A hundred years ago, who would have even considered insuring their pets?

It was a completely different age and most dogs were valued for their working abilities rather than simple companionship.

Human health insurance didn’t truly become widespread until the late 20th century, and no one was thinking of pets back then.

Since that time, veterinary science has come a long way, leading to advancements in healthcare, prevention, surgery, etc. and that level of medical care doesn’t come cheap.

This is where pet health insurance comes into the picture.

By insuring your pet, surgeries that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars out of pocket, can cost only a few hundred.

It creates stability and security by making sure affordable vet care is never an issue.

How Does Pet Health Insurance Work?

Like health insurance for people, pet health insurance covers medical conditions ranging from simple illnesses like vomiting, diarrhea, colds, through accidents, injuries, chronic illnesses like allergies, hereditary diseases like hip dysplasia, and serious illnesses like cancer, organ failure, etc.

It covers expenses by subsidizing a portion of the cost from you as an owner.

This is commonly seen either as a funds reimbursement or by co-paying directly with you.

Most insurance plans work with claims and reimbursements.

Certain ones can also work with your veterinarian and offer immediate discounts.

Make sure you read your individual pet’s insurance policy and know exactly how your specific policy works!

Understanding “Pre-exisiting Conditions”

It is important to remember all pet insurance plans have what is called a “pre-existing condition” clause.

Pre-existing conditions are conditions diagnosed or suspected before the insurance goes into effect, and will not be covered by the insurance plan moving forward.

For some insurances, certain conditions like hip dysplasia will be treated as a “pre-existing condition” even if they are diagnosed in a timeframe after the insurance plan goes into effect (frequently 6 to 12 months of continuous coverage are needed prior to diagnosis to not be treated as such).

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

At this point, you might be asking yourself “What if I never need to use my pet’s insurance?”.

It almost seems like a waste paying for something you never take advantage of.

Probably the biggest argument for health insurance is it can be the difference between affordable life-saving treatment or euthanization (or going into debt covering the medical fees out of pocket).

Insurance acts as a safety net – better to have it and never need it, then to need it and not have it.

And, unlike us, our pets are not guaranteed to receive medical care. So, if you can’t afford it, your pet won’t be getting that crucial treatment.

When Should You Enroll In Pet Health Insurance?

Ideally, you should enroll as soon as your pet comes home or as early as your chosen insurance plan will allow it.

Some breeders will have a timed insurance plan on new litters that will cover the first few months as well.

Enrolling early ensures you can avoid dealing with issues being labeled as a “pre-existing condition”.

Each company will handle those differently, so it’s best to accustom yourself to the specifics of your chosen plan before bringing your new family member home.

Doing your research in advance will save a lot of headaches when trying to navigate the options.

Understanding Your Different Health Insurance Options

When it comes to choosing the best insurance plan for you, it can quickly become overwhelming.

There is so much to choose from – monthly payments, deductibles, coverage of the plan, pre-existing condition clauses, and much more.

Below you can find the 3 reputable insurance providers we feel confident in recommending to pet parents.

Healthy Paws 

With Healthy Paws, you can enroll your pup as early as 8 weeks old and as late as 14 years old. They also make it easy to get a quoted rate on their website.

You input your dog’s name, sex, age, and breed and you get a monthly rate for a custom insurance plan for your dog.

Submitting claims has also been streamlined – you can do it online or from their mobile app.

You can also speak to a representative if you need further assistance.

Healthy Paws provides coverage up to 90% of the vet bill (that percentage will vary based on your dog’s breed, age, and chosen policy) and they cover most issues.

There is a 15-day wait period before the insurance goes into effect and there is a 12-month wait for hip dysplasia.

While they cover a large percentage of the bill, you’re not given an itemized breakdown of your total savings because claims are processed on an individual basis.

If you don’t care about knowing your exact savings, though, or what portion of the bill you pay for, this is a great option to consider.

Trupanion

Trupanion, like Healthy Paws, makes it easy to find out what your monthly payment options would be.

You fill out your dog’s information and get a couple of quotes based on a deductible you’d wish to pay.

The 3 presented deductibles are $0, $250, and $700. However, there is also an option to choose a custom deductible based on your individual needs.

It has to be noted, though, that the monthly payments for Trupanion are typically more costly than other insurance providers.

Trupanion will most likely still save you money, in the long run, depending on what type of coverages you need.

Unlike the other 2 insurances discussed here, with Trupanion, you pay a deductible per condition.

What that means is, once you pay that deductible for a certain illness, you never have to pay it again.

So, if your dog develops allergies, you pay the deductible only once, no matter how many times you end up using your insurance to cover allergy treatment costs.

With other conditions, like bowel obstructions, it’s the same process but you’d pay a deductible for every time your pup goes in for an obstruction, since, while the condition is the same, the cause of the condition (the blockage) is not.

Trupanion does not cover regular wellness or exam fees as they believe these are ‘lower cost’ and to be expected with dog ownership.

What they do cover is the surprising large costs you cannot predict – like emergency surgery.

Embrace 

Embrace is another good insurance option.

Like the other two, you can get a quoted monthly cost on their website after you provide your dog’s information.

Embrace has an annual reimbursement limit, which is the maximum amount of money they will reimburse you in a year.

They also have an annual deductible, which is the amount you’ll pay before they start reimbursing costs. You can also choose between 70%, 80%, or 90% reimbursement.

Embrace also offers an annual reimbursement for wellness costs, but this benefit is reflected on the monthly payment cost.

Embrace covers a wide range of areas, including dental illness (the majority of dogs experience gingivitis by age three), cancer, preventable or chronic conditions, and a wide array of alternative treatments. 

While they don’t cover pre-existing conditions, Embrace will only use the past 12 months to determine if your dog has an existing illness.

In fact, they are very forthcoming about what is never covered under their policies!

A benefit of Embrace is that each year they don’t receive a claim, your deductible is lowered by $50!

This may or may not be a deciding factor, depending on how you view it, since you still pay for your coverage to use it. 

Is There A “Best” Insurance Provider?

Realistically, no.

They are all built differently and have a variable approach to how they cover issues.

What works for one dog, e.g. Trupanion covering costly cancer treatments, is not necessarily great for another dog, that may never require the insurance covering exorbitant medical bills.

Such a dog would be better off with one of the other options.

That being said, we’ve only covered 3 out of the many insurance companies on the market.

All companies will try to convince you how they are subjectively better than the rest.

When you reach out to potential pet insurance providers, remember that this is all marketing, and you need to make sure you’re choosing the one that fits your and your dog’s needs.

We implore you to take a look at other options as well and decide which insurance plan is the best match for you.

We might’ve just missed it.

There are also more affordable monthly options like PetFirst, which offers plans for dogs starting at only $15/month.

They have a 70-90% reimbursement rate, a $50-500 deductible, and a variable annual reimbursement limit based on your monthly payment.

You can customize a plan on their website after inputting your dog’s information.

Here are some of the other popular choices for pet insurance: 

Top Pet Insurance Providers
ASPCA Pet Insurance
Embrace Pet Insurance
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance
Nationwide Pet Insurance
Pet’s Best Pet Insurance
PetFirst Pet Insurance
Spot Pet Insurance
Trupanion Pet Insurance

Websites like “Pet Insurance Review” offer pet owners a single, centralized place to compare providers/policies to help them choose the best provider for their individual needs.

Simply tell them your pet’s age, breed and where you live, and they’ll provide you with free personalized quotes from a range of suitable providers.

Shopping for pet insurance doesn’t have to be complicated.

In Conclusion

Each insurance company/policy offers slightly different coverages and pay-out options, so it’s important to research each company thoroughly and choose one that works best for your individual needs.

Even if you choose not to invest in insurance for your pet, it’s important to put aside funds for any emergency situation that might arise in the future.

There is nothing worse than not being able to provide the best care possible for your family member because of insufficient funds.

Veselina Krasteva (Lina)

Bachelor of European studies and Master (to be) in Digital media and videogames, my passion lies with dogs... and good grammar. When I'm not busy writing, you can find me pampering the queen of the house - Olivia, my Pembroke Welsh Corgi. You can also find me buried in a good fantasy book or a great game.