pay for treatment related to incidents like:

  • Swallowed objects
  • Bites
  • Burns
  • Eye injuries
  • Toxic ingestion
  • Sprains
  • Broken bones

The accident and illness policy offers more robust coverage for the following health conditions, treatments, and procedures:

  • Breed-specific conditions
  • Emergency care
  • Cancer treatment
  • Surgery
  • Hospitalization 
  • Chronic conditions
  • Alternative therapies and rehabilitation
  • Congenital conditions
  • Prescription drugs
  • Diagnostic testing
  • Behavioral therapy

You can add the Wellness Rewards rider to your policy to get coverage for preventive and routine care, like vaccinations and microchipping. There is a two-day waiting period for injuries and a 14-day waiting period for illnesses. However, orthopedic conditions have a waiting period of up to six months.

Pricing

USAA’s pet insurance coverage is extremely affordable. Policies start at just $68 per year. The company doesn’t disclose the deductible options, but when you buy coverage through Embrace directly, you can choose a deductible between $200 and $500. You can contact USAA to confirm which deductibles are available for the policy you want.

As a USAA member, you can automatically qualify for up to 15% off your pet insurance policy. If you have multiple pets or are current or former active duty military, you may get extra savings for a maximum discount of 25%.

Usage

You can use USAA pet insurance at any licensed vet or animal hospital in the country, with no restrictions. Just remember that there’s a mandatory waiting period of two days for accidents and 14 days for illnesses. You can submit a claim online through the Embrace website, and you should get reimbursed between 10 and 15 days if the service is covered.

  • Deductibles: Not disclosed
  • Annual limits: Not disclosed
  • Copays: 10% to 30%
  • Waiting period: Two days for accidents, 14 days for illnesses
  • Network size: Unlimited

Read the full USAA pet insurance review

Best Affordable Pet Insurance : Progressive

Investopedia's Rating
3.9

Progressive

Progressive

  • Coverage Types: Accident, illness, wellness
  • Starting Price: $6 to $9 per month
  • Deductible: $50 to $1,000
Why We Chose It

Progressive’s pet insurance policies start at just $6 per month, and there are multiple discounts available, making it one of the best affordable providers on our list.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Affordable premiums

  • Discounts available

  • Easy to get a quote online

  • 24/7 Pet Helpline

  • Unlimited annual coverage limit option

Cons
  • Not much information online

  • Progressive doesn’t underwrite its own policies

Coverage

Progressive sells pet insurance through Pets Best, one of the leading pet insurance providers. There are three insurance plans available that cover accidents and illnesses, accidents only, and routine care. There is a three-day waiting period to use your coverage for accidents and 14 days for illnesses. 

The BestBenefit Plan is the accident and injury plan, which covers the following:

  • Accidents
  • Illnesses
  • Exam fees (optional)
  • Cancer treatments
  • Hereditary conditions
  • Emergency care
  • Surgery

The Accident-Only Plan covers treatment and medical services related to accidents, such as: 

  • Broken bones
  • Bites
  • Swallowed objects

Progressive also sells two preventive and routine care policies through Pets Best—the EssentialWellness Plan and the BestWellness Plan. These plans cover the same services and treatments, but they have different annual benefits. The EssentialWellness Plan includes up to $305 in annual benefits, and the BestWellness Plan includes up to $535 in annual benefits. Here is a brief list of services that these plans cover:

  • Teeth cleaning
  • Flea and tick prevention
  • Vaccines
  • Wellness exams
  • Blood work
  • Microchipping
  • Deworming
Pricing

Progressive pet insurance through Pets Best is very affordable, and most of the rates are advertised online. Here are the rates for the accident-only plan:

  • Accident-only plan for cats: $6 per month
  • Accident-only plan for dogs: $9 per month

The routine and preventative care plans are slightly more expensive, but they don’t require a deductible. Here’s how much you will pay for both cats and dogs:

  • EssentialWellness Plan: $16 per month
  • BestWellness Plan: $26 per month

If you are interested in the BestBenefit Plan accident and injury plan, you’ll need to get a personalized quote through Progressive’s website. The prices are based on the type of animal, the breed, the deductible, and the annual coverage limit. You can choose a deductible of $50 to $1,000.

Additionally, Progressive offers several pet insurance discounts. You can save 5% on a BestBenefit policy, plus another 5% when you insure more than one pet in your household. 

Usage

With Progressive pet insurance, you can take your dog or cat to any licensed vet in the country. Submitting a claim online is simple, but keep in mind that you’ll be working directly with Pets Best. Like most pet insurance providers, Progressive has a waiting period of three days for accident coverage and 14 days for illness coverage.

  • Deductibles: $50 to $1,000
  • Annual limits: $5,000 to unlimited
  • Copays: 10% to 30%
  • Waiting period: Three days for accidents, 14 days for illnesses
  • Network size: Unlimited

Read the full Progressive pet insurance review

Final Verdict

With so many pet insurance companies to choose from, it’s not always easy to find the best pet insurance. Nonetheless, we choose Pet Assure because it takes a different approach to pet insurance by offering a flat discount on nearly any type of vet visit with no deductibles or annual limits.

Compare Pet Insurance Providers

Company Coverage Emergency Coverage Preventative Care Waiting Period Network Size
Pet Assure Best Overall Accident, Illness, Preventative Yes Yes None 5,600 providers
PetFirst Best for Routine Care Accident, Illness, Wellness Yes Yes 1 to 14 days Unlimited
ASPCA Best for Multiple Pets Accident, Illness Yes No 14 days Unlimited
Embrace Best for Emergencies Accident, Illness Yes No 2 to 14 days Unlimited
GEICO Best for Discounts Accident, Illness Yes No 14 days Unlimited
Figo Best for Holistic Care Accident, Illness Yes No 1 to 14 days Unlimited
Hartville Best for Older Dogs Accident, Illness Yes No 14 days Unlimited
24PetWatch Best for Chronic Conditions Accident, Illness Yes No 2 to 14 days Unlimited
USAA Best for Service Members Accident, Illness, Wellness Yes Yes 2 to 14 days Unlimited
Progressive Best Affordable Pet Insurance Accident, Illness, Wellness Yes Yes 3 to 14 days Unlimited

Guide to Buying the Best Pet Insurance for Your Pets

Before you purchase pet insurance, you should consider a few things to better understand what value your policy will provide and determine the best option for your pet’s health and your budget.

Cost of Pet Insurance

Several factors impact the cost of pet insurance. Here are some of the biggest factors:

  • Type of pet: The type of animal you have will affect the cost of your insurance. Typically, it’s slightly cheaper to insure cats than dogs.
  • Pet breeds: Insurance companies will consider your pet’s breed when calculating your rate because certain animal breeds are more likely to experience health issues. 
  • Number of pets: Insuring multiple pets will be more expensive, but many insurance companies offer a discount for adding more than one pet to your policy. 
  • Type of coverage: Certain pet insurance policies are more expensive than others. For instance, an accident and illness policy is going to be more expensive than an accident-only policy simply because it offers more coverage.
  • Amount of coverage: The higher your annual coverage limit is, the more expensive your policy will be. An unlimited coverage policy is usually the most expensive option you can buy.
  • Deductible: Choosing a higher deductible will lower your monthly rate and vice versa. If you want affordable coverage, opting for a high deductible might be a good option if you can afford the out-of-pocket cost.

Types of Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is not a one-size-fits-all. There are a few different types of pet insurance that are common. Here are the three main policies you’ll find:

  • Accident and illness plans: Accident and illness pet insurance plans cover most necessary treatments and services if your pet gets hurt or sick. This includes things like x-rays, medications, hospitalization, and surgery. It’s useful for any pet, but keep in mind that many insurance companies have an age limit for these policies. Pricing for accident and illness plans depends on the annual coverage limit you choose, the deductible, the type of pet you have, the breed, and your pet’s age.
  • Accident-only plans: An accident-only pet insurance plan will only cover treatments related to accidents, such as swallowed objects, burns, and bites. In most cases, accident-only plans don’t have an age cap, which makes it a good option for older pets. This type of coverage is a good investment if your pet is mostly healthy, but you want coverage for unexpected incidents.
  • Wellness plans: Pet wellness plans are either sold as standalone policies or as a rider that can be added to an accident and illness or accident-only plan. It covers routine and preventative care, including vaccines, microchipping, spaying/neutering, and annual vet exams. Wellness plans are usually inexpensive, but most services have an individual limit. Because of that, the value of a wellness plan might not be worth it if your vet’s regular service fees are pretty affordable.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Pet insurance is a type of insurance policy that helps protect you financially in the event of unexpected veterinary costs. The way pet insurance works is like other health insurance policies in spite of actually being property insurance.

When you purchase pet insurance, you'll pay a monthly premium to the insurance company in exchange for ongoing coverage. Keep in mind that most insurance companies have a waiting period before you can use your benefits.

If your pet gets sick or is injured, you'll visit the vet or animal hospital. If your policy has direct billing, you'll be asked to provide your insurance details upfront rather than pay for the services out-of-pocket.

After your pet is treated, you'll gather the invoices from the vet and submit a claim to your insurance company for partial or full reimbursement, depending on your plan. You'll typically need to pay an annual deductible before the insurance company starts covering costs.

In addition, some pet insurance policies also require a copay for certain services, which is an extra out-of-pocket cost on top of the deductible. Once you pay the full deductible, all eligible veterinary costs will be covered up to your policy's annual limit for the remainder of the year.

In a recent interview with Dr. Doug Kenney, a retired veterinarian and moderator of the Your Pet Insurance Guide blog, he said, "Pet health insurance is technically property and casualty (P&C) insurance and not in the health insurance category. Despite this, it is health insurance. The current model is reimbursement insurance. You pay the veterinarian, file a claim, and the insurance company will reimburse you an amount minus the deductible and copay and any uncovered expenses."

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Pet insurance covers different types of treatments depending on the plan. Accident-only policies only pay for bills that result from an injury, for example, if your pet is hit by a car or ingests a foreign object. Accident and illness policies cover these injuries in addition to most illnesses, from common viruses to serious diseases like cancer.

Some insurers give pet parents the option to add on wellness coverage, which pays for some or all of your pet’s preventive care costs like vaccinations and annual checkups. Without a wellness rider, however, these treatments generally aren’t covered by a standard policy.

Keep in mind that there are certain things that are not covered by pet insurance. Some of the most common are pre-existing conditions, pregnancy, theft of a pet, death of a pet, and elective procedures. Additionally, some pets are not eligible for coverage based on their age or breed.

Is Pet Insurance Expensive?

The cost of pet insurance depends on many different factors. First and foremost is your pet’s age, size, and breed, which can affect the likelihood that they will become sick or require veterinary attention. Your monthly premiums will also depend on the annual limit, deductible, and reimbursement percentage you choose when you sign up for coverage. Finally, of course, each company sets its own pricing. Among the top pet insurers we reviewed, costs for a two-year-old dog started at $11.95 a month on the low end of things.

Is Pet Insurance Tax-Deductible?

Unfortunately, pet insurance is not tax-deductible in the vast majority of cases. The only exception may be if you rely on a guide dog or service animal for a disability. According to the IRS, the costs of feeding and caring for a legitimate service animal fall under tax-deductible expenses, which might include an insurance policy that helps pay for veterinary expenses. This rule does not apply to emotional support animals.

Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?

Pet parents know that the cost of pet ownership is not cheap, and it's impossible to say whether pet insurance will ever pay for itself simply because no one can predict the future. Ultimately, having pet insurance is worth it for some people but not for others.

Ideally, your pet will never suffer a major illness or injury that requires extensive veterinary care. But as with all insurance, the idea is that by paying a nominal fee for coverage, you'll eliminate the risk of having to pay thousands in the unlikely event that your pet does face a critical emergency. Many pet owners feel that this cost is worth knowing they'll never face a time that they can't afford a life-saving procedure for their beloved 4-legged family members.

Dr. Kenney also noted in his recent interview that "Pet insurance isn't a one-size-fits-all type of product. A pet insurance company and policy needs to be chosen around the needs of the pet, the wants of the pet owner, and the budget available for the pet's healthcare expenses."

For example, let's say your pet is hit by a car and is rushed to the nearest veterinary hospital. After an emergency surgery, the total bill comes to $2,500. Without pet insurance, you'd be on the hook for the full amount. However, if you had a mid-tier policy with a $500 deductible and an 80% reimbursement rate, you'd only be responsible for $1,000 out of pocket.

Pet Insurance vs. Dog Life Insurance: Which Do I Need?

Pet insurance is designed to help you more easily afford the high costs of veterinarian care for your dog, cat, or other pet. It is possible to get dog life insurance which is a life insurance policy that pays a benefit when your dog passes away. Though expensive and often reserved for working dogs, dog life insurance helps pay for the costs associated with your dog dying. Costs may include cremation or burial as well as a service if you choose to have one.

Methodology

To choose the best pet insurance companies, we evaluated 23 of the most popular providers of both standard pet insurance policies and non-insurance alternatives and created a full pet review methodology. We broke down pricing, services included, policy terms, and limitations to fully understand each insurer's product. We also considered the quality of customer service and ease of filing a claim to gauge the experience pet parents can expect. Finally, we looked at third-party data to get a sense of each company’s overall reputation within the pet insurance industry.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Investopedia. "The Veterinarian's Perspective on Pet Insurance." Accessed September 25, 2021.