Pet Insurance 101: How to Find the Right Health Insurance Plan for Your Dog or Cat

Skylar Dial
Written by
Last update:

Find the Cheapest Pet Insurance Quotes in Your Area

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is health insurance that can help lessen the burden of medical care for your pet. Pet health insurance can help cover the cost of unexpected illnesses, injuries, and accidents, but some plans include preventive care and wellness benefits as well. Most pet health insurance plans are treated as an extension of your human health insurance policy.

Depending on the plan you choose, you can receive partial or full reimbursement for your veterinary bills.

You can sort pet insurance plans by the following options:

Major medical

Major medical plans can provide coverage for routine checkups, surgical procedures, dental care, and acupuncture. Some plans also include prescription medications.

  1. Wellness plans may provide coverage for vaccines, diagnostic tests*, and other services that help prevent sickness and disease in your pet.
  2. Accident indemnity

This plan typically covers injuries sustained in an accident. For some plans, the amount covered may only apply to services, such as physical therapy, and not for the actual veterinary care itself.


Rental plans may cover the costs of temporary pet boarding or pet sitting in the event of an emergency.

Pet funeral

For pet owners that want to ensure that their pet is well-cared for in their absence, pet funeral insurance can be a comforting option.

Alternative care

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Pet insurance is the way to go if you want to protect your furry friend without having to pay for all of his medical expenses out of pocket. The good news is that pet insurance is highly affordable and can pay for most routine and emergency care. Pet insurance can provide coverage for wellness visits, accidents, injuries, and illnesses. Basically, any medical care your dog or cat need falls under the coverage areas a well-written pet insurance plan provides.

The best pet insurance plans consider all of the medical conditions your pet may develop, from allergies to dental care and everything in between. A well-written pet insurance plan will also take into consideration any pre-existing conditions your dog or cat may have, as well as hereditary conditions. If you have a purebred dog with ancestors that have been deemed to have a genetic disease or illness and your family is not aware of this, the chances are good that your pet insurance will deny coverage for hereditary conditions. If you have a mixed breed dog, you are probably in the clear.

A common misconception about pet insurance is that it only helps pay for the high cost of vet care. One of the perks of pet insurance, however, is that it covers a myriad of routine costs, including but not limited to:

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Just like with regular health insurance, when it comes to pet insurance, the coverage is not one size fits all.

For example, many plans include coverage for annual vaccinations, wellness visits, annual physicals, diagnosis of illness or injury, and prescription medications. However, some don’t cover routine visits or wellness exams.

On the other hand, if your dog or cat needs major medical care (e.g. surgery or if he develops a serious illness), a major medical extension is going to be a must.

Also, don’t forget that pet insurance plans are going to differ in the cost. For example, pets with pre-existing conditions may be covered, but at a higher cost. Or your pet insurance plan may cover your dog’s cancer treatment, but the deductible is very high, significantly increasing your monthly payments.

Whatever the case, those are just some of the facts you need to know about pet insurance.

To fully understand what your pet insurance plan covers, you’ll need to review the plan and speak with your insurance provider.

Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?

Pet insurance is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Florida has the highest number of insured pets accounting for about 30 percent of the total pets in the United States but they are not the only state that are signing up for pet insurance.

While pet insurance can be pretty costly, the cost can be justified if your pet’s medical bills become unmanageable. If you have an older dog or cat, pet insurance can especially be a useful investment. Many pet insurance plans will cover preexisting conditions.

If you are considering purchasing insurance for your pet, here a few things you should keep in mind.

Types of Pet Insurance Policies

Pet insurance policies may cover surgery; ambulatory, anesthesial, diagnostic, emergency, hospice, hospitalization, intensive, major medical, medical, wellness, and preventative care; prescription drugs; and more.

Pet insurance policies may cover routine visits; illness; injury; hereditary conditions; regular exams; hospital visits; accidents; and treatment for cancer, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

Pet insurance may cover breed-specific conditions, like hip dysplasia in Labradors, injuries sustained from dog fights or animal attacks, or intestinal problems resulting from parasites.

Pet insurance plans may be written for individual animals, whole groups (e.g., all cats), or for a specific breed (e.g., all Corgis). Plans may also be issued for cats and dogs combined.

The pet insurance industry is always changing, and so are the available plans. Check with your insurance provider to be sure you’re using a recent and up-to-date source.

Benefits of Pet Health Insurance

Pet health insurance is recognized by pet parents as an essential product of modern pet ownership. Although pet health insurance isn’t a new trend, it’s a trend that has increasing importance. Pet health insurance helps pet parents and their beloved family pets to navigate the ever-rising costs of veterinary care.

With a wide variety of health insurance provider options, and plenty of myths and misunderstandings, pet parents can be confused about what pet health insurance is, how it works and what is covered under pet health insurance.

We’ve got the answers to all of your pet health insurance questions and concerns. Here’s what you need to know about pet health insurance.

Challenges of Pet Insurance

Pet insurance isn't the same as human health insurance. Most pet insurance plans are based on set-fee reimbursement, similar to a health maintenance organization (HMO), because an animal’s veterinary care needs vary with the animal's age and health status. Providers with an open-network plan structure offer the option of larger deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.

Because you generally must sign a contract for a certain period of time, it’s difficult to compare pet insurance companies until you’re assured of coverage. You don’t know if you’ll be covered until you file a claim, and you don’t know the veterinary care cost until then.

There are two things you need to do to find a good pet insurance policy: rate the plans on price, coverage and satisfaction, and find at least two or three providers that offer what you need.

How to Choose the Right Pet Insurance Plan

Pet insurance is a convenient way to provide financial support for your pets in times of need. It offers peace of mind to pet parents that they have the financial ability to cover unexpected veterinary expenses and to provide for their pet’s long term care.

Pet insurance plans differ from one another in terms of price, premium types, coverage amounts, and co-pays.

Insurance companies calculate cost and coverage amount based on your dog’s or cat’s age, the breed, your location, your deductible, and the type of plan you choose.

A cheaper insurance plan may have a higher deductible, and a more expensive plan may have a lower deductible. So you’ll need to consider whether you are able to cover your deductible if any unexpected medical expenses should arise.

Pet insurance generally offers three types of coverage: accident only, accident and illness, and accident and wellness. But again, the coverage amount and deductible for each plan can vary.

Also, keep in mind that some pet insurance companies may cover cancer treatment for 5 to 10 years, but others may not cover it at all. Check the terms and conditions of your pet’s insurance plan to find out if it covers cancer treatment, or if there are any limits on the amount of coverage or length of treatment.

What is the Best Pet Insurance?

From the outset, the selection of an insurance policy against unexpected medical or accident related expenses for your pet is a big decision and one that you should not rush through.

Although you can't choose your pet's health, you can manage the cost of treatment if your furry best friend gets ill or hurt. Once you weigh the options, you'll discover a variety of choices for your pet's medical care, and the best pet insurance for your pet may not be the same as it is for your child or parents.

Pet Insurance Company Reviews

Over the last few years, Pet insurance has become a big business. There are many pet insurance companies, each with a different specialty, and Pet owners should consider a combination of pet insurance company reviews and at least two or three pet insurance quotes by different companies to make sure they get the coverage and service they want for their pet.

Pet insurance helps to prevent financial difficulties for pet owners should their pet get sick or injured. In addition, it protects against losses, such as the death of the pet and the costs of routine care.

Famous companies that offer insurance for pets include PETsMART, PetPlan, and Trupanion. If you're trying to find the most suitable pet insurance for your cat or dog, you may find these companies' pet insurance reviews helpful.