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Choosing the Best Pet Insurance
While all of the top pet insurance providers offer a basic level of coverage for all pets, certain companies stand apart from the crowd by catering to a specific group. The lists below recognize which pet insurance providers perform the best in key areas.
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What Pet Insurance Features Matter and Why?
Medical Coverage explains what the pet insurance company pays for if an insured pet falls ill or gets into an accident. Most insurance providers in this industry cover any costs necessary to restore a pet to full health. This includes emergency visits, surgeries, medications, lab tests, hospitalization, and rehabilitation. The best pet insurance providers also cover hereditary, congenital, and chronic conditions and allow consumers to visit any licensed veterinarian for treatment. It's important to note, though, that none of the top pet health insurance providers offer coverage for pre-existing conditions. This category contains many of the features that are central to a pet insurance policy so it plays a large part in most people's decisions.
- Accidents - The insurance provider covers treatment needed as a result of an accident.
- Cancer Treatments - The insurance provider covers cancer treatments for your pet.
- Choose Your Vet - The insurance provider allows you to take your pet to any licensed veterinarian for treatment.
- Chronic Conditions - The insurance provider covers chronic conditions, such as diabetes.
- Congenital Conditions - The insurance provider covers congenital conditions.
- Emergency Visits - The insurance provider covers emergency visits for your pet.
- Hereditary Conditions - The insurance provider covers hereditary conditions.
- Holistic Treatments - The insurance provider covers acupuncture, chiropractic, or other holistic treatment options.
- Hospitalization - The insurance provider covers your pet's hospitalization.
- Illness - The insurance provider covers a variety of pet illnesses.
- Imaging - The insurance provider covers MRIs, X-rays, CT scans, and other imaging treatments.
- Lab Tests - The insurance provider covers lab tests for your pet.
- Medications - The insurance provider covers medication for your pet.
- Pre-Existing Conditions - The insurance provider covers pre-existing conditions.
- Rehabilitation - The insurance provider covers rehabilitation services for your pet.
- Surgery - The insurance provider covers certain surgeries for your pet.
Pets Covered lists what types of pets the company insures in the event of an accident or illness. All of the major companies insure both cats and dogs. Harder to find is coverage for birds and other exotic pets like snakes, turtles, rats, and chinchillas, as most insurance providers do not offer any coverage for these types of animals. This category is very important because it lets consumers know upfront if their pet qualifies for coverage by the insurance company.
- Birds - You can get insurance coverage for your bird.
- Cats - You can get insurance coverage for your cat.
- Dogs - You can get insurance coverage for your dog.
- Exotic Pets - You can get insurance for amphibians, chameleons, chinchillas, snakes, rats, tortoises, turtles, or other exotic pets.
Claim Management discusses the ways a customer can submit a claim to the pet insurance company and track the claim online. These days, most claim forms can be easily downloaded from the company's website. Most insurance providers give the option of submitting the claim form by email, fax, or standard mail. The best companies also have a way of tracking these claims online so customers are always aware of where the claim is in the process. This category is relatively important because a streamlined claims process is crucial to a strong pet insurance company.
- Downloadable Form - You can access a claim form online.
- Email - You can file a claim via email.
- Fax - You can file a claim via fax.
- Mail - You can file a claim by standard mail.
- Track Status Online - You can track the status of your claim online.
Getting Started encompasses all the features related to getting a quote and purchasing a pet insurance policy. All of the major pet insurance companies have online quote tools where you can select what types of coverage are needed and see how much the policy will cost. From there, it is usually pretty simple to purchase the policy directly online. Purchasing a policy over the phone is also an option in many cases. The top pet insurance providers allow customers to create an online account once they've signed up where they can pay their bill, update their payment information, and more. This category is relatively important because it contains many of the features necessary to purchase the right pet insurance policy; however, many companies do well in this area so it shouldn't be too much of a concern.
- Online Account - You can create an online user account where you are able to change your information, pay your bill, and more.
- Online Quote - You can get a quote for your pet insurance online.
- Policy Purchase - Online - You can purchase your pet insurance policy online.
- Policy Purchase - Phone - You can purchase your pet insurance policy on the phone.
Support covers the different ways customers can contact the company if they have questions or concerns about their policy. Email and phone support are among the most common types, but the best companies are also available for contact on a variety of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Live chat is not all that common in the pet insurance industry, though there are a few companies that provide this option to their customers as well. This category is fairly important because customers want to be sure that the company is there to assist them when they need it.
- Email/Ticket - You can contact the insurance provider through email or a ticket system for support.
- Live Chat - You can contact the insurance provider via live chat for support.
- Phone - You can contact the company by phone for support.
- Social Media - You can contact the company through social media.
Wellness Coverage details the routine and preventative care covered by the pet insurance provider. Most companies do not include this type of coverage in their standard policies and require them to be purchased as an add-on. However, most of the major pet insurance providers do offer wellness coverage for those who are interested. This pays for services like vaccines, dental cleanings, microchipping, and spaying or neutering. Individuals interested in complete health insurance coverage for their pet will want to pay close attention to this category.
- Dental Cleaning - The insurance provider covers dental cleanings for your pet.
- Fecal Screening - The insurance provider covers fecal screenings for your pet.
- Heartworm Tests - The insurance provider covers heartworm tests for your pet.
- Microchipping - The insurance provider covers the cost of microchipping your pet.
- Spay/Neuter Procedures - The insurance provider covers spaying/neutering your pet.
- Vaccines - The insurance provider covers vaccines for your pet.
Additional Coverage refers to the extra services and treatments the pet insurance company offers that go beyond the basics. Euthanasia costs are commonly covered, but the best companies also pay for behavioral therapy and costs associated with pregnancy. In the event that the owner is hospitalized and unable to care for the pet, some pet insurance providers also pay for the expenses that come with putting the pet up in a boarding kennel for the duration of the owner's hospital stay. These features, while they can be useful, are not core components of any pet insurance policy, so it is unlikely that they will play a role in most people's decision-making process.
- Behavioral Therapy - The insurance provider covers the costs of behavioral therapy for your pet.
- Boarding Kennel Fees - The insurance provider covers boarding kennel fees.
- Euthanasia - The insurance provider covers the costs of euthanasia.
- Loss/Theft Reimbursement - The insurance provider reimburses you if your pet is lost or stolen.
- Pregnancy - The insurance provider covers expenses related to pet pregnancy.
Discounts describes the ways consumers can save money on their pet insurance policy. There aren't many available discounts in this industry, but some offer savings to individuals insuring more than one pet. Another way to save with some companies is to pay annually rather than month to month. The top pet insurance providers may also have discounts available for pets who are microchipped or for individuals who belong to certain organizations like the military or AARP. Although these discounts are a nice bonus, they are also rare and will not weigh as heavily in many people's minds.
- Annual Pay - A discount is available if you pay your policy in full each year.
- Microchipped Pet - A discount is available if your pet is microchipped.
- Multi-Pet - A discount is available if you insure more than one pet.
- Organization Discount - A discount is available if you belong to organizations like AAA, AARP, the military, or have membership with other similar groups.
Learning Materials describes the resources provided on the company's website to assist consumers in learning more about pet insurance and their policies. In most cases, this includes an FAQ and possibly a knowledge base with more detailed help articles. Blogs are also relatively common among pet insurance providers and usually contain information about caring for your pets and dealing with any accidents or illnesses. While these resources are useful, they don't pertain directly to the pet insurance policies themselves so this category won't be as important as some of the others.
- Blog - The insurance provider publishes a blog with tips, best practices, or other content related to pet insurance.
- FAQs - A list of answers to frequently asked questions is available.
- Forum - An interactive forum where users can post questions and answers is available.
- Knowledge Base - The insurance provider has a knowledge base of detailed help articles.