Many of us are fortunate enough to own a pet, and today more than ever our pets can enjoy the state of the art health care that was formerly reserved only for people. Of course, all of this modern technology has its cost - and that's where pet insurance comes in. According to a report by the North American Pet Health Insurance Association nearly 1 million pets in the U.S. were insured at the end of 2012 and the numbers keep going up. With the growing number of pet owners opting for pet insurance, the amount of pet insurance services available continues to increase.
Unlike health insurance, pet health insurance falls under the category of property and casualty insurance, and most pet insurance policies work on a reimbursement basis. This means that you will have to pay the veterinary bill and then make an insurance claim for reimbursement. Most pet insurance policies only cover dogs and cats, though a few insurance providers also make allowance for some other pets.
Aside from basic pet insurance, which covers all or part of the cost of medical care should your pet get sick, many insurances also provide optional wellness and routine coverage. This additional coverage provides for preventative care expenses, such as vaccinations, neutering, dental care and heartworm testing and medication.
ASPCA. As well as community support for pets, ASPCA also offers comprehensive pet insurance for your dog or cat. Standard pet insurance starts as low as $8 a month and goes up from there, depending on your pet. The most basic plan provides $2,500 coverage, while the most costly plan covers up to $7,000. All of the plans provide compensation for 90% of your vet bills, minus the annual deductible. You can choose an annual deductible (the amount you have to pay in a year before claiming insurance) of $100, $250 or $500. You can also get optional wellness coverage which can provide preventative treatment coverage for neutering, blood screening, worm and flea treatment and more, without a deductible.
Read our full review of ASPCA here.
VPI is the pet insurance of choice if your pet friend doesn't bark or meow. Although they do provide good dog and cat insurance, what sets them apart is that they also provide insurance for birds and a long list of other animals. For example, goats, gerbils, and snakes can be covered with one of their policies. Since birds and exotic pets can be very costly to treat, this pet insurance is a real treasure. What I like most about their policies is that they offer international coverage. If your award winning macaw comes down sick while at a bird show in Europe, you will still get reimbursed for the veterinary charges. If you want to insure a dog or cat, they offer a good selection of plans ranging from economical to comprehensive. VPI is one of the most established pet insurers in the US and will benefit you whether you have a dog, cat or any of a long list of pets.
Trupanion. What I like most about this pet insurance provider is that, as long as your vet is a Trupanion partner, it will pay your pet's medical bills (minus your deductible) directly to the vet. No need to front the money and get a refund, as most other insurers require. Policies come with or without a deductible, so you can choose the option that saves you the most. Your pet is also covered for hereditary and chronic conditions, as long as they occur after you get a policy. You get covered for the full cost of medical bills, rather than preset amounts. Note that you will have to pay 10% of all vet bills out of your own pocket, as even without a deductible you will have maximum coverage of 90%.
Read our review of Trupanion insurance here.
PetPremium offers solid pet insurance and useful features. For a start, they give you a free online quote which can save you a lot of time finding out what you can expect to pay. If you think your pet will benefit from preventative care, you will probably like the wellness care plans they provide. One good resource is its online pet health center, which is basically an encyclopedia of pet health problems that will help you better understand what may be causing your dog or cat discomfort. They offer 4 different pet insurance plans, with different benefits and levels of coverage. I recommend you read our full review to find out which of these plans could work best for your pet and your wallet.
Embrace includes all vet fees in its pet insurance plans. This comprehensive coverage for your dog or cat covers medication, surgery, alternative treatment, rehabilitation, cancer treatment and more. The one downside to this solid insurance is that there are caps on the amount of benefits paid out each year. You can choose this limit ($5,000, $10,000 or $15,000) when you get your policy. If you get enough coverage you should come out fine. Discounts like 5% off if your pet is neutered/spayed and 5% off if you pay in in advance annually could save you money. You can get another 5% discount if your pet shows a bilateral result of 0.3 or lower on their PennHIP test. You will have a minimum annual deductible of $100 and the most they will cover is 90% of a bill. Since you don't pay veterinary fees (you will with most insurances) you will more than likely recover the cost of your deductible in the course of a year. If you expect potential veterinary costs much higher than $15,000 a year, you should choose a different insurer. If you just want good coverage for your pet then Embrace, in my opinion, provides some of the best available.
Healthy Paws. If you like helping homeless dogs and cats then this is a mutually beneficial way to do it. When you get a quote from this pet insurance provider, they make a donation towards veterinary care for underprivileged animals. The biggest benefit of this pet insurance is that there are no limits to how much they will pay out per claim. Most insurances put limits on the benefit that they pay out either annually or per claim. Coverage lasts for your pet's life, as long as you pay your premiums. You can manage your claims online through your mobile device or computer. If you need good basic pet insurance that will help you pay veterinary expenses no matter how high they are, this is a good choice.
Petplan has a strong lineup of nice benefits like vacation cancellation coverage if your pet gets sick, reimbursement for stolen or strayed pets, and advertising and reward cost coverage. The benefits you get will depend on which of the 3 available plans you take. Coverage can go as high as $22,000 with the Gold plan. Even with the most basic policy your pet will be covered for almost every medical condition. Your pet will be covered as long as you pay your premiums, no matter how high veterinary costs get. You can get discounts if you insure more than one pet (10%), are a US Army service member or veteran (10%) or enroll online (5%). This insurer offers unique benefits and features that can add a lot of value. If you want lifelong coverage for your pet and attention to detail, Petplan offers both.