Which pet insurance is the best is a question that’s on every pet parent’s mind lately. With treatment costs rising every day, more and more pet parents are looking to insure their pets. Having insurance for cats or dogs is a great way to reduce your bills at the vet if disaster strikes. This becomes even more important if you are the owner of a high risk dog breed. Certain breeds are predisposed to the risk of having worse health than others, and it’s even more important for pet parents with dogs like Great Danes, Boxers or Bull Dogs to have health insurance. The bills for something like hip dysplasia or cancer can add up quickly, and you could soon find that your pup has wracked up thousands of dollars in vet bills.
Unfortunately, choosing the right insurance plan can be a little easier said than done. All pet insurance companies are not created equal, and in this article we’re going to help you choose the right plan for your pets no matter what the situation is.
What kind of pets do you have?
If you have a cat, then you’ll feel lucky when it comes to insurance. Cats are always cheaper to insure, because they just don’t end up at the vet as often as dogs do. Insurance for a cat will likely be very affordable for you if your fur baby is of the feline variety. The largest determining factors will likely be your location and your cat’s age.
For dogs things get a lot more complicated. While age and location are still factored in, your dog’s breed also plays a big part here. Certain breeds are more prone to having certain conditions than others, and you can bet that the insurance company has researched this in and out. You should honestly take a moment to familiarize yourself with your dog’s breed so you can be ahead of the game if any congenital or hereditary conditions pop up. This gets a little tougher if you have mixed breed dog, but if you really want to know, then you can try a doggy DNA test!
Which pet insurance is the best for older pets?
If your dog is getting on in his years, then you’ll have some special considerations to make. We’ve actually got a completely separate article on which pet insurance is the best for older dogs to help you with that. The unfortunate truth is that many pet insurance companies won’t take dogs over a certain age, and some of them may even boot your dog from their coverage if they reach the “maximum age limit”! Make sure that you do not ever buy a policy like this, because your coverage will likely end right when your dog needs it the most. Be sure to read all of the policy information very carefully.
What should I look for in a pet insurance plan?
When searching for a pet insurance plan, it’s important to identify exactly what type of coverage you need. If your dog is very young, then accident insurance may be more important, and it’s possible that you could get away with a cheaper policy, because your dog is less likely to have serious illnesses. This could also be true if you have a particularly hardy breed and you just want coverage to avoid disasters like broken bones or emergency surgeries for them doing well, puppy things.
If your dog is older, then he is less likely to use coverage like this. Older pups will be far more likely to fall prey to an illness or a disease. This coverage is the most expensive, but it also covers the most things. If you have a dog breed that is prone to cancer, such as Golden Retrievers, then it would be in your best interest to have comprehensive coverage, because an on going illness can quickly create thousands of dollars in vet bills for you. Here’s the most important things to consider when shopping for a policy.
Does the policy cover hereditary or congenital conditions?
These are conditions that your dog may have inherited from its parents or have been born with but have not been diagnosed with as of yet. There are many policies that will not pay out for these, and you should be careful to avoid them as these can be some of the most costly procedures.
Does the policy cover illness?
Accident only policies are much cheaper, but they are also far more limited in what they covered. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ve gotten a great deal when you really haven’t. You may find out that your coverage is completely worthless if your dog is diagnosed with a serious ailment.
Does the policy cover on going conditions?
An on going condition is something that your dog will require treatment for in perpetuity. This could be something like allergies or diabetes. If you don’t have on going coverage, then the insurance company may pay for the initial treatment, but then no additional treatments! If this happens then you can’t even get another insurance company, because now it is a “preexisting condition” which none of them will cover. A condition like this could cost you a couple thousand per year.
What are the pay out limitations?
Having pet insurance does not always mean your pay out will be unlimited! There are some policies that do sell unlimited coverage, but others may have some sneaky fine print that you may not see until it’s too late. Find out what the maximum amount they cover is before you buy.
Does the policy have an age limit?
Many policies of this type will not insure older dogs at all, but some may even boot you from your coverage if your dog reaches the “age cap”. Make sure the company states their stance on this, and don’t bother buying a policy with an age limit. This will end your coverage right when your pet needs it the most. However, you should expect the policy premiums to go up with age, all insurance companies will do this unfortunately. This is an important factor in determining which pet insurance is the best for your dog.
Who offers the top pet insurance?
- No age limit
- Does not drop coverage on older dogs
- Accidents and illness coverage
- On going conditions covered
- Congenital conditions covered
- Behavioral conditions covered
- Hereditary conditions covered
- Alternative therapy covered
While there may be some variables depending on your exact situation, our pick is for PetPremium. They offer a wide variety of policy options for both cats and dogs, and they have no age limitations on their policy. Your pets will never lose their coverage simply for getting older, and they do not exclude hereditary or congenital conditions.
They also make it very easy to see how much you’ll pay using their online quote tool. Below you can see our mock quote for an 8 year old mixed breed dog. As you can see, PetPremium provides two coverage options for you to choose from. They also lay everything out neatly so you can easily compare and see what is covered for each plan. While the accidents coverage is much cheaper, it’s not the best choice for breeds who have major health risks or dogs who qualify as seniors.
The number presented here will of course depend on many factors including your location, your dog’s breed, previous health concerns and their age. A dog who is only 2 years old will be much cheaper to insure obviously. It’s important to remember that the insurance company makes money when they don’t pay out on a policy, and this means it’s in their best interest to offer the best price to people who will not be using it. Okay, but what about cats? Below you can see a typical quote for a mixed breed cat of the same age.
As you can see, the cat insurance cost is much cheaper even using the same variables and coverage options. That’s good news for pet parents who have cats, because felines can still get some pretty costly illnesses such as cancer and even struvite crystals which require emergency veterinary care.
How can I get the most coverage for my money?
One of the coolest things about PetPremium is the way their online quote is set up. After choosing your coverage option, they provide you with some little sliders which can help you adjust your plan in a way that it can fit your monthly budget. You can see an image of this below, with a quote for our cat example we used earlier. For this quote we’ve adjusted our deductible up, our reimbursement level up and our annual limits down for a monthly cost of $23.69 per month for our cat.
You can of course fiddle with these numbers as you see fit until you land on a compromise that you like. Keep in mind that some sacrifices are worth more than others. For example, if you are only worried about insuring your pet against major disasters, then raising your annual deductible seems to have the greatest effect for the least out of pocket cost. At the most you’ll need to eat $500 in cost for a major reduction in monthly rate. This number will pale in comparison to the sum required for on going cancer care or emergency surgery.
However, lowering the reimbursement levels seems to offer a pitiful savings in comparison, and it would likely be better to kick it up to the max amount rather than save a couple bucks on it. If there’s a large expenditure in your future, then the 10% extra pay out will likely be worth it.
The trickiest decision is of course choosing your annual limit. An unlimited plan will cost you the most, and it’s likely not necessary unless you have a very high risk dog breed. That risk is of course yours to assume, and you’ll need to make sure you do the math and your research to see what makes sense financially. If you’re interested in running the numbers and seeing the cost for your pet, then you can get a free quote here.
How much could pet insurance save you?
While you hope that you never need to use your insurance, it could save you a ton on certain occasions. Here’s a few rather pricey medical procedures that your dog or cat could be in need of that you won’t have to foot the bill for if you have pet insurance.
Gastrointestinal obstructions ($3,000)
Hip replacement ($4,000-$8,000)
Bladder stones ($2,000)
Broken leg ($1,500)