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Don’t compromise when it comes to your pet’s health. Learn how to compare pet insurance so you can give your pets the care they deserve without putting your finances at risk.

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Kristine Lee

Insurance Analyst

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Kristine is a licensed insurance agent who joined The Zebra in 2019 as an in-house content researcher and writer. Before joining The Zebra, she was a…

Pet insurance quotes: what to know

Pet insurance is one of the best ways to ensure your pet's health and wellness. Without a policy, many pet parents face the choice of going into debt or having to reject treatment due to affordability, which can put their animal's life at risk.

Below, The Zebra’s insurance experts outline how to compare pet insurance quotes and coverage types so you can choose a policy that suits you and your pet’s unique needs. If you're currently struggling to justify the cost, check out our guide: Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Key Takeaways

  • Cost and coverage differ significantly among pet insurers, making comparison shopping a necessity
  • For many, accident and illness coverage (averaging $53/month for dogs, $32/month for cats) balances affordability and adequate protection.
  • Opt for a higher deductible and lower co-insurance rate if your pet is young and healthy and you're comfortable with a slightly higher financial risk
  • When comparing quotes don't forget to consider annual limits, exclusions, and waiting periods

Benefits of comparing pet insurance quotes

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Cost savings

Similar to car insurance, pricing for pet insurance policies can vary from company to company, even for a single, consistant pet profile. This can be related to an invididual company’s cost of doing business, their unique underwriting guidelines, and the competitive landscape.

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Finding the right coverage

There are several types of pet insurance policies each providing a different level of coverage. Comparing pet insurance options helps you figure out which coverage is best for you and your pet’s unique situation.

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Knowing you have a reputable insurer

You don't want to discover your pet insurance company has a bad claims record or poor customer service at the emergency vet. Researching insurers' reputations when comparing quotes can save you significant financial and emotional distress in the long run.

How to shop for pet insurance

Shopping for pet insurance quotes can be overwhelming given the number of available options and mixed information available to consumers. If you're shopping for a new policy, use the following steps to keep your wallet and your furry, scaly, or feathery friend safe.


1. Set a budget

When looking for a pet health insurance plan, it’s important to balance your pet’s needs with what you are able to pay in the event that expensive care is needed. Look at your income and decide how much you can safely spend each month. Price is often top of mind throughout the process; however, it's important to remember that the cheapest option isn't always the best. Sometimes, it might be worth spending a little more to ensure your pet is appropriately covered. This leads us to the next step.


2. Consider coverage types.

Unlike human health insurance, pet insurance plans aren't standardized. This means you need to look at what is individually covered under each company's plan. It's advisable to decide how much coverage you want before you start gathering quotes. We typically recommend you choose the level of coverage that allows you to afford the monthly premiums while safeguarding your pet’s health. Check out our pet insurance coverage comparison to find the best fit for you and your pet.


3. Research each company's reputation

Familiarizing yourself with how insurance companies treat their customers is an essential step in the shopping process. Consult reputable organizations like the Better Business Bureau to assess factors like claims satisfaction and customer complaints. Your chosen insurer should be reputable, responsive, and supportive.


4. Get pet insurance quotes from as many companies as possible.

This is the only way to be sure you’re getting the best coverage for the lowest price. While you can get a pet insurance quote via phone, email, or in person, most people find getting quotes online to be the most efficient method. You typically need to answer only a few questions about your pet to receive a quote. We recommend having the following information on hand:

  • Your pet's species. Pet species can play a big part in what you pay. Dogs, for instance, are often more expensive to insure than cats or many other animals.
  • Your pet's breed. Different pet breeds can also affect your premiums, as some may be more prone to certain illnesses or other medical conditions.
  • Your pet's age. Older animals cost more to insure.
  • Your pet's gender. Historically, fewer claims are filed for female dogs. 
  • ZIP code: More densely populated areas tend to have higher rates, as do areas where care is more expensive, i.e., California.
  • Any pre-existing conditions. Many pre-existing conditions will disqualify your pet from pet insurance. However, some may be covered as long as the issue is cured and your pet remains symptom-free for a set period of time.
  • Your desired policy type, annual coverage, co-insurance, and deductible amount. Read on for more information on these topics.
  • Basic contact information. Name, address, email, and phone number are often (but not always) required. 

Once you have this information on hand, use one of The Zebra's trusted partners below to start collecting quotes.

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How does pet insurance work?

Pet insurance operates similarly to standard car, renters or home insurance policies. It requires monthly payments and provides coverage up to a predetermined amount. When a claim is submitted by a licensed veterinarian, reimbursement for some or all of the pet's bills will be provided, depending on the policy.

Most pet insurance policy terms are 12 months and may include an annual limit on claims. As with health insurance, there may be a waiting period after enrollment before the policy becomes effective.

Similar to when you sign up for a life insurance policy, a number of factors will establish the cost and type of coverage underwritten to your pet. This can include your pet's species, breed and age. It is important to note that some pet insurance companies may be reluctant to provide coverage for older animals or offer limited options beyond a certain age. Carefully review all policy documents to understand the extent of coverage available for your pet.

Which pet insurance type should I choose?

Choose the level of coverage that allows you to afford the monthly premiums while safeguarding your pet’s health. For many owners, an accident and illness policy or accident-only policy strikes this perfect balance. After all, only 20% of American pet parents feel they can afford to pay a $5,000 bill. Conversely, monthly premiums for wellness and routine care policies often exceed the associated costs without insurance. 

Below, we compare the different types of pet insurance based on genetic profiles, common inclusions, and average monthly cost. Remember, this is just a general overview. Coverage and costs vary between companies, even for the same policy type and the best option for you ultimately depends on your and your pet's unique circumstances. 

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Do I have enough income or savings to cover minor illnesses or do I just need protection for emergency vet bills?
  • Is my pet's species or breed prone to hereditary conditions that may require expensive treatments? 
  • Is my pet prone to "adventures" and risk-taking behaviors?
  • Do I live in a high-risk area (e.g. near a highway or a tick-prone region) 

Pet Insurance Types

  • Accident-only. Ideal for budget-conscious individuals seeking financial protection for costly, unexpected accidents or sudden emergency care without high monthly premiums.
  • Accident and Illness. The most commonly purchased plan. Suitable for pet owners who desire coverage for illness in addition to accidents and other emergencies.
  • Wellness Plan. Best for individuals who want to proactively manage their pet's health and prioritize preventive measures while spreading out the associated costs. Usually an add-on to another insurance plan. Calculate costs carefully as wellness plans can often exceed the expenses of treatments and checkups without the plan.
  • Comprehensive. For pet owners seeking the maximum coverage. What's covered as well as plan costs vary greatly from insurer to insurer. Many "comprehensive" plans cover significantly more or less than what we list below. 



Insurance Type Common Inclusions Average Monthly Cost[1]
Accident-Only Broken bones, swallowed objects or toxins, wounds and lacerations, vehicle injuries, animal bites $16 (dogs) $10 (cats)
Accident and Illness accidents (see above), infections, allergies, hereditary conditions, labs/blood tests, related prescription medications $53 (dogs) $32 (cats)
Wellness Plan Check-ups, routine visits and vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, heartworm prevention, dental cleanings, annual screenings and wellness exams $94 (dogs) $51 (cats)
Comprehensive Accidents and illnesses (see above), cancer, hospitalization, breed-specific or chronic conditions (e.g. arthritis), and sometimes wellness-related visits and treatments Typically the most expensive but too much variance to report an "average" cost

ZEBRA TIP: Consider breed or species-specific factors

Pet insurance most commonly covers dogs and cats as well as some "exotic animals" (e.g. birds, reptiles, smaller rodents, and pigs). However, certain breeds or species, such as most birds, may face restrictions or exclusions. Check out our pet-specific articles covering dog insurance, cat insurance, and exotic pet insurance for more information.

Other factors to consider

Your Annual Limit

Most pet insurance plans will have an annual limit to what they will pay for your pet's medical care after you've met your deductible. These limits can range anywhere from $5,000 to upwards of $100,000 per year. You can work with your insurance agency to set this limit at the onset of your policy.

Your deductible
Most pet insurance plans require a deductible, which is the portion of the costs that you are responsible for covering before your insurance kicks in. They run anywhere from $100 to $500. There are two main types:
  • Annual deductibles: you do not have to pay beyond that amount in a single policy term
  • Per-incident deductibles:  You pay a new deductible for each claim
Usually, the higher your deductible, the lower your monthly rates. However, a higher deductible means that you must pay more out-of-pocket in the event of a claim.
TIP: Opt for a higher deductible if your pet is young, healthy, and you're comfortable with relatively higher financial risk.
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Co-insurance and claims reimbursement

Unlike home or car policies, claims are usually reimbursed for veterinary bills rather than directly paid to the veterinarian. Many plans allow policyholders the choice of co-insurance in certain percentages, namely 70%, 80% and 90%. Co-insurance represents the portion of the bill that the insurer will cover, excluding the deductible, and should not be confused with a co-pay.

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While this list will differ from insurer to insurer, the following are some of the most common exclusions found on pet insurance policies.

  • Cosmetic treatments
  • Pre-existing conditions*
  • Costs for breeding
  • Dental cleaning
  • Boarding or training costs

TIP:  Be honest about any pre-existing conditions. Attempting to hide or downplay a condition can be considered fraud and has legal and financial ramifications.

*Some pre-existing conditions may be covered as long as the issue is cured and your pet remains symptom-free for a set period of time.

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Waiting periods

Most pet insurance policies have waiting periods to prevent fraud, minimize the risk of high claims immediately after enrollment, and to allow them differentiate between new and pre-existing conditions. Usually, different claims have different waiting periods. For example, Embrace's waiting periods are 14 days for illness, 48 hours for accidents, and 6 months for orthopedic conditions[2].

ZEBRA TIP:  Keep monthly rates low by choosing the highest deductible and reimbursement percentage that you can afford

  1. Look at the cost of major vet bills to estimate your total vet bill.

  2. Plug relevant costs into this formula:

      (Total Vet Bill - Deductible ) X (1 - Reimbursement Rate) = What You Owe

  3. Ensure that "What You Owe," aka your out-of-pocket cost, is affordable based on your income and savings.

For example, let's say you receive a $5,000 hospital bill for your dog's emergency treatment for pancreatitis. You have a $100 deductible and 80% reimbursement rate. Your total out-of-pocket cost would be $980, or ($5,000 - $100) x (1-.8). If you can't afford to pay a lump sum of $980, it might be worth increasing the reimbursement rate if it doesn't exponentially increase your monthly premiums.

If you ever need to figure out how much of your annual limit remains after being reimbursed for a claim, use this formula:

Annual Limit - [(Total Vet Bill - Deductible) x Reimbursement Rate]= Remaining Annual Limit 

Based on the previous example, if you had an annual limit of $10,000, your remaining annual limit after having your pet's pancreatitis-related costs covered would be $10,000- [($5,000 - $100) x .8] = $6,080.

Other insurance types that cover pets

There are a few alternatives to purchasing pet insurance.  Some people choose to purchase veterinary discount plans. These membership-based services offer reduced rates on pet services, procedures, prescriptions, and products from participating veterinarians. The Insurance Information Institute recommends against these as they often don't cover the full cost of expensive illnesses or injuries and unlike pet insurance, aren't regulated by law[3].

Your car, home, and renters policy may also offer some protection. However, keep in mind that their limited coverage makes them inadequate substitutes for pet health insurance for most owners. The following chart outlines the scenarios in which these insurance lines extend coverage to your pets or their actions.



Situation The Details
Your pet is injured in a car accident (you're at fault) This is covered only if you carry collision coverage and it is explicitly stated on your policy. Progressive, Metromile, Erie, and Chubb provide some level of coverage for pets.
Your pet is injured in a car accident (you're not at fault) Most companies treat pets as owned property, meaning they will likely be covered under the at-fault party's liability coverage.
Your pet bites your neighbor while on a walk Unless your pet is on your insurer's restricted breeds list, your home or renters insurance policy's general liability coverage will typically extend to the actions of your pet.

Pet insurance FAQs

There are a growing number of companies offering insurance coverage for pets. Some of the most popular options include ASPCA, Nationwide, Lemonade and Embrace. Nationwide and Lemonade may even provide you an option to pair other coverage with your pet insurance.

Yes, especially if you're among the 20% of Americans that feel they can't afford a $5,000 vet bill. While there might be some years where you spend more on premiums than your pet's healthcare, you don't want to be stuck in a situation where you have to euthanize your pet because you can't afford treatment. The main exceptions to this are those with older pets or pets with pre-existing health conditions.

Yes, many pet insurance companies allow multiple pets to be insured under the same policy. Most insurers will even off a multi-pet discount, usually around 5-10%.

About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.