Pets are a part of our lives. Many times they are our best friends, and they can become ill. Even the most caring pet owners are often unprepared to handle expensive veterinary treatments and surgeries that illness or trauma can bring.
Advances in veterinary medicine have made caring for pets incredibly sophisticated. Performing CT Scans, MRIs, orthopedic surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments are common now. The cost can be VERY expensive. The time for pet insurance has come – preferably at a young age before predisposing conditions and age limits coverage and reimbursements.
Choosing the right pet insurance company can be an overwhelming task, but all the choices are a good thing because you can pick a plan that's right for you. Pet insurance is the way of the future because medicine is getting more sophisticated and expensive. Miracles can happen but they must be paid for!
For this article, we scoured company websites, marketing materials, and communications to help you decide. This article is not an endorsement of any company or plan, but rather a primer on available products written from a practitioner's perspective.
Pet Insurance Options
- Multiple plans available from economic to senior specific.
- Reimbursements rates from 70 to 100% depending on the plan chosen.
- Deductibles range from $50 to $200 per occurrence.
- Some plans include modest benefits for preventive veterinary healthcare services.
- Benefits do not reset with each new occurrence.
- Illness benefits and limits are grouped into medical categories based on the body system with limits for each category (e.g., in a dog with recurrent ear problems, all visits related to the ears would count toward the benefit).
AKC Pet Healthcare Plan
- Five plans available that range from basic accident to injury to full wellness medical coverage.
- Wellness plus plan covers 80% of medical and accidental conditions, spay/neuter, and all preventative procedures including exams, vaccines, fecal testing and flea/tick and heartworm preventatives.
Limits: Common conditions such as diabetes, renal failure, and cardiomegaly and common orthopedic condition such as hip dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans and luxating patella.
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance
- Four plans available with single incident benefit limits between $2500 and $7500 with no cap.
- Preventive healthcare benefits are available for 2 of the plans including basic care which will reimburse up to $280.00 per year or advance which reimburses up to $530.00 per year.
- 30 day money back trial period.
- Reimbursement of 90% of usual and customary charges typical for our area. (Excludes congenital conditions from the base packages unless you purchase additional rider policies.)
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries require a 12 month waiting period.
- Initial enrollment for 3 of the packages: dogs 9 and older and cats 11 and older are not eligible for continuing care which covers long term conditions.
Embrace Pet Insurance
- Plans are marketed as flexible and highly customizable to the need of the consumer.
- Policies can be built from selected annual limits with levels of reimbursement ranging from 65-90% after deductible.
- Supplemental plans are available for wellness and dental care.
- A healthy pet deductible is available for every year the pet has a healthy exam.
- Include a supplemental policy for prescription drug coverage.
- Pet owners will need to be educated on which chronic conditions will be covered.
- Only one plan with reimbursement rates from 70-90% after deductible.
- Congenital and hereditary conditions are covered if they have not been previously diagnosed before purchasing the plan.
- No limits per accident, per year, and for the lifetime of the pet.
- Lifetime hip dysplasia coverage is also included at no extra cost when you enroll your dog prior to the age of 6 years. A 12-month waiting period applies for hip dysplasia coverage.
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are considered bilateral; a diagnosis in one limb will exclude the other limb.
- Preventive healthcare benefits are not available.
Pet First Healthcare
- The pet owner can select from several plans or customize from a sliding scale using benefit limits and deductibles.
- The accident policy provides a solid basic package against catastrophic events.
- Policy can carry up to 3 pets under a single policy.
- Breeding and congenital defects, behavioral issues, preventive healthcare services, dental care.
- Treatment of internal parasites and heartworm treatments are excluded.
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) diagnosis depending on the policy chosen.
Petplan Pet Insurance
- Offers 3 plans with annual limits of $8,000, $12,000, and $20,000.
- Three options are available for deductibles and reimbursements.
- All hereditary conditions are covered for the life of the pet.
- Some nontraditional therapies are reimbursed.
- Pets must be seen by a veterinarian once annually to continue coverage.
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries excluded for first 6 months after obtaining a policy.
- Specialist deemed non-life saving is capped at 80% reimbursement.
- Preventive healthcare coverage is not available.
Pets Best Insurance
- Four plans are available with lifetime coverage limits ranging from $5,000 to $200,000.
- Multiple options are available for deductible and reimbursement amounts.
- Additional coverage is available for preventive veterinary care.
- Recurring or chronic conditions are treated as one incident and subject to the per accident limit.
- Pets with chronic conditions may exceed the per incident limit and be responsible for future cost.
PurinaCare Pet Health Insurance
As of April 25, 2013, PurinaCare is no longer accepting new applications for pet insurance. If you are an existing PurinaCare policyholder, your policy has been transferred to 24PetWatch (see above for more information on 24PetWatch).
- One simple plan, which covers surgery, diagnostics, medications and hospital stays if your pet is sick or injured.
- Covers hereditary and congenital conditions.
- Covers ½ the cost of therapeutic pet foods.
- Working pets such as service and therapy dogs can get coverage.
- 90% coverage.
- Full coverage available at any clinic, emergency center or specialty hospital.
- No payout limits on the amount of care your pet receives.
- Hip dysplasia, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, behavioral modification/training/therapy are add ons.
- Exam fee and deductible you've chosen are not covered.
VPI Pet Insurance
- Three plans that cover accident or illness with 2 wellness plans that can be added to any package.
- Annual limits range from $7,000 to $14,000.
- Deductibles are met annually.
- Claims are reimbursed based on benefit schedule.
- The exclusion list is significant.