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Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?

Pet insurance can be expensive, but you might be glad to have it if your best pal gets seriously sick or injured.

Check out these pet insurance providers

CompanyWhat We LikeLearn More
Spot Pet Insurance - SEM

Spot

  • Covers things some insurers don’t, such as prescription food and behavioral modification.
  • Covers some pre-existing conditions if they have been cured and treatment-free for 180 days.
  • Unlimited annual coverage option available.
Embrace Pet Insurance - SEM

Embrace

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on Embrace
  • Covers curable pre-existing conditions.
  • Many ways to customize your plan.
  • Orthopedic waiting period can be reduced with a vet exam.
Get a quote
on Embrace
Fetch Pet Insurance - SEM

Fetch

Get a quote
on Fetch
  • Covers dental injuries and diseases, holistic treatment options and sick exam fees.
  • Pays up to $1,000 per year for virtual vet visits.
  • Can waive the waiting period for knee injuries with a veterinarian exam within the first 30 days of the policy.
Get a quote
on Fetch
MetLife Pet Insurance - SEM

MetLife

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on MetLife
  • Deductible goes down each year you don't make a claim in some states.
  • Accident coverage starts right away, with no waiting period.
  • Includes coverage for holistic and alternative care.
Get a quote
on MetLife
Pets Best Pet Insurance - SEM

Pets Best

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on Pets Best
  • Lots of options to customize plans.
  • Unlimited annual coverage option available.
  • No upper age limit for enrollment.
Get a quote
on Pets Best

What pet insurance pays for

So what do all those premiums get you? Though insurance can be a godsend if your pet is facing an expensive diagnosis, your plan likely won’t reimburse every dollar you spend at the vet.

Deductibles, limits and payouts

Most policies come with an annual deductible, the amount you’re responsible for before the insurer starts paying. Once you’ve met your deductible, most plans pay out a certain percentage of your vet bill — typically 70%, 80% or 90%. And you may be subject to an annual maximum payout.
Say you have a $500 deductible on a plan that pays up to $10,000 per year and reimburses 80% of your costs. If your dog needs a $2,000 surgery and you haven’t put anything toward the deductible yet, your plan would pay $1,200. Here’s the math:
$2,000 - $500 deductible = $1,500. 80% of $1,500 = $1,200.
You can often customize your plan with a lower deductible or higher reimbursement rate, but your premium will go up accordingly.

What’s covered and what’s not

Even if you find a plan with no annual limit and 100% reimbursement, it still might not pay you back for every veterinary expense.
For example, most plans won’t cover spay or neuter surgery unless you’ve bought an add-on for wellness and preventive care. The same goes for vaccinations, annual checkups and teeth cleaning. Insurance is designed to cover unexpected expenses, not routine costs associated with pet ownership.
But pre-existing conditions are perhaps the most important exclusion in just about every pet insurance plan. Pet insurance generally covers only new injuries or illnesses, not conditions the animal has before the policy takes effect. So don’t try buying pet insurance to pay for your cat’s chemotherapy after they were diagnosed with cancer — it probably won’t be covered.
That’s why pet insurance may be more valuable for pets who are young and healthy than those who already have a chronic condition or two.
Pre-existing conditions can also be a problem if you let your policy lapse. Say you’re out of work for a few months and can’t pay Fluffy’s premiums. If you reinstate their coverage later, all their previous ailments will count as pre-existing conditions, even those the earlier plan covered.

Alternatives to pet insurance

If you’d rather not buy pet insurance, you can try one of the following ways to pay for your furry pal’s care.

Self-funding

Instead of paying a monthly premium to a pet insurance company, you could contribute to a high-yield savings account for vet expenses.
The advantage of this strategy is that if your pet stays healthy, you’ll still have the money to use for something else. The downside is that you might not have enough saved if your puppy has an expensive accident three months after you bring them home.

Financial assistance

If you find yourself unable to afford care for your pet, you still have options. Your vet may be willing to work with you on a payment plan, or you can look for another clinic that charges less for the treatment your pet needs.
You can set up a crowdfunding campaign to help pool the support of friends and family. Charitable organizations may also be able to provide grants or other assistance. The Humane Society of the United States has a useful list of resources.

So, is pet insurance worth it?

Consider buying pet insurance if:
  • Your pet is young and healthy.
  • You don’t have enough savings to cover a hefty vet bill.
  • Having insurance coverage gives you peace of mind.

Pet insurance may not be worth it if:
  • Your pet is a senior or has health problems.
  • A big vet bill wouldn’t be a financial hardship for you.
  • You’d rather take the risk of an expensive diagnosis than pay for insurance you might never use.

Get Pet Insurance Today

CompanyWhat We LikeLearn More
Spot Pet Insurance - SEM

Spot

  • Covers things some insurers don’t, such as prescription food and behavioral modification.
  • Covers some pre-existing conditions if they have been cured and treatment-free for 180 days.
  • Unlimited annual coverage option available.
Embrace Pet Insurance - SEM

Embrace

Get a quote
on Embrace
  • Covers curable pre-existing conditions.
  • Many ways to customize your plan.
  • Orthopedic waiting period can be reduced with a vet exam.
Get a quote
on Embrace
Fetch Pet Insurance - SEM

Fetch

Get a quote
on Fetch
  • Covers dental injuries and diseases, holistic treatment options and sick exam fees.
  • Pays up to $1,000 per year for virtual vet visits.
  • Can waive the waiting period for knee injuries with a veterinarian exam within the first 30 days of the policy.
Get a quote
on Fetch
MetLife Pet Insurance - SEM

MetLife

Get a quote
on MetLife
  • Deductible goes down each year you don't make a claim in some states.
  • Accident coverage starts right away, with no waiting period.
  • Includes coverage for holistic and alternative care.
Get a quote
on MetLife
Pets Best Pet Insurance - SEM

Pets Best

Get a quote
on Pets Best
  • Lots of options to customize plans.
  • Unlimited annual coverage option available.
  • No upper age limit for enrollment.
Get a quote
on Pets Best