April 22, 2024

Having a pet can provide an immense amount of joy. But it can also bring significant expenses. The ASPCA estimates that the typical household spends $225 per year for a dog, and $160 per year for a cat on routine medical costs alone.

And, that number doesn’t include emergency spending for things like an upset stomach, coughing and sneezing, skin infections, allergies and limping. Dr. Zay Satchu, co-founder and chief veterinary officer of Bond Vet, said that these are some of the most common issues seen in her clinics. 

And, these issues can be expensive, and especially hard to cover when they’re unexpected. “Veterinary professionals reported that three in four pet parents stop treatment once expenses exceed $1,500, which in many instances may not even cover the cost of diagnostic testing,” Satchu told CNBC Select. 

Pet insurance can help cover these unexpected expenses. “Having high-quality pet medical insurance helps them know they can afford the care their pet needs no matter what the cost or when the incident occurs,” says Satchu.

First, you’ll need to decide how much you want a policy to cover. While a basic policy will cover only accidents or accidents and illnesses, some policies can even cover more, including things like routine wellness expenses. Check out our tips for choosing a good pet insurance company

Here, CNBC Select analyzes dozens of pet insurance companies and picks out the six companies that fit the bill best. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best pet insurance companies.)

Best pet insurance

Best overall

Spot Pet Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • Policy highlights

    Spot Pet Insurance offers accident and illness and accident-only coverage for cats and dogs. It has a variety of choices of reimbursement rates, annual limits (including an unlimited policy), and deductibles to cater your coverage to your needs and budget. The option to cover preventative care procedures and exams (including a dental cleaning and wellness exam) for an extra fee is available.

  • App available

  • Standout features

    There are no upper age limits for new enrollments to Spot and plans include coverage for microchipping. Spot also offers access to a 24/7 veterinary helpline to address questions about wellness and health concerns.

Pros

  • Accident and illness plans are available, with wellness options available
  • Access to a 24/7 veterinary helpline included with coverage
  • 10% discounts for additional pets

Cons

  • Pets must be eight weeks old to enroll
  • A 14-day waiting period applies for coverage

Who’s this for? Many dog or cat owners who want to get pet insurance can find a policy that fits their needs and covers their pets with Spot. With a variety of maximum annual coverage options, deductible options and reimbursement choices, you can tailor the policy to your monthly budget and needs.

Standout benefits: Spot offers a 24/7 pet telehealth line and a 10% discount for insuring multiple pets. Older pet owners can get their pets covered as Spot doesn’t have a maximum age limit for coverage. 

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Runner-up

Embrace Pet Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • Policy highlights

    A variety of maximum annual limits, reimbursement choices and deductibles allow you to tailor coverage to your needs and budget. A two-day waiting period for accident policies can also help get your pet covered sooner, though illnesses have a 14-day waiting period.

  • App available

  • Standout features

    Embrace offers the option of unlimited annual coverage limits. It also offers coverage for non-invasive treatments, like chiropractic care, hydrotherapy and acupuncture.

Pros

  • Unlimited annual coverage is available
  • Shorter two-day waiting periods for accident coverage
  • Available in all 50 states and Washington D.C.

Cons

  • Accident and illness coverage is limited to pets under age 15
  • No option for wellness insurance coverage

Who’s this for? Embrace is a good option for cat and dog owners who are looking for accident-only or accident-and-illness policies.

Standout benefits: Embrace has a 24/7 pet helpline available to customers and offers a 10% multi-pet discount. If you’re worried about pre-existing conditions, Embrace offers a medical history review after purchasing to point out conditions that would fall into this category. It also offers a unique Wellness Rewards program.

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Best for cat insurance

Pet’s Best Pet Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • Policy highlights

    Available in all 50 states, Pets Best is a standout for its affordable rates. While wellness policies are available, Pet’s Best focuses on accident-only policies and accident and illness policies.

  • App available

  • Standout features

    Pet’s Best offers coverage to cats and dogs as young as 7 weeks old, and has no maximum age limit. An option to pay your vet directly is available.

Pros

  • Affordable premiums for accident and illness and accident-only coverage
  • Deductible options as low as $50
  • No maximum age limit

Cons

  • Only two levels of annual maximum coverage are available: $5,000 and unlimited

Who’s this for? Pet’s Best is ideal for cat owners seeking affordable rates. Pets Best only offers two maximum annual coverage options — a $5,000 option and an unlimited option — but several options for deductibles and reimbursement levels.  

Standout benefits: In addition to accident and illness and accident-only plans, Pet’s Best offers optional wellness plans that cover routine care. For people with multiple pets, a 5% discount is available per pet.

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Best for dog insurance 

Lemonade Pet Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • Policy highlights

    Lemonade offers affordable pet insurance options for base accident and illness coverages, while wellness options are available for an extra cost. There are a variety of additions you can make to a policy, including things like coverage for behavioral conditions, coverage for acupuncture and chiropractic care, and coverage for dental illnesses.

  • App available

  • Standout features

    A special puppy/kitten preventative care package is available for an extra cost, which can help pay for the cost of vaccines, parasite testing, microchipping and spay or neutering procedures. Lemonade also offers injury coverage with a short 2-day waiting period.

Pros

  • Available option to bundle with homeowners or renters insurance
  • 2-day waiting period for injury coverage

Cons

  • Only available in 37 states

Who’s this for? Dog owners can enjoy Lemonade for its affordable base accident and illness pet insurance rates. Puppy owners may find this company’s puppy package especially helpful as it offers spay and neuter coverage, as well as microchipping and vaccines. 

Standout benefits: While Lemonade pet insurance coverage is not available in every state, the company does offer the ability to bundle pet insurance policies with other types of insurance, including renters insurance and homeowners insurance, and offers a 10% discount to do so, along with 5% discounts for paying annually and adding multiple pets. 

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Best for accident-only coverage

ASPCA Pet Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • Policy highlights

    ASPCA’s pet insurance has been operating since 1997, making it one of the oldest providers in the space. Coverage is available at eight weeks old, and there’s no maximum age limit. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available for all policies if no covered claims are filed.

  • App available

  • Standout features

    An app makes for a simple claims filing experience, and reimbursements are available by direct deposit. ASPCA pet insurance also offers coverage for horses.

Pros

  • 10% discount on base plan premiums for additional pets

Cons

  • 14-day waiting period for coverage

Who’s this for? Dog, cat and horse owners can find a policy that fits their budget and lifestyle with ASPCA Pet Health Insurance. This pet insurance company offers accident-only coverage for those only worried about covering big, unforeseen expenses for their pet. Wellness policies and accident and injury policies are also available. Owners looking to insure senior pets should also consider ASPCA as there’s no maximum age limit for enrollment.

Standout benefits: ASCPA offers a variety of annual limits, reimbursement rates and deductibles to customize coverage. You’ll also get a 10% discount when insuring multiple pets.

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Best for accident and illness coverage

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • Policy highlights

    Healthy Paws offers accident and illness coverage with unlimited maximum payouts. It offers three options for deductibles and reimbursement options.

  • App available

  • Standout features

    While Healthy Paws has one plan, it covers things that would be extras at other insurers, including things like prescription medication, alternative treatments, and hereditary conditions.

Pros

  • Unlimited coverage per year and per accident is standard

Cons

  • No options for wellness or accident-only coverage
  • No options to downgrade from unlimited coverage

Who’s this for? Healthy Paws is ideal for cat or dog owners interested in only accident and illness coverage. The company only offers one standard accident and illness policy. While that means those wanting the option of wellness policies or accident-only policies will need to look elsewhere, it streamlines the options for those wanting accident and illness coverage, since you’ll only need to choose your reimbursement amount and deductible. 

Standout benefits: All policies come with an unlimited maximum payout per incident and per policy. A 30-day money-back guarantee if no claims have been filed will also make sure that you’re satisfied with your purchase. 

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More on our top pet insurance companies 

Spot Pet Insurance 

Spot Pet Insurance is available in all 50 states and offers many different coverage options to help fit your needs and budget. Additionally, Spot has high ratings from customers through the Better Business Bureau (BBB).  

Age limits

The minimum enrollment age is eight weeks; no maximum age limit

Type of pets covered

Dogs and cats

Policies offered

Accident and illness, accident only and preventative care options

Waiting period

14-day waiting period for all coverage

Notable perks

Spot has a 24/7 veterinary helpline available, covers vet exam fees related to covered accidents and illnesses and offers a 10% discount for insuring multiple pets. It also stands out for not imposing any age limits for coverage. 

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Embrace Pet Insurance

Embrace Pet Insurance offers unlimited annual coverage limits and options for accident and illness coverage and accident-only coverage. Embrace has received a number of good reviews from customers with the BBB and enjoys an A+ rating. 

Age limits

Dogs and cats younger than age 15 are eligible for accident and illness coverage. Pets aged 15 and older can get an accident-only policy.

Type of pets covered

Dogs and cats

Policies offered

Accident and illness, accident-only and wellness reimbursement

Waiting period

48 hours for accident coverage, 14-day waiting period for illness coverage and a six-month waiting period for orthopedic conditions, which can be waived through a waiver process 

Notable perks

Embrace has a 24/7 helpline available for your pet health-related concerns and offers a 10% discount when insuring multiple pets. Its Wellness Rewards plan is unique in that it’s not an insurance policy, but works as a savings account of sorts for wellness expenses and offers rewards. Reimbursable wellness expenses include flea, tick and heartworm preventatives, spaying/neutering, microchipping and more.

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Pet’s Best Pet Insurance

Pet’s Best Pet Insurance allows pet owners to choose from a lower $5,000 annual coverage limit or an unlimited policy. The company also enjoys an A+ rating from the BBB. 

Age limits

The minimum enrollment age is seven weeks; no maximum age limit.

Type of pets covered

Dogs and cats

Policies offered

Accident and illness, accident-only and wellness 

Waiting period

Varies based on the type of coverage and state

Notable perks

Pet’s Best offers a 24/7 emergency veterinary helpline, as well as a 5% discount when insuring multiple pets. Filing claims is easy with Pet’s Best and the waiting periods for filing claims are generally low. There’s also no maximum age limit on accident and illness plans.

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Lemonade Pet Insurance

Backed by an insurer that also offers renters insurance and homeowners insurance, among other types of insurance, Lemonade Pet Insurance offers the opportunity to bundle your insurance policies and save.

Age limits

The minimum enrollment age is two months and the maximum is typically 14 years old, though some higher-risk breeds have a lower maximum age.

Type of pets covered

Dogs and cats

Policies offered

Accident and illness, wellness

Waiting period

Two days for accidents, 14 days for illnesses and six months for cruciate ligaments. 

Notable perks

Lemonade offers an optional puppy/kitten preventative package, which covers spaying/neutering, microchipping, vaccines, wellness visits and more. It also offers several opportunities to save, including a 10% discount for bundling pet and homeowners or renters insurance, a 5% discount for insuring multiple pets and a 5% discount if you opt to pay your premium annually.

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ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plans are offered by PTZ Insurance Agency, Ltd., which has been in business since 1997 — longer than most of its competitors.In addition to dogs and cats, it offers coverage for horses.

Age limits

The minimum enrollment age is eight weeks; no maximum age limit.

Type of pets covered

Dogs, cats and horses

Policies offered

Accident-only, accident and illness, preventative care

Waiting period

No waiting period for preventative care and a 14-day waiting period for accident and illness coverage.

Notable perks

ASCPA stands out for offering some of the most comprehensive plans on the market, covering typical accidents and injuries, as well as less common hereditary, congenital and breed-specific conditions. It can also cover covers alternative care, behavioral therapy, stem cell therapy and microchipping. Unlike most other insurance companies, pre-existing conditions (except for ligament or knee issues) might not be excluded if they are curable, cured and free of symptoms and treatments for 180 days. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee if no claims are filed and a 10% discount when insuring multiple pets.

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Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

Healthy Paws offers reasonable prices and unlimited annual coverage and keeps things simple by only offering one standard accident and illness policy. In addition to pet insurance, Healthy Paws also runs a non-profit foundation that helps animal rescue organizations care for sick homeless pets.

Age limits

The minimum enrollment age is eight weeks; the maximum age limit is 14

Type of pets covered

Dogs and cats

Policies offered

Accident and illness

Waiting period

15-day waiting period for accident and illness and a 12-month waiting period for hip dysplasia.

Notable perks

Healthy Paws offers a straightforward plan with no payout limits. Unlike many pet insurance companies, it doesn’t offer a wellness plan. While there are no multiple pet discounts, you’re able to choose any licensed vet and most claims are processed within just two days.

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FAQs

How do I choose a good pet insurance company?

You’ll want to consider several different factors when choosing the best pet insurance company for you. 

First, you’ll need to decide which type of coverage you want to get. There are generally three levels of pet insurance coverage: 

  • Accident-only coverage. This insurance will only cover accidents where your pet is injured. 
  • Accident and injury coverage. In addition to covering accidents, this insurance will cover if your pet is sick. 
  • Wellness coverage. This is generally added on top of illness and injury coverage or accident-only coverage to pay for routine wellness costs. But it almost always adds to the cost of your policy.

You’ll need to decide based on your budget and financial situation what type of coverage is right for you. “Wellness coverage tends to [cover] costs you can plan for. Insurance works really well for situations that were unplanned,” Satchu says. 

From there, you can start to narrow down which companies will offer the coverage you’re considering. Dr. Satchu suggests looking out for the following when evaluating which pet insurance is the right choice for you: 

  • High deductibles. This is the amount you’ll pay for coverage, so a $500 deductible would mean that your pet insurance company would reimburse you up to the reimbursement amount for the cost minus $500. 
  • Exclusions and limitations for pre-existing conditions. If your pet has current health conditions, anything related to those conditions may not be covered. “Coverage of pre-existing conditions and sometimes wellness care can be limited in pet insurance, so ask very specific questions if your pet has a documented health challenge in their medical history; you may wish to ask your vet for medical records to see what has been noted in the past,” Satchu says. All pet insurers we reviewed exclude pre-existing conditions. 
  • Coverage gaps for certain treatments or procedures. Make sure you understand what your policy will cover. “As with any contract, it’s important to thoroughly read the policy terms and conditions and ask any questions to fully understand what is covered and what is not,” she says.

Pet insurance can generally be purchased online or over the phone. Then, coverage will kick in after a set amount of time, called a waiting period, generally two weeks. From there, you’ll submit any reimbursable expenses to your pet insurance company. Generally, the pet insurance company will reimburse you for your expenses, minus your deductible, or the amount you’ll pay for coverage. 

Does pet insurance cover surgery?

Whether pet insurance will cover a surgery depends on the reason for the surgery, and what the policy you’re considering covers. For example, an accident-only insurance policy might cover surgery after an accident, but may not cover surgery if it’s needed due to a chronic illness. Surgeries could also be excluded if they’re related to a condition your pet already had before signing up for pet insurance, called a pre-existing condition.  Pet insurance generally won’t cover elective procedures, or things like spaying and neutering, unless specifically covered. 

What is a deductible in pet insurance?

Can I get pet insurance after a diagnosis? 

You can still get coverage after your pet has been diagnosed with a condition. However, it will be considered a pre-existing condition, and it may not be covered. There’s also generally a waiting period before coverage kicks in, so you will likely be unable to get illnesses and diagnoses immediately covered by a new pet insurance plan. 

When is the best time to get pet insurance? 

It’s best to get pet insurance as early in your pet’s life as possible. “It is important to remember that no provider covers pre-existing conditions, but if you enroll a healthy puppy or kitten, you drastically reduce the likelihood of pre-existing conditions,” Satchu says. Several of our top picks offer coverage to puppies and kittens as young as seven or eight weeks old. 

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.