Pet insurance is a good tool for minimizing vet care costs. While the cost of coverage varies from insurance company to insurance company, you can usually expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars per year to cover your pet for accident- and illness-related problems such as a torn ligament or heart disease.
We analyzed rates from 12 insurers to help you find an affordable pet insurance policy.
5 Cheapest Pet Insurance Companies
Here are our top picks for the best affordable pet insurance companies:
- Pets Best – Great for Choices of Deductible
- Figo – Great for Short Waiting Period for Accident Coverage
- Lemonade – Best Price for Kittens And Puppies
- ManyPets – Best for Unlimited Annual Coverage
- TrustedPals – Great for Service Dogs
How to Find Cheap Pet Insurance
Review the pet insurance plan with your veterinarian
Use your veterinarian as a resource for pinpointing the best coverage. Discuss your pet breed’s potential health issues before you purchase a policy.
“It’s important to point out that some pet breeds are more susceptible to certain hereditary conditions than others. Because of this, your veterinarian can identify some health concerns worth covering before your pet becomes affected,” says Dr. Randy Aronson, a vet advisor at betterpet, a site with advice on pets’ well-being.
Compare pet insurance plans
The price you pay for pet insurance can vary drastically from one insurance company to the next. That’s why it’s smart to compare pet insurance quotes from several different insurers.
Try to compare plans with similar policy details, such as coverage limits, reimbursement levels and deductibles. Keep in mind that coverage features can still vary. For example, not all plans include access to a 24/7 vet helpline, which can prove valuable for late-night pet illnesses.
And while your goal may be to find cheap pet insurance, don’t focus on price alone. You’ll also want to take into account other factors like waiting periods, access to 24/7 vet lines and the ability to pay your vet directly.
“Although price is an important factor when considering coverage options, there is no point in paying for coverage that isn’t going to work. You want to strike a balance between having a plan that will cover all of the things that your pet is going to be susceptible to going forward at a price that you can afford,” says Alex Stone, founder of pet insurance comparison site PetInsurer.com.
Buy an accident-only policy
Accident and illness pet insurance policies are typically the most expensive because they cover a wide variety of problems, like broken bones, torn ligaments, hereditary conditions, cancer, emergency room visits, hospitalization and prescription medication.
But if you’re comfortable taking on more financial risk, you could save money by opting for a pet insurance policy that provides less coverage.
For example, some pet insurance companies will also offer accident-only policies that exclusively cover accident-related expenses such as broken bones or situations where your pet swallows something it shouldn’t. Since accident-only plans are not as comprehensive, they cost less than an accident and illness plan, reducing your coverage cost.
Just keep in mind, if you buy an accident-only policy, you won’t be covered for illness-related medical bills.
Adjust your deductible, reimbursement and coverage levels
The details and terms of your policy impact the cost you pay for coverage. When you purchase a policy, you can typically select:
Deductible. The sum you must pay each year before your coverage pays for any of your pet’s vet bills, such as $200 or $500.
Reimbursement level. Your insurance company will reimburse you for a portion of your vet bills after your deductible is paid. For example, you might choose a plan that reimburses 90% of your vet bills.
Coverage caps. Many pet insurance companies give you the option to select your annual coverage limit. This means they will only reimburse your vet bills up to a certain amount each year, like $5,000. Some pet insurance companies, like Spot and Pets Best, offer unlimited annual coverage.
Here are some ways to lower your pet insurance costs:
- Select a lower reimbursement percentage such as 70%.
- Choose a higher deductible such as $500.
- Reduce your annual coverage cap like choosing $10,000 instead of unlimited coverage.
While lowering your deductible, reimbursement and coverage levels can save you money on your pet insurance costs, you will have to pay more out-of-pocket for veterinary expenses.
Ask for pet insurance discounts
Pet insurance discounts are a good way to save on your premiums. Here are some to look for:
- Multipet discount. You can typically get savings if you insure more than one pet.
- Spay/neuter discount. If your pet is spayed or neutered, you could qualify for savings.
- Annual pay discount. Some insurers offer discounts to customers who pay their annual premium in one lump sum.
- Employee discount. Some employers offer pet insurance as a benefit, which could range between a 5% to 10% discount.
- Military discount. If you are a military member or veteran, you may qualify for a discount.
Don’t wait to buy coverage
The sooner you buy pet insurance, the better, says Aronson.
For example, if your pet develops a condition such as heart disease or arthritis before you buy pet insurance, it will be considered a pre-existing condition and excluded from coverage. Meaning you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for any expenses related to this condition.
What Is Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance is like a health insurance policy for your pet. It pays for medical expenses and some plans reimburse you for other expenses such as microchipping and end-of-life expenses.
Pet insurance plans are typically reimbursement-based, meaning you will pay your vet bills up-front and then submit a claim to your pet insurance company. Some insurers can pay your vet directly, such as Embrace and Pets Best. This helps keep your out-of-pocket costs low.
Pet insurance plans usually have a deductible before coverage kicks in. For example, you might pay the first $250 in vet bills before the pet insurance starts to pay.
Even after your deductible is paid, pet insurance may not cover 100% of your vet bills. You can usually choose your reimbursement level. For example, common reimbursement options are 70%, 80% or 90%. A few plans have a 100% reimbursement option, such as Figo and TrustedPals.
What Does Pet Insurance Cover?
What’s covered by pet insurance will depend on the type of plan you purchase. Pet insurance plans are usually available in three types:
- Accident and illness plans (the most common)
- Accident-only plans
- Wellness plans for routine care such as flea/tick prevention and vaccinations (usually available as an add-on)
Accident and illness plans cover injuries and sickness, like broken bones, hereditary conditions, congenital conditions, cancer and more. Accident-only plans will only cover accident-related problems, like broken bones or a torn ligament.
Your pet insurance company may have the option to add a routine wellness plan to a policy. This can offset the cost of annual vet wellness visits, heartworm treatment, vaccinations and other routine care costs that help keep your pet healthy.
Pet insurance may not cover pre-existing conditions (conditions your pet had before your policy went into effect, including any waiting period). But some pet insurance plans will not permanently exclude pre-existing conditions. For example, Nationwide pet insurance may extend coverage if you have medical records that show your pet has been cured of a certain condition for at least six months.
Related: What does pet insurance cover?
How Are Pet Insurance Costs Determined?
Insurers use a variety of pricing factors to determine pet insurance rates, including:
- Pet’s breed. Certain breeds are predisposed to hereditary problems and illnesses, which usually means higher veterinary costs.
- Pet’s age. Our analysis found that the best prices were after a pet’s first birthday until around age six. As your pet gets older, pet insurance costs can increase when you renew the policy.
- Your location. Veterinary costs vary by location so pet insurance costs reflect that.
- Annual maximum, reimbursement level and deductible. You will pay more if you select a high annual maximum, high reimbursement level and low deductible. For example, a plan with unlimited annual coverage, a 90% reimbursement level and a low deductible would cost more each month because it has the potential to pay out much more.
Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
If you’re considering coverage for your furry friend, you’re probably wondering if pet insurance is worth it.
Let’s do some math: Suppose you’ve been paying for pet insurance for three years at $34 a month, or $408 a year. Over three years you’ve paid $1,224 in premiums.
Let’s say your dog ingests a toy and surgery ends up costing $4,000. If you have a pet insurance policy with a $500 deductible and 90% reimbursement level, you would pay $850 for your dog’s medical expenses ($500 deductible + 10% of $3,500 = $850).
- In total you’ve paid $2,074 for three years of premiums and your share of the costs for the surgery.
- Without pet insurance you would have paid $4,000 for the surgery.
- Pet insurance saved you $1,926 in this case.
If you are on the fence about buying pet insurance, ask yourself:
- How much would you pay for costly vet expenses, like an emergency surgery or an illness such as cancer?
- What can you afford to pay out-of-pocket for your pet’s vet bills, especially emergency cases?
How to Buy a Pet Insurance Plan
The best way to save money on pet insurance is to compare pet insurance quotes among multiple insurance companies.
Here’s how to get free pet insurance quotes:
- Online: You can usually find free pet insurance quotes on a pet insurer’s website. You’ll typically answer a few basic questions about your pet. You can save time by using a pet insurance comparison site that compiles quotes from several companies at once.
- Phone, email or in-person: You can contact a representative from a pet insurance company or an independent insurance agent.
We used data provided by PetInsurer.com to score each pet insurance company based on the following.
Average plan prices: Up to 30 points. We averaged pet insurance quotes for each insurer for a mixed-breed dog at three ages in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas and Washington, when quotes were available.
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.