Updated: Aug 5
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Last Updated: March 11, 2023 https://www.usatoday.com/money/blueprint/pet-insurance/best-pet-insurance/
Pet insurance can provide some financial protection if your dog or cat needs emergency surgery or treatment for a sudden illness. But with so many companies to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which is right for you and your pet. Here are the best pet insurance companies, according to our analysis.
Best pet insurance companies of 2023
Embrace : Best for a diminishing deductible
ManyPets : Best for affordable rates
Pets Best : Best for direct vet payments
Spot : Best for annual coverage options
Figo : Great for 100% reimbursement
Lemonade : Best for fast claims processing
MetLife : Best for discounts and perks
Pumpkin : Best for preventative care
Trupanion : Best for reimbursement amount
What is pet insurance?
Pet insurance is a type of insurance policy for your pet that can reimburse you for different types of medical expenses and sometimes additional costs. After reaching your deductible, the pet insurer will reimburse you for a percentage of your eligible expenses. Only a few pet insurance companies pay the vet directly.
How does pet insurance work?
Pet insurance works by reimbursing you for a portion of your pet’s medical expenses. When you purchase a policy, you typically choose a deductible, reimbursement level and reimbursement percentage.
Deductible: You must meet your deductible before your insurance will reimburse you for eligible costs. Some insurers have an annual deductible, while others have a per-condition deductible. Deductibles typically range from $0 to $1,000. In general, the lower your deductible, the higher your pet insurance rates.
Reimbursement level: The reimbursement level is the maximum your insurer will pay in a year. Some companies cap reimbursements at $15,000 or less, but some offer unlimited reimbursement.
Reimbursement percentage: Your insurer doesn’t cover all of your veterinary bills. After reaching your deductible, the pet insurance company usually pays a percentage of the remaining claim amount. Most companies will reimburse only 70% to 90% of the bill. However, there are a few companies, such as Figo, that will cover 100% after reaching your deductible.
The majority of pet insurance companies operate via reimbursement. You pay for your pet’s care and submit a claim afterward. The insurer reviews your claim and, if it’s approved, will send you a reimbursement check for the covered amount. Some companies offer direct veterinary payments, but they are the exception to the rule.
What does pet insurance cover?
Pet insurance helps cover a portion of your pet’s eligible medical expenses. There are a few different pet insurance policies you can choose from.
Accident and illness pet insurance
The most common form of pet insurance, accident and illness plans provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and illnesses. This form of coverage is what you can use to get reimbursed for cancer treatments, surgeries and infections.
Accident-only pet insurance
Accident-only policies tend to be the cheapest form of coverage, so this type of plan might be an option if you’re on a budget or if you have a pet that may otherwise be cost-prohibitive to insure.
Accident-only policies cover the diagnosis and treatment of injuries resulting from accidents. For example, an accident-only policy would cover stitches to treat a bite wound or the removal of a fractured tooth.
These policies do not provide any coverage for illnesses or chronic conditions.
Pet wellness coverage
Wellness plans aren’t a form of pet insurance, but they’re often sold as add-ons to insurance policies. They provide you with an allowance for routine care, such as vaccines or annual wellness exams.
Comprehensive policies are accident and illness plans with wellness plan riders. Your pet will have coverage for unexpected injuries or illnesses, and you can get an allowance for some preventative care. Comprehensive coverage is the most expensive type of pet insurance.
What doesn’t pet insurance cover?
Pet insurance covers unexpected injuries or illnesses, but it doesn’t cover everything, such as non-curable pre-existing conditions. Policies typically exclude:
Pre-existing conditions. A pre-existing condition is any issue that your pet was diagnosed with prior to its policy effective date or during the policy waiting period. For example, if your cat has arthritis, the insurer will deny any claims related to treatments for that condition. Some insurers may cover curable, pre-existing conditions if the condition doesn’t reappear for a certain period of time, like a year.
Routine care. Pet insurance doesn’t cover preventative or routine care, such as spaying or neutering, vaccinations, wellness exams or parasite prevention. However, some companies sell wellness plans that will reimburse you for some of those expenses.
Elective or experimental treatments. Pet insurance doesn’t cover elective or cosmetic treatments, such as tail or ear docking or root canals. It also doesn’t cover experimental treatments or clinical trials.
Breeding. Pet insurance doesn’t cover treatments related to injuries or accidents resulting from breeding, whelping (for dogs) or queening (for cats). However, some companies, such as Trupanion, offer riders for pets that will be used for breeding.
How much does pet insurance cost?
The average cost of pet insurance is $45 per month for a dog for $5,000 of annual coverage, or $55 per month for a policy with unlimited annual coverage.
The average pet insurance is $30 per month for a cat, for $5,000 of annual coverage, or $47 per month for unlimited coverage.
Your cost of pet insurance will vary by your pet’s type, breed, age and medical history. The coverage options you choose also affect how much you’ll pay.
Pet insurance discounts
Many companies offer discounts that can make insurance more affordable. Common discounts include:
Multi-pet discounts: If you enroll two or more pets, you may qualify for a discount.
Upfront payment discounts: If you pay your pet insurance in one lump sum rather than opting for monthly or quarterly payments, you may qualify for a discount.
Military discount: If you are a military service member or veteran, you may qualify for a discount.
How to buy the right pet insurance plan for your pet
When shopping for pet insurance, think about your budget and your pet’s needs. Ask yourself the following questions:
How is my pet’s health? Young, healthy pets are relatively inexpensive to insure. Pets with pre-existing conditions will have less coverage, meaning pet owners will pay more out of pocket even with pet insurance coverage.
How old is my pet? Older pets are much more expensive to insure and they are more likely to have claims denied due to pre-existing conditions. For older pets, an accident-only plan could be a good alternative.
Do I have an emergency fund? Even with pet insurance, you’re still responsible for the deductible. If you don’t have money tucked away in savings, coming up with that money can be challenging, so a plan with a low deductible may be a better choice. Just keep in mind that a lower deductible will cause you to pay a higher premium.
Do I have a way to cover upfront veterinary fees? The majority of pet insurers work via reimbursement, so you’ll have to pay for your veterinarian for your pet’s care at the time of service and wait for reimbursement. If you don’t have a way to cover the cost — such as from your savings or with a credit card — you may want to choose a company that offers direct veterinary payments.
To find the best pet insurance, we analyzed 18 pet insurance companies using data provided by PetInsurer.com.
Each pet insurance company was eligible for up to 100 points, based on its performance in the following key categories:
Cost: 50 points. We calculated average rates for accident and illness pet insurance plans for dogs with unlimited annual reimbursement (or the highest level offered by that company), a $500 deductible and a 90% reimbursement percentage. Average rates were based on quotes for 10 dog breeds, three age groups and multiple ZIP codes. The lower the average rate, the higher the number of points.
Annual coverage limits: 10 points. Pet insurance companies that offer annual reimbursement of up to $100,000, or unlimited annual coverage scored in this category.
24/7 vet line: 10 points. Insurance companies that offer access to a 24/7 vet line earned points. Being able to call for medical advice might save you money on vet visits.
Routine wellness plan: 10 points. Pet insurance companies that offer an optional wellness plan add-on scored points. Wellness plans can reimburse you for preventative care for your pet.
Pays vet exam fees: 10 points. If a pet insurance plan includes pet exam fees, the insurer received 10 points. If this is offered as a coverage add on, the insurer received 5 points.
Behavioral therapy: 5 points. If an insurance company covers behavior therapy in its pet insurance plans, it scored points.
Euthanasia or end of life expenses included: 5 points. If euthanasia or other end of life expenses are covered in pet insurance plans, an insurance company scored in this category.
Why you can trust us
Our insurance experts follow strict editorial guidelines to ensure fairness and unbiased reviews. We analyzed 18 of the leading pet insurance companies and identified the best pet insurance companies based on rates, coverage options, policy limits and added benefits.
For this analysis, average rates are based on accident and illness plans, which account for 98% of pet insurance policies purchased, according to data from the North American Health Pet Insurance Association (NAPHIA). Rates are also based on insuring dogs, as dogs make up 85% of insured pets, per NAPHIA.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Is pet insurance worth it? Whether pet insurance is worth it is dependent on several factors, including your pet’s age, health history and your budget.It’s best to enroll your pet while they’re young — usually five years old or younger — as the cost will be lower. They’ll also be less likely to have existing health issues, so you don’t have to worry about claims being denied due to pre-existing conditions.If you have an older pet or your pet has a history of medical issues, insurance may be cost-prohibitive, and you may not get coverage for major issues.
What is a pet insurance deductible?
Your deductible is the amount of money subtracted from your claim payout. For example, if your deductible is $500 and your vet bill is $1,000, you’ll receive up to a $500 reimbursement, depending on your coverage limits. Most insurers only reimburse a percentage of the remainder.
Does pet insurance cover pre-existing conditions?
No, pet insurance companies don’t cover pre-existing conditions. However, some companies will consider some pre-existing conditions “cured” if the pet is symptom-free for 12 months or more.
Does pet insurance cover wellness exams?
Pet insurance covers unexpected injuries or illnesses, not routine care. Wellness exams aren’t covered unless you purchase a wellness plan or rider to your accident and illness plan.
What is the best pet insurance?
ManyPets is the best pet insurance company for affordable rates and Spot is the best pet insurance company for annual coverage options, according to our analysis. The best pet insurance company for you may vary based on your pet’s needs and your budget.
What Is CareCredit for pets?
•CareCredit is a credit card you can use for pet-related expenses.
•The interest rate is a high 26.99%, so you’ll want to avoid having a balance.
•You can apply and be approved 24 hours a day, which is handy if your pet has a middle-of-the-night emergency.
•An alternative to CareCredit is Scratchpay, which is a short-term loan service.
•It’s essential to be prepared financially if your pet becomes injured or ill and requires emergency care, which can be expensive.
•If you find yourself facing financial hardship when your pet needs emergency medical care, there are options — like CareCredit — that can help.
What is CareCredit?
CareCredit is a credit card issued by Synchrony Bank that can be used to pay for medical or dental expenses for humans or pets. As is the case with all credit cards, CareCredit charges fees and interest on purchases made with the card. However, there are some key differences between CareCredit and the Visa or Mastercard you may carry in your wallet. CareCredit only covers medical expenses that are not otherwise covered by your health insurance or your pet insurance. When used for pets, the card can only be used to pay for services rendered by a licensed veterinarian. Items such as food, toys, over-the-counter nutritional supplements and flea or tick collars are not eligible.
Be sure to read the fine print
Before you choose CareCredit, make sure you understand the terms and conditions.
One useful feature of CareCredit is the initial grace period. For expenditures greater than $200, the company charges no interest if the balance is paid in full by the end of the financing term. The company offers financing terms of six, 12, 18 or 24 months on amounts greater than $200. However, the term you are able to choose may be limited by the physician’s, dentist’s or veterinarian’s practice.
Practices utilizing CareCredit as a payment option pay a fee that is a percentage of the total purchase. The longer financing period plans charge the provider increasingly larger fees for the service, so many practices limit the use of these plans.
CareCredit for pets explained
CareCredit for pets is the same plan as the human version of CareCredit but is used to cover medical expenses at a veterinary office or hospital.
If you already have a CareCredit card for yourself, you do not need an additional card to pay for your pet’s medical care. Your card may be used for all expenses approved by CareCredit at more than 225,000 providers nationwide.
CareCredit can be utilized for large emergency and unexpected veterinary medical costs so that your pet can receive care when they need it, and the bill can be paid off over time.
CareCredit for pets is not limited to one-time use and can be used repeatedly, like a regular credit card. Routine and planned veterinary care can also be paid for on this card. However, it is important to be mindful of the payoff dates to avoid large amounts of interest.
To use CareCredit, it is vital to make sure that the veterinary office or hospital that is caring for your pet accepts CareCredit as a form of payment. A search tool is located on the CareCredit website to help you see if your veterinarian accepts the card.
Signing up for CareCredit
CareCredit for pets functions like a regular credit card. You may apply before your pet needs veterinary care or in an emergency situation.
You can get an application from your veterinarian or on the CareCredit website. You may also apply over the phone at 1-800-677-0718.
CareCredit will give you a credit limit based on your creditworthiness, determined by your credit score, along with consideration of the estimated purchase amount. You will also need to have your veterinarian or veterinary hospital prepare an estimate of expected costs for you.
The credit period begins when the veterinary office or hospital charges your CareCredit card. Note that CareCredit carries a very high APR (annual percentage rate) of 26.99%. This interest will be charged on the amount you owe starting from the date of purchase if the balance is not paid in full during the grace period. There is a monthly minimum fee that must be paid every month.
There are “promotional financing options” that are offered for some purchase amounts. CareCredit offers slightly lower annual interest rates to some cardholders for large total expenditures. Purchases of $1,000 or more may be eligible for a 24-month offer with a 14.90% APR, a 36-month offer with a 15.90% APR or a 48-month offer with a 16.90% APR.
Purchases of $2,500 or more may be eligible for a 60-month offer with a 17.90% APR.
With these high interest rates, the balance of the card can quickly escalate and make paying off the card very difficult. We do not recommend using CareCredit if you know you will be unable to pay the balance off during the grace period.
Also, it is important to keep in mind that not all borrowers will qualify for the reduced interest rates, and not all veterinary clinics or hospitals will offer the longer term options.
What can you use CareCredit for?
CareCredit for pets can be used to pay for any medical care that your veterinarian deems necessary, as long as the veterinary office or hospital accepts the payment plan.
Some examples of services that are often paid for with CareCredit include:
Routine veterinary care
Care of chronic pet diseases and conditions.
Pet food and nutrition.
Veterinary surgery and emergencies
Spay and neutering.
Hip dysplasia surgery.
What credit score do you need?
CareCredit uses your credit score to determine eligibility. This score may be obtained from TransUnion, Equifax or Experion, the three major credit agencies.
CareCredit takes the past two years of credit history into account when making an approval or denial decision.
To ensure that you’ll be accepted for a CareCredit card, you should aim to have a credit score of at least 620 with all three major credit agencies. In some cases, approvals have been made with borrower scores as low as 600, but this is rare.
Who should use CareCredit?
CareCredit for pets might be right for you if you have:
•A sudden or unexpected pet medical emergency.
•An extensive dental or surgical procedure is needed for your pet.
••A credit score of at least 620.
The ability to pay the balance in full within the allowed grace period.
•No other debt needs to be paid.
CareCredit might not be right for you if you have:
•A credit score of less than 620. •A large amount of debt.
•An inability to pay the balance in full within the grace period.
•A pet’s condition that does not require immediate medical care.
Scratchpay: a CareCredit alternative
There are other options to consider for pet owners faced with a sudden, unexpected pet emergency bill, illness or major surgery.
One such service is Scratchpay, which is a short-term loan company for pet care. You apply and ask for a specific amount to be covered. This is a one-time payment arrangement and cannot be used repeatedly to charge like CareCredit.
Scratchpay offers three different plans. If you can put 20% down on your loan immediately and pay back the rest in four payments every two weeks, Scratchpay does not charge you interest. Otherwise, you can take a year or two years to pay back your loan in monthly installments, with interest rates varying depending on the amount you borrow and your credit score.
You can apply 24 hours a day, and receive an immediate response. This is important for middle-of-the-night visits to an emergency veterinary hospital with a sick or injured pet. Pet parents can see the rates that are being offered in real-time.
Once your loan is approved, Scratchpay authorizes the amount you can borrow, and the veterinary clinic or hospital will request the amount directly from Scratchpay when the services are rendered.
Like CareCredit, Scratchpay uses your credit score to determine eligibility. The credit check is a “soft” check, and applying will not affect your credit score. However, Scratchpay tends to accept lower credit scores and also takes your income into account.
You can apply for multiple short-term loans through Scratchpay if the need arises. Each loan is capped at a maximum of $10,000.
Now if you made it through ☝️ALL OF THAT!👆
Pour yourself a cold one! You deserve it!!!