Best Pet Insurance Companies for Covering Dogs & Cats, May 2024

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Average Office Vet Visit Cost for Cat or Dog
 City Cost
San Francisco $94
New York City $85
Seattle $75
Chicago $68
Los Angeles $68
Atlanta $67
Miami $64
Austin $62
Kansas City $58 
Source: Banfield Pet Hospital Price Estimator

Pros and Cons of Pet Insurance

Pros

  1. Peace of mind: The biggest benefit of pet insurance is knowing that many of your pet’s medical bills will be covered. For many people, it’s comforting to know they won’t have to choose between potentially life-saving treatment for their pet and their financial well-being.
  2. Lower out-of-pocket costs: Depending on your coverage, pet insurance can significantly lower how much you pay for vet bills.
  3. You can see any vet: Unlike human health insurance, pet insurance doesn’t have networks of preferred providers. So you won’t need to change your veterinarian in order to have coverage.

Cons

  1. Pre-existing conditions are not covered: No insurance company covers these, with a few specific exceptions, such as the condition being wholly cured for 12 months.
  2. Premiums may increase over time: Most pets have more health issues as they age.
  3. Coverage is often subject to limits: Many policies set annual or lifetime payment caps on how much of your pet’s care costs are covered.
  4. Upfront payment required: Although a few pet insurance companies will pay your vet directly, most won’t. You’ll first have to pay out of pocket and then get reimbursed by your insurer.
  5. It can be expensive: Many pet parents will pay more for insurance than they get out of it. But insurance can help protect your bank account if your pet experiences an expensive medical need in the future.


Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Pet insurance can help reduce worries about an unexpected medical bill for your pet.

“I have pet insurance through work for my dog, Jersey, and I pay about $11 per paycheck. I signed up when it became available in 2020 because I didn’t want to have to make the heartbreaking decision to put her down if I couldn’t afford an expensive treatment or surgery. I hope I never have to use it, but I’m glad it’s there so I can keep her with me as long as possible.”

—Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, New Jersey dog owner

You don’t know what’s going to happen to your pet in the future, so for some people, just having the peace of mind a good insurance policy can bring makes the cost of premiums worth it. That said, if you don’t end up with dramatic expenses, pet insurance is probably not worth the cost, according to a Consumers’ Checkbook analysis. Pet owners could pay $8,600 to $54,600 to insure a dog for 13 years and $4,300 to $14,700 to insure a cat for that period.

You wouldn’t break even unless your pet had major health problems, and even then, you would only come out ahead if you had a policy that had good premiums and coverage. The analysis found out-of-pocket costs for a mixed-breed dog that needed moderate care over its 13-year life would be about $9,700. That’s less than the total out-of-pocket costs would be to insure that dog with 11 different companies. On the other hand, out-of-pocket costs for a dog that needed a lot of care would be about $33,000 over 13 years, which is more than the total costs with insurance from nine of the 11 companies. So in that case, the insurance will have been worth it.

Most pet owners won’t face catastrophic bills. Nevertheless, if you are one of the unlucky ones who does end up in that situation, you may be very glad you have insurance—as long as it’s a quality plan.

Keep in mind that your calculations should also factor in your pet’s general health, age, and breed, as well as your own financial situation. In general, pet insurance can be a cost-effective choice if your pet is relatively young and healthy. If you have a senior pet or a pet with existing health issues—or a substantial financial safety net—you may be better off skipping insurance and self-financing instead. 


Which Type of Pet Insurance Is Best for My Pet?

If you have decided you do want coverage for your pet, the type you choose will depend on your pet and your budget. For example: 

  • If your pet is relatively young: Young, healthy pets that haven’t shown any signs of health issues are inexpensive to insure. If you can afford a good accident and illness plan, this is the time to get it. Lock in coverage while your pet is young. 
  • If your pet has chronic health conditions or is a senior pet: An accident and illness policy may be too expensive and may not cover your pet’s care if they’re older or already ailing. Discount plans could provide more value because they don’t exclude senior pets or pre-existing conditions. 
  • If you want inexpensive coverage: The least expensive coverage that still provides some protection in an emergency is an accident-only plan. Available for a few dollars a month, accident-only plans cover treatments for sudden injuries like broken bones or bite wounds. 


How to Compare Pet Insurance Plans

Pet insurance plans vary greatly in coverage, pricing, and exclusions. When comparing companies, consider the following: 

  • Premium: Premiums will vary quite a bit from company to company, depending on your location and the age and breed of your pet. The best way to compare premiums is to get sample pet insurance quotes from various companies, such as the ones on our list above.
  • Coverage limit type: Depending on the company, coverage limits can be annual, per condition, or per incident. Annual coverage limits have a single deductible, starting over every year. With per-condition coverage, each condition has its own deductible, but you only have to meet the deductible once for the pet’s lifetime. At the same time, you can quickly reach the condition’s maximum over your pet’s lifetime. Per-incident coverage means the same deductible applies to every incident, starting over for every new incident.
  • Deductible: The deductible is how much you have to pay before your insurer will reimburse you for claims. The lower the deductible, the higher your premium. Among the companies on this list, deductibles range from $50 to $2,500.
  • Reimbursement percentage: The reimbursement percentage is how much your insurer will cover after you reach your deductible. For example, if you’ve met your deductible, you have a vet bill for $1,000, and the insurer offers 70% reimbursement, you’re responsible for $300 of the bill. 
  • Included and excluded treatments: As described above, insurance companies have many different policy exclusions. Take the time to understand those exclusions so you’re not left on the hook for a big, unexpected bill.


Which Pet Insurance Companies Pay Vets Directly?

Most pet insurance requires you to pay your vet bill upfront and then get reimbursed. However, a few companies will make payments directly to veterinarians if you and the vet meet certain conditions.

  • Trupanion will pay for covered expenses at checkout if the veterinarian has Trupanion’s payment software. You will still be responsible for your copay.
  • Pets Best pays your vet after you and your vet sign and fill in a veterinarian reimbursement release form. You’ll submit that form with a claim. If the claim is approved, Pets Best reimburses your vet. You’ll still have to pay your deductible, coinsurance, and fees for any non-covered items to your vet.
  • Healthy Paws typically requires you to pay the vet and get reimbursed for covered costs. However, if you can’t do that, you can contact the company to request direct payment before the treatment. Your vet must be willing to accept direct payment.


Enrolling in Pet Insurance

After choosing a company, you can usually enroll your pet online. Most pet insurers have internet portals (and some have mobile apps) where customers can view their policies, make payments, and submit claims. 

When you purchase a policy, read the fine print. Some companies require you to submit all your pet’s medical records after you enroll; otherwise, your claims will be denied. 


Why You Should Trust Us

Investopedia collected and analyzed hundreds of key data points from 25 companies to identify the most important factors for readers choosing a pet insurance company. We used this data to review each insurer for plan options, fees and discounts, coverage details, and company practices such as claim turnaround time and direct vet payments. Our mission is to provide unbiased, comprehensive reviews to ensure our readers make the right decision for their needs. Investopedia launched in 1999 and has been helping readers find the best pet insurance companies since 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Like health insurance for humans, pet insurance involves deductibles, copays or coinsurance, and coverage limits. Most pet insurance companies pay claims through reimbursement, so the policyholder pays for the pet’s care at the veterinarian’s office at the time of treatment and submits a claim afterward. If the insurer approves the claim, the company sends the policyholder reimbursement via check or electronic transfer. 

    According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, approximately 98% of pet insurance policies issued are accident and illness plans. These policies cover treatments for unexpected injuries and diseases, including cancer, kennel cough, and broken limbs. The remainder of the plans tend to be accident-only plans that only cover unexpected injuries, not illnesses or chronic conditions. 

  • Pet insurance typically covers injuries like broken bones, cancer, illnesses, diagnostic testing, prescriptions, vaccinations, dental cleanings, and more. It will all depend on the pet insurance and coverage plan you select for your pet.

    Pet insurance usually does not cover elected procedures like spaying and neutering, though some wellness plans may cover them. If you have to pay out of pocket, these procedures average around $300 for dogs and $150 for cats.

  • No pet insurance policy covers pre-existing conditions—though some offer coverage of curable conditions after a waiting period. Pet insurance also doesn’t usually cover routine care or preventive treatments like vaccinations, wellness exams, or dental cleanings. However, it may be possible to get partial coverage for these expenses by purchasing a separate discount plan or wellness plan, or by adding a wellness rider to your policy. 

  • The best pet insurance for dogs is Figo, according to Investopedia research. It offers comprehensive coverage with few exclusions and covers curable pre-existing conditions after a 12-month waiting period. Coverage includes dental illness and injury, in addition to alternative treatments. We also like that it has high coverage limits and a number of optional add-ons, such as a wellness package.

  • Investopedia has named Figo as the best cat insurance as well. It offers flexible and comprehensive policies, fast turnaround for claims, short waiting periods, and live access to a licensed vet 24/7. Figo has a wider range of deductibles than many competitors, with higher annual limits and reimbursement percentages.

  • The average cost of pet insurance per month for dogs is about $20 for accident-only coverage and $49 for accident and illness. The average monthly premium for cat insurance is $11 for accident-only and $29 for accident and illness. Your costs may vary a lot depending on your pet’s breed, age, and location, among other things.

  • Yes. Most insurers offer multi-pet discounts. They typically range from 5% to 10% for each pet you cover. Some insurers even give you a bigger discount for each pet you add. There are other advantages to having more than one pet covered. MetLife, for instance, gives you one deductible for all of your insured pets. And having all of your pets covered by the same provider makes bills easier manage.

  • We researched and reviewed 25 insurance, wellness, and discount providers to find the best five companies you see above on this list. Below are the companies we researched, along with links to individual company reviews to help you learn more before making a decision. Those that didn’t make our list may have had fewer policy types and coverages, longer waiting periods, more age restrictions, slower claims processing, or higher costs.

    24PetWatch, AKC Pet Insurance, ASPCA Pet Insurance, Banfield Wellness Plan, Companion Protect, Embrace, Eusoh, Fetch by the Dodo (previously PetPlan), FIGO, Healthy Paws, Lemonade, MetLife Pet Insurance, Nationwide Pet Insurance, Odie, Pawp, Pet Assure, PetPlus, Pets Best, Pets Plus Us, Prudent Pet Insurance, Toto, Trupanion, TrustedPals, USAA, Wagmo,



Methodology

Our team evaluated 25 pet insurance providers, including wellness-only programs, and collected over 2,000 data points before selecting our top choices. We weighed 43 criteria and gave a higher weight to those with a more significant impact on potential customers. 

The top picks were selected based on factors like plan options (weighted 33% in total), company features (29% in total), and fees, discounts, and limits (13% in total). We took into account the availability of instant online quotes, claim turnaround times, and whether or not the insurer will conduct a medical record review when you apply, among other important considerations. 

We also conducted a survey of 408 people who currently have pet insurance (23% of respondents), are considering getting pet insurance (56.4%), or have had pet insurance in the past (20.6%). Their responses were used to better understand customer satisfaction with the available features, claim reimbursements, and customer service of pet insurance companies.

For more information about our selection criteria and process, our complete methodology is available.


Guide to Pet Insurance


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