If you have a pet, you know how expensive veterinary care can be. In an effort to offset the costs of keeping their pets in excellent health, many pet owners choose to purchase pet insurance for their cats and dogs. There are a lot of options out there, so how do you know which is the best pet insurance company to do business with?
Our top pick among pet insurance companies is Embrace Pet Insurance. This company offers an illness and accident plan and it also has a separate wellness plan, which can cover routine expenses that are often excluded from similar insurance policies. They cover expenses related to many different illnesses and injuries, and they cover alternative therapies as part of their basic plan.
We have looked at many different pet insurance companies, and have compiled a list of our top picks in various categories. We looked at features such as the overall value of each company, what they covered, what customers have to say about the coverage, and more. Below, you will find out who we thought were the top 5 pet insurance companies. You can use this information to decide which company might be the best for you and your pets!
How We Found the Best Pet Insurance Plans
There are many things to consider when evaluating pet insurance plans. To find the best pet insurance companies, we looked at a number of factors, such as annual or monthly premiums, deductibles, benefit limits such as annual and lifetime maximums, exclusions such as pre-existing conditions, age limitations, and waiting periods for coverage.
Annual or Monthly Premiums
Premiums are the amount paid monthly or annually for coverage for your pet. Higher premiums are typically associated with lower deductibles and higher annual or lifetime maximums. In some cases, plans with higher premiums offer more coverage for medications, lab work, and other veterinary care needs.
While choosing a plan with a lower premium means you’ll be paying less each month, you could end up paying more for veterinary care over your pet’s lifetime due to higher deductibles and lower maximum benefits. We looked at pet insurance plans that offer various coverage levels with varying deductibles and benefit maximums that allow pet owners to customize a plan that’s within their budget and meets their needs, as well as those that offer good coverage with reasonable monthly or annual premiums.
A lower deductible means you’ll pay less out-of-pocket before your pet’s insurance plan starts to cover your pet’s veterinary care needs. We looked for pet insurance plans that allow pet parents to choose a deductible. These plans make it possible for pet parents to determine the out-of-pocket costs they can afford if their pet is sick or injured.
Some pet insurance plans have per-condition deductibles, rather than a general yearly deductible, which can be beneficial for pets who have just a few illnesses or health conditions over the course of their lifetime. Of course, it’s impossible to predict what health conditions your pet will have, so these plans tend to have less-predictable costs compared to plans with a consistent annual deductible.
Most pet insurance plans have maximum benefit limits, either a maximum benefit per year or a maximum lifetime benefit. Pet insurance plans with higher annual or lifetime maximum benefits offer more peace of mind for pet owners that their pet will be covered even in the case of a condition that’s expensive to treat. Some pet insurance plans have no maximum benefit limits, ensuring coverage for eligible conditions and veterinary services regardless of the amount of previous claims reimbursements.
We also looked at coverage exclusions when evaluating the best pet insurance plans. All pet insurance plans have some exclusions, such as examination fees, lab services, specialty veterinary services, prescription foods and medications. Some won’t enroll new pets over a certain age, and most don’t cover pre-existing conditions, although some plans cover pre-existing conditions if they’ve been treatment- and symptom-free for one year. Examination fees and lab services are also common exclusions.
We looked for pet insurance plans without significant exclusions beyond what’s common with most plans. Some pet insurance companies offer extra reimbursements for services like grooming and training that aren’t covered under pet insurance plans, which we considered a major plus when comparing plans.
Waiting Periods for Coverage
Most pet insurance plans have a waiting period from a few days to a few weeks before coverage begins. Some plans have varying waiting periods for different types of veterinary needs, such as a 12-month waiting period for certain significant injuries. We looked for plans with short waiting periods for most injuries, illnesses, and conditions.
How to Choose the Best Pet Insurance Company for You
Choosing the best pet insurance company comes down to several key criteria. Here are three things that you should consider when making your decision.
Look at Monthly Premiums
Many people looking at pet insurance are on a budget: After all, the goal of pet insurance is to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses when it comes to your pet’s care. This means that one of your first concerns might be the premiums that you pay each month for your coverage.
The way that premiums are figured often depends in part on how much the insurance will pay for qualifying expenses. A plan that pays a large percentage (usually 90 percent) of costs and has a low deductible will understandably cost more each month than a plan that covers a smaller percentage (often 70 percent) and has a high deductible. You will need to find the balance that works for you. Other factors that go into determining your premiums include your pet’s breed, age, and size.
Look at What’s Covered
Every pet insurance plan has a list of what is covered. Even more important, each should have a list of what is not covered. Most plans do not cover pre-existing conditions. Some might not cover hereditary conditions or certain types of injuries. Many will not cover pregnancy and gestation, and most won’t cover general wellness services (examinations, vaccines, spay/neuter surgery, etc.) without a rider. It is important to look over the list of what is and is not covered so you don’t purchase a plan that won’t cover what you need it to.
Look at Coverage and Deductible
Each pet insurance company works a bit differently, but most will cover somewhere between 70 and 90 percent of qualifying expenses. In some cases, you can choose your coverage amount. A higher percentage covered will result in higher monthly premiums.
A deductible is the amount you need to pay for services before the insurance begins to cover their percentage. Some plans have an annual deductible (that you pay per year), while others will have a per-incident or per-condition deductible (that you pay for each issue that your pet has). You will need to decide which deductible model will work best for your pet.
The Final Verdict
In the end, the type of pet insurance you purchase will depend on your pet’s specific needs as well as your overall financial situation. We feel that Embrace Pet Insurance offers the best overall value, but you might find that another company works better for your personal circumstances. Our best advice is to carefully consider pricing, what’s covered (including what isn’t covered), and what percentage each plan will pay toward services that your pet is likely to need, then make a decision from there.