Best Pet Insurance

Karen Y. Larkin
Vet examining a Bulldog

It's clear that people love pets, spending more than $53 billion on them in 2012. In many cases, pets are viewed as family members and trusted companions. With so much love and money going toward pets, enrolling Fluffy or Fido in a pet health plan might be a good idea.

What Makes a Pet Insurance Plan the Best?

The criteria for inclusion are:

  • A Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating of A-, A, or A+
  • A broad array of covered conditions
  • Ease of qualification
  • The types of animals covered
  • Independent positive reviews

Cheap pet insurance is available for pet owners who have to watch their money carefully, but sometimes spending a little more is well worth it.

5 Best Insurance Plans for Pets

These are the five best plans based on the criteria above. Which one is best for you overall depends on the type of pets you have and their individual needs.

Embrace Pet Insurance

Embrace Pet Insurance earned an A+ from the BBB and received a number of positive customer reviews. It covers dogs and cats, and reimbursements are based on actual costs incurred.

Embrace comprehensive coverage comes with an annual cap of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000, or a lifetime cap of $50,000. Premiums are based on the options you choose.

Coverage includes:

  • Hereditary conditions relative to the breed
  • Veterinary fees
  • Cancer treatment
  • Diagnostic testing
  • Rehabilitation
  • Surgery
  • Emergency care
  • Prescription drug coverage (available for extra charge)

Exclusions include:

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Prosthetics and mobility aids
  • Behavioral problems
  • Breeding and pregnancy
  • Injury due to abuse or neglect

Wellness Coverage is available as an add-on and includes:

  • Wellness exams
  • Vaccinations
  • Flea, tick and heartworm medications
  • Routine blood and fecal tests

Wellness Plus covers everything included in the Wellness plan, plus:

  • Dental care and teeth cleaning
  • Prescription food
  • OFA & PennHIP exams and X-rays

Potential Negatives: Dogs and cats of a certain age are not eligible for coverage. The age cutoffs are:

  • Purebred dogs older that six
  • Mixed breed dogs older than eight
  • Purebred cats older than eight
  • Mixed breed cats older than 10

Animals too old to qualify for comprehensive coverage are eligible for Emergency and Wellness plans.

Healthy Paws

Healthy Paws earned an A- from the BBB, and it covers dogs and cats. Reimbursements are based on actual costs incurred and cover up to 90 percent of eligible expenses. No cap is imposed. Customer reviews are highly positive. Dogs and cats younger than 14 years are eligible for enrollment. Coverage includes:

  • Hereditary conditions relative to the breed
  • Diagnostics
  • Hospital care
  • Surgery
  • Prescription medications

Exclusions include:

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Routine and preventative care

Potential Negatives: Requesting quotes for a variety of pets revealed that coverage for older pets is considerably less than 90 percent.

Pets Best

Pets Best earned an A+ from the BBB and covers dogs and cats. Reimbursements are based on actual costs incurred, and customer reviews are positive. This plan offers a great deal of flexibility, allowing you to set your deductible between $0 and $1,000 and your coverage level at 70, 80, or 90 percent. They also impose no upper age limit on your pets. Coverage includes:

  • Emergency care
  • Hospitalization
  • Specialist care
  • Outpatient care
  • Diagnostics
  • Cancer treatment

Exclusions include:

  • Parasites
  • Prescription medications
  • Hereditary conditions if pet is enrolled after two years of age

Pets Best also offers BestWellness plan for routine care, which includes set reimbursements for:

  • Annual exam
  • Teeth cleaning
  • Vaccinations
  • And more

Potential Negatives: The biggest drawback here is the exclusion list.

Trupanion

Trupanion earned an A+ from the BBB and covers dogs and cats, and customer reviews are largely positive. Reimbursements are based on actual costs incurred. The company offers only one plan, and it covers 90 percent of veterinary costs. The amount of coverage is not capped, and premiums do not increase as pets age. Coverage includes:

  • Accidental injuries
  • Illnesses
  • Hereditary conditions relative to the breed
  • Diagnostics
  • Surgeries
  • Prescription medications
  • Hospitalization
  • Veterinary supplements

A rider is available which offers additional coverage.

Exclusions include:

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Wellness and preventative care

Potential Negatives: A review from Consumer Reports reveals that Trupanion's deductibles are per incident. The deductibles of other plans are annual.

VPI

VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance) earned an A from the BBB, and customer reviews are positive. It covers dogs and cats, as well as birds and other exotic pets. Reimbursements are based on actual costs incurred. You may elect to set the deductible at $100, $250, or $500.

Hundreds of procedures are covered at set rates. These include:

  • Accidental injuries
  • Illnesses
  • Cancer
  • Diagnostics
  • Surgeries

Exclusions include:

  • Congenital or hereditary disorders
  • Musculoskeletal conditions
  • Urinary conditions
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Ocular conditions
  • Endocrine conditions
  • Blood disorders
  • Multi-systemic conditions (i.e. cancer)
  • Preventative or routine care

The company also offers CareGuard Premiere, which covers:

  • Wellness exams
  • Vaccinations
  • Flea/heartworm
  • Urinalysis
  • Dental cleaning

Potential Negatives: The list of exclusion is extensive.

Which Is Best for You?

If your pet is a bird or an exotic animal, VPI is likely your best choice. If your dog or cat is older, you may prefer Pets Best or Trupanion. If your breed is known for hereditary conditions like hip dysplasia, Embrace and Healthy Paws are good choices. If your pet is young and healthy, any of these five are good options.

Tips

As you evaluate plans, read the terms and conditions carefully, and download a copy for your files. These are the governing documents and the only true measure of your rights under the plan.

Best Pet Insurance