Pet Insurance Review Methodology

How we picked the best pet insurance companies

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Pet insurance companies provide health insurance for pets in much the same way that typical health insurance companies provide health insurance for humans. You can shop for quotes based on your pet’s breed, age, sex, and pre-existing conditions. You can often choose from a variety of plans, including coverage for accidents, injuries, illnesses, and in some cases preventative care and wellness.

To help you find the right insurance for your pet, we analyzed the top pet insurance providers based on their most important features. We reviewed each one in full, and provided ratings from zero to five, to give you an accurate idea of what it will be like (and how much it might cost) to do business with each company.

Want to see which companies came out on top? Take a look at our picks for the best pet insurance providers.

Our Review Process

We looked at 25 pet insurance and wellness companies. To judge companies fairly, we rated each one in the following major categories with the following weights:

  1. Plan options (33%)
  2. Company features (29%)
  3. Fees, limits, and discounts (23%)
  4. Coverage details (13%)
  5. Company information/availability (2%)

We rated each company on several criteria within each category, such as deductibles, reimbursement percentages, coverage waiting times, claim turnaround times, and customer support. Each criterion was given a weight based on its relative importance for potential customers, and the individual scores were combined to generate an average score for each company.

Data Collection

We collected over 1275 data points covering 25 pet insurance and wellness providers. We used three pet personas (two dogs and a cat, detailed below) to compare insurance quotes between providers. We also reached out to company representatives for more information about their coverage. A survey was conducted of 408 people who have pet insurance (94 people), have had pet insurance (84 people), or are considering getting pet insurance (230 people).

Of those we surveyed, 289 of the respondents were women (70.8%), 117 were men (28.7%), and two were non-binary (< 0.1%). Eight respondents self-described as transgender (2.0%), and 53 respondents said they consider themselves LGBTQ+ (13.0%).

Respondents were also asked to describe their financial situation on a four-point scale where 4 = Excellent, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, and 1 = Struggling. Most respondents self-described their financial situation as good or fair (69.6% total), whereas 59 respondents described it as excellent (14.5%) and 65 respondents described it as struggling (15.9%).

The survey was performed to better understand customer opinions and satisfaction about pet insurance plans, coverage options, claim filing, and customer support.

Plan Options

Pets come with a wide variety of health concerns and specific needs, so it’s helpful to have pet insurance that can match your situation. If you’re worried about teeth problems, behavioral issues, or pre-existing conditions, for example, you’ll have to find a plan that will pay out for those claims when needed.

We examined the following plan options with the accompanying weights:

  • Dental injury/illness/operation (8%)
  • Exams (4%)
  • Rehab/alternative care (3%)
  • Behavioral problems (3%)
  • Bilateral conditions (3%)
  • Cured pre-existing conditions (3%)
  • Prescription diets (3%)
  • Medication (2%)
  • Supplements (2%)
  • Virtual vet visits (2%)

Companies that provide more options and more comprehensive coverage scored higher; altogether, plan options accounted for 33% of the total score.

Dental Injury/Illness/Operation

Dental problems are relatively common among dogs and cats. Most of the companies we reviewed cover dental injuries, like a tooth fracture or luxation from chewing or fighting. But coverage for illnesses and operations, like root canals and crowns, is varied. 

We gave the following plan options the accompanying weights:

  • Dental illness (4%)
  • Dental accident/injury (2%)
  • Dental crown operations (1%)
  • Root canal operations (1%)

Companies were given a score of zero or one for each type of dental problem; companies that provide coverage in each case were given a higher score. These factors accounted for 8% of the total score.

Exams

Coverage for veterinary exams is important because they’re essentially the basis of care, and they happen each time a doctor examines your pet. In some cases, wellness exams are included, but in others, only accident, injury, and illness exams may be covered. Standard plans may include exam coverage, or it may come as a policy rider that costs extra.

We rated insurance companies on a scale of zero to one depending on how comprehensive their exam coverage is—plans with exam coverage included at no cost scored highest, those with coverage at an additional cost scored lower, and those with no coverage scored lowest. This category accounted for 4% of the total score.

Rehabilitation/Alternative Care

Rehabilitation coverage may include laser therapy, cryotherapy, underwater treadmill therapy, and range-of-motion exercises; alternative care could include acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, or homeopathy.

We gave insurers a score from zero to one based on whether or not they provide rehabilitation/alternative care, and whether or not it’s included or costs extra. This factor accounted for 3% of the total score.

Behavioral Problems

If a pet insurer provides coverage for behavioral problems, like anxiety, aggression, or house soiling, it may pay for training, medication, and other treatments. We scored companies on a scale of zero to one based on their coverage of behavioral problems, and this factor accounted for 3% of the total score.

Bilateral Conditions

Bilateral conditions occur on one side of the body and have an increased tendency to occur on the other side of the body. They usually refer to problems with joints like hips, knees, and shoulders, but some insurance companies may also include eyes and other body systems. 

We gave companies a score of zero if they do not offer coverage for bilateral conditions and a score of one if they do. This factor accounted for 3% of the total score.

Cured Pre-Existing Conditions

If your pet had a pre-existing condition that was cured, many pet insurance providers won’t count it as a pre-existing condition if there has been no recurrence of symptoms for a specified time period, like 6 or 12 months. For example, if your pet had an eye problem that would usually count as a pre-existing condition but it has been “cured” and no symptoms have occurred for the required amount of time, it won’t be counted as a pre-existing condition.

We scored pet insurance companies on a scale of zero to one for this factor; those that provide coverage for cured pre-existing conditions with shorter time requirements scored higher. This factor accounted for 3% of the total score.

Prescription Diets

Prescription pet food is specially formulated to address specific health conditions, like food allergies, kidney disease, or bladder stones. 

We scored pet insurance companies using a range from zero to one for this category—those with coverage included at no additional cost scored highest, those with an optional plan at additional cost scored lower, and those without prescription diet coverage scored lowest. This accounted for 3% of the total score.

Medication

Medication is an integral part of any health insurance plan, and we found that most of the top pet insurance providers include it as standard in their plans. 

We scored providers on a range of zero to one based on whether or not they offer coverage for medication, and if it’s included or costs extra; companies that provide it at no extra cost scored highest. Medication coverage accounted for 2% of the total score.

Supplements

Some pets benefit from nutrient or vitamin supplements, and some pet insurance providers will cover the cost. 

We scored companies on a range of zero to one based on whether or not they offer supplement coverage, and if it’s included or costs extra; companies that provide it at no extra cost scored highest. This factor accounted for 2% of the total score.

Virtual Vet Visits

Many pet insurance companies now offer virtual vet visits ("televet" visits), allowing you to meet with a healthcare provider online. 

We gave companies a score of either zero or one, depending on whether or not they cover televet visits. This factor accounted for 2% of the total score.

Company Features

Company features don’t usually change based on the insurance plan you choose, but they can have a big impact on how you do business with a company. We reviewed the following company features and gave them the accompanying weights:

  • Claim turnaround time (4%)
  • Medical record review (4%)
  • Pay veterinarian directly (4%)
  • Sample contract available online (3%)
  • Claim pre-approvals (3%)
  • Downgrade/change coverage based on claim history (3%)
  • Instant online quote (2%)
  • Mobile app (2%)
  • Customer service channels (2%)
  • 24/7 vet helpline (2%)

Pet insurers with faster claims processing, more transparency, better customer service, and the most convenient features scored highest. Altogether, company features accounted for 29% of the total score.

Claim Turnaround Time

We scored companies on a scale of zero to one based on how quickly they usually provide reimbursement after an insurance claim is filed, with faster claim turnaround times getting better scores. This factor accounted for 4% of the total score.

Medical Record Review

A medical record review, which may be conducted when you apply for insurance, is intended to reveal any pre-existing conditions. This is important because pre-existing conditions often cause claims (and sometimes coverage) to be denied, so it’s good to know ahead of time what will and will not be covered.

We scored companies on a scale of zero to one based on whether or not they perform medical record reviews. Those that perform automatic reviews scored full points; reviews by request scored lower; companies that don’t perform medical reviews scored lowest. This category accounted for 4% of the total score.

Pay Veterinarian Directly

If the insurance company will pay your vet directly after filing a claim, rather than reimbursing you, we gave it a score of one; if it won’t, we gave it a score of zero. This accounted for 4% of the total score.

Sample Contract Available Online

Some pet insurance companies allow you to check a sample contract online before applying. We gave insurers a score of one for this category if they provide sample contracts and a score of zero if they don’t. This accounted for 3% of the total score.

Claim Pre-Approvals

In some cases, pet insurance companies allow you to pre-approve or pre-certify your claims before undergoing a medical procedure, buying medication, or getting other healthcare services. This can be helpful to give you an idea of what or how much will be covered, but not all companies offer it.

We gave insurance companies a score of one if they offer claim pre-approvals and a score of zero if they don’t. This category accounted for 3% of the total score.

Downgrade/Change Coverage Based on Claim History

Most pet insurance companies we reviewed won’t change your coverage based on your claims, but some may. We gave companies a score of one in this category if they do not change coverage based on claim history and a score of zero if they do. This factor accounted for 3% of the total score.

Instant Online Quote

You can get an instant online quote from most pet insurance companies, making it relatively easy to comparison shop. We gave companies a score of one if they provide instant quotes and a score of zero if they do not. This accounted for 2% of the total score.

Mobile App

More than half of the companies we reviewed have an app available, usually for both iPhone and Android. We gave insurers a score of one if they have a mobile app and a score of zero if they don’t. Mobile app availability accounted for 2% of the total score.

Customer Service Channels

We considered how you can get in touch with pet insurance companies, scoring them on a scale of zero to one, depending on how many customer service channels they offer. We looked for availability by phone, email, and live chat. Each insurer offered at least two of those methods.

The more customer service channels offered, the higher the score. This category accounted for 2% of the total score.

24/7 Vet Helpline

Some pet insurance providers offer a 24/7 helpline you can call to speak with a veterinarian or vet technician. This can be helpful if you have a question or problem outside of your normal vet’s working hours (e.g., wondering if your pet’s problem is serious enough for a vet visit).

We gave companies a score of either one or zero, depending on whether they offer a 24/7 vet helpline. Availability of a vet helpline accounted for 2% of the total score.

Fees, Limits, and Discounts

Pet insurance companies charge premiums, deductibles, and other fees; their plans come with different annual and lifetime reimbursement limits, along with various discounts you may qualify for.

We looked at the following factors to rate pet insurance costs fairly, giving them the accompanying weights:

  • Deductible (4%)
  • Reimbursement percentage (4%)
  • Reimbursement limit per policy term (3%)
  • Multi-pet discount (3%)
  • Average premium (2%)
  • Lifetime reimbursement limit (2%)
  • Diminishing deductible/premium if no claim filed (2%)
  • Enrollment/administration fee (1%)
  • Monthly service/installment fee (1%)
  • Other discounts (1%)

Insurance companies that provide more options and charge less scored higher. Overall, these details accounted for 23% of the total score.

Deductible

The deductible is how much you have to pay for healthcare services before the insurance plan begins paying. A higher monthly premium typically means a lower deductible.

We rated pet insurance deductibles based on the range of options given to customers—a wider range was given a higher score because it allows for more customization to help fit the plan into your budget. For example, one company may offer deductibles of $100, $250, and $300; another company may offer deductibles of $100, $250, $500, and $1,000. The second company would score higher because it offers a wider range of options.

This factor accounted for 4% of the total score.

Reimbursement Percentage

After your deductible is met, your pet insurance provider will begin paying a portion of eligible vet bills. Your reimbursement percentage will depend on the plan you choose, and it often ranges from 70% to 90% or 100%.

We rated pet insurance companies based on the number of reimbursement options they provide—more options were given a better score. This factor accounted for 4% of the total score.

Reimbursement Limit Per Policy Term

Pet insurance providers may limit the amount of reimbursement offered per policy term (a term is usually one year, so these are typically annual limits). Depending on your plan, you may have a per-term limit as low as $500 or as high as $30,000; there may even be no limit.

We gave pet insurance companies a better rating for offering a wider range of reimbursement limit options to choose from. Reimbursement limits amounted to 3% of the total score.

Multi-Pet Discount

Some companies provide a discount—often 5% off premiums—if you insure more than one pet. In some cases the savings only become available when selecting a family plan.

We gave pet insurers a score of one in this category if they offer a discount for insuring multiple pets and a score of zero if they do not. This accounted for 3% of the total score.

Average Premium

Average premiums are difficult to compare across pet insurance companies because coverage details vary greatly depending on type of pet, breed, age, pre-existing conditions, location, and other factors. We determined average premiums based on premium costs for the following three pet personas:

Persona A Persona B Persona C
Species Cat Dog Dog
Breed Mixed Mixed Lab Retriever
Sex F M F
Age 3 years 8 years 3 years
Weight 9 lbs 30 lbs 65 lbs
Location 77449
Houston, TX
11368
New York, NY
90011
Los Angeles, CA

Each persona chose an accident and illness plan, had no pre-existing conditions, and sought out no discounts. We identified the lowest and highest premiums for each persona to calculate the median cost per persona. The average of the three median premiums was then used to calculate the premium score. 

We awarded higher scores to companies with lower average premiums, but due to the high variability in premiums, this factor accounted for only 2% of the total score. Companies that did not offer an online quote feature received a zero score. Premium quotes were gathered on March 29, 2022. When the quotes were revisited in early April, some details had already fluctuated.

Lifetime Reimbursement Limit

Although many pet insurance companies do not have lifetime limits, some stop providing coverage once you reach a certain payout amount (in addition to any annual limits). We gave companies a score of one if they have no lifetime reimbursement limit and a score of zero if they do; this factor accounted for 2% of the total score.

Diminishing Deductible/Premium If No Claim Filed

A few pet insurers will decrease your deductible or premium if you don’t file a claim in a certain amount of time, like a policy year. You won’t find this feature very often, but it can be a good way to save money if you have a healthy pet and don’t usually file claims.

We gave pet insurance companies a score of zero or one for this factor—companies that do provide a diminishing deductible or premium received a higher score. This factor accounted for 2% of the overall score.

Enrollment/Administration Fee

Some pet insurance companies charge a one-time enrollment or administration fee when your plan begins, usually around $15 to $25. We gave companies a score of zero if they charge an enrollment/administrative fee, and a score of one if they do not. This factor accounted for 1% of the total score.

Monthly Service/Installment Fee

Monthly service or installment fees, when they’re charged, are usually $1 to $3. For this factor, we scored companies using a scale from zero to one; companies with lower monthly service/installment fees scored higher, and those with no fees scored highest. This factor accounted for 1% of the total score.

Other Discounts

You may be eligible for certain discounts when applying for pet insurance. We scored companies on a scale of zero to one based on whether or not they offer discounts like:

  • Microchipped pet
  • Service/therapy pet
  • Vet employee/student
  • Military affiliation
  • Membership (Walmart, AARP)

The more discounts offered, the higher the score. This category amounted to 1% of the total score.

Coverage Details

Pet insurance companies set certain requirements and limits for coverage, including waiting times before coverage will begin and minimum/maximum age limits. We took the following coverage details into account, using the accompanying score weights:

  • Waiting period for illnesses/injuries/specific conditions (6%) 
  • Enrollment age limits (3%)
  • Wellness care plan (2%)
  • Accident- or injury-only coverage (1%)
  • Coverage for birds/exotic pets (1%)

Insurers with shorter waiting periods, wider acceptable age ranges, and more coverage options scored higher. Altogether, coverage details accounted for 13% of the total score.

Waiting Period for Illnesses/Injuries/Specific Conditions

You may need to wait a specific amount of time after you purchase an insurance plan before your coverage takes effect. This is to discourage people from buying insurance immediately after an accident or diagnosis. 

Pet insurance providers may have different waiting periods for different medical conditions; we weighted illness waiting periods at 3%, injuries at 1%, and specific conditions at 2%. Companies were scored on a scale of zero to one for each type of waiting period, with shorter periods scoring higher.

Enrollment Age Limits

Pet insurance providers usually (but not always) have minimum and maximum allowable ages for coverage. Minimum pet ages are usually around six to eight weeks, while maximum ages may be around 10 to 14 years. 

We scored providers based on their minimum and maximum age limits, using a zero-to-one scale for each; minimum ages accounted for 1% of the overall score, and maximum ages accounted for 2%.

Wellness Care Plan

Only a few pet insurance companies offer a wellness care plan in addition to their insurance products. These plans help pay for preventative and routine care, which could include vet visits, vaccinations, and grooming. 

We gave insurance providers either a zero or one in this category, which accounted for 2% of the total score—companies that offer a wellness plan received a higher score.

Accident- or Injury-Only Coverage

Some pet owners only want coverage for the occasional accident or injury, and not illnesses. For this category, we gave companies a score of one if they do offer accident- or injury-only coverage and a score of zero if they do not. This accounted for 1% of the total score.

Coverage for Birds/Exotic Pets

Every pet insurance company we reviewed provides coverage for dogs and cats, but most don’t cover horses and exotic animals, including rabbits, reptiles, and amphibians. We gave companies that offer coverage for birds and exotic pets a score of one for this category; companies that do not offer such coverage received a zero. This category accounted for 1% of the total score.

Company Information/Availability

We took the following data points and the accompanying weights into our consideration of pet insurance companies:

  • Year established (1%)
  • States available (1%)

These factors accounted for 2% of the total score.

Year Established

Doing business with an established company can help you feel more confident and comfortable with your insurance policy. We scored pet insurers using a range from zero to one depending on how long they’ve been in business, with older companies scoring higher. The age of the business accounted for 1% of the total score.

States Available

The more availability, the better. Most of the pet insurance companies we reviewed do business in every state and D.C.

We scored companies on a range from zero to one based on how many states they offer insurance in, with more available states scoring higher. State availability accounted for 1% of the total score.

Choosing the Best Pet Insurance Company for You

Pet insurance companies can be difficult to compare. Not only will you find different plans and coverage options for different kinds of pets (depending on breed, sex, age, pre-existing conditions, etc.), but prices can also vary depending on where you live. 

Our reviews of pet insurance companies are intended to give you an accurate impression of what it’d be like to do business with a company before you make a commitment. We analyzed and scored each company objectively using the criteria above to review the pet insurance landscape with as little bias as possible. To assign scores fairly to each pet insurance company, we gathered publicly available information (including data gathered from insurance quotes using three pet personas), conducted a consumer survey, and contacted company representatives.

See our picks for the best pet insurance companies to find the right one for you.

Our Team

Hannah Kang
Research Manager, Performance Marketing
Hannah Kang

Hannah has been conducting research for over a decade, with a recent focus on providing data-driven recommendations from synthesizing quantitative data with qualitative data on services and products across finance, health, and lifestyle. 

Prior to joining the Performance Marketing team as a Research Associate, Hannah conducted research for Fortune 500 companies and multinational biotech companies including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Takeda. Her experience leading rigorous studies for FDA reviews shaped her standard of research integrity which guides her work at Performance Marketing.

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Rosie Pipada
Research Analyst, Performance Marketing
Rosie Pipada Investopedia

Rosie broadly researches financial services, but specifically focuses on investment and trading, insurance, and mortgages. 

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Brendan Harkness
Associate Finance Editor, Performance Marketing
Brendan Harkness

Brendan has been writing and editing content for nearly a decade, with a recent focus on finance, credit cards, and banking. As an associate editor for Investopedia, he edits and fact-checks reviews of financial products and services.

Read more