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By Noel Dávila and Andrea Agostini
Updated: November 23, 2021 10:44 AM ET | Originally published: November 4, 2021
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Best for Unlimited Coverage
Best for Puppies and KittensBest for Hereditary and Congenital ConditionsBest for Older PetsBest for Treatment of Mobility IssuesBest for Fast Claims Processing
SpotPumpkinASPCAEmbracePets BestLemonade Pet
Our PartnerOur PartnerOur PartnerOur PartnerOur Partner
Deductibles

$100-$1,000

$100, $250, $500

$100-$500

$100-$1k

$50-$1k

$100, $250, $500

Reimbursement Options

70%, 80%, 90%

90%

70%, 80%, 90%

70%,80%,90%

70%,80%,90%

70%, 80%, 90%

Annual Limits

$2,500 - $20,000, Unlimited

$7-15k for cats, $10-20k for dogs

$3,000-$7,000

Up to Unlimited

$5k-Unlimited

$5k-$100k

Available Discounts

Multi-pet discount

Multi-pet discount

Multi-pet discount, Employee benefit discount

Diminishing deductible, Multi-pet discount, Military discount, Employee benefits discount

Multi-pet discount

Policy bundle discount

Best for Unlimited Coverage
Spot
Our Partner
Check Price
Deductibles

$100-$1,000

Reimbursement Options

70%, 80%, 90%

Annual Limits

$2,500 - $20,000, Unlimited

Available Discounts

Multi-pet discount

Best for Puppies and Kittens
Pumpkin
Our Partner
Check Price
Deductibles

$100, $250, $500

Reimbursement Options

90%

Annual Limits

$7-15k for cats, $10-20k for dogs

Available Discounts

Multi-pet discount

Best for Hereditary and Congenital Conditions
ASPCA
Our Partner
Check Price
Deductibles

$100-$500

Reimbursement Options

70%, 80%, 90%

Annual Limits

$3,000-$7,000

Available Discounts

Multi-pet discount, Employee benefit discount

Best for Older Pets
Embrace
Our Partner
Check Price
Deductibles

$100-$1k

Reimbursement Options

70%,80%,90%

Annual Limits

Up to Unlimited

Available Discounts

Diminishing deductible, Multi-pet discount, Military discount, Employee benefits discount

Best for Treatment of Mobility Issues
Pets Best
Check Price
Deductibles

$50-$1k

Reimbursement Options

70%,80%,90%

Annual Limits

$5k-Unlimited

Available Discounts

Multi-pet discount

Best for Fast Claims Processing
Lemonade Pet
Our Partner
Check Price
Deductibles

$100, $250, $500

Reimbursement Options

70%, 80%, 90%

Annual Limits

$5k-$100k

Available Discounts

Policy bundle discount

Pet insurance helps pay for your pet’s medical care, with many policies covering up to 90 percent of your vet bills. However, that proportion varies by insurer and by your preferences. In addition, some procedures and care are excluded from coverage. With some policies, you also can hit annual or lifetime caps on payments, which can mean some bills aren’t covered at all.

Exclusions and complications may help explain why only 25% of pet owners have pet insurance, according to a March 2021 study of pet ownership. It can be challenging, too, to find comprehensive coverage for your dog or cat at an affordable monthly premium.

Shopping around for pet insurance will help you make a well-informed decision that’s best suited to your pet and your pocket. To help you shorten the process, here’s our list of best pet insurance companies, tailored to particular needs and priorities.

Our Top Picks for Best Pet Insurance of November 2021

  • Spot - Best for Unlimited Coverage
  • Pumpkin - Best for Puppies and Kittens
  • Figo - Best for Reimbursement Options
  • Embrace - Best for Older Pets
  • Pets Best - Best for Treatment of Mobility Issues
  • Lemonade - Best for Fast Claims Processing
  • ASPCA - Best for Hereditary and Congenital Conditions
  • Trupanion - Best for Direct Payment to Vets
  • Nationwide - Best for Exotic Pets
  • Healthy Paws - Best for Alternative Therapies

Honorable Mentions: TrustedPals, Petplan, Metlife Pet Insurance, PetFirst, 24PetWatch, Hartville, Pet Assure, USAA Pet Insurance and GEICO Pet Insurance

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Best Pet Insurance Companies Reviews

Pros
  • No annual, per incident, or lifetime caps
  • Virtual training with animal behaviorists
  • Visit any vet, emergency clinic, or specialist in the U.S.
  • Wide range of deductions, annual limits, and reimbursement options
  • Covers virtual and mobile vet visits
  • Visit any vet, emergency clinic, or specialist in the US
Cons
  • 14-day waiting period for accident coverage
  • No coverage for exotic pets
  • Covers curable pre-existing conditions
  • Pets must be eight weeks old

Spot readily allows you to maximize coverage of your pet. It’s among a relatively few companies that provide policies with a full (100%) coverage option, meaning you are not responsible for any co-payment of bills. In addition, the company offers a very low ($100) deductible option, which further reduces your out-of-pocket payments for care.

That said, choosing one or both of a low co-payment and a low deductible will lead to higher premiums for the policy. And Spot’s prices are already higher than the norm for young pets, although the company has no upper age limit for insuring new animals -- which may make it a good choice if your furry companions are elderly.

What we like: We picked Spot for how well it caters to pet parents who want coverage that maximizes peace of mind for their pet’s health -- even if opting for low or no co-payments and a small deductible do tend to drive up the cost of any policy, regardless of the company. Spot is also a fine choice for older pets, since there is no age limit to its coverage.

See full review >>

Pros
  • Refund on up to 4 puppy vaccines a year with a non-insurance preventative add-on option
  • 14-day waiting period for all conditions
  • Fast and easy online claims processing
  • Covers dental illness and treatment for behavioral problems (if the latter is performed by a veterinarian)
  • Older pets are not subject to reduced or outright denial of coverage due to old age
  • 10% multi-pet discount
  • Visit any licensed clinic or vet in the US and Canada
Cons
  • Only two annual coverage limits, no additional reimbursement options
  • Just one year in business
  • Available for US residents only

Pumpkin offers affordable plans with an option to add preventative care packs for young cats and dogs that aren’t included in standard coverage. For example, the company’s puppy preventive care packs include one annual wellness exam fee, four puppy vaccines and one yearly fecal test.

Pumpkin will also refund the cost of up to four vaccines your puppy may have received prior to being insured under the preventive pack, as well as covering lab tests for parasites. However, these add-ons — known as Pumpkin Preventive Essentials — are not available in all states.

What we like: We picked Pumpkin as the best pet insurance for puppies and kittens because it offers both extensive insurance and non-insurance preventive care options tailored to junior animals, and at an affordable price point.

See full review >>

Pros
  • 24/7 virtual vet visits and customer service through easy to use app
  • No network needed across the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico
  • Short 3-day waiting period for injuries and 14 days for illnesses
  • 30-day money-back policy, provided you haven't filed any claims
  • May reimburse up to 100% of vet bill
Cons
  • Some policies have lifetime limits of $100,000
  • Unlimited policy has an annual $20,000 upper limit in Washington and Massachusetts
  • 6-month waiting period for knee injuries and orthopedic conditions
  • Doesn't cover routine or preventative care

FIGO offers pet owners the option to reduce their copayment to 0%, thanks to its 100% reimbursement option. (As a rule, the lowest copayment offered by other providers is 10%.) Figo doesn’t enforce annual limits, either, but the company does apply a lifetime maximum – that is, how much it will reimburse over the lifetime of your pet.

Be prepared to pay higher than average premiums for a policy with 0% copay, unlimited payout benefits or both. Other notable drawbacks include Figo's coverage limitations on hereditary conditions and lack of rider options. Pet owners can purchase additional coverage for vet exam fees, but not for preventative care or wellness.

Figo’s Pet Cloud app features comprehensive mobile support. With the app, you can contact a licensed veterinarian 24/7, manage your pet’s insurance documents and make payments, among other transactions.

What we like: Most competitors only offer up to 90% reimbursement. Figo stands out as the best pet insurance for reimbursement options because pet owners can choose up to 100% reimbursement and avoid copayments entirely.

See full review >>

Pros
  • Accident-only plan available
  • Emergency care and hospitalization at any licensed clinic
  • Vet exam fees covered
  • Optional Wellness Rewards Program
  • 24/7 Pet Health Line
  • Diminishing deductible
  • Available in all 50 states and Washington DC
Cons
  • No unlimited benefit options
  • Accident and illness only covers pets age 14 and younger
  • Limited wellness benefits
  • Not available in Canada and US territories

Embrace is willing to provide accident and illness coverage to pets of up to 15 years. After that age, you can still purchase coverage, albeit only for accidents. That’s somewhat of a rarity, as companies generally won’t insure pets of 10 or older in any way.

Embrace doesn’t offer wellness benefits as a separate policy. Instead, pet owners can sign up for the Wellness Rewards plan and contribute a specific amount to cover preventive care expenses. Make sure your annual contributions match the expected level of preventative care, as unused funds don’t rollover for the following year.

Another benefit of Embrace pet insurance is its shrinking deductibles. Every year you don’t receive a claim reimbursement, Embrace will reduce your annual deductible by $50.

All policies come with a 30-day money-back guarantee or a pro-rated refund — if you’ve already filed a claim within that time frame.

What we like: Aging pets shouldn’t be spared insurance coverage when they need it most. We picked Embrace as the best pet insurance for older pets because it extends comprehensive coverage to pets under 14 years and accident-only coverage to pets 15 years or older.

See full review >>

Pros
  • Offers accident-only and wellness plans for a flat rate
  • 24-hour helpline staffed by veterinary experts
  • Very low premiums
  • Direct reimbursement to your vet, meaning less out-of-pocket for you
  • Wide range of deductible choices
  • Visit any licensed vet in the US and Canada
Cons
  • Doesn't cover holistic, herbal, or experimental therapies
  • Accident and Illness plan won't cover prescribed diet, vitamins, or supplements
  • Enrollment is limited to residents of continental US

Pets Best offers accident and illness policies and also sells multiple wellness plans to cover your pet’s routine care.

Most insurers require pets to be at least eight weeks old to enroll, but Pets Best will insure pets at seven weeks. There is no upper age limit, either, so you can get coverage for senior pets.

Insurers don’t always cover treatments for mobility issues, but Pets Best provides coverage for wheelchairs and prosthetic devices when prescribed by a veterinarian to treat a covered accident or illness.

However, Pets Best does have bilateral exclusions. If your pet was previously diagnosed with a condition on one side of its body — such as cataracts in one eye, hip dysplasia or luxating patellas — Pets Best won’t cover the condition if it later affects the other side; it’s considered a pre-existing condition.

What we like: Pets Best has a wide range of coverage options and deductibles, and it offers coverage for pets as young as seven weeks. And, it’s one of the few insurers that cover prosthetic devices and wheelchairs.

See full review >>

Pros
  • Flexible premiums and deductibles
  • Quick claims process
  • Handle everything from mobile app
  • 10% discount for bundling with home insurance
  • Visit any licensed veterinarian
Cons
  • Enrollment is only available in 36 states
  • Won't cover prescription food or dental care
  • No phone or in-person sign-up
  • No coverage for curable pre-existing conditions

Lemonade offers a comprehensive accident and illness policy, and you can further enhance coverage with a preventative care rider for annual checkups, vaccines, and heartworm and parasite screening. A separate rider is also available to cover vet exam fees and alternative treatments like acupuncture.

Lemonade also donates excess premium payments to nonprofits selected by policyholders. Lemonade is currently available in 36 states, but you can sign up for updates on its website.

What we like: We picked Lemonade in part for its novel AI-powered processing, which promises to deliver claims very quickly via the app. The ability to direct a part of the company’s profit to a charity of your choice may also appeal to many pet owners.

See full review >>

Pros
  • No waiting period for preventive care
  • Visit any vet in the US and Canada – no network required
  • Affordable monthly premiums
  • Reimburses alternative therapies
  • Covers microchip implantation
  • Multi-pet discount of 10% for each additional pet
  • 24/7 pet telehealth line
  • Offers accident-only policy
Cons
  • Preventive care riders work on an itemized basis, not an annual limit
  • Unlimited coverage is not an option
  • 14-day waiting period for accidents and illnesses
  • Not managed by ASPCA itself
  • No chat support

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers accident-only, accident and illness and preventive care for cats and dogs. Riding enthusiasts can also insure their horses, but only in certain states.

ASPCA’s premium rates are some of the most affordable and the company is also more flexible on certain policy terms than its industry counterparts.

While other policies set an age limit on coverage for hereditary or congenital conditions, ASPCA guarantees coverage no matter your pet’s age at enrollment, as long as the conditions aren’t pre-diagnosed. Additionally, curable pre-existing conditions are covered, provided your pet is symptom-free for at last 180 days. Other companies may make you wait up to a year.

This insurer also falls short with its lengthy claims processing time. Pet care is expensive, and waiting 30 days for insurance reimbursement isn’t a good selling point, considering some competitors process claims in a matter of days.

What we like: We picked ASPCA as the best pet insurance for congenital or hereditary conditions because it doesn’t withhold coverage for these illnesses if you enroll your pet past a certain age. Your pet will be fully insured relatively fast, too, thanks to the short 14-day waiting period.

See full review >>

Pros
  • Lifetime per condition deductibles
  • Coverage for hereditary and congenital conditions
  • Pet owner assistance package
  • All plans include 90% coverage
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Not set limits for any benefits (per incident, monthly or lifetime)
  • Visit any licensed vet in the US (including Puerto Rico and international US military bases), Canada or Australia
  • Enrollment is available for permanent residents in the US, Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia
Cons
  • No preventive care coverage
  • No discounts
  • Trupanion only accepts monthly payments

Trupanion offers a single insurance plan for cats and dogs. Aside from standard benefits, like diagnostic tests, surgery, hospitalization and prescription medications, coverage also extends to alternative treatments, dental illnesses, prosthetic devices and prescription food.

If your veterinarian uses Trupanion’s direct payment software, you don’t need to file a claim; Trupanion pays the vet directly. Policyholders, then, need not worry about making costly upfront payments or submitting reimbursement claims, which are standard for most of the pet insurance industry.

Trupanion lacks affordability and flexibility – premiums are high and there’s only a single policy option. However, its coverage is comprehensive. If you can afford higher than average premiums, your pet will benefit from 90% reimbursement on all eligible claims and no payout limits per incident, year or lifetime.

What we like: Usually, pet owners have to pay the vet bill in full before receiving reimbursement. With Trupanion’s direct payment software, your vet can file a claim in-office and receive payment almost immediately. You don’t have to pay a cent out of pocket.

See full review >>

Pros
  • Lifetime per condition deductibles
  • Current Nationwide members save 5% on a pet insurance policy
  • No age restrictions
  • Whole Pet with Wellness has complete preventative care coverage in one plan
  • Visit any licensed vet, specialist and emergency providers anywhere in the world
Cons
  • No plan customization
  • Limited online services
  • Policies are more expensive than average
  • Enrollment is limited to residents within the US

Nationwide is the only pet insurance company of its size that offers an Avian and Exotic Pet plan. Most birds, reptiles and small mammals can be covered, including goats and pot-bellied pigs. (However, any animal not explicitly listed on the Nationwide website isn’t eligible, including those listed under venomous or endangered species.)

Exotic pet owners need to call 844-244-3691 to get a quote or to sign up, but dog and cat insurance is easy to get directly on Nationwide’s website. For these pets, Nationwide offers three accident and illness policy options, along with two wellness care packages.

What we like: We picked Nationwide as the best pet insurance for exotic pets because it offers comprehensive insurance for various unconventional animals. Pet owners can relax knowing up to 90% of their expenses for such animals are covered by a reputable insurer.

See full review >>

Pros
  • No caps on claim payouts
  • Unlimited annual benefits
  • 99% of claims processed in 2 days
  • Submit claims via email, fax, online, or using the Healthy Paws' mobile app
  • Visit any licensed veterinarian in the US and Canada
  • Covers curable pre-existing conditions
Cons
  • No wellness plan, alternative treatment or preventative care
  • No multi-pet discount
  • 15-day waiting period for accident and illness
  • Charges a one-time $25 fee
  • Limits deductibles and reimbursement options for pets over age 6

Healthy Paws offers just one accident and illness policy for cats and dogs. It has no per-incident, annual or lifetime benefit caps, and you can choose a deductible between $100 and $500.

Healthy Paws provides quick claim processing through its mobile app, and most claims are processed in just two days. It also offers a direct payment option instead of reimbursement if you can’t afford the upfront veterinary bill.

Healthy Paws is best for pets that are enrolled while they’re young, as coverage options and reimbursement rates are more limited for senior pets.

What we like: Most insurers exclude alternative therapies from their policies, but Healthy Paws policies cover treatments like acupuncture chiropractic care, hydrotherapy, physical therapy, laser therapy and massage therapy as long as it’s prescribed and performed by a licensed veterinarian.

See full review >>

Other pet insurance companies we considered

In narrowing down our list, these companies stood out in some respects but didn’t quite match the strengths of our ten top picks.

TrustedPals

Pros
  • Covers prescribed behavioral training, therapy, and treatment
  • Includes prescribed drugs, nutritional supplements, and pet food
  • Claims paid in up to ten days
  • $0 deductible and 100% reimbursement options available
  • Visit any licensed veterinarian within the US
Cons
  • Wellness plan has a $750 reimbursement limit
  • 12-month waiting period for ligament and hip dysplasia
  • Enrollment is limited to US residents only

TrustedPals’ policies are issued by Zurich, a global insurance company. TrustedPals issues policies to owners of dogs and cats with no upper age limit, and 1% of the company’s profits are donated to pet-related charities.

It offers both accident and illness plans and wellness policies, and there are several discount programs available. In addition to a multiple pet discount, you may also qualify for a discount if you are a military service member or veteran, first responder, veterinary student or if your pet is a service animal.

Bottom line: TrustedPals has a wide range of customization options, allowing you to choose deductibles as low as $0 and annual benefits ranging from $4,000 to unlimited. But the company has a 12-month waiting period before covering treatments for hip dysplasia or ligament conditions and charges fees if you opt to pay your premiums monthly.

Petplan

Pros
  • Coverage from just 6 weeks
  • No sign-up fees
  • VirtualVet visits included
  • Boarding fees reimbursement for up to $1,000
  • No lifetime or per condition claims limit
  • Visit any licensed vet in the US and Canada
Cons
  • No preventive care coverage
  • For coverage to apply, you must take your dog or cat to the vet within 48 hours of noticing symptoms
  • No multi-pet discount
  • 6-month waiting period for hip dysplasia and knee injuries
  • Limits older pet coverage

Petplan is one of the few insurers that will enroll pets as young as six weeks, making it a good option for owners of young kittens who often go to their new homes at that age. The company has no upper age limit, and it has multiple deductibles and annual benefit options.

Bottom line: Petplan has the lowest age limit for enrollment of all the companies we looked at, and it has some additional perks and features that can be appealing to pet owners. However, the company doesn’t have a wellness care plan, and there are some strict rules policyholders have to follow to get claims reimbursed.

MetLife Pet Insurance

Pros
  • Multiple discounts
  • Decreasing deductible for every year without a claim
  • Deductibles range from $50 to $500
Cons
  • Claim processing can take two weeks
  • Parasite treatments are not covered
  • Maximum annual benefit is just $10,000

MetLife Pet Insurance, previously known as Pet First, offers an easy online application and multiple coverage options. You can select your maximum benefit amount, ranging from $2,000 to $10,000. Deductibles are as low as $50, and you can take advantage of one or more of the discount programs MetLife provides:

  • 10% discount for veterinarians and shelter workers
  • $10 internet purchase discount
  • Discount for military service members, veterans and first responders
  • Healthcare worker discount

Bottom line: MetLife Pet Insurance policies allow you to adjust your reimbursement amount, reimbursement percentage and deductible to meet your budget, and you can add wellness coverage to your plan to offset routine care expenses. But the company limits certain coverage and takes longer to reimburse expenses than do some of its competitors.

PetFirst

Pros
  • Accident coverage after just 24 hours
  • Extensive coverage and customizable limits
  • Covers curable pre-existing conditions
  • Coverage applies to licensed vets within the US
  • Offers a Senior Pet Insurance Plan
Cons
  • No accident-only coverage
  • Low annual limits
  • Preventive care treatments have individual annual limits
  • Enrollment is limited to US residents

PetFirst offers several discounts for healthcare workers, military, veterans and first responders. Employers that provide pet insurance also qualify for a discounted rate, as well as affinity groups and those that work in animal care.

Its accident and illness insurance for cats and dogs is comprehensive, including benefits for holistic treatments and alternative benefits.

There’s also a preventive care add-on that appears to define such treatment broadly. However, the company explicitly excludes standard wellness benefits like parasite prevention and treatment, and elective surgeries (which include spaying and neutering).

Even when you get a final quote, details about wellness benefits are not clearly listed, which leaves you wondering what you’re actually paying for.

Bottom line: PetFirst has some appealing attributes, including a lot of discounts and deductibles that diminish with each year you don’t file a claim. However, its wellness care coverage lags behind that of many other pet insurers.

24PetWatch

Pros
  • No waiting period for accidents
  • Coverage for chronic conditions after 24 months symptom-free
  • Covers invoiced amount, including exam fees
Cons
  • Limited enrollment age
  • CCL (ACL) injuries are considered a bilateral condition
  • Only has an 80% reimbursement option
  • No unlimited payout options

24PetWatch offers policies and wellness plans with short waiting periods and low deductibles, but the company didn’t make the cut due to certain policy limitations. There’s only a single (80%) reimbursement option. Also, dogs age out of coverage at ten years and cats at 12. At those ages, it’s difficult to find another company willing to begin coverage, effectively leaving aging pets uninsured. Further, a lack of discounts makes their plans slightly more expensive than the competition.

Bottom line: 24PetWatch covers veterinary fees, and offers a $500 per incident benefit for expenses like boarding kennel fees, lost pet reward, additional living expenses and travel cancellation fees. But its lack of choice in reimbursement level, shortage of discounts and age limitations meant it didn’t quite match our picks.

Hartville

Pros
  • Unlimited annual coverage limit
  • 30-day trial period
  • Enrollment is available for US, US territories and Canada
Cons
  • Costly to start with, prices go up after 5 years old
  • Preventive care reimbursement is limited
  • No budget option available

Hartville’s policies offer excellent coverage, but it comes at a price — expect to pay around $40 per month for a mixed-breed puppy and $22 per month for a mixed kitten. Accident-only coverage seems to be an affordable alternative, and even then, premiums start around $30 for a puppy. Once your dog is over five years old, illness benefit premiums go up considerably, as well.

Hartville also advertises an unlimited annual benefit payout, but the option is not available through online enrollment. You’ll have to call 1-800-799-5852 for further information.

Bottom line: Hartville’s Complete Coverage plan covers behavioral issues and microchip implantation on top of standard accident and illness benefits. Also, full coverage is effective after 14 days, without any additional pre-condition waiting periods. But the company’s policies are pricey.

Pet Assure

Pros
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Multi-pet discount
Cons
  • Not pet insurance
  • No coverage for specialist services
  • Won't cover prescription food or medication

To be clear, Pet Assure is not pet insurance but rather a discount plan that offers 25% off on all in-office medical procedures. While the program has participating veterinarians in all states, Puerto Rico and Canada, the number of providers by location is limited.

Bottom line: Pet Assure is an affordable alternative that bridges potential gaps in your existing policy, provided your vet accepts it. But the company's offering didn’t make the cut because it’s not pet insurance.

USAA Pet Insurance

Pros
  • Membership and multi-pet discount 
  • Submit claims 24/7
  • Insurance is provided by Embrace
  • Visit any licensed vet in the US
Cons
  • Limited policy information
  • No online chat support
  • Requires USAA membership

USAA offers accident-only or accident and illness policies through Embrace, with an optional wellness rider. Claims and customer service are also handled through Embrace. By purchasing through USAA, members can access up to a 25% discount on pet insurance.

We didn’t like how sparse USAA’s pet insurance page was, with very little information on policies. If you want more information, it's best to go directly to Embrace’s webpage.

Bottom line: USAA might be worth considering for military families. But it didn’t make it to our shortlist because you must be a military member or family to buy coverage.

GEICO Pet Insurance

Pros
  • Multiple discounts
  • Insurance is provided by Embrace
Cons
  • Limited information on website 
  • No online support– only phone

Pet owners that apply for insurance through GEICO will be redirected to Embrace’s webpage. However, GEICO’s policy doesn’t include options for unlimited annual benefits, full reimbursement, or a $0 deductible.

Bottom line: Although GEICO offers more discounts than other insurers – including multi-pet, spaying/neutering, and annual pay – it falls short of other companies in other ways.

Pet Insurance Guide

Types of pet insurance plans

When you’re looking to insure your pet, the first thing to do is take a good look at your finances — and how much you’re able and willing to spend in case of an emergency. Pet insurance policies vary in their coverage and, of course, premiums. Understanding the various types of policy, and what each offers, is crucial for understanding how to buy pet insurance.

  • Accident-only policies – An accident-only plan may suit you best if your main concern is your cat or dog’s propensity for mishaps (poisonings, broken bones, bloating). They’re usually more affordable than plans with more expansive coverage.
  • Accident & Illness policies – These are the all-inclusive pet insurance plans, covering both accident and illness coverage. They can be expanded to be truly comprehensive by buying wellness coverage, which is usually an add-on rather than an integrated part of the plan.
  • Comprehensive policies – Some insurers offer comprehensive policies covering everything, from accidents to illnesses to wellness and routine care. For example, they may cover the cost of dental care, chiropractic care, spaying, vaccinations, behavioral therapy, and more. Naturally, these plans have the heftiest price tag but might be worth it to you for the peace of mind they provide.

If you want to evaluate whether an insurer is right for you, it’s a good idea to download its sample policy, which is usually available on the company website.

Read all its inclusions, exclusions, and restrictions thoroughly. If you’re comfortable with them, and they’re competitive with those of other companies, move on to enroll your pet.

How pet health insurance works

  • Waiting periods – Your insurance won’t pay for care until a waiting period has elapsed. Most companies require at least 14 days after enrollment before they will reimburse you for a vet visit due to illness.
  • Exclusions – The language of pet insurance policies usually excludes some specific conditions. Read the policy carefully before buying, so you'll know what is and isn’t covered.
  • Network restrictions – Unlike health insurance for humans, pet insurance generally doesn't have a restricted or preferred network of providers. However, some insurers may limit certain coverage to specific vets. There may, however, be geographic restrictions; for example, your pet may not be covered if you travel to Canada or Puerto Rico.

What increases and lowers premium costs

The average monthly cost of pet insurance with accident and illness coverage is $49.51 for dogs and $28.48 for cats. But the exact amount you’ll spend to insure your pet will vary, and not only by the insurer you choose.

Pet insurance costs vary widely based on several factors, including the pet’s breed, gender, age, location, and your chosen coverage options and deductible.

  • Pre-existing conditions – Pet insurance providers will not reimburse you for conditions your dog, cat, or other pet already had before you bought the pet insurance policy.
  • Preventative care add-ons – You’ll get the best value from an accident or illness coverage plan, but you could add coverage for preventative care. Policies that cover both routine care and accident or illness care are called comprehensive coverage.
  • Pet’s age – Premiums increase with age, and do so sharply for very old animals. In addition, after your dog or cat reaches age of 10 or 12, your choices in insurers will diminish significantly.
  • Deductibles – With many plans, you set the deductible, which is the money you must pay before your insurance policy kicks in. But in addition to setting the amount of the deductible, make sure you also understand its type. An annual deductible for all care is common, but some instead (or in addition) impose per-incident or per-condition deductibles.
  • Where you live – Generally speaking, pets that live in urban areas — particularly on the coasts — will have higher pet insurance rates due to higher costs of veterinary care, among other socioeconomic factors. States with especially high vets’ costs — and hence premiums — include New York or California.

If you’re on a tight budget and need a policy with more affordable premiums, take a look at our best cheap pet insurance page.

Additional expenses to keep in mind

  • Reimbursements – You pay for all vet visits and charges and then file for a reimbursement. Plans typically reimburse 70% to 90% of covered expenses.
  • Payout caps – Most plans stop reimbursing after you’ve reached your policy’s maximum coverage amount. Most policies have an annual expense cap, but some have caps per incident (illness or injury) or even for the animal’s lifetime. Expect to pay higher premiums for higher caps.

Veterinary Care During COVID-19

The rise in pet ownership during the coronavirus pandemic is placing veterinary services in especially high demand. That makes it more important than usual to choose the medical issues that really require taking your pet to the vet. Before running out to visit your pet care provider, consider the following:

Urgent Care vs. routine checkups

Urgent Care Routine Checkups
Accidents, respiratory problems, and poisonings require immediate medical attention Routine checkups and elective procedures should be postponed as long as possible so that veterinary offices can avoid a higher number of patients
For emergency trips, make sure to adhere to CDC guidelines regarding masks and social distancing Pet owners should consider making use of telemedicine alternatives instead of making in-person visits to the vet

Keep in mind that depending on the hospital, staff may be operating in-person or with curbside service, and many health providers are offering alternatives for non-urgent yet essential procedures (e.g., booster shots, vaccinations, physical therapy).

Caring for your pet in the era of social distancing

Aside from the aforementioned veterinary care, there are other measures you can take as a pet owner to keep your furry family member healthy and happy:

  • Buy medicine – Make sure to have enough prescriptions, such as heartworm, parasite, flea, and tick medicine, as well as any maintenance drugs.
  • Stock up on food – Consider using online services that deliver the food directly to your door to avoid unnecessary visits to the pet store or the supermarket.
  • Work on your mental and physical health – Pets pick up on their owners’ feelings, which means your anxiety can also affect them. Take care of yourself and other household members, so your pets feel more at ease with such an unusual amount of human contact.
  • Exercise your pet – Stay-at-home ordinances and self-isolation protocols limit the time you spend with your pet outside. Going for a walk following safety precautions, playing fetch or basic training techniques are some of the many ways to keep them active.
  • Make the most of telemedicine services – You keep your pet healthy while limiting visits to the vet and lessen the workload for veterinary staff in clinics and hospitals.

Telemedicine

More vets than ever are incorporating telemedicine alternatives to their practice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. An example of telemedicine is having the vet advise you on care via video chat, which can allow sufficient observation of a pet patient to provide advice on some medical issues. .

Telehealth can also be useful for postoperative follow-ups, or simply to determine whether a case is urgent or non-urgent. More importantly, it reduces the chance of spreading COVID-19 by reducing physical contact with others and their pets.

Can my pet get coronavirus?

Animal-to-human transmission is highly unlikely, according to the CDC, since there is no evidence that pets can significantly spread the virus. However, though extremely rare, there have been cases of serious illness, and even death, in pets who have contracted COVID-19.

So, while the chances of spreading the virus are extremely low, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared, especially with the more transmissible delta variant.

As a general rule, treat your pet as you would a person by maintaining distance whenever possible, and wearing a face-covering to avoid transmission. Take extra precautions if you have either received a positive test or suspect you have been infected.

You may be interested in pet life insurance if you wish to cover your pet’s economic value or burial costs in the unfortunate event that they pass away from Coronavirus-related complications.

Pet Insurance FAQ
Is pet insurance worth it?
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Knowing whether pet insurance will pay off for you depends on your needs and your pet's health care needs. Before trying to enroll your pet in a plan, consider its costs vs. its potential benefits. Any pet insurance cover provides a service that's not measured as a dollar amount — giving you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you won't be facing expensive vet bills all on your own.
How much is pet insurance?
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Pricing your pet insurance premium will depend on many factors: 1) your pet's type, gender, and breed; 2) your pet's age; 3) your location; 4) coverage types; 5) deductible and reimbursement level. The more expensive it is where you live, whether it's California or New York City, the more expensive your pet insurance will be.
How does pet insurance work?
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Pet insurance is a policy that comes with a monthly premium. With pet insurance, if your pet is sick or injured, you pay the bill upfront and submit a claim for reimbursement. You can take your pet to a licensed veterinarian and then submit a claim to get reimbursed for issues that are covered under your pet insurance plan.
What does pet insurance cover?
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It depends on the specific plan. Standard pet health insurance will cover most accidents and injuries. Still, you can also buy a policy that covers only routine vet visits for checkups and vaccinations, usually called wellness plans. "Things like ultrasounds, blood tests, or procedures such as MRIs or CAT scans — they're now available [for pets]," said Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the American Kennel Club.
What is the best pet insurance?
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The best pet insurance for you will depend on a combination of different elements, mainly your budget and your pet's needs.

How We Found the Best Pet Insurance Companies

We evaluated each pet insurer by looking at:

  • Plan and coverage options
  • Cost and available discounts
  • Annual reimbursement limits
  • Policy exclusions and restrictions
  • Wellness benefits
  • Customer service options and claims processes
  • Customer reviews
  • Third-party ratings from websites like TrustPilot and the Better Business Bureau

Summary of Money’s Best Pet Insurance Companies of November 2021

  • Spot - Best for Unlimited Coverage
  • Pumpkin - Best for Puppies and Kittens
  • Figo - Best for Reimbursement Options
  • Embrace - Best for Older Pets
  • Pets Best - Best for Treatment of Mobility Issues
  • Lemonade - Best for Fast Claims Processing
  • ASPCA - Best for Hereditary and Congenital Conditions
  • Trupanion - Best for Direct Payment to Vets
  • Nationwide - Best for Exotic Pets
  • Healthy Paws - Best for Alternative Therapies