We’ve discussed what pet insurance is, now let’s discuss your different options. We will be looking at six different insurances and what they have to offer, as well as what they don’t. I’ve used these companies’ sites to research just exactly what is included in their many different plans. We will be focusing on cat and dog insurance, as that is what is most readily available.
Our first pet insurance is from ASPCA, who seem to have a wide variety of plans for pet owners. Like most all other pet insurances, they offer coverage for the unexpected. This includes things such as accidents (dislocated hip) and illnesses (liver disease). They have a wide amount of coverage to cater to every pet owner’s budget. Their coverage ranges from 70-90%, while their deductible options can cost anywhere from $100-$500.
They do, however, have annual limits on some of their plans, meaning that there is a yearly cap for how much they will spend on your pet. If your annual limit is $5,000, and you’ve spent $4,500 on your pet, they will only cover $500 more for that year. Fortunately, they give you a range from $5,000 to unlimited coverage, depending on how much you’d like to spend.
One of the perks of ASPCA’s coverage is that they offer Complete CoverageSM, which offers contribution of cost for exams. This is an important factor, as many insurance companies do not offer compensation for any of the initial exam fees. Another benefit of using ASPCA for insurance is that they offer accident-only coverage. For a reduced monthly cost, ASPCA will cover your pet for accident-related costs only. This is great for an owner who wants coverage, but may not be able to afford some of the more comprehensive plans.
So what exactly is the monthly cost to cover your pet using ASPCA? I’ve used my own dog, Bambi, a three year old spayed Yorkshire Terrier, to compare costs.
For their lowest coverage (Accident-only, lowest annual limit, highest deductible), ASPCA’s insurance would cost me $14.25 a month. This only covers accidents, meaning if Bambi became ill with pancreatitis, she wouldn’t be covered. My limit for the year would be $5,000, and I would pay $500 out-of-pocket before I saw insurance covering any cost. The coverage offered would be 70%, meaning if I had a $500 bill after my deductible, insurance would cover $350.
I also looked at the highest coverage available to see what sort of range ASPCA offered. With the highest comprehensive coverage (90% for accidents and illness), lowest deductible ($100), and unlimited annual limit, insurance for Bambi would cost me $63.97 a month. This means if Bambi did have an episode of pancreatitis, and after anti-nausea injections, fluids, and antibiotics that help ease her gut, if my bill was $500 after my deductible, ASPCA would cover $450 of that bill. That feels pretty good.
ASPCA has lots of options as far as insurance goes. I love the budget-friendly accident-only policy, as well as the fact that they will cover costs of exam fees in their Complete CoverageSM. Their more-comprehensive plan is on the expensive side, but offers lots of benefits.
Next on our list is Figo. One interesting thing about Figo is that they offer up to 100% coverage. This means after your deductible, you would pay nothing out of pocket. Figo is the first I’ve seen to offer this.
Figo also offers coverage of exam fees at an additional cost, which is dependent on your pet. This is a great option, although you may not like that this incurs an additional monthly fee. Another common policy amongst insurances is a waiting period. This is a period after you have initiated insurance that your pet is not covered. The purpose behind this is to protect insurance companies from paying out for “pre-existing conditions”. Figo’s waiting period is 14 days for illnesses, and five days for accidents. This is great for owners who have just initiated insurance and their pet has an accident; they are covered within 5 days.
Holistic and alternative therapies are also covered in your Figo plan. This can include things such as hydrotherapy, which may not be covered by other insurance companies, or at least not without an additional cost.
They also have a wide selection of coverages, ranging from 70-100%, as well as deductibles ranging from $100-$750. They offer 3 plans giving different annual limits: $10,000, $14,000, and unlimited. Figo offers direct deposit for reimbursement, which is great for owners who don’t want to wait for a check in the mail.
Let’s put these costs into effect. Using Bambi again, I looked at their most- and least-comprehensive plans to compare. With their Essential plan of 10k annual limit, $750 deductible, 70% coverage, and no exam fee coverage, we’re looking at $27.58 a month. With 100% coverage, unlimited annual pay-out, $100 deductible, and inclusion of exam fees, the cost goes up to $176.24. Yikes! That’s a lot higher. We do have to remember just how much coverage we are getting, though this plan definitely isn’t for everyone.
Figo offers complete comprehensive coverage, however at a rather high price tag. Their plan includes a lot of benefits that others’ don’t, such as holistic treatments. The question is, is this worth the high price for policyholders? The good news is that their lesser plans are much within reason. These are all things for a buyer to consider.
Our third company is Healthypaws. Healthypaws seems to have great coverage for a great price. They offer 70-90% coverage, with their deductibles ranging from $100-$500. A great benefit for customers is that Healthypaws does not have any annual or lifetime limits. This means no matter how much trouble your pet gets into within a year, they’re covered.
Filing a claim is easy; you simply submit your vet’s invoice via their app, phone, or mail. In fact, Healthypaws turnaround time on claims is great—99% of claims are processed within two days. While this doesn’t mean you will be seeing a reimbursement check within those two days, it does mean that you will see it sooner than some. They also offer direct deposit or check for payout options, depending on your preference.
Coverage is comparable to most other insurances on our list, however there are a few things to be considered. As with all insurances, pre-existing conditions are not covered. Worth noting for our big-dog owners is that Healthypaws has a bilateral exclusion for cruciate ligaments. What this means is that if one ACL is ruptured prior to insurance coverage, the other is considered a pre-existing condition if it also ruptures. This can be a pretty important exclusion to dog owners. As with some of our other insurance companies, they also exclude exam fees.
I took a look at what it would cost, both the most expensive and least expensive coverage, to protect Bambi. With a $500 deductible and 70% coverage, my monthly premium would be $16.51. With a $100 deductible and 90% coverage, I would be looking at $34.80. Not bad.
After reviewing their coverage, considering the exclusions and cost, I believe Healthypaws chalks up to be a pretty presentable option for buyers. Both ends of their premiums are reasonably affordable, and while there are a few important exclusions to mull over, this insurance should definitely be considered.
Our next company is Nationwide, who is one of the first—if not the first—pet insurance companies. Of course, they weren’t known as Nationwide back then, but instead called Veterinary Pet Insurance or VPI.
While they may be the first pet insurance, they also stand out from our previous companies. For one, Nationwide is the only company I have found to insure pets other than cats or dogs. They offer coverage for pets such as reptiles, small mammals, and birds. We won’t focus on this fact so much since we are discussing pet insurances for cats and dogs. I do think it worth mentioning for owners who are looking to insure their other pets, however.
Another way that Nationwide stands out is that they offer three different types of plans: a plan for just “wellness”, a plan for just “medical”, and a plan that includes both. It would seem that their most comprehensive plan is the best option, as many illnesses are excluded from their Major MedicalSM plan. To make things easier, I won’t be discussing their wellness-only option, as it is hard to compare with our other insurance providers.
As with most all insurance companies, Nationwide has a waiting period, which is 14 days. There is a prolonged waiting period of 12 months for cruciate ligaments, which may be a drawback for owners. A year is a long time to wait for such a costly injury. The good news is, as far as I have read, there isn’t a bilateral exclusion of ACLs like other companies.
Unlike other insurance policies, Nationwide’s Major MedicalSM plan has a set cap for payout based on the injury or illness. This is a potentially huge drawback, as every veterinarian charges differently, and may induce more cost than another. Nationwide will only pay you up to the cap of that illness. So, say your cat developed hepatic lipidosis, and the cap for that illness was $2,000. If, after your deductible, costs exceeded $2,000, you would be expected to pay the remaining out-of-pocket. This can also be a benefit, as if your bill is under the cap, you may pay nothing out-of-pocket after your deductible.
Unfortunately, these plans are not as customizable as the others I have encountered so far. When using Bambi, I was given the three plans as options, all with set deductibles and coverage. We won’t be discussing the wellness plan, but instead the two that deal with injury and illness. The Major MedicalSM plan is the cheaper of the two options: about $32.93 a month for me and Bambi. This excludes some illnesses and injuries that their more comprehensive plan does not, and has a $250 annual deductible. The whole petSM with wellness plan has quite a bit higher price of $72.59 per month with a $100 deductible. This plan does include wellness benefits that cover the cost of exams, vaccines, and more.
While I think this insurance is great for some owners such as ones who have exotic pets or are looking for a wellness insurance plan, Nationwide limits their customization of plans at a steeper price than some. While the prices aren’t horrible, I feel some leeway should be made for lack of variability. Overall, I think Nationwide is a great competitor, but isn’t for everyone.
Pet Assure is our next company, although we shouldn’t exactly call them insurance. Pet Assure is actually a discount plan that helps you save 25% of your vet bill per visit. This is different from pet insurance, as this discount is for any reason. You could be bringing your puppy in for its first set of vaccines, or you could be bringing in your cat for her leg amputation. Either way, you get your discount.
Pet Assure also covers more than just cats and dogs. In fact, they claim to cover any pet of any species. While not insurance, this is still fantastic news for pet owners who have a companion different from your typical canine or feline friend.
Another great benefit of Pet Assure is because they aren’t a pet insurance, there are no exclusions. This means regardless of your visit, you get your discount. There are no pre-existing conditions and no waiting periods. If you need to bring your pet in, you get your 25% discount. Period.
Again, since they aren’t an insurance, there are no forms or claims to be filled out or bothered with. Your discount savings will be instant and you will receive them right at the time of checkout. If you are on a budget, this plan can be great. You don’t have to pay first, receive reimbursement later. You simply use your card and get a discount off your bill.
As you can imagine, because of this great discount program, there are only select vets that participate. What that means for you is that you can’t go to just any vet; they have to accept Pet Assure. The good news is that there are plenty of vets who do accept this discount plan.
Because it isn’t insurance and all pets are covered, pricing works a little more straight-forward. There are multiple plans: Single cat or small animal, single dog or large animal, Multi-Pet, and unlimited pet. For my zip code in Georgia, my cost is $16.95 a month for 2-4 animals, and $21.95 a month for unlimited pets.
Even though they’re far different from our competitors, Pet Assure is definitely worth mentioning as it is low-cost and guarantees savings at participating vets. All animals and treatments/testing are covered, which is great news for pets with pre-existing or not-typically-covered conditions. This also means that wellness visits are discounted as well. While you have to bring your pet to a participating vet, this not-insurance is a great option for owners on a budget who are looking for instant savings.
Finally on our list of pet insurances is Trupanion. Unique from other insurances in many ways, Trupanion has lots of potential benefits for owners, but also some potential disadvantages. Trupanion offers “Vet Direct Pay” meaning if you visit an affiliated veterinarian, instead of receiving a reimbursement, Trupanion will cover the cost up-front—similar to a co-pay. The only thing you will worry about is your deductible and the percentage not covered.
Trupanion offers 90% coverage with a highly customizable deductible depending on your needs. From $0-$1000, you can select a deductible within $5 of your choice. This is great for owners to choose a plan that works best for their budget—a company that lets you choose.
The deductibles are per illness, meaning that each new illness receives a new deductible. This is drastically different from the traditional annual deductible. In some ways this is great. If your pet has allergies, a lifetime illness, then once you pay your deductible, you never have to pay it again for that illness. However, this can be a major setback for owners with pets struggling with multiple illnesses or injuries within their lifetime. If your kitty broke his leg, and then later in the same year developed feline herpes, you would pay your deductible twice within one year. The good news is that they have no annual limits on protection as some others do.
Trupanion also offers additional coverage for a separate cost. One of their packages includes things like holistic medicine (hydrotherapy, behavioral modification, acupuncture), while the other offers coverage for things like lost pets (advertising, rewards) and cremation services for unexpected deaths. The prices of these packages adjust according to your selected deductible.
I went ahead and plugged the numbers in for Bambi. Since the plan deductible is so customizable, I simply selected the lowest ($0) and highest ($1000) deductibles available, so you are able to see the price range. For her 90% coverage and $1000 deductible, Bambi’s coverage would cost $26.91 per month. For a $0 deductible, my cost jumps to $99.52 per month. Talk about an expensive date!
Trupanion has a lot to bring to the table with its unique, customizable plans and deductibles. In some ways, their different deductible renewal can be a great benefit to chronic pets. On the other hand, if you have a problem child with multiple illnesses or injuries, you could be looking at a much higher cost with this company. The insurance is rather comprehensive, and for that you pay a hefty price monthly. However, you may find that the cost is well worth the complete coverage of your baby.
After delving into these six insurance companies, I hope you feel informed and encouraged to further research them and others. Pet insurance is a great invention in a time where our furry companions mean so much to us. They live, eat, breathe and sleep with us. They are there for us whenever we need them—ready with all the unconditional love we could ever need. Why wouldn’t we protect them?