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What to look for in a pet insurance policy, according to vets

Finding a pet insurance policy can feel daunting, but knowing what to look for can make the process more manageable. Getty Images/iStockphoto

As a pet parent, you want the best for your furry companion and you do everything in your power to keep them healthy, happy and safe. But even with the best care, accidents and illnesses can happen. Pet insurance can help alleviate the financial burden of unexpected vet costs (and, depending on the policy, may even cover things like preventative care to keep them healthy moving forward).

But not all pet insurance policies are created equal, and which is best for you depends on your pet's health, your budget and other considerations. To make the decision easier, there are some items veterinarians recommend you keep in mind when looking for a pet insurance plan.

Find out how much coverage you could get by requesting a free quote here.

What to look for in a pet insurance policy, according to vets

Take these things into account when comparing pet insurance plans.

Coverage level

Different types of pet insurance plans cover different things. Some only cover accidents and injuries, while others cover everything from routine care and wellness visits to alternative medicine. Review each plan with an eye toward how it fits your pet's breed, age, current health and any anticipated future help problems (which your vet can help identify).

"Make sure to read the coverage carefully," Dr. Sarah Gorman, managing veterinarian at Small Door Veterinary in New York, recently told CBS News. Gorman recommends looking into dental coverage, specifically, which may not be covered by some pet insurance plans. That can be a high expense that owners would have to otherwise cover on their own.

Explore your coverage options by getting a free quote now.


Every policy has certain things it won't cover. They may be breed-specific, pre-existing conditions or specific types of treatment. Be sure you know what is and isn't covered.

"There are breed-specific exclusions in many policies," says Gorman. "The French Bulldog is now the most popular dog in the U.S., but several medical conditions that may need to be addressed with Frenchies are not covered as they are breed-related (soft palate resections and corrective surgeries for stenotic nares being the most common ones that I see)."


Several factors go into how much pet insurance costs and how much it can save you over your pet's lifetime. Consider the following to determine the best overall deal for you.

  • Premium: This is how much you'll pay for a policy. Depending on the plan and your pet, premiums could range from about $10 to about $100 per month.
  • Deductible: You must pay for your pet's care out of pocket until you reach the plan's deductible. After that, coverage kicks in. Deductibles could be per incident, per year or for your pet's lifetime.
  • Reimbursement percentage: With the exception of direct-pay plans, most pet insurance requires you to pay the vet at the time of service. You then file a claim, and the provider reimburses you up to a certain percentage (typically 70% to 90%).
  • Coverage limit: This is how much the insurer will pay per incident, per year or over your pet's lifetime. Look for a policy with limits high enough to cover major expenses but not so high you're paying for more coverage than you need.

When it comes to coverage limits, "Don't choose a policy with a particularly low ceiling of coverage," says Dr. Rebecca Greenstein, veterinary medical advisor for Rover. "I would recommend at least $5,000 or $10,000 of coverage per category. For instance, if a broken leg costs $4,000 to $6,000 to repair these days, having a maximum of $3,000 of coverage leaves pet parents with a significant out-of-pocket balance."

Check out pet insurance prices today.

Customer reviews

In addition to carefully reviewing plan details, you should also carefully consider each provider's overall reputation. Read online reviews from other pet parents, speak to friends and family and ask your vet for any recommendations they might have.

While you might like a plan on paper, you want to be confident your pet is in good hands and the provider will be responsive and helpful when you need them.

The bottom line

Comparing pet insurance policies can feel daunting, but knowing what to look for can make the process more manageable. Weigh the cost against your pet's needs, the coverage offered, exclusions (and limitations), and customer reviews to find the best policy for you and your pet. With the right insurance, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing your pet will be taken care of no matter what life throws your way.

You can start your search by checking out the best pet insurance companies.

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