The Best Pet Insurance Companies of 2021
How to figure out which pet health insurance is best
By Mila Araujo
Pet insurance helps pay for expensive emergency medical care for your beloved animal companion, whether it walks, trots, hops, or flies. The ability to afford unanticipated veterinary expenses is often the difference between saving or euthanizing your pet, but it can be a challenge to find the right policy.
We researched 15 of the most popular pet insurance companies to select the top seven options to cover dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and even horses. We reviewed pet insurance based on price, coverage, pre-existing condition exclusions, and more. Read on to find the right choice for your best friend.
The 7 Best Pet Insurance Companies of 2021
Figo: Best Overall
Figo won our top award for best overall pet insurance because of its 100% reimbursement option, no per-incident cap on claims, and one annual deductible. The Chicago, Illinois-based company offers a modern approach to pet insurance, providing features like a 24/7 live vet chat, online claims, and other resources—all through their app.
In addition to these features, Figo checked all the boxes for illness and injury coverage, with various levels of protection you can customize to fit your budget. Quick turnaround time on claims payment as well as coverage for hereditary and congenital conditions, including hip dysplasia, are among its other benefits.
Figo has been in business for seven years and has a Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating of B+ with policies underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company.1 There is coverage for accidents and illnesses but no wellness plan option.
Monthly cost of plans: They offer three levels of protection: Essential, Preferred, and Ultimate. Rates for a one-year-old Jack Russel Terrier were quoted at $35.57, $39.62, and $41.14 per month, respectively. You can customize your benefits by selecting a deductible of $100, $250, $500, or $750, with reimbursement options ranging from 70% to 100%.
Is there a waiting period? You must wait three days for accident or injury coverage, 14 days for illness, and 6 months for knee conditions.
What are the annual policy caps? Maximum lifetime benefits are between $5,000 and $200,000 per pet, and maximum annual benefits per pet are between $1,000 and $20,000.2
Policy coverage differences: They do not cover prescription food, wellness or spaying, or dental cleanings.
Are preventive items covered? No.
Benefits payment terms: They close claims within seven to 10 business days. You can submit your claim online or via their app.
What we like: Figo wins best overall pet insurance because they offer great coverage that includes up to 100% reimbursements with many thoughtful extras including 24/7 live vet chat, pet tags, and cremation coverage.
Trupanion: Runner-Up, Best Overall
Trupanion has been offering pet insurance since 2000 and they protect cats and dogs with 24/7 assistance and benefits that we didn’t find with other pet insurers. Two features, in particular, can make a huge difference in your pet care:
Premiums are based on signup age, not birthday age, meaning once you insure a two-year-old dog, for example, your rate remains the same even when your dog turns 10.
Exclusions are not revised year to year for newly diagnosed conditions. Other pet insurance companies may revise plan coverage upon renewal once they have paid out claims on certain medical conditions. Trupanion pledges not to do this.
Trupanion has a BBB rating of A- but has had two government actions against them: one for providing gifts to pet-care providers for referrals, which was settled by paying fines, and another for sales in California by unlicensed insurance representatives.3
Monthly cost of plans: Pricing runs high compared to other insurers, especially for younger pets, those under three years of age. The sample monthly costs over time using a healthy Jack Russell Terrier as an example, with a $200 deductible and the lowest possible copay (90%) are:
1-year-old dog: $104.24
3-year-old dog: $125.55
6-year-old dog: $166.55
12-year-old dog: $295.904
Is there a waiting period? There is a 30-day waiting period for illness and a five-day waiting period for injuries. Pre-existing conditions are not covered; these are defined as conditions whose evidence existed within 18 months of the policy enrollment, including recurring injuries.4
Policy coverage differences: Trupanion includes benefits not offered by some other pet insurers, such as coverage for hip dysplasia and all hereditary and congenital conditions without pre-existing symptoms.5 There is an optional supplemental rider available for acupuncture, behavioral modification, chiropractic, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, naturopathy, physical therapy, and rehabilitative therapy.6
What are the annual policy caps? There are no caps.6 You may also customize your plan and choose any deductible from $0 to $1,000.5
Are preventive items covered? No, there are accident and illness policies only.6
Benefits payment terms: The contract states that claims are satisfied within 60 days with a claims form, however, they also offer a service that can provide immediate payment directly to the vet.7
What we like: Even though Trupanion is more expensive in the early years, the premiums for comprehensive coverage don’t change as your pet gets older, giving it our nod as the runner-up for best overall pet insurance.
Healthy Paws: Best for Dogs and Cats
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation has been around since 2009. The founders met through a no-kill animal shelter with both wanting to find a way to provide pet parents the means to affordable quality veterinary treatments.8
Healthy Paws has a BBB rating of A+ and provides coverage through two of the largest insurers in the world, Aon Affinity Programs and the Ace Chubb Insurance Group, both known for high-value home insurance programs.9 10
The company has had regulatory actions against them for overcharging customers and was required to refund $4.7 million to customers. The Washington State Insurance Commissioner found that clients were eligible for discounts but often did not receive them, citing a 37.5% error rate for these discounts.11
Monthly cost of plans: To get a sense of the pricing, we ran quotes for a healthy Jack Russell Terrier dog and a healthy mixed-breed cat at a $250 deductible, with 90% coverage on the Companion Care Plan (accident and illness) in California.12
1 year: $40.74 for a dog; $21.91 for a cat
3 years: $46.92 for a dog; $26.85 for a cat
Is there a waiting period? Owners must wait 15 days for accident or illness claims and 12 months for hip dysplasia or related issues.13
What are the annual policy caps? There is an annual deductible instead of a per condition co-pay with no maximum payouts.
Policy coverage differences: Healthy Paws covers new accidents, illnesses, and injuries. Coverage deductibles and co-pay amounts are limited as pets get older.
Are preventive items covered? No.
Benefits payment terms: Healthy Paws states that they pay 99% of claims in two days.12
What we like: Healthy Paws has great pricing for both dogs and cats with up to 90% of expenses paid on covered claims.
Pets Best: Best Value
Pets Best was founded in 2005 by veterinarian Dr. Jack Stephens, who launched the first pet insurance company in North America in 1981. They have paid out over $200 million in claims to policyholders and currently insure over 100,000 pets in the U.S.14 They have a Better Business Bureau rating of A+.15
The company offers pet insurance that you can personalize with various levels of protection and other add-on options to enhance your pet’s well-being. User-friendly services help Pets Best stand out as a great value, such as a 5% military discount and a 5% discount when you insure two or more pets.16 They may also offer the option, on a case-by-case basis, to waive waiting periods when you switch from another pet insurer.17
Monthly cost of plans: Pets Best offers customizable plans that allow you to choose levels of coverage, a wide range of deductibles, and copays in three plan options: Essential, Plus, and Elite. Policies for a one-year-old dog start at $53.26, for example. Supplemental Wellness Coverage programs add additional treatments and therapies for as little as $15 to $30 per month.
Their deductible options are $50, $100, $200, $250, $500, and $1,000, and you may select coverage levels of 70%, 80%, or 90%.
Is there a waiting period? Yes, the waiting period for accidents is three days, 14 days for illnesses, and six months for cruciate ligament conditions.
What are the annual policy caps? Pets Best lets you choose one of four annual policy limits: $2,500, $5,000, $10,000, and up to no cap.16
Policy coverage differences: Pets Best offers a 24/7 Vet Helpline. Their coverage includes accidents, illnesses, cancer, hereditary conditions, emergency care, and surgeries. The Plus plan also includes exam fees. Elite coverage includes rehabilitation, acupuncture, and chiropractic coverage. Prescription medication benefits may also be added or included.
Are preventive items covered? Wellness coverage is not included, but optional preventive care programs are available for about $20 a month.
Benefits payment terms: Pets Best allows several digital options to make a claim. You can submit a photo of your vet invoice via the app or upload the invoice online. You can send it by email or mail, as well.
What we like: Because Pets Best allows you to customize your coverage, you are able to purchase and pay for the options most important to you and your pet, giving Pets Best our nod for best value.
PetPartners, Inc.: Best for Multiple Pets
PetPartners, Inc., has been offering insurance to pet parents since 2002. They are the exclusive pet insurance provider of the American Kennel Club (AKC).18 PetPartners is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company and American Insurance Pet Company.19 PetPartners, Inc., has a Better Business Bureau rating of A+.20
Monthly cost of plans: PetPartners is our top pick for multi-pet households thanks to the 5% discount they give for insuring two or more pets at once. To get a sense of the pricing with PetPartners, we ran quotes for a healthy Jack Russell Terrier dog and a healthy mixed-breed cat at a $250 deductible, with 90% coverage on the Companion Care Plan (accident and illness) in California:
1 year: $50.22 for a dog; $56.40 for a cat
3 years: $50.06 for a dog; $56.22 for a cat
6 years: $65.09 for a dog; $87.72 for a cat
Is there a waiting period? The waiting period is 14 days for illness, two days for accidents, and 180 days for cruciate ligament-related conditions.21
What are the annual policy caps? You can choose from different plans that offer either annual limits or un-capped annual benefits. For example, the basic coverage includes a $500 per incident limit. The maximum limits for optional alternative, holistic, or behavioral coverages are $1,000.
Policy coverage differences: Hereditary and congenital condition coverage is not included, but may be added as an option to your plan. You may also choose to add wellness coverages including vet exam coverage and preventive care such as spaying or neutering and dental cleanings.
Are preventive items covered? Preventive items are not automatically included but can be added to some plans for additional costs.
Payment terms: There is a 14-day claims payment turnaround time.22
What we like: PetPartners offers a 5% discount for multiple pets with what is already competitive pricing for each of your animals.
Nationwide: Best for Exotic Animals
Nationwide is the largest pet insurer in the U.S., providing coverage for cats, dogs, and exotic pets. They have been offering this protection since 1982 and insure more than 780,000 pets.23 Nationwide Veterinary Pet Insurance has a BBB rating of A+.24
Their program for birds, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals includes the same coverage options that they offer in dog and cat insurance.25 They cover pets such as:
Small Mammals: Chinchillas, gerbils, mice, potbellied pigs, goats, guinea pigs, hamsters, hedgehogs, mini pigs, rats, sugar gliders, rabbits, and ferrets.
Birds: African grey, amazon, canary, cockatiel, cockatoo, conure, finch, lory, lovebirds, macaw, mynah, parakeet, parrotlet, toucans, and other birds.
Reptiles: Amphibians including toads, bearded dragons, chameleons, frilled dragons, geckos, iguanas, monitor lizards, snakes, tegu, tortoise, water dragons, and others.
Monthly cost of plans: Plans will vary widely based on the species; it is best to call for complete details. We found coverage for a one-year-old dog starting at $71.37 and for a one-year-old cat starting at $24.16 with a deductible of $250.
Is there a waiting period? There is a 14-day waiting period for medical coverage that begins after the policy is approved and your payment has been received. Wellness coverage begins 24 hours after the policy is issued.26
What are the annual policy caps? The annual policy caps are up to 90% on veterinary exams, treatment, and preventive care.
Policy coverage differences: Nationwide allows you to use any vet you choose for services. Wellness coverage may also be included in their plans. If your pet is enrolled before age 10, they are guaranteed coverage as long as you pay premiums.
Are preventive items covered? Yes, depending on your plan option.
Benefits payment terms: Electronic claim payment is available. Nationwide takes up to 30 days for claims to be completed after they receive all necessary information.27
What we like: Unlike other providers, Nationwide has developed policies to care for many uncommon pets that may be part of your family. This clinches their position as best for exotic animals.
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance for Horses: Best for Equine
For basic pet insurance for your horse, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance offers comprehensive coverage, with colic, accident, illness, and wellness coverage options. ASPCA’s program is administered by C&F Insurance Agency, Inc., a licensed insurance agency established in 1822, with experience in underwriting pet insurance products since 2006.28
Monthly cost of plans: The cost will vary based on the type of horse you have and what area you live in. We found plans as low as $65 per month for the Complete Coverage base plan at the $5,000 annual limit. You can get a customized quote in minutes.
Is there a waiting period? There is a 14-day waiting period before coverage starts.29
What are the annual policy caps? You can choose from a $5,000 annual limit to $10,000, $15,000, $20,000, or an uncapped plan. You may also choose from a 70%, 80%, or 90% reimbursement rate and a $100, $250, or $500 deductible.
Policy coverage differences: Coverage includes dental disease, behavioral issues, hereditary conditions, exam fees, diagnostics, and accident or illness treatment. You may also choose an accident-only coverage plan.
Are preventive items covered? Available as an optional add-on.
Benefits payment terms: Claims reimbursements are available by direct deposit or by check through the mail. Claims processing takes 14 to 16 days (on average).
What we like: The ASPCA offers unique coverage for pet horses where other insurance providers treat them as livestock without coverage. This sets ASPCA Pet Health Insurance apart as best for equine.
What Is Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance typically provides coverage for the cost of care resulting from accidental injuries or unexpected illnesses for dogs, cats, and other household pets. Such incidents commonly include trauma from car accidents, cancer treatment, ingested poisons or objects, and degenerative conditions.
Pet insurance is not standardized. Currently, lawmakers are working on establishing appropriate regulatory standards for the pet insurance industry.30 Once you decide that you are interested in pet insurance, review what is included (or excluded) when you are making your policy selection, and see how the features protect your needs.
Can I Insure a Pet With a Pre-Existing Medical Condition?
You can buy pet insurance for an animal with a pre-existing medical condition, but the provider will not pay for expenses related to that pre-existing condition.
Let’s say your golden retriever is diagnosed with hip dysplasia before you purchase pet insurance. A year goes by, and the vet recommends surgery to correct the condition. That surgery would not be covered by your pet insurance plan. However, if the vet diagnoses the dog with cancer completely unrelated to the hip dysplasia, that treatment would be covered by the policy.
How Does Age Affect Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance costs less for puppies, kittens, and other young animals than for mature or senior pets. Most pet insurance companies increase prices every year or so, but some providers like Figo and Trupanion charge the same amount every month regardless of age.
What Does Pet Insurance Typically Include?
It is estimated that in 2020, over $30 billion will be spent on vet care and product sales.31 Pet insurance typically includes coverage for accidental injuries, unexpected illnesses (without previous history), and the associated tests or treatments required to heal your pet.32
Coverage often includes:
Emergency room visits
X-rays, MRIs, and other diagnostic tests
Some pet insurance plans provide access to vet consultations over the phone or via apps. These services may help save you money when you are unsure if something is a medical emergency or not.
What Does Pet Insurance Typically Exclude?
Each pet insurance company has developed its own policy wordings. It is in the small print that you will often find the details of coverage, the exclusions, and limitations. Due to the variance of pet insurance, there are many varied questions to consider to help you understand coverage.33
Some of the typical exclusions on pet insurance may include:32
Wellness and preventive services: Examples include annual exam fees, shots, spaying or neutering, costs of prescription drugs in some circumstances, among other things.
Pre-existing conditions: Read the fine print to see how each company defines a pre-existing condition based on it being known, onset, and hereditary conditions.
Waiting period exclusions: These can range from a few days to months depending on the coverage in question.
Hereditary or congenital exclusions: Conditions could be present from birth but may not be detectable until later in life.
Prescriptions and exams: Some pet insurers exclude or limit coverage for vet exams, prescriptions, or certain tests.
Dental: Dental coverage is often limited or excluded.
Renewal Exclusions: Some companies exclude items that were covered in prior insurance terms when the policy renews, such as a discovered illness already treated in the previous term.
Rehabilitative Services: Although some pet insurers cover rehabilitative treatments or therapy, it is a common exclusion.
Behavioral Problems: Examples include compulsive behavior like excessive licking, anxiety, fur pulling, and destruction of the home.
Liability: Liability arising from your ownership of the pet or their actions is not covered by pet health insurance; inquire with your home insurer about liability or look into additional liability insurance options.
What Are the Expected Costs of Pet Insurance?
Based on the quotes we received, pet owners can expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $300 a month for pet insurance. Plan rates vary depending on the age, breed, and medical history of your pet and are customized based on plan types and options. The more comprehensive the coverage, the more a pet owner should expect to pay, especially for an older animal.
Is Paying for Pet Insurance Worth It?
There is always the risk of major illness or injury that could require thousands of dollars in treatment. Trupanion paid over $13,000 in bills for a seven-year-old Chocolate Labrador’s cancer treatment.34 Assuming the Trupanion policy for this type of dog is $98.89 per month with a $200 deductible, the cost would have been $1,186.68 per year. Over seven years, that would work out to $8,306.76 in premiums paid. Pet insurance would have saved the Chocolate Labrador’s owners over $5,000.
How We Chose the Pet Insurance Companies
We looked at 15 pet insurance providers as part of our review process. We researched reviews on third-party independent sites and compared exclusions and coverage limits. We checked who the issuing insurance companies were for each pet insurer and looked at their financial strength ratings where applicable. We read the policy wordings to fact check and compare this to the details provided on their websites. We ran pricing comparisons for both younger and older pets to see which companies would provide the best value at different stages in life.
We also checked each company’s customer service, vet support services, and claims payment options. Once we looked into all of these details, we narrowed it down further and looked at which ones provided the most value-added features to present you with the best pet insurance companies, including best insurance for dogs, cats, exotic pets, and horses.