Everything You Want to Know About Pet Insurance Comparison

Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP
By Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP. Reviewed by Veronica Higgs, DVM on Dec. 6, 2023
man sitting on couch with dog looking at laptop

Pet insurance is a great way to help you afford veterinary costs for your dog or cat while making sure your pet has access to the medical care they need.

However, buying pet insurance can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience with other types of insurance, such as homeowners or health insurance. Even if you do, pet insurance can be confusing.

Not only are there several types of pet insurance, but you also must take into your account your unique situation. Factors like your dog or cat’s breed, age, and health history can affect which pet insurance policy is the best fit for your family.

We can break down some important factors to consider as you compare pet insurance and how to match your pet insurance needs with the right policy for your pet.

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How to Compare Pet Insurance

The first step to buying pet insurance is to know what you need. Answering the following questions can give you a place to start:

  • Is your pet young and healthy, or getting to an age where health problems start to develop?

  • Has your pet been diagnosed with any underlying health conditions or take any current medications? Is your pet’s breed prone to certain health conditions? 

  • What’s your budget for pet insurance? How much could you afford each month?

  • How much can you afford to spend out of pocket in a health emergency if you had to meet a higher deductible?

Ask friends and family if they have pet insurance, where they got it, and what their experience has been. Online reviews can also be helpful.  

Comparing Pet Insurance Plans

After getting a list of pet insurance companies to check out, you’re ready to start comparing policies. Go to each pet insurance website and get quotes for the dog or cat you want insured.

Below is a comprehensive pet insurance chart that compares Chewy’s CarePlus pet insurance with other major pet insurance companies.

 

CarePlus by Chewy 

Nationwide 

Fetch by Dodo 

Healthy Paws 

Pumpkin 

Insurance 

 

 

 

 

 

A&I base monthly premium** 

$32.89 

 

$45.20 

$35.79 

$41.70 

 

$50.48 

 

 

Accident Only plans 

Yes 

Yes 

No 

No 

No 

Coverage up to 100% of vet diet costs* 

Yes 

No 

No 

No 

No (% dependent on policy % coverage) 

 

Coverage up to 100% of supplement costs** 

Yes 

No (% dependent on policy % coverage) 

 

No (% dependent on policy % coverage) 

 

No 

No (% dependent on policy % coverage) 

 

Direct Payments: your invoice can be paid to vets directly 

Yes, with Trupanion plans 

No 

No 

No 

No 

No Payout Limits: insurance with unlimited payout options 

Yes 

Yes (option to customize) 

 Yes (option to customize) 

Yes 

Yes 

Live Vet Access: free access to vet telehealth service 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes Up to $1,000 in virtual vet visits (video chat, call or text) 

No 

No 

Sick exam fee coverage 

Yes, with select plans 

Yes 

Yes 

No 

Yes 

Wellness & Preventative Care 

 

 

 

 

 

Standalone Wellness plans 

Yes 

Yes 

No (add- ons only) 

No (no wellness plans) 

No (add- on only 

Options with Dental Cleaning Coverage 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes, highest coverage plan includes dental cleaning 

No 

No 

Options that cover Spaying/Neutering 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes, highest coverage plan includes spay/neuter  

No 

No 

Comparisons reviewed and evaluated October 2023. Coverage options and deductibles may vary. *Coverage, limits and discounts may vary by state and plan.**Less deductibles, applies when purchased on Chewy.com. **  

Understanding Pet Insurance Plans

When it comes to understanding pet insurance, here is what you should consider when it comes to pet insurance plans:

Pet Insurance Premium

This is the monthly cost of the pet insurance plan. Although this is important, it’s only one element of your overall costs. The monthly premium should be considered in relation to the deductible and reimbursement percentage. Together, these three factors will determine the overall pet insurance cost to you. If you choose a lower premium, you will usually have a higher deductible and/or reimbursement percentage.  

Pet Insurance Deductibles

The deductible is the amount you’ll have to pay before the pet insurance policy kicks in to begin partially covering expenses. Deductibles are usually offered as annual deductibles, meaning the amount resets each year. The other type is a lifetime per health condition deductible, meaning that each condition may have its own deductible, but they won’t reset if you have the policy. If your pet has a long-term illness like diabetes, a lifetime per-condition deductible is likely the most cost-effective. If not, you may want an annual deductible.

Pet Insurance Percentage Covered / Reimbursement Rates

This is the rate at which your policy will cover eligible expenses after you meet your deductible.

For example, a policy with a 90% reimbursement rate will cover 90% of qualified expenses after you meet your deductible. This rate can make a huge difference in your out-of-pocket costs. Usually, a lower reimbursement percentage means a lower monthly premium, but if you have a major vet bill, you will be responsible for more of it. Be sure you don’t exceed your budget by choosing a lower reimbursement rate with an appealing monthly premium. 

Pet Insurance Age Limits

Many companies will not accept older or senior pets for pet insurance coverage. Check the pet insurance policy’s age limits if you have a senior pet. Similarly, pet pre-existing conditions are usually not covered, although you may find pet insurance policies that allow for certain conditions. If your pet has a pre-existing condition that’s not covered, they can still have a policy that covers many other things.

Pet Insurance Waiting Periods

Many policies will not go into effect immediately after you sign up. There is usually a waiting period because the pet insurance company wants to ensure your pet is healthy at the time the insurance takes effect. Make note of each policy’s waiting periods.

Pet Insurance Exam Requirement

The pet insurance policy may require that your pet be examined by a veterinarian before coverage begins. This is to protect pet insurance companies from unexpected or hidden health conditions at the time coverage starts.

Coverage for Congenital or Hereditary Issues

Hereditary issues are genetic health issues passed on from your pet’s parents. This includes health issues of certain breeds. Hereditary issues can show up later in your pet’s life. Congenital issues are present at birth and are not necessarily hereditary. Different companies will have different policies regarding these types of health issues. If you suspect that your pet may have, or is prone to, a congenital or hereditary issue, find out if this coverage is excluded.

Annual Limits / Lifetime Limits for Reimbursement

Some pet insurance policies have annual caps or lifetime limits for pet reimbursement. These commonly come into play if you have a pet with a chronic illness, or one that will need long-term care, such as dogs with arthritis, cats with IBD, or pets with general heart conditions.

Pet Insurance Wellness Plan Options

Most companies will not include much, if any, wellness care into their standard accident/illness or accident-only plans. Wellness care pet insurance is typically offered as an add-on to the main plan, or a separate pet wellness plan that covers routine veterinary care, vaccinations, and more. This is especially important for younger pets. Compare whether wellness is offered as part of a comprehensive pet insurance plan or a separate plan and find out what exactly it offers.

Pet Insurance Claim Process

A claim is your request for the pet insurance company to pay for part of your pet’s treatment. This will affect your out-of-pocket expenses. It’s important to know the following when it comes to a pet insurance claim process:

  • Do you have to pay the veterinarian at the time of treatment and wait to be reimbursed, or does the company pay the veterinarian directly?

  • How long does this process take?

  • How do you make claims—by mail, a website, or an app?

Knowing the pet insurance claim process will help you determine how long you’ll wait for a reimbursement check.

Pet Insurance Ratings or Current Customers

Current customer ratings can be an important signal of a pet insurance company’s overall treatment of their customers. Look for companies that regularly get positive ratings and where the negative reviews appear to be isolated problems.

Pet Insurance Perks

Some pet insurance companies and policies offer perks that can make a policy more attractive. This can include chats or video calls with a vet, training services, pet acupuncture, or coverage for special therapeutic diets and medications such as flea/tick prevention. If you have policies that are similar when comparing pet insurance major factors, these extra perks may tip the balance.

Pet Insurance Discounts

Look for any special discounts or bundling discounts in pet insurance. A company may offer one if you have multiple pets or if you already have another type of insurance policy with them. If you don’t see any advertised discounts, ask the company directly.

There is much to consider when purchasing pet insurance. Having a plan in place can help you make the right decision. When the worst happens with our dogs or cats, it’s good to know you have a financial safety net so you can concentrate on your pet’s health.

Featured Image: AleksandarNakic/E+ via Getty Images


Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP

WRITTEN BY

Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP

Veterinarian

Sandra Mitchell is a 1995 graduate of the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine. Since graduation, she has worked in many fields...


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