AKC Pet Insurance Review 2024

AKC offers lots of flexibility in its plan, but you may end up needing to pay extra for some basic types of coverage.
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Written by Andrew Marder
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AKC

AKC Pet Insurance
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NerdWallet rating 

4.5

/5
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Annual max coverage

Unlimited

Reimbursement rates

70%, 80%, 90%

Deductibles

$100 - $1,000

Policy highlight

Covers pre-existing conditions in some states.

Pros

  • Has a 24/7 vet helpline.
  • Gives a discount for insuring multiple animals.
  • Covers pre-existing conditions after a 12-month waiting period (in most states).

Cons

  • Doesn't cover most dental procedures.
  • Coverage for hereditary and congenital conditions costs extra.

AKC offers lots of ways to customize your coverage, but its basic plan lacks benefits many other companies include.

About AKC pet insurance

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

AKC earned 4.5 stars out of 5 for overall performance. Founded in 1884, the American Kennel Club has historically been the home for purebred dog owners. AKC-branded insurance and wellness products cater to purebred and mixed-breed dogs and even cats, though they won't cover birds or other animals. The plans are underwritten and administered by third parties.

AKC's insurance plans offer various coverage options and reimbursement rates. Customers who register their animals with AKC can try its insurance for 30 days free of charge.

Note: Coverage options and availability may vary depending on where you live and the age and breed of your pet.

AKC pet insurance plans and coverage

AKC offers a standard plan, two wellness packages and various optional add-ons.

CompanionCare

AKC CompanionCare is the company's base accident and illness plan, which covers cats and dogs. This plan includes options for reimbursements, deductibles and coverage limits. The insurer will reimburse you for a certain percentage of your veterinary bills, minus a deductible of your choosing. (The deductible is the amount you're responsible for.)

CompanionCare covers:

  • Treatments, surgeries and medications for ailments ranging from allergies to cancer.

  • X-rays, MRI scans and other diagnostic tests.

  • Coverage for pre-existing conditions after a 12-month waiting period (in most states).

  • Prescription medications.

  • Hospitalization.

  • Lab tests.

  • Emergency treatment.

  • Alternative treatments and behavioral issues in some states.

With a CompanionCare policy, you can add coverage for extra services the base plan doesn’t provide. These vary by state but may include:

  • Hereditary and congenital coverage (available for pets under 2) for chronic conditions like hip dysplasia and diabetes.

  • Veterinary exam coverage for conditions your base policy covers.

  • Breeding coverage for issues related to pregnancy and whelping.

  • Final expenses coverage for burial, cremation and memorials.

Accident-only coverage

AKC's accident-only plan for older pets covers unexpected injuries like snake bites, sprains and broken bones. Coverage will pay for medications, scans and surgeries associated with an injury. It won't cover preventive care or treatment for diseases like cancer.

Defender or DefenderPlus

AKC has two optional wellness plans, Defender and DefenderPlus. The Defender wellness add-on includes:

  • Microchipping.

  • Deworming.

  • Heartworm, flea and tick prevention.

  • Preventive screenings.

  • Vaccination.

  • Wellness exam fees.

DefenderPlus, the upgraded version of Defender, also covers spaying, neutering and teeth cleaning.

What’s not covered

The CompanionCare policy doesn't cover:

  • Inherited or congenital conditions if you buy your policy after your pet turns 2.

  • Elective procedures like tail docking and ear clipping.

  • Intentional injuries caused by owners or other responsible parties.

  • Pregnancy concerns, unless you add the optional Breeding Coverage.

  • Diets and pet food, unless a prescription diet is the sole treatment for a covered illness or injury.

  • Treatment for dental diseases such as gingivitis or periodontal disease.

Plan options

You can customize your plan with different deductibles, reimbursement rates and coverage limits.

Deductibles

Annual deductibles range from $100 to $1,000 for the CompanionCare plan. AKC's accident-only plan has a fixed $100 deductible. You must meet your deductible before payments from AKC begin, and the amount will reset every year.

Reimbursement amounts

With the CompanionCare plan, you can choose to be reimbursed for 70%, 80% or 90% of your vet care costs. Your monthly premium will go up if you choose a higher reimbursement limit. The accident-only plan has a 90% reimbursement rate.

Here’s an example of how AKC might calculate your payout for a $2,000 claim if you had a $500 deductible and an 80% reimbursement rate:

  • $2,000 vet bill - 500 deductible = $1,500.

  • $1,500 x 0.8 (80% reimbursement rate) = $1,200 reimbursement.

Did you know...

Some other pet insurers apply the reimbursement rate to your vet bill first, which results in a slightly lower payout.

Coverage limits

Annual coverage limits for AKC's customizable accident and illness plan range from $2,500 to $20,000. The higher your coverage limit, the more your policy will cost.

As an alternative to a customizable plan, you may see an option to choose AKC’s “basic” version of CompanionCare when getting a quote. Although it comes with unlimited annual coverage, it also includes a per-incident limit that caps the amount you can receive for a single injury or illness.

Watch your wallet

The incident limit in the basic quotes we got was $500, which won’t go far if your pet needs an expensive surgery or develops a chronic condition. The incident limit lasts for the lifetime of your pet.

The accident-only plan comes with unlimited annual coverage.

The Defender and DefenderPlus wellness plans have set annual limits for each type of preventive care, so check with AKC to see what your limits are before you sign up.

Age restrictions

Depending on where you live, the minimum age may be 8 weeks for dogs and 10 weeks for cats. Pets added at age 2 or above can't get coverage for inherited or congenital conditions. If you enroll a pet over 9 years of age, they won't be eligible for accident and illness coverage — just the accident-only plan.

Waiting periods

A waiting period is the time between when you buy your policy and when your coverage takes effect. AKC has a 12-month waiting period for pre-existing conditions and a 180-day waiting period for cruciate ligament claims. All other injuries have a two-day waiting period. Most illnesses have a 14-day waiting period, except for intervertebral disc disease, which carries a 180-day waiting period.

Add-ons for hereditary and congenital conditions and for breeding both have a 30-day waiting period.

AKC pet insurance rates

The cost of AKC pet insurance depends on where you live, the coverage limits you choose and your pet’s breed and age.

To give you a rough idea of how much you might pay, we gathered sample rates for several popular dog breeds at ages 2 and 8. Rates below are sample monthly premiums for dogs living in Katy, Texas. Our sample plan was for accident and illness coverage with a $250 deductible, $5,000 of annual coverage and an 80% reimbursement rate. Your own price will vary.

Breed

Age 2

Age 8

French bulldog

$61

$168

German shepherd

$41

$115

Golden retriever

$48

$133

Labrador retriever

$45

$125

Medium mixed-breed dog

$33

$92

Poodle

$36

$99

We also gathered rates for a variety of cat breeds with the same coverage limits as above. Rates below are sample monthly premiums for cats living in Katy, Texas.

Breed

Age 2

Age 8

Devon rex

$22

$50

Domestic shorthair

$20

$45

Exotic longhair

$22

$50

Maine coon

$28

$63

Persian

$28

$63

Ragdoll

$28

$63

Discounts

AKC offers the following discounts:

  • A 5% multipet discount.

  • A discount for dogs from Breeders of Merit or Bred with H.E.A.R.T. breeders.

State availability

AKC is licensed to sell pet insurance through its insurance partners in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Availability may change at any time. Coverage may not be available to all pets in a given state.

Consumer experience

Website: The AKC website is easy to navigate and makes it straightforward to sign up for coverage. There's a user portal for making claims and payments, updating billing information and accessing policy details.

App: AKC policyholders have access to the Pet Cloud app for services such as keeping track of vet records and connecting with other pet owners in your area. You can also use the app to view policy information and file claims.

Claims: You can submit claim forms online through the AKC user portal or by email, mail or fax. AKC says it typically pays simple claims within three business days. More complex claims can take up to 30 days. You can check your claim status by logging in to your user portal.

Customer service: Customer support is provided by email or through the company's toll-free phone number. Customers can call 866-725-2747 Monday through Saturday. There's also a 24/7 dedicated line for support from a veterinarian.

AKC vs. competitors

Here’s how AKC stacks up against three other popular pet insurance companies.

AKC vs. Lemonade

Both AKC and Lemonade offer several ways to customize their standard accident and illness plans. For example, both companies let you add extra coverage for vet exam fees and final expenses. But Lemonade also has an add-on for dental illnesses, while AKC offers optional coverage for issues related to breeding. Lemonade’s plans cover hereditary and congenital conditions automatically, but AKC charges extra for this coverage.

AKC pet insurance is sold nationwide, while there are about a dozen states Lemonade doesn’t serve.

Lemonade says it pays many claims "almost instantly," which is faster than the three to 30 days AKC says it usually takes to pay claims.

Coverage options

AKC

Lemonade

Deductible

$100 to $1,000 per year.

$100 to $750 per year.

Reimbursement

70%, 80% or 90%.

70%, 80% or 90%.

Annual limit

$2,500 to unlimited.

$5,000 to $100,000 per year.

AKC vs. Nationwide pet insurance

Nationwide is widely known for its car and homeowners insurance, but it also offers coverage for pets. Nationwide offers a 5% discount on its pet insurance to current customers.

Unlike AKC, Nationwide sells plans for all sorts of animals besides dogs and cats, from birds to goats. However, Nationwide won’t cover incurable pre-existing conditions the way AKC will in many states.

Nationwide’s coverage options vary depending on where you live. Nationwide’s Modular plan is similar to AKC’s CompleteCare plan in offering customizable coverage for things like hereditary and congenital conditions and preventive care.

Coverage options

AKC

Nationwide

Deductible

$100 to $1,000 per year.

$250 per year. (Other options may be available online or by phone.)

Reimbursement

70%, 80% or 90%.

50% to 80%, depending on the plan.

Annual limit

$2,500 to unlimited.

$2,500 to $10,000.

AKC vs. Embrace

Insurance plans from Embrace have coverage options that are similar to AKC’s, with slight differences. For example, Embrace covers dental illness up to $1,000 per year, while AKC includes coverage only for extractions related to accidental injury.

AKC doesn't cover hereditary or congenital conditions unless you buy optional coverage. Even then, you'll need to enroll your pet before age 2 to be eligible. Embrace covers these conditions as part of its standard plan.

Coverage options

AKC

Embrace

Deductible

$100 to $1,000 per year.

$100 to $1,000 per year.

Reimbursement

70%, 80% or 90%.

70%, 80% or 90%.

Annual limit

$2,500 to unlimited.

$5,000 to unlimited.

The bottom line

AKC pet insurance may be a good fit for you if your pet already has a chronic pre-existing condition you want insurance to cover. However, it isn’t the best bet for older pets because those over age 9 are eligible for accident coverage only.

Strengths: AKC’s coverage of incurable pre-existing conditions is unique in the industry. While many pet insurers won’t pay for expenses associated with breeding, AKC offers this coverage as an add-on option.

Weaknesses: Coverage for sick exam fees and for hereditary and congenital conditions costs extra. Chronic dental conditions aren’t covered at all.

How we review pet insurance

Our writers and editors follow strict editorial guidelines that ensure fairness and accuracy to help you choose the financial products that work best for you. In our pet insurance reviews, we consider coverage, discounts, financial strength ratings from AM Best and more to determine our star ratings.

Our rating system rewards companies that cover a wide range of potential expenses, offer many ways to customize your plan and have a strong financial rating. Within the consumer experience category, we looked at features such as mobile app ratings and whether the company offers direct vet payments. To calculate each insurer’s rating, we adjusted the scores to a curved 5-point scale.

Dive deeper with our criteria for evaluating pet insurance companies.

Frequently asked questions

AKC’s standard plan covers shots required to treat a pet’s injury or illness. It won't cover preventive shots such as vaccinations. For those, you would need one of AKC's wellness add-ons, Defender or DefenderPlus.

The accident and illness plan from AKC doesn't cover spaying or neutering. You can get that coverage by adding the company’s DefenderPlus wellness coverage, which covers spaying, neutering, dental cleaning and other preventive care.

Newly registered AKC pets are eligible for 30 days of free insurance coverage. The coverage works just like normal CompanionCare coverage and generally comes with a $250 deductible and 80% reimbursement rate. The offer isn't available in all states.

Methodology

Pet insurance star ratings

NerdWallet’s pet insurance ratings reward companies for customer-first features and practices. Ratings are based on weighted averages of scores in several categories, including financial strength, scope of coverage, the ability to customize your plan and more. Our “consumer experience” category looks at factors such as website transparency and mobile app ratings. To calculate each insurer’s star rating, we adjusted the scores to a curved 5-point scale. See our full pet insurance methodology.

These ratings are a guide, but we encourage you to shop around and compare several insurance quotes to find the best rate for you. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

Pet insurance sample rates

To find sample pet insurance rates, NerdWallet gathered quotes for the base level of accident and illness coverage on each insurer’s website. Quotes reflect the monthly cost of a policy and do not include wellness coverage or other optional add-ons. Each plan for a given company had the same deductible, coverage limit and reimbursement rate for all sample pets.

These are sample rates gathered for specific pets living in Katy, Texas. Your own rates will be different.

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