An estimated 38% of U.S. households own at least one dog, and another 25% are cat owners (though these numbers overlap quite a bit). We love our furry friends, and we’d do nearly anything to keep them safe and healthy. Unfortunately, many of us can’t pay for emergency medical bills when regular checkups are already stressful on your wallet. That’s where pet insurance comes in. Is pet insurance worth it, though, and how do you decide between all the available options?
The best way to ensure your pet has the coverage they need is to compare pet insurance plans to each other, listing out the pros and cons of each. Read on to find out about pet insurance plans in 2020 and decide for yourself whether pet insurance is worth the cost.
What Are Pet Insurance Plans and Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
Pet insurance plans work much like standard health insurance plans. You pay a monthly fee in exchange for financial assistance with routine and emergency medical bills. While it may not seem prudent to pay money each month for something that may never happen, pet insurance can keep you from having to make some tough decisions. For example, if your pet were to be hit by a car and severely injured, you might not be able to afford life-saving surgery. While they’re less expensive than human surgeries, operations for dogs and cats can easily exceed $1,000-5,000. Even routine bills for healthy pets can add up quickly. Spaying or neutering costs anywhere from $100-250, and you’ll also have to pay for vaccinations. On top of that, you’ll need annual checkups, shot boosters, flea and tick medicine, heartworm pills, etc.
As your pet gets older, you’ll likely end up with more medical bills as they develop age-related conditions. Many dogs, for example, can to form lumps and bumps in their old age. Most of these aren’t harmful, but they can cause discomfort as they grow and may cost upwards of $1000 to remove. Some pet medical insurance policies cover all medical expenses, while others only cover emergency costs. Either way, it’s often easier to plan for a small monthly fee with lower co-pays for vet appointments than it is to scrape together a lot of cash last minute. Whether pet health insurance is worth it or not is up to you and your budgeting needs, but it’s an option worth considering. So here are some pet insurance companies to choose from in 2020.
Those who’ve dealt with the frustration of trying to find an in-network healthcare provider to lower their medical bills will appreciate Figo’s approach to pet insurance. Instead of restricting you to only a few partners, you can see any U.S. licensed veterinarian and receive the same coverage. It even applies if you’re seeing a specialist for treatment. This company offers three levels of comprehensive coverage—up to $10,000, up to $14,000, and unlimited. The main downside to Figo is that there’s a waiting period after your policy begins before they’ll cover your pet for specific conditions. The waiting periods are as follows:
- 3 days for accidents and injuries
- 14 days for acute illnesses
- 6 months for patellar and cruciate ligament repair
If you’re going to choose one of their three levels of coverage, do so before your pet needs it, or you may end up footing the whole bill for something you’d typically be covered. Once you do sign up, though, you’ll be able to take advantage of their 24/7 veterinarian video chat service and innovative cloud-based platform.
Healthy Paws is another pet insurance company that offers a wide range of coverage. They’ll pay for x-rays, cancer treatment, blood tests, surgeries, and other emergency care. Healthy Paws is an excellent choice if you’re able to cover regular checkups and preventative care on your own but want a cushion in case of accident or illness. Their policies don’t include things like spaying and neutering, parasite treatment, or dental care. They also won’t cover some pre-existing conditions, though they will pay for hereditary and congenital issues if they aren’t pre-existing when the policy begins.
This company only offers one plan, Unlimited Lifetime, which will pay without a cap after you meet your yearly deductible. Like Figo, Healthy Paws lets you see any licensed vet in the United States. You can submit claims and pay your bills through their convenient mobile app, and applications can be paid within two weeks.
If you’re trying to save money and on a tight budget, Pets Best may be the best pet insurance for you. Their accident and illness plans are flexible, meaning you can add and subtract specific coverage options to build a plan for your needs. If you’re trying to pinch pennies, you can even sign up for an inexpensive accident-only policy that starts at $6/month for cats and $9/month for dogs.
Those who choose Pets Best will get access to a 24/7 helpline and can add a wellness plan to cover routine visits if desired. Your pet has to be at least 7 weeks old before they qualify.
Nationwide is known more for their home insurance and auto insurance, but they offer great coverage for your furry friends as well. Like Pets Best, they let you build the plan that works for your needs with a combination of emergency and routine care. They’ve also recently added coverage for chronic conditions without tacking on any hidden fees. This company is a top choice if your pet has feathers, scales, or slimy skin. Their policies cover birds and exotic pets as well as cats and dogs.
Pro tip: even if Nationwide isn’t your home and auto insurance provider, check with your existing companies to see if they offer pet policies. You may be able to bundle the cost with your current insurance plans and get a lower rate overall.
Spot Pet Insurance
Remember Cesar Milan, the dog whisperer? While his television appearances may not be as frequent these days, he’s moved on to other things, including partnering with Spot pet insurance.
Spot is an affordable, customizable option that offers 70-90% reimbursement on eligible bills. You can add coverage for behavioral problems, genetic and congenital conditions, accidents and emergencies, and much more. Coverage starts when your pet is 8 weeks old and doesn’t expire when they age.
Spot’s coverage is unique because of its 30-day money-back guarantee, a perk not offered by most of the other companies on this list. If you cancel the service within a month of signing up and haven’t had any claims approved yet, they’ll reimburse you in full. Another selling point for their plans is that they cover microchip implantation from licensed vets. Unfortunately, other fees (registration, renewal, and monitoring) aren’t included.
Exotic pet owners ought to pay close attention to this section, as Pet Assure covers almost any type of animal. They’re rated well on the market and have been around since 1995. However, they don’t operate like many of the other plans on this list. Rather than offering reimbursement based on the cost of treatment, they give you a discount card for a flat 25% off all veterinary services. Don’t worry about submitting a claim, just show your card at your appointment, and you’ll get a chunk taken off your bill.
Pet Assure doesn’t distinguish based on the type of service or pre-existing conditions—every treatment is eligible for the discount. One downside to this plan is that it’s only available through an employer right now. There are plans to extend their offer to personal coverage in the future, but until then, take advantage of their benefits if your employer offers them.
Embrace is an industry leader in pet insurance that offers flexible coverage for dogs and cats. Unlike some other options, they cover both treatment and exam fees. Embrace is also unique in that they provide coverage for both preventable conditions and alternative treatments. One of their top selling points is the Healthy Pet Deductible. Similar to a safe driving discount for auto insurance, Embrace will knock $50 off your deductible every year that you don’t get reimbursed for a claim. Even so, you can still expect to pay quite a bit more each month for an Embrace plan than for the budget options on this list.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is well-known for its animal welfare efforts. They’re on a mission to make sure pets across the country can live long, healthy, and happy lives. Along with their advocacy and rescue programs, they’ve also joined forces with the U.S. Fire Insurance Company to offer pet insurance for cats and dogs.
People who buy ASPCA pet insurance can look forward to an a-la-carte approach to policies, though choosing more coverage options will cost more. You can decide to prioritize saving money on premiums and deductibles or get unlimited coverage. The ASPCA also doesn’t enforce network requirements. If you encounter an emergency while traveling, you won’t have to pay extra to see a vet in another state.
Some of our most beloved pet breeds come with a host of genetic conditions. Pugs, for example, often suffer from a respiratory disease called brachycephalic syndrome, while larger breeds are prone to hip dysplasia. Cats are prone to genetic problems as well—asthma, patellar luxation, and kidney problems are all common in certain breeds. As with humans, they are finding reasonable health insurance for pets with hereditary conditions can be a struggle.
Many pet insurance companies will even consider genetic issues to be pre-existing conditions also if they aren’t diagnosed before your policy begins, meaning you could face a rate increase or lose coverage altogether.
Not so with Trupanion. As long as a condition hadn’t been noticed before the policy began, Trupanion will cover congenital and hereditary conditions without labeling them as pre-existing. They offer one easy-to-understand coverage plan with 90% reimbursement. If you’re getting a pet that’s prone to hereditary conditions, it may be worth taking out a policy with Trupanion as soon as you bring them home.
Many of the pet insurance plans on this list are dog-focused, but cat owners need insurance too. Petplan’s policies are great for both dogs and cats alike. Thanks to their “nine lives” guarantee, it’s especially beneficial if you’re the owner of an elderly cat (they won’t cancel coverage based on your cat’s age). This is also an excellent company to consider if you travel with your pets or have health conditions of your own. If you select their highest level of service, they’ll partially reimburse you for boarding costs if you end up in the hospital and can’t care for your pet. They’ll also reimburse you for some travel expenses if you have to go home early because your pet is ill or injured. Petplan offers a variety of coverage options with caps ranging from $2,500 to $25,000. You can expect to pay a deductible of $100-$1000 before they reimburse you at 70-90%.
Compare Pet Insurance Plans to Get the Best Coverage
Is pet insurance worth it? Depending on your financial situation, it may be. Each of these policies has its pros and cons. After you take the time to compare pet insurance plans, make an informed decision. You may decide to go with a budget plan for emergencies only, consider the security of a high-level policy, or forgo pet health insurance altogether. There isn’t one right answer, and choosing any of these plans will help leave your furry friend in good hands. If you’re looking for other insurance advice while you’re busy researching, make sure to read up on our insurance page before making a decision.