Here are the best pet insurance companies in California:
Pets Best – Great For Choices Of Deductible
Lemonade – Best Price For Kittens And Puppies
ASPCA – Great For No Waiting Period For Special Conditions
Embrace – Best For Superior Benefits
Figo – Great For Short Waiting Period For Accident Coverage
ManyPets – Best For Lowest Out-Of-Pocket Claims Costs
Nationwide – Best For Unlimited Wellness Coverage
TrustedPals – Great For Service Dogs
Cost Comparison for Pet Insurance in California
Costs for California pet insurance with $5,000 annual maximum coverage
|Company||Monthly cost in California|
|Costs are for a plan with a $5,000 annual coverage maximum ($4,000 for TrustedPals), a $250 deductible ($200 for Embrace) and 90% reimbursement level. Source: PetInsurer.com.|
Costs for California pet insurance with unlimited annual maximum coverage
|Company||Monthly cost in California|
|Costs are for a plan with unlimited annual coverage ($30,000 for Embrace and $100,000 for Lemonade), a $250 deductible ($200 for Embrace) and 90% reimbursement level. Source: PetInsurer.com.|
Types of Pet Insurance Plans
With pet insurance you can find a comprehensive policy covering most of your pet’s vet care needs or something that covers only injuries.
While a more comprehensive policy costs more, it might give you peace of mind knowing your furry friends are fully protected. Here are the main types of pet insurance plans.
Accident and illness plans
This plan covers accidents, such as broken bones, hospitalizations, diagnostics and illnesses like urinary tract infections or more severe illnesses like cancer. Almost all pet insurance plans (98%) fall into the accident and illness plan category, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
As the name suggests, accident-only plans cover costs related to accidents. For instance, this plan may help if a rattlesnake bites your dog and he needs to be hospitalized and or take prescribed medication. Accident-only plans are less expensive than a more comprehensive policy.
Wellness and routine care plans
This type of coverage helps reimburse you for preventive care costs, such as flea and tick medication, routine-check ups and vaccinations. Many pet insurance companies let you add this coverage to a pet insurance plan for an additional cost.
How Pet Insurance Works
Several components make up a pet insurance policy. Many pet insurance companies let you select from a variety of reimbursement options. Here’s what to look at when you’re shopping for the best pet insurance in California.
Premium payment. To keep your policy active, you must pay a monthly premium. Your pet insurance cost is generally based on several factors such as:
- Your pet’s age
- Your pet’s breed
- Coverage amount
- Your location
Deductible. Like your personal health insurance policy, you often must pay a deductible or specific amount before your pet insurance begins covering some of your pet’s medical expenses. Common deductible options are $100, $250 or $500. You can lower monthly premium payments when you select a higher deductible amount.
Reimbursement percentage. After you pay your deductible toward vet costs, the pet insurance company reimburses you for a portion of your total vet bill, which is your reimbursement percentage. Typical reimbursement percentages are 70%, 80% or 90%. Keep in mind, the higher the reimbursement percentage you select, the more your monthly pet insurance bill will be.
Annual maximum coverage limit. Most pet insurance plans apply a maximum coverage limit to your policy, which is the most your insurer will pay for vet expenses annually. Annual maximum limits usually range from $5,000 per year to unlimited payouts.
California’s Consumer Protection Law for Pet Insurance Buyers
California offers protections for pet insurance buyers, but it’s still critical to dig into any policy to make sure you understand what it covers, what it doesn’t and any exclusions.
California pet insurance law requires that pet insurance companies disclose:
- Policy exclusions, such as pre-existing conditions, hereditary disorders, congenital anomalies or disorders, chronic conditions, and list if other exclusions may apply
- Waiting periods until coverage kicks in
- Deductibles, coinsurance and annual and lifetime policy limits
- Whether claim history affects pet insurance premiums
How to Find the Best Pet Insurance in California
From rattlesnakes lurking in the bushes to earthquakes causing falling objects, living in California can pose some health risks to your pet. When comparing your options, here are some tips for finding the best pet insurance in California.
Choose a plan with a 24/7 vet helpline
Many pet insurance companies offer complimentary access to a 24/7 vet helpline to assist you with pet health-related questions. So if your pup gets sick in the middle of the night, you can reach out to the vet helpline for guidance.
Find out if there are direct vet payments
Some pet insurance companies, like Pets Best and Trupanion, can pay your vet directly, which can minimize your initial out-of-pocket cost.
Look for a multi-pet discount
If you have more than one four-legged companion, some pet insurance companies give you a discount for insuring multiple pets, known as the multi-pet discount. Insurers may also offer other ways to save. Embrace pet insurance, for example, lowers your deductible by $50 every year you go without filing a claim for your pet.
Add wellness or routine care coverage
Regular checkups at the vet can decrease your chances of larger vet bills later. If you want help paying for preventive care costs, look for a pet insurance plan that offers wellness or routine care add-on.
Find out the waiting periods
Every pet insurance company applies a waiting period. That’s the amount of time you must wait after purchase until your pet coverage starts. Some insurers have shorter waiting periods than others. For example, Lemonade’s pet insurance has a two-day waiting period for accidents, while ASPCA Pet Health Insurance has a 14-day accident waiting period.
Selecting a plan with shorter waiting periods is beneficial since you never know when your pet will get sick or injured.
Also, check if the pet insurer has an extended waiting period for particular conditions. If your pet is prone to these issues, such as hip dysplasia, you may want to look at a different pet insurance plan.
Look at whether vet exam fees are covered
While it may seem counterintuitive, not every pet insurance company pays for vet fees for a visit for an accident or illness. If you don’t want to get hit with an exam bill, look for companies that will cover this cost.
California Pet Laws
Beyond statewide pet-related laws, municipalities often have their own regulations. Here’s a sampling of pet laws in California cities.
Los Angeles pet laws
Los Angeles County requires dog owners to license all dogs that are age four months and older. Licenses not renewed by June 30 each year are subject to a $20 fine. Dogs are required to be vaccinated for rabies for the entire license period. Cats are not required to be licensed, but a voluntary cat license includes a tag that connects to the County’s 24-hour lost pet hotline.
The county also requires dog and cat owners to spay or neuter their pets if they are age four months or older. If you cannot spay or neuter your pet, you must get written confirmation from a licensed veterinarian.
LA County has a leash law. A dog must be restrained with a leash not exceeding six feet and must be in control of a “competent person” when off your property.
You cannot transport your dog in the bed of an open truck or other open vehicle, unless your dog is secured with a cross tether or the side of the open vehicle is over 46 inches tall.
The county forbids pet owners from allowing their dogs to defecate on public property or private property that’s not the owner’s. Los Angeles regulations also prohibit animal noises like incessant barking that disturb the peace, quiet and comfort of residential neighborhoods.
San Diego pet laws
The city of San Diego requires that owners license all dogs age four months and older and they must wear their license at all times. You must provide proof your dog is vaccinated for rabies in order to get a license.
You can have up to six dogs in San Diego before your residence is considered a kennel.
You must keep your dog on a leash less than eight feet long except when in your residence, backyard or in designated off-leash areas. San Diego has 16 off-leash dog parks. By entering a dog park, you are accepting your own risk, full responsibility and liability for your dog’s actions, according to the city.
Your dog cannot defecate or urinate on private property that is not owned by you, a custodian or person in control of your dog. You or the person in control of your dog must immediately remove any feces to a proper receptacle.
San Diego may declare your dog a public nuisance animal or a dangerous dog if it bites someone. A public nuisance animal is declared after repeated violations to state and local laws that obstruct, damage or inconvenience the community, or injures or kills another animal. A dangerous dog classification comes after a dog has attacked or bitten two people within a 48-month period, or attacked or bitten a person causing substantial injury or death.
County Animal Services may impound a dog after a major biting incident or repeated biting incidents, attacks, or other violations. The county may refer your case to the Dangerous Dog Task Force. You can request a hearing to contest an animal declared a dangerous dog or public nuisance animal.
If your dog is considered problematic, County Animal Service may require you to buy liability insurance, build fencing, muzzle the dog, alter the pet, microchip the dog and get a photo identification. The county may seek a dog’s destruction in “certain difficult cases,” and may want certain restrictions on the dog and its owners in other cases.
San Francisco pet laws
San Francisco residents must register their dogs age four months and older. The city offers licenses for one, two or three years, depending on your dog’s rabies vaccination. The vaccination certificate must be valid through the entire license period. You have 30 days from moving to San Francisco to register your dog or you could face a late fee.
You are responsible for controlling your dog. San Francisco does not allow for dogs to run at large in the city or county, except in areas designated as an animal exercise area. You must promptly pick up after your dog. The city and county requires owners to transport dogs in a fully enclosed motor vehicle. The pet must be protected by a belt, tether, cage, container or other device that prevents the dog from falling, jumping or being thrown from the vehicle.
Pets are allowed on Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), but they must be in secure, enclosed carriers.
The Department of Public Health may fine you $25 if your dog bites a person or animal. There may be additional penalties, including imprisonment, if the dog is involved in a second biting incident within 12 months.
If the bite causes severe injuries, the public health director may recommend that the city declare the dog a menace to public health and safety, and notify the district attorney. The district attorney then contacts the municipal court, which reviews the case. If the court agrees that the animal is a menace, animal control may impound, hold and humanely destroy the dog.
San Jose pet laws
The city of San Jose limits owners to three dogs or five licensed animals, including cats.
You must have your dog vaccinated for rabies to get a dog license. Dogs that are spayed or neutered cost less to license. Your pet’s license will expire on your pet’s rabies vaccination expiration date (unless the expiration date of the current rabies vaccine extends beyond your license term).
You should keep your dog on a leash no longer than six feet long in public places. One exception is public parks and open spaces. In that case, the leash can be up to 20 feet long, but you must be able to control your dog and prevent it from making physical contact with another person.
We used data provided by PetInsurer.com to score each pet insurance company based on the following.
Average plan prices: Up to 40 points. We averaged pet insurance quotes for each insurer for a mixed-breed dog at two ages in California.
Plan benefits: Up to 60 points. We scored plans based on the following important features: Annual coverage choices, whether the plan can pay a veterinarian directly, access to a 24/7 vet line, availability of routine wellness coverage, whether the plan pays the vet exam fee, dental illness coverage, end of life coverage, and multipet discount.