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The Best Pet Insurance Companies of 2017

Feeling happy and motivated, most people are thrilled to walk into a pet store to buy a new dog. If you are like other pet owners, then you view your dog as a member of your family, and you want to do your best to keep your dog in great shape for as long as possible. Sadly, animals can get sick and need professional care on occasion, and not all pet owners can afford to take their dog to the veterinarian when it’s not feeling well. The good news is that you can buy pet insurance for your dog, and doing so will provide you with peace of mind. The plan that you get will depend on your needs and budget, and we are going to take a look at some of the most popular options to help you make the right choice.

Embrace offers great plans for those who wish to minimize their monthly expenses. If you choose to move forward and to get coverage, you will only need to pay $13.69 each month. Many people still choose to insure their dog with Embrace because they won’t face limitations on how often their dog can receive care.

With various plans and several degrees of coverage, ASPCA works hard to meet the needs of as many pet owners as possible. Those who choose ASPCA to help keep their dogs healthy are happy with the service and the care that they receive.
If you want the best protection for your dog but don’t have enough income to purchase a premium plan, then Healthy Paws might be the perfect fit. You can also choose a custom plan if you can’t find one that appeals to you. With this much flexibility, it won’t be hard to find the right coverage for your dog and your budget.

When it comes to their dogs, some people won’t settle for anything other than the best, and if you feel the same way, then the Comprehensive Preferred Plus plan by PetFirst is recommended. When you choose this plan, PetFirst will also offer a reward for the return of your lost dog, pay for kennel fees and help pay for trip cancellations that result from your dog having surgery.

Pets Best is a company that offers a range of coverage options, and most people can find great deals when it comes to dog insurance. When you turn to Pests Best to protect your dog, plans range in price from $17.70 to $22.54. Even the Bronze plan has a lot to offer, but those who don’t want to take any risks always go with the Elite plan.

Millions of pet owners are choosing PetPlan pet insurance to provide the best health care for their dogs and cats due to the variety of affordable plans, ease of making claims and rapid reimbursement period. Policies through PetPlan are flexible and designed for customization for pets of all ages while allowing owners to choose the veterinarian they feel is right for their dog or cat.

24PetWatch is a company that offers security for pet owners in the form of insurance plans. In the same way that health insurance for humans helps them pay for their medical coverage, these policies cover the medical bills of their pets. It even offers a trial insurance plan for those who recently adopted a pet.  24PetWatch offers policies for both dogs and cats.

When picking out your pet insurance, it’s important to be well aware of what each company offers in terms of coverage, price and service. AKC (American Kennel Club) pet insurance is a well-known and established pet insurance company that has been in business since 2003. AKC pet insurance offers two main plans: CompanionSelect and CompanionPlus.

Founded in 1995, Pet Assure has given many pet parents the opportunity to obtain hassle-free healthcare for all different kinds of animals with any health conditions. It is designed so people won’t have to worry about deductibles, coverage denial, or claims forms. According to their website, approximately 150,000 individuals use this coverage for their pets.

You may be worried about restrictions on pet insurance depending on breed or species, especially if you’re an exotic pet owner. But Nationwide offers full coverage for all breeds of cat, dog, bird and exotic animals including reptiles, turtles & tortoises and rodents like chinchillas, ferrets, rabbits and more.

Pet owners who have chosen Trupanion Pet Insurance are happy to find pet health insurance that covers most common accidents, injuries and illnesses that pets may experience. Insurance from Trupanion has received accolades for award-winning customer care, along with claim processes that are handled in a timely way.
PetPremium is a new pet insurance company in the United States with policies that are similar to industry giant ASPCA, according to consumersadvocate.org. Debuting in the fall of 2013, they are still quite new in the business, however, they have been well-received by pet owners and veterinarians alike.

Figo Pet Insurance provides coverage for necessary health care for your pet. You can choose from three different plans and can customize your deductible and your reimbursement amount. With Figo Pet Insurance, you get reimbursed a certain percent (up to 100 percent, depending on the plan that you sign up for) of how much you spend on your pet’s vet bills. 

American Modern Pet Health Insurance is one of the more progressive types of companies that can offer many levels and types of coverage. A full coverage plan means that all accidents and illnesses are covered, except those that are pre-existing. This company’s full coverage policy includes veterinary exams, specialists, diagnostic testing and many other services.

Branch Banking and Trust Insurance Services are offering pet health insurance policies through a partnership with Pets Best Insurance. Generally, BB&T generally describes the coverage as including: Accidents and illnesses, Acupuncture and chiropractic, Cancer treatments, Emergency and Specialist care, Prescription medications, MRI, CT scans and X-rays, Surgeries and hospitalization.

BBVA Compass Insurance Agency is offering its members a discounted pet insurance health plan. It covers accidents and injuries, chronic conditions, routine health care services like teeth cleaning and flea protection. BBVA’s policy also includes some less available types of treatment, like alternative medicine services, dental services, emergency room and specialist services.

Cat Fancier’s Association offers 30 free days of pet insurance for people who join their association. The policy provides coverage for accidents and illnesses and begins the wait period for those who go on to purchase a full policy. The actual policy has many other features beyond coverage for accidents and illness – there are additional components that can be purchased.

Farmers Pet Insurance is offered in conjunction with a long-time pet insurance provider Pets Best since 2014. Together they provide a very comprehensive policy that covers wellness and preventive services, basic health services like spaying/neutering and emergent medical services for serious illnesses and accidents. 

First Citizens Insurance Services offers pet health insurance to protect you from the cost of veterinarian services connected to an unexpected accident or illness suffered by your dog or cat. The basic policy does not include coverage for routine health care like teeth cleaning or flea protection, but you can purchase an additional component, the “wellness” plan, that will cover those type of expenses.

HappiPets Pet Insurance tries to provide potential customers with a range of coverage options and plans that are designed to fit various stages and conditions of pet ownership. The coverage, providers and costs are all categorized based on the animal’s age and the policy limit you choose each year. 

Hartville Pet Insurance (purchased by Crum & Foster) offers four different categories of pet health care coverage: Accidents & Injuries, Illnesses, Preventive Care and Advanced Care. Each level covers different types of conditions – information that can be very useful in choosing the right plan for your pet.

Metlife’s theme for pet health insurance is simplicity; especially in relation to claims and reimbursement. One of their most attractive features is their willingness to cover older dogs and their special lower cost Starter programs that cover young dogs’ basic expenses.
Petpartners Pet Health Insurance prides itself on the simplicity of the process of their plans. All levels of health care are accounted for and available – accidents, injuries, basic services, routine services, emergency services, etc. The range of prices and services covered are thorough and make planning your pet’s health care easier than you might think.
Petshealth Plan divides the types of coverage that they offer into two categories initially: full coverage and accident only. In addition to those two main types, there are optional coverage components offered that allow you to add coverage for basic preventive care, standard preventive care or prime preventive care.
PetSmart does not offer its own insurance plan but instead offers what they call a “Wellness Plan.” The plan resembles a service contract more than an insurance policy. This plan does not accidents or injuries, or other unexpected health conditions.
Premier Pet Insurance offers four categories of coverage, each with its own costs, exclusions, waiting periods and limitations. Accidents and Injuries, Illnesses, Preventive and Advanced Care are the options for types of conditions covered. Pre-existing conditions are not covered.
USAA pet insurance is an offer that the United Services Automobile Association makes to benefit its members. By being a member of USAA, you receive a 15% discount on the cost of full coverage pet insurance. In addition, they offer an additional 5% discount for each one of the following: active duty military, spayed or neutered pet, multiple pets, annual premium paid in full and/or predictive testing.
Union Plus offers a deal on the purchase of pet insurance. They offer a 10% discount on the cost of pet insurance to members of the Union. They list several of the features of the plans they offer, including 5-day reimbursement, 24/7 online claims processing, with all forms available.
Progressive Insurance is offering pet health insurance as a separate insurance product. This insurance policy is to cover any accident or unexpected illness that your pet suffers under any circumstance. The coverage is designed to fit the pet based on their age, breed, species and location.

Preparing to Compare

Most pet health insurance policies only cover cats or dogs but a few larger companies do cover some other animals and the oldest company in the business actually handles exotic pets as well. Most are willing to cover your pet from as young as 7 weeks old through their demise, although there are companies that have upper age limits for starting coverage. The first step is to assess your pet’s health care needs. The most important determining factor is your pet’s age, since the type of health care they need will vary sharply over their lifetime. Puppies and kittens start with a lot of basic expenses and basic preventive health care maintenance throughout your pet’s life will help them avoid medical emergencies or incidents. Most accident and/or illness insurance policies do not include vaccinations or veterinary office visits, but more and more companies are offering what they often refer to as “wellness” policies. These policies are designed to cover preventive and routine health services, and can include spaying/neutering.

For older pets, who are more susceptible to chronic illnesses, you might prefer a policy that covers illness and accidents.  Also, most accident or illness policies do not include medications, but offer an additional medication insurance policy for an additional cost. Dental is also not included in any policy type but some of the wellness policies cover dental cleanings.  Many companies offer dental coverage like they offer medication coverage – in addition to a basic policy and at an additional cost. Almost no pet health insurance offers birth or death benefits, although a few very comprehensive ones do handle death.

The second consideration with regard to your pet is their breed.  A little research will tell you what type of illnesses your pet’s breed is most likely to contract or chronic conditions that they tend to suffer. Poodles, for example, are somewhat susceptible to ear infections. Ear infections are considered an illness under almost every policy. But those policies often do not cover the office visit charge. Also, some policies apply the deductible incident by incident. Under these policy conditions, every time the poodle gets an ear infection will cost you substantially out of pocket. There are a good number of policies that DO offer annual deductibles and this is by far the preferable method. Some policies consider hereditary or congenitally likely diseases to be too risky to cover and exclude coverage for those illnesses for certain breeds. As you review the policy for your pet, make sure that the policy does not limit coverage or exclude coverage for hereditary or congenitally related illness that they are likely to contract. Many policies make it clear that they do NOT exclude such conditions and illnesses and it is a good quality to look for in a policy especially if you have a purebred pet.

A third consideration for what type of coverage to purchase is your pet’s location. Seriously, some of these policies will exclude snake bites particularly because of the high incidence of such bites in some southwestern United States locations. If your pet lives in a climate that calls for constant flea and tick protection, the costs can become prohibitively high.  A wellness policy could really help defray that cost and might pay for itself quickly given the cost of preventative flea medication year-round. If you have an indoor pet you may be less worried about accidents but more concerned about chronic conditions like hip dysplasia, so you would be more likely to choose an illness policy. A cautionary note: NO policies cover cosmetic surgeries or breeding services – and no insurance policy covers preexisting conditions. In fact, almost every policy defines preexisting in the body of the policy as symptomatic – the illness does not have to be diagnosed to be preexisting. Almost all policies have a waiting period before they go into full effect.

Accidents and Illnesses

The levels of coverage offered are divided in many different fashions, but ultimately almost every policy lists the illnesses they will cover. The level of coverage is the next thing to notice: do they have a cap on how much can be spent on a given illness? Do they have constraints on what type of treatments they cover or is it up to your veterinarian to choose the appropriate treatment? Is there an annual cap on expenditures that would make the coverage less than useful? After perusing a few different policies, you will begin to realize that coverage for specialists, diagnostic testing and lab work are covered by some policies and not by others. Making sure that you get the most coverage for your money means considering some of these additional expenses that will occur when an illness or accident happens to your pet.

Accident policies tend to be a great deal less specific about what is covered. Many policies will list some options of terrible occurrences like being hit by a car, puncture wounds, poisonings, etc. However, look for a policy that describes an accident in more general terms, since an accident is, by definition, unforeseen. The most important factors to consider in accident coverage are emergency services, which are doubly expensive at night or on weekends, diagnostic testing, products and medications that are prescribed, lab work and specialists.  It is wise when choosing any category of coverage to try to pick one that covers office visits. 

Costs and Premiums

Evaluating your own budgetary limitations is also worth doing before you start comparing policies. If you own more than one pet, most companies offer a discount for multiple pets. Some other discount programs exist through civic organizations and membership in social institutions that offer their members discounted services. Pet insurance companies have started to branch out and offer their product in partnership with existing insurers like Progressive and civic and professional organizations.  

Initially, policies that list the illnesses or incidents that they cover will offer three levels of protection: 70%, 80% or 90% of the cost of the unexpected accident or illness.  The next level to determine for yourself is how large a deductible can you afford. The distinctions between types and amounts of deductibles are significant. A deductible on every event or incident could pile up quickly, where as an annual deductible is much easier and more predictable an expense. Some policies restrict how much of your annual deductible you may use toward any given incident; others leave it totally up to you when to apply the deductible. 

The next question is with regard to caps on the total amount that can be reimbursed in a particular year or for a particular incident or illness. Some companies have no caps, but restrict the services they will cover. Other companies cap each incident or illness, no matter what the incident. Other companies put caps on certain types of illnesses like cancer or bone diseases. Some policies put what they call “limitations” on the amount that can be spent on a particular treatment. If that specific limit is lower than the cost of your pet’s treatment, you would have to make up the difference. Reading through the specific details of the caps and comparing those to your veterinarian’s estimates for various services is an excellent way to assess the value of the insurance policy for your specific pet expenses. If you already know how much you are spending on various health care services and products for your pet you can calculate your savings from pet health insurance towards those expenses pretty effectively. 

The final cost differential is the premium you pay for coverage. Most companies offer a range of options, some as little as 50 cents a day. The amount of the premium is a pretty straightforward expense for most of these companies. However, the conditions under which your premiums can be increased is a reasonable consideration and does vary from company to company. For example, one company was recently bought out by a large conglomerate and doubled all it clients premiums without distinction or any type of notice. Some companies will cancel your policy if you use it and others pledge to never cancel your policy. Some companies will raise your premiums if you make a claim, others vow to keep your premium regardless of claims. Be sure to check as to the conditions under which the policy can be either cancelled or the premiums raised.

 

Processing Claims and Getting Reimbursed

Almost every company represents itself as paying claims quickly, but there are definite differences in the processes between companies for reimbursement. Very few companies will deal directly with your service provider, but that is an excellent quality to look for in an insurer. If you can get the pet health insurer to pay the vet directly, there is very little time lost or up-front money required in an emergency. Many companies offer a service where you can check a portal with up to date information on your claim 24/7. 

Almost every company will reimburse any licensed veterinarian service provider, but almost all of them require that you fill out paperwork and file claims. The length of the claim forms, the time for processing and the chance for disputes all have to be considered when choosing the company. Many of the companies post an average turnaround time for their claims on their website, but that is of course not binding and at best an average. Be sure to ask about the process for dealing with a claim when it is denied. Are there agents available to talk to about disputed claims? Do they outsource their claims or are they handled by the company themselves? What avenues are available to you to question a claim that has been denied? 

Conclusion

Taking the time to identify your pet’s health care priorities based on their age, breed and general healthiness will allow you to search more quickly and effectively for the right policy. Pet health care expenses are probably to some degree inevitable. Pet health insurance could be a way to decrease your pet expenses and provide better care for your pet in the long run. It is fairly easy to eliminate some options that clearly would not either serve your pets need or are cost prohibitive. Once your field of choices is narrowed, it would be wise to make a checklist of items to confirm in the actual wording of the policy.  

Faced with a situation where your pet is in need of immediate emergent care, pet owners have come to realize that veterinarian health care services are more costly and advanced than they used to be. Tragic choices are the only ones available in the moment when you are unprepared to pay for an operation or treatment that could save your pet. Just the cost of an emergency room visit at night could total your pet health care budget for the year. Purchasing low cost pet health insurance could alleviate these fears and provide financial support in times of crisis.