Selecting a pet insurance plan is an individual choice because each person has different needs depending on the pet’s breed, owner’s geographical location and the owner’s budget.
First, determine if you need pet insurance. If you can cover the “worst case scenario” costs for your geographic location out of your own pocket, then you may not need pet insurance.
If you determine that you need pet insurance, make sure the pet insurance company you choose has the following attributes:
1. Has good medical coverage.
To get the most comprehensive coverage, you want to purchase a plan that covers accidents/injuries AND illnesses. The illness part of the coverage must include:
Coverage for cancer.
Coverage for chronic disease. Chronic diseases are illnesses that have long duration and generally slow progression. Examples include cancer, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and chronic liver disease.
Coverage for hereditary and congenital diseases.
Coverage for diseases that are common to your pet’s breed.
2. Has a good reputation.
Research a pet insurance company’s reputation using the Better Business Bureau, your state’s Department of Insurance, or by visiting
3. Has a strong underwriter.
The underwriter is the company that is financially responsible for paying your claim. Use AM Best’s website to research the strength of the underwriter.
4. Has a maximum payout limit that will cover the “worst case scenario” costs for your geographic location.
The maximum payout limit is the maximum amount of money the insurance company will reimburse you for. This payout limit can be annual, lifetime, per incident, per body system, or based on a pre-determined benefit schedule. You want to pick a maximum payout structure that will cover the “worst case scenario” costs that could happen for you.
5. Has an affordable premium.
6. Pays claims in a timely fashion.
7. Does not have unreasonable exclusions and requirements.
Exclusions are medical conditions that are not covered by the plan.
Requirements are things you must do to remain insured: e.g. annual exams, animal must reside at place of residence listed on the policy, submission of medical records, and adherence to the vaccination recommendations.
Exclusions and requirements are written in the pet insurance company’s terms and conditions. It is important that you read this document before and after you buy so that there are no surprises.
Print the following document to use as a worksheet when researching an insurance policy for your pet.
20 Questions to Help You Choose a Pet Insurance Provider