4 Best Cheap Pet Insurance Companies of 2018
5 June, 2018
By: Lisa Fimberg
If you are looking for pet insurance for your dog or cat, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out the best policy for your pet. Or maybe you aren’t sure you can afford pet insurance and want the best but cheapest policy. There are many different pet insurance companies that offer affordable rates with good overall coverage. We came up with the 4 cheapest and best pet insurance policies for your dog or cat.
Pet insurance policies vary widely in coverage and pricing. The first thing you need to consider is the type of coverage that’s most important to you. All the companies we’ve compiled in our list offer excellent medical coverage for pets at affordable prices.
All of the top pet insurance providers have 3 variations of coverage:
1. Comprehensive Medical Coverage
One of the more important factors to look for in a pet insurance policy is that it includes comprehensive medical coverage. Comprehensive pet insurance includes accidents, broken bones, swallowed objects, cancer, diabetes, ear infections and many other conditions or occurrences.
Comprehensive medical coverage is the most favorable as it allows you to be prepared for a range of expensive medical issues that could happen over the course of your pet’s life. Without the continual care, your coverage could go away at the end of the policy year. Yet, with more coverage, comes higher pricing.
2. Wellness coverage
While in theory wellness coverage might sound ideal since it covers routine visit procedures like check-ups and vaccinations, but don’t let that fool you! Wellness coverage is usually not a good deal as it tends to drive up your monthly premiums for procedures that tend to be cheaper to pay out-of-pocket. The whole point of pet insurance is to be reimbursed for the big, unexpected medical expenses. But, you might feel that this is the most beneficial for your pet and if you get wellness alone, it’s less expensive.
Most insurers who offer wellness coverage will tack on a fixed monthly rate to your existing monthly premium.
3. Accidents Only
Some pet insurance coverage is called accidents only. This type of policy includes broken bones, swallowed objects, cancer, diabetes, ear infections and numerous other conditions. However, a solid pet insurance should cover accidents and illness in their policy which is why this is our least favorite. The up-side is that accidents only insurance will be the cheapest type of coverage and can help if you just want that ‘just in case’ scenario for your dog or cat.
Other things to look out for under coverage:
Coverage should be based on actual vet bills, with no annual limits.
All pet insurance works on a reimbursement model as you pay for the vet bills up front and get reimbursed for the covered services at your visit. Look for a policy where you are reimbursed on your total vet bill, rather than on a benefit schedule or what some policies refer to as customary or routine charges.
Most providers offer reimbursement choices ranging from 70 -90 % reimbursement of the bill. Therefore, if you want a lower monthly premium, you can choose a higher reimbursement percentage. Most plans that use this model allow you to choose the percentage which can help lower your pricing.
Your deductible is what you have to pay out-of-pocket before your pet insurance coverage kicks in. Typically, that’ll take one of two forms in pet insurance:
Annual deductibles: Your payments go toward one deductible for all care; once that’s met, all treatments are covered at your rate of reimbursement for the rest of the year.
Per-condition/incident deductibles: You pay a deductible for each illness or injury; once that’s met, all treatment for that condition is covered
All of our picks offer deductibles ranging from $50 to $1,000. The lower the deductible you choose, the higher your monthly premium.
Pet Insurance plan pricing
Pet insurance plans vary in cost according to your pet’s breed, your pet’s age and the level of insurance coverage you select. Comprehensive insurance will generally cost you a few hundred dollars per year, with average monthly costs of around $25 for cats and $45 for dogs. To get a cheaper plan, you can select a policy that covers accidents only and not illnesses, or you can choose an accident and illness plan with minimal financial coverage.
As with human health insurance, you’re responsible for more than a just monthly premium. How much you pay in any given year is also based on your deductible and reimbursement percentage.
Look for a plan with unlimited benefits
In choosing your pet insurance company, you should be aware of the different benefit limits. Some plans will offer unlimited lifetime benefits while other plans may be capped on an annual, lifetime, or per-condition basis. The best plans have unlimited lifetime benefits meaning plans that have no payout cap. And all our top providers offer unlimited benefits so you know you are covered for any type of emergency.
Keep in mind that affordability, while important, shouldn’t be the only concern when selecting a pet insurance policy. You should look closely at which pet ailments are covered in your plan and which are excluded. If your pet had any prior illnesses, your plan may consider some future illnesses ineligible for treatment. Your vet can help you with your pet’s medical history or what you can expect in medical costs.
Most policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions which is any injury, illness, or irregularity that exits before your pet insurance policy begins. This also applies to any illness or condition that pre-dates the policy or a pre-existing medical condition if you change providers.
The cheapest but not best insurance offers accident-only plans
The cheapest pet insurance plans for both cats and dogs are those that only cover accidents. While comprehensive plans cover both illnesses and injuries, accident-only plans provide reimbursement solely for injuries. These types of plans are available through only a portion of the major insurers but usually cost less than half of what accident and illness plans cost.
While accident-only plans are the cheapest option, they also have substantially less coverage than comprehensive injury and illness plans. These types of plans are best if you have an active, injury prone breed, and you could also handle paying a large illness treatment bill without reimbursement.
How to Find Cheap Pet Insurance
To find the cheapest and best pet health insurance, you should select a level of coverage that comes with a low monthly premium. All insurance companies will charge you less per month if you select a plan that has a higher deductible, lower reimbursement level and lower annual maximum. This means that you’ll get less money back per accident or illness treatment, but you’ll also be paying less to your insurance company every month.
Across all insurance companies, cats are much cheaper to insure than dogs. This is because dogs tend to have active lifestyles while domestic cats spend most of their time indoors and have a lower chance of injury.
Our list of the top 4 cheapest but best insurance providers are the following:
4. Healthy Paws
Embrace offers a very low premium average of $13 a month for dogs and $8.98 for cats.
For a low monthly, Embrace offers one simple and comprehensive plan to cover your pet’s medical needs. You can personalize your plan to fit any budget, choosing your annual maximum, deductible, and reimbursement percentage which can help when finding the best price to fit your needs.
Embrace also allows you to add Wellness Rewards, a flexible health savings account. And what we really like is that once you sign up your dog or cat with Embrace, their coverage is for life, and there are no lifetime coverage limits. Embrace calculates reimbursements by subtracting the deductible and then taking off the copay, which gets customers more money back.
Embrace also offers a variety of discounts for things like spaying/neutering, multiple pets, and military owners.
Read full review of Embrace
PetFirst average lowest premium for dogs is $16.95 and for cats is $8.95.
PetFirst Healthcare offers excellent overall pet insurance coverage. They also have a variety of comprehensive plans to choose from. These can be broken down into Lifetime and Standard plans. There are annual limits on the Lifetime plans, and per-incident limits on the Standard policies.
All of their plans are easily customizable, with several different options for deductibles and copays, but all of them offer solid benefits for all types of injuries and illnesses. PetFirst also gives discounts for online enrollment, multiple pets, military service, and animal care specialists.
PetFirst is a great choice for those with older pets because they have no upper age limits and will cover hereditary, congenital and chronic conditions. There is no exam required before signing up with them. This can be helpful when want to cover your older pets but not be charged too much for it.
Read full review of PetFirst
Petplan’s average lowest premium for dogs is $29.16 and for cats is 18.19:
Petplan USA offers various pet insurance policies that cover all the basics in medical treatment, as well as additional features such as reimbursement for a lost or stolen pet. Petplan policies can also be customized. By changing the amount paid for vet bills and deductibles you can get a fee that works for you. They also have some great savings when merely enrolling online or if you have multiple pets.
Petplan’s comprehensive coverage is one of the few providers that includes the veterinary exam fee. They offer a lot of flexibility in their packages so you can customize it to fit your specific needs. If you have an older dog or cat, they are one of the few policies that does not have an upper age limit!
Few other companies provide as many ways to make insuring your pet easier less expensive while not skimping on coverage.
Read full review of Petplan
4. Healthy Paws
The average starting premium for dogs is $32.80 and for cats is $17.19.
Healthy Paws offers one comprehensive plan with no benefit payout limits and monthly premium that are customized in the form of three reimbursement options (70–90%) and three annual deductibles to choose from ($100–$500). All their policies cover all accidents and illnesses, and there are no restrictions for hereditary or congenital conditions, including cancer. There are no caps on the claims so you can go for the same condition multiple times and not worry about it. And all of this is included in their standard plan!
Discounts are offered for some groups with an annual 10% lifetime discount: Animal Welfare Volunteers, Association or Alumni Organizations, membership groups such as AAA, AARP, and Costco, and Military service. They offer a 15 % lifetime discount for employer sponsored plans.
Read full review of Healthy Paws pet insurance
You never want to cheap out on your pet, but you certainly can get affordable coverage from most of the pet insurance providers. Of course, each dog or cat is different, but if you do your homework and know exactly what you need for your pet and your budget, you should be able to find a low monthly premium with comprehensive coverage. Shop around and get multiple quotes to find the best fit for you and your pet.
Our 2018 guide to the best pet insurance providers can give you some other top providers as well as what to look for in a pet insurance policy.