Pet insurance isn't as complicated as the different options for humans, but you should still educate yourself before signing up.

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Many people across the country have welcomed furry friends (and scaly ones) in the past year, and when you adopt a new pet, you're going to need all the tips and tricks to take care of them. Family pets are essentially tiny family members, and as a part of the household, they need the same kind of safety net for health concerns that may occur over the years. Insuring your fluffier family members may give you some peace of mind; you may also be surprised to know that more and more U.S. employers are offering pet health insurance. So if you're considering insurance for one or more of your pets, use this guide to smoothly navigate the process.

man holding dachshund dog outside home
Credit: SolStock/Getty Images

Who Should Get Pet Insurance?

One consideration is whether you can afford to pay for an unexpected illness or emergency, says Jason Hargraves, managing editor for InsuranceQuotes. Start by having a discussion with your vet, who likely has experience with various plans and can help you weigh the pros and cons, says Kurt R. Venator, D.V.M., Ph.D., chief veterinary officer for Purina. “Some vet clinics offer their own wellness plans, so definitely ask,” Venator says.

Certain breeds are predisposed to health issues; if your pet is likely to need lots of care, insurance may be an economical option. Note: Because pet insurance companies often don’t cover preexisting conditions, it’s usually best to purchase a policy when your pet is young, says Ashley Rossman, D.V.M., at Glen Oak Dog & Cat Hospital in Glenview, Illinois.

What Should I Look for When Evaluating Plans?

Find out the cost to treat the conditions your pet is likely to get and imagine other scenarios for when your pet might need care, then ask the insurance companies how those situations would be covered. Choose a plan with an affordable annual deductible and weigh the reimbursement percentages against the monthly premium.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

There are generally three types of pet insurance coverage: accident and illness, accident and illness with embedded wellness (referred to as routine/preventive care, including vaccines, tests, and dental work), and accident only. About 98% of insured pets are covered by one of the first two types, says Kristen Lynch, executive director of North American Pet Health Insurance Association.

There’s less variation in coverage compared to human health insurance in that all plans have deductibles, but most keep the coinsurance (or reimbursement rate) pretty good at 70 to 90%. As with any type of insurance, be sure to read the fine print: Some plans raise rates as pets age.

Comments (1)

Better Homes & Gardens Member
July 8, 2021
The article says IF you think your pet is likely to have a lot of health care needs? The whole point of insurance, even our own, is you don't know and it is protections just in case! Next...do not get PetPlan!!!! I've had them for 10 yrs! They were awesome at first, but they had a change in CEO and it is horrible now. Their website is supposedly being changed for over a year now but nothing it still has less on it. You can't even click on a claim and get the details. They use to have a magazine. My pets premium went up triple in one year this year! That is NUTS! I've snail mailed the CEO...no response. They are taking double the time now to process claims. Just a nightmare! And of course you can't change insurance because they would have pre-existing conditions unlike us!