If you’ve never bothered to invest in pet insurance, you might wonder if it’s necessary. If your pup is important to you, and any type of unexpected event occurs, the cost of vet bills can be shocking. Dogs can eat something, get sick, or even get attacked by another animal. The vet bills can add up fast. When you consider the average American pet owner spends around $425 a year on medical expenses for their animal, pet insurance starts to make more sense.

Pet health care can top some of your more routine doctor visits, believe it or not. Reports state that a random illness can cost you around $5,000 or more, and if your dog needs surgery for any growth or tumor, it can be over $15,000.

Depending on the plan you choose, pet insurance can cover a massive variety of ailments or wounds, from accidental poisoning if they ingest something they shouldn’t, to ligament tears, growths, injuries from cars, digestive problems, cancer, ear infections, and even recurring allergies your canine might have.

It’s no surprise that most people are quite attached to their dogs, so if an unexpected event happens, you’re probably not going to want your pet to suffer or to put them down unnecessarily. However, going into thousands of dollars in debt isn’t desirable, either. Pet insurance is designed precisely for these unexpected scenarios, to help keep your dog alive and well, while also guarding you against unmanageable vet bills.

What is the best dog insurance?

  • ASPCA Pet Insurance
  • Embrace
  • AKC Insurance
  • Pets Best
  • Pet Plan

What is dog insurance?

Just as with medical insurance for people, pet insurance is in place in case of an accident or illness. When you sign up for coverage for your dog, you will often need to give the carrier information on your pet, such as their age, breed, and any prior illnesses or pre-existing conditions.

You might not love the idea of shelling out an extra $10 or $20 a month for dog insurance, but most dogs will experience some illness or injury during their lifetime, and the cost of a couple of hundred dollars a year is far more affordable than most emergency vet visits. If you do not have pet insurance, you will pay out-of-pocket for the full cost of that visits and medical treatments.

How does dog insurance work?

With most pet insurance companies, you will pay a monthly fee that typically only will cost you around a few hundred dollars per year. When you have insurance for your dog, you can have veterinary costs reimbursed for conditions, illnesses, or accidents that are covered. Be sure to look into what you get included before signing up as some conditions, such as hip dysplasia, may not be covered by your insurance.

Enrollment and Waiting Period

You will want to purchase your pet insurance coverage as soon as possible because waiting until an illness or injury occurs will be too late. Most carriers require a waiting period from the time you sign up before your dog’s insurance becomes active. Insurance companies do this to prevent people from enrolling their dogs with coverage when the animal is sick or injured.

Some insurance companies will only have a waiting period of a few days for accident coverage to become active for dogs. Many carriers will also require your canine to get a checkup before coverage is effective to check for pre-existing conditions.

Deductibles 

Most carriers will require a deductible, just as with medical insurance, but these fees can be low—for example, $50 per vet visit. The insurance company will then typically cover the remainder or a percentage of the vet fee up to a preset amount.

Your deductible is the amount you will have to pay for vet bills before the insurance company covers anything. Deductibles for pet insurance very a lot, anywhere from $0 up into the thousands but with many dog insurance deductibles averaging around $50 through $200.

Filling a Claim and Getting Reimbursed 

Most insurance carriers will reimburse you when you submit a bill from your vet. In most cases, to be reimbursed for your coverage, you will first pay out-of-pocket at the vet and file your insurance claim after the fact.

The company will evaluate your incident, and in most cases, if it falls under your stated coverage, they will then either direct deposit the funds into your account or send you a check via snail mail. On average, this process can take 2 to 3 business days but in some a bit longer for a complicated claim.

Percentage Covered

With some insurance companies, you can select a reimbursement level, which is the percentage the carrier will cover or reimburse per incident. Your coverage might have a reimbursement level of 50 percent of your vet bills or 100 percent of the costs after you pay your deductible.

For example, if your pet insurance covers 100 percent of a vet visit after your deductible of $50, and the bill is $500, you will pay $50, and the insurance should reimburse you for $450.

Annual Maximum 

Just as with human medical insurance, pet insurance has a yearly max, which is the amount your insurance company will cover in any given year. Most carriers will reimburse into the thousands, but if you surpass that amount in vet costs, you will have to pay out-of-pocket beyond the maximum coverage stated in your policy.

Overall Best Dog Insurance

ASPCA Pet Insurance

We love ASPCA Pet Insurance for their reliable customer service, outstanding ratings among actual policyholders, that they have no age restrictions for dogs, and don’t require you to go to a veterinarian in a network. If you already have a vet you trust, you don’t have to worry that ASPCA will cover a visit to them.

ASPCA also covers some wellness treatments for dogs, offers a 10 percent discount for multiple dogs, and will cover up to 90 percent of veterinarian bills. You can select from complete coverage, an accident-only plan, and preventative care add-on.

Additionally, ASPCA covers many hereditary conditions such as hip dysplasia, and they also reimburse for many behavioral issues such as anxiety and compulsive licking.

The monthly cost for ASPCA is a bit higher than some competitors, but we found it seems to be a matter of getting what you pay for, in this case, excellent dog insurance. ASPCA has a $5,000 limit, a $15,000 option, and also unlimited coverage. You can also select what your deductible is to help with the monthly price of their insurance.

ASPCA does not cover dental services, grooming, anal gland suppression, ligament issues, and pre-existing conditions. Their waiting period is pretty standard, with 15 days between enrollment and your policy becoming effective.

7 More Highly-Rated Dog Insurance Plans

Embrace

If you want dog insurance that covers wellness care through rewards, along with training, grooming, and spaying or neutering, Embrace is worth checking out. Embrace also includes some hereditary conditions like hip dysplasia.

We also love that Embrace pet insurance covers exam fees, behavioral needs, and some alternative therapies such as acupuncture. If you want less taken care of by your policy and need a lower monthly cost, they also have a catastrophic plan for only the most unlikely event of an emergency.

One of our favorite things about Embrace is that they have no breed-specific exclusions. If you have a dog that is more difficult to insure or more expensive, such as a Pitbull, Embrace can be an excellent option to check out.

Embrace also has a “diminishing deductible” schedule, whereas other companies such as Nationwide pet insurance do not. Embrace pet insurance also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to try them, and they have no extra cancelation fees if you decide to cancel your plan.

Overall, we like Embrace dog insurance for those who want to build rewards to have things such as dental and grooming paid for, or those who are interested in alternative therapies for dogs and want those covered by insurance.

AKC Pet Insurance

The American Kennel Club (AKC) offers insurance specially-designed for dogs. They cover behavioral problems, as they understand this can be a common occurrence among canines, as well as congenital conditions and even “final respects” fees. AKC’s Hereditary Plus plan covers hip dysplasia.

AKC insurance also offers a “30-day certificate” to cover newly enrolled dogs in incidents do arise, so you don’t have to deal with a 15 day waiting period. The coverage for the 30-day certificate begins after only one day for accidents and only five days for illnesses. We like this option for faster coverage because even if you enroll a healthy dog, accidents can happen.

You can use AKC insurance anywhere in the United States and Canada, no veterinary records are required to enroll, and they offer a variety of plans that cover non-typical insurance claims such as wellness treatments, euthanasia costs, and many hereditary conditions. AKC does have a six-month waiting period for CCL injuries, and no illness coverage for dogs enrolled after nine years of age.

Petplan

Petplan started in the UK back in the 1970s and has been active in the United States since 2003. The American Animal Hospital Association lists Petplan as their preferred provider, and AARP also supports them.

One thing we love about Petplan is that they cover behavioral disorders such as general dog anxiety, noise phobia, separation anxiety, and even soiling in the house. Many pet insurance plans will not cover vet visits or medication for these issues, so if you have a pup with these conditions, Petplan is worth considering.

You can also set up the limit you prefer when picking your dog’s insurance plan, such as only a $2,500 limit covered, up to $25,000, and even unlimited. You can also select from a 70 percent or 90 percent reimbursement to help cater to the monthly cost of your policy.

Petplan has a lot of options for submitting claims, too. You can file your claim through the mail, email, fax, via the online portal, or through their mobile app. Overall, we love the flexibility of options with Petplan’s dog insurance.

Pets Best

If you want dog insurance for potential accidents or emergencies but have a healthy animal and need a budget-friendly option, Pets Best is one to consider. The Pets Best “accident only” plan has a $250 deductible and will cover 90 percent of costs up to $10,000. The monthly fee for this plan is quite affordable compared to others.

The waiting period for your policy to begin is pretty decent, too, with only 14 days for illness and three days for accidents. If you have a healthy dog, this is a reasonable time for insurance to begin.

With Pets Best, you can also pick your amount of coverage, whether you only want 70 percent reimbursement with a lower monthly payment, or you are willing to spend a little extra each month for 80 percent or 90 percent reimbursement if something happens to your furry companion.

Pets Best also offers a multi-pet discount—a fantastic option if you have more than one dog that needs insurance—and they also have a military discount. We also like that Pets Best does not have age limits on coverage for dogs. They do have a six month waiting period for cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) injuries, so keep that in mind.

Healthy Paws

Healthy Paws has only 15 days for illness or injury coverage, which is relatively standard. This company also has an annual deductible policy instead of “per visit,” which can benefit those who need to take their dogs in for a lot of issues.

If you only need emergency coverage for a healthy pet, this annual setup might not benefit you. However, those individuals who need to take their dogs in often might find they pay less in a year, once that deductible is met, and don’t have to continue to pay for each vet visit every month if your dog needs this kind of care.

If you travel with your dog over the border into Canada or vice versa into the United States a lot, Healthy Paws is ideal because they cover visits in both of these countries.

If your dog is at risk for hip dysplasia, you might want to steer clear of Healthy Paws as they have a 12-month waiting period to cover this condition. For smaller breeds with little risk of hip dysplasia, we like Healthy Paws for their prompt and courteous customer service, their timely payment of claim reimbursements, and the fact that they have no yearly limits on maximums.

Take note that Healthy Paws requires a check-up from a veterinarian for dogs older than six months before they will approve your policy, and they do not have a wellness plan or behavioral coverage for dogs. However, their cost is an excellent value over some competitors, and they have an A+ rating from the BBB, along with a phone app through which you can easily submit claims.

Pet First

One thing we love about Pet First insurance is that you can get a “healthy pet discount” for each year that you don’t file a claim. Their accident coverage also starts within 24 hours of enrollment, which is a selling point of which we are fond. No vet exam is necessary to sign your dog up for coverage, either.

Pet First has no vet restrictions, so you can take your dog to any veterinarian you choose under this plan, and that includes out of state coverage. Pet First covers several ailments and conditions such as vestibular syndrome, periodontal disease, canine cancer, renal (kidney) failure, and even chronic issues such as seizures.

Pet First is one of our favorites for those on a budget, as they have three policy levels, including a “cost-conscious” version that only covers a maximum of $2,000 per year, but can save you a lot on your monthly pet insurance cost. This plan is excellent for those who don’t want to go without any insurance for their dog but don’t have a lot to spend on it monthly.

Pet First also reimburses for behavioral issues, alternative care, dental illnesses, hereditary or congenital conditions, and prescription medications. Like many companies, you can select your coverage limit from $5,000, $10,000, or $20,000 at the maximum per year. Reimbursement can cover either 70 percent or 90 percent of your bills. This flexibility allows for a more affordable monthly cost if you choose.

Figo

We love Figo for a few reasons. One is that you can select what tier of coverage you want, either $10,000, $14,000, or an unlimited plan. Figo also covers hip dysplasia without exclusions, unlike several other company’s coverages. For this reason, Figo is one of the best pet insurance for aging dogs.

If you happen to need follow-up vet visits that are related to an accident or illness, those bills will usually be covered by Figo, also. Additionally, Figo has some of the friendlier customer service reps we talked to, and they aren’t too pushy.

For those who love having everything at their fingertips on their phones, Figo also features a cloud-based records system with a connected mobile app. This system keeps track of vaccinations, medical history, and can even locate your dog on GPS if you have a tracking device for your pup.

Figo is a relatively new pet insurance company, but the underwriters at Markel Specialty devised Figo’s policies, and this underwriter company is an AM Best A-Rated corporation boasting over 70 years dealing with specific insurance markets.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does dog insurance cover?

Pet insurance will cover most unexpected illnesses and accidents, such as respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal problems, cancers, and collisions with traffic or ingestion of a harmful substance.

Dog insurance does not typically cover dental hygiene or disease, grooming, routine or preventative care, behavior problems, and hip dysplasia. There are some exceptions, of course, such as some we reviewed here.

  • Does dog insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

Unfortunately, insurance companies will not cover a pre-existing condition if your dog has one unless it is a curable condition that goes away for 12 months or more. However, that does not mean your dog can’t be covered. You can usually still get pet insurance to protect in case of accidents or unrelated illnesses.

  • How soon can you use your pet insurance?

As soon as your insurance company states your policy is active, which can often start a couple of weeks from the day you enroll.

  • Are there any restrictions on which veterinarian I can use?

This answer will depend on your specific insurance company. Some carriers require you to visit a veterinarian in a network, while others allow you to any vet certified by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

  • Does the breed and age of dog matter?

The breed of canine will also alter the cost of insurance. Typically, larger dogs will cost more to cover with pet insurance as these breeds usually have shorter life expectancies and sometimes develop more frequent health issues.

The age of your dog will be yet another factor insurance companies will consider. Naturally, as with life insurance for humans, the age of your pup will be one of the questions insurance companies ask when you enroll. Younger dogs will typically be more affordable to insure than older canines.

Conclusion

Any policy of the dog insurance carriers we reviewed is better than no coverage at all for your furry friend. Remember, each company and policy is a little different, so read through what your getting carefully, and don’t be afraid to ask questions when calling or emailing a pet insurance company.

Ask them if they cover conditions like hip dysplasia, whether or not vaccines and heartworm prevention falls under your policy if you need a vet in a network, and how long the waiting period is before the insurance is active.

Most importantly, do not wait until your dog is sick or injured to get insurance for them! Insurance is made for “in case of” not to be instated after a problem arises. The waiting period is in place, so people don’t enroll their dog right when he or she is getting sick or experienced an accident. You must have your pup signed up before an unfortunate event, so be a responsible dog owner and prevent yourself from acquiring debt if you doggie gets sick, and enroll them today!

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