With over 20 pet insurance companies to choose from, picking the right one for you can be time-consuming. After researching them myself, I recommend focusing on just five things to whittle down your list of contenders: upper and lower age limits, congenital and hereditary coverage, specialized coverage, payment methods, and, of course, monthly price.
How to Choose Pet Insurance
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What to consider when choosing pet insurance
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We believe pet insurance plays a role in improving financial security, reducing the incidence of parasites and communicable diseases, and promoting safe medical treatments for four-legged family members.
1. How old is your pet?
Some pet insurance companies have lower and upper age limits for enrollment. Assuming your dog or cat is between 8 weeks and 13 years old, you should have no problem signing them up for most pet insurance policies.
If you want to enroll a puppy or kitten younger than 8 weeks, go with Trupanion. After evaluating over 20 pet insurance companies, we discovered Trupanion is the only one that enrolls pets from birth.
If your pet is older, try Pumpkin, Figo, or Spot. Beware AKC Pet Insurance, which doesn’t offer illness coverage for pets older than 9.
2. What breed is your pet?
Pet insurance companies cover all dog and cat breeds, but there’s a catch: some breeds are prone to hereditary and congenital health issues the company may not cover.
Here’s how to figure out what you’re up against:
- Talk to your vet about common hereditary or congenital concerns affecting your pet’s breed.
- Ask your pet’s breeder about the parents’ and grandparents’ health history.
- If you have a mixed-breed dog, use the Embark Breed + Health Kit to test for over 200 genetic health risks.
- For cats of unknown origin, use the Basepaws CatKit to test for over 100 health traits.
Once you know what kind of health concerns can affect your pet, you’re better prepared to choose a pet insurance plan with the right coverage. Avoid policies that exclude congenital, hereditary, or bilateral conditions from coverage.
That said, all pet insurance companies use waiting periods to identify pre-existing conditions. Learn more about how pet insurance works.
3. Can you afford to be reimbursed?
All pet insurance companies will reimburse you for a portion (usually 70% to 90%) of eligible vet bills. However, you’ll still need to have the money on hand to pay your vet out-of-pocket in the meantime—which could be thousands of dollars.
A few pet insurance companies—notably Healthy Paws, Pets Best, and Trupanion—will also pay your vet directly. Make sure your vet is on board with receiving this type of payment since they’ll have to wait for claim processing.
4. What kind of coverage do you want?
All pet insurance companies offer plans for diagnostic testing, surgery, and hospitalization. That’s where the similarities end.
Most plans do not cover preventative care but offer add-on packages allowing you to get some of your money back. Just make sure you’re not spending more money on monthly premiums than the amount an optional policy pays out.
According to our research, Spot, Trupanion, and Embrace have some of the most comprehensive insurance policies and supplemental add-ons.
5. What’s your monthly premium budget?
Once you’ve found pet insurance companies that meet the above criteria, it’s time to compare monthly premiums.
As with health insurance, pet insurance plans with higher monthly premiums offer a higher reimbursement percentage, lower copays, lower deductibles, and higher payout limits. Use each pet insurance company’s online quote calculator to shop around for a premium that meets your needs.
Learn more about the cost of pet insurance.
Check out Lemonade pet health insurance; it's one of the most affordable options available, with customizable policies starting at $10/mo. Read our full Lemonade review.
Check for discounts
If you have multiple pets, Pumpkin, Spot, and Embrace each offer a 10% discount for additional pets on your account, which is the best percentage we’ve seen.
MetLife Pet Insurance offers discounts to veterans, first responders, animal care workers, and active healthcare workers.
Pet insurance companies offer unlimited lifetime payouts, lifetime limits, annual limits, or per-condition limits.
Unlimited lifetime payouts are the best option but usually require higher premiums. Annual limits are the second-best option, assuming they’re high enough (about $10,000 is usually sufficient).
Avoid lifetime limits and low per-condition limits.
Look for a sample policy on the provider’s website. Your location may affect some terms (such as waiting periods), but coverage inclusions and exceptions should be pretty accurate in these sample policies. Don’t hesitate to re-read the final policy created for you before you sign on the dotted line.
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