Best Pet Insurance in Florida
20 July, 2018
By: Lisa Fimberg
When you are looking for a new pet insurance policy in Florida, there are many different pet insurance companies to choose from that it can be hard to know where to start. There are many top companies that offer comprehensive insurance which is the best for overall coverage. The best pet insurance companies in Florida should include that option, at a minimum, in their standard package.
Why purchase pet insurance in Florida?
Florida’s high temperatures, sunny weather, and toxic wildlife could cause some unique and serious health risks to your dog or cat. As always, these risks are preventable or treatable with proper, timely health care. However, the cost of emergency veterinary care can be very expensive; for example, treating a dog for a snake bite can cost more than $2,000. And 80 % of dogs survive snake bites if they get to a vet or emergency hospital right away. It’s at times like these when pet insurance is truly live saving.
Even cats in Florida are also at a higher risk of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. FIV, very similar to HIV in humans, is a virus that is spread through the close contact of an infected cat and can be very serious (especially among kittens).
According to Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, every six seconds a pet owner is faced with a vet bill of more than $1,000. And when it comes to your dog or cat’s health, there is no way predict the future. Which is whey pet insurance can be so important.
When is the best time to look for a pet insurance policy for your dog or cat?
You will get the most value out of your pet insurance policy if you purchase it when your dog or cat is young before your kitten or puppy develops any pre-existing conditions. A pre-existing condition can be something as simple as an allergy to something more complex like surgery for one of your puppies’ hips.
Insuring older animals, who are often at greater risk for costly ailments, can still save you a lot of money in the long run, but monthly premiums will be higher. Treatment for serious diseases, such as cancer, can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Even chronic conditions can occur in younger dogs and cats, particularly in tropical climate like Florida. In fact, about 70 percent of atopy cases (allergies to something in the environment) develop between the ages of six months and three years of age. Atopy usually requires lifelong treatment for intense itching, which may have started out seasonal but can evolve into a year round problem. A dog with atopy can require chronic medication, allergy testing, and possibly even weekly to monthly allergy shots.
The type of coverage that you should look for in your Florida pet insurance policy:
The type of coverage that you choose when purchasing a new pet insurance policy is the most important thing to consider. The reason you purchase pet insurance is to be reimbursed for your medical bill or veterinary care when you dog or cat gets sick or injured.
Make sure that any new pet insurance policy includes a minimum of the following:
- Accidents & Illnesses
- Hereditary, Congenital, & Chronic Conditions
- Diagnostic Tests
- Emergency Care
- Specialist Care
- Prescription Medication
As mentioned above, due to the tropical climate and the fact that heartworm disease and fleas are much more common, you might want to consider a wellness package which is usually an add-on to your policy for a relative nominal fee and should the following treatments:
Treatments Covered by Wellness Plans:
- Annual Exams
- Spay / Neuter
- Teeth Cleanings
- Blood Panels, Urinalysis
- Heartworm Tests, Fecal Tests
- Rabies, DHLP, Parvo Vaccination
- Bordetella, Lyme Giardia Vaccination
- Flea, Tick & Heartworm Treatment
- Nail Trimming
When considering pet insurance for your dog or cat there are three variations of coverage to choose from:
Comprehensive Medical Coverage – These are by far the most popular plans and well-rounded plans. These plans cover everything but routine care and similar to all pet insurance coverage, does not cover pre-existing conditions.
Wellness Coverage: You can add a routine care or wellness plan to a regular pet insurance policy. These plans cover annual visits, spay/neuter, vaccinations, etc. Wellness packages aren’t always necessary as most of these expenses aren’t typically expensive; but in Florida, with the insects and tropical climate, flea, tick and heartworm prevention is much more important. It depends on your budget and your particular cat or dog.
Accident Only Coverage– These plans are cheaper but only cover vet bills related to accidents. We don’t recommend these plans because illnesses are more likely and more expensive to treat. And, a solid pet insurance company should cover accidents and illness in their policy which is why this is our least favorite. They could be favorable only if you have an older pet that needs to be insured.
What to look for in the best pet insurance policies in Florida:
Each plan has different terms and conditions to consider:
Benefit Limits – The whole point of getting pet insurance it to be covered for the unexpected, big medical bill that your dog or cat might incur. There are four different benefit or pay-out limits and they are broken down in order of preference:
1. Unlimited Lifetime: After you pay your deductible, there is no upper limit the pet insurance policy will pay to cover your pet’s medical bills.
2. Annual Maximum: Some companies will cap payouts on an annual basis (e.g. $20,000/year). Once you reach that limit, you will no longer be reimbursed for treatments that year which can be expensive if your pet gets in a serious accident.
3. Annual per Incident: This is the maximum dollar amount the company will pay for a particular illness, condition, or procedure in a given year. If your dog or cat has to see the vet several times for a certain condition – even something as simple as asthma, you can reach the limit quickly.
4. Lifetime Maximum: This is the maximum amount the company will pay out either in total or per condition for the lifetime of your pet. If your pet has a chronic condition like diabetes or cancer, you can quickly hit the benefit limit.
How to figure out the best price for your dog or cat’s pet insurance policy in Florida
When choosing a pet insurance policy, make sure to look for one that pays the actual cost of the veterinary or medical bill. Look for a policy where you are reimbursed on your total bill, rather than on a benefit schedule or what some policies refer to as customary or routine charges.
The cost of pet insurance depends not only on the coverage you choose, but also where you the city you live in. i.e. Miami is more expensive than Tampa, Florida, the breed of your dog or cat and the age. As mentioned above, it’s best to insure your dog or cat at a younger age.
How to choose the best deductible and reimbursement:
Deductible – If you choose a higher deductible you will pay less for pet insurance. Conversely, if you choose a lower deductible you will get more back when you file a claim, but your monthly rates will be higher. Therefore, you need to decide whether you would rather pay more monthly or potentially later. Deductibles range from $100 to $1,000 (we recommend $200 to $500 to maximize value).
There are 3 different types of deductibles that are offered:
1. Annual Deductible – The annual deductible is the amount you pay (standard is around $250) before your pet insurance policy starts to pay. Once you’ve met your deductible, your pet insurance plan kicks in to reimburse you for 80 – 90% of all medical bills (depending on your choice or reimbursement level). The annual deductible resets each year. A deductible is not a co-payment.
2. A co-payment (or co-pay), is the percentage of the total medical expenses you pay once your deductible limit has been reached. For example, if your veterinary bill is $4,000 and you have a deductible of $200 and a co-pay of 20%, you would pay your $200 deductible and a co-pay of $760 (20 % off the $3,800 balance). Your insurer will then reimburse you $3040 to cover the rest of the cost of treatment.
3. Per Condition Lifetime– The per-condition lifetime separates deductibles by condition. Once that deductible is met the company pays out for that condition according to the given reimbursement model for the rest of the pets life. Again, this can be limiting if your dog needs on-going treatment for a specific illness or injury.
4. Per Condition Annual – Per condition annual again separates coverage according to condition. The deductible resets each calendar year.
Reimbursement – If you choose a lower reimbursement rate you will pay less each month for a policy because the plan will pay less when you claim. And, conversely, if you choose a higher reimbursement rate you’ll pay more each month. Reimbursement rates range from 70-100% of your actual vet bills (we recommend 80% to 90% reimbursement rates to maximize value).
Companies typically offer three different reimbursement options.
1. Actual cost means that, once you paid your deductible, you will be paid a percentage (i.e. 80 to 90%) of your actual veterinarian bill. Most plans that use this model allow you to choose the percentage.
2. Benefit schedules which set a maximum limit that your pet can receive. So if your dog or cat, for example, has two accidents in one year, you might end up paying the difference out of pocket making it less desirable.
3. Usual and customary reimbursement is only a little better but it also has a limit on payments. And you don’t want to have a limit, particularly in a state like Florida where rates tend to be higher.
Best customer service and reviews for the pet insurance company you are considering
After considering coverage and cost, it’s time to evaluate customer service which is important when considering plans. You obviously want to have excellent coverage at a fair price, but if the plan doesn’t provide excellent customer service and an easy way to pay for your medical bill, it will be more of a headache than benefit.
Further, you want to make sure that your questions are answered fully and you are not the least bit confused about what is or isn’t covered under your plan.
The top pet insurance plans offer 24/7 customer service so that you can always be sure that your dog or cat is covered in an emergency. Some plans have mobile claims apps that are super easy to use and other organizations require you to fax in your vet records when making claims. This is exactly what you need when you are waiting reimbursement for a large medical bills.
Based on all the information we provided, below are our 5 best pet insurance companies in Florida:
1. Healthy Paws
Healthy Paws is our number one recommendation because it doesn’t have an upper limit to how much each plan will pay out each year, and it typically has a 15-day waiting period for injury and illness coverage. It has comprehensive illness and accident coverage which is our favorite and unlimited benefits with no caps on the claims. And all of this is included in their standard plan which is optimal.
Healthy Paws also offers an annual deductible range of $100, $250, $500 or $750. You can choose the level of deductible, which can help you control your monthly premium costs.
Healthy Paws is known for its fast claims service. Claims can be filed online or through its mobile app and are usually processed within three to five days.
It is one of the only insurers that includes coverage for alternative treatments such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, physical therapy, and chiropractic services.
The average starting monthly premiums for dogs is $32.83 and for cats is $17.19
Read the full review of Healthy Paws to find out more about their plans in Florida.
Embrace pet insurance is another top choice and it is rated A+ by the BBB. They offer a standard plan that will cover most illness and accidents.
Embrace also covers alternative treatments, behavioral therapy, and prosthetic limbs. Coverage for wellness plans and prescription drugs are available at an additional cost. It also includes spaying and neutering in the costs. And dental cleanings up to $650. We like the option that you can include wellness, especially in a city like Florida.
There is a benefit limit of up to $15,000 and not unlimited like other plans.
However, a big plus is that Embrace offers a range of annual deductible options as specific as $100, $200, all the way up to $1,000 which gives you more flexibility in designing a policy that fits your specific budget. You can also save with Embrace’s Healthy Pet Deductible program, which decreases their deductible by $50 every year that you don’t make a claim which is unique.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs in Florida is $30.00 and for cats is $20.00
Read the full review of Embrace to find out more about their plans in Florida.
Petplan Pet Insurance is rated A+ by BBB. Petplan offers well-rounded comprehensive coverage that includes the vet exam fee. The annual reimbursement is flexible and can go as high as unlimited.
Similar to Embrace, Petplan the flexible deductible schedule, which allows you to choose between $100 and $1,000 and not per condition. Petplan also has a very high customer service rating that is available 24/7.
Although Petplan doesn’t offer across the board unlimited coverage, it does offer the flexibility in allowing you to choose your annual benefit limit which helps lower the costs.
Petplan’s annual limits can be set at $2,500, $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, $20,000, and $25,000 or unlimited. There are no per condition limits or lifetime caps, which guarantees your furry friend’s care will be covered for the duration of an illness or injury, including chronic conditions like diabetes, allergies, cancer or dry eyes.
Petplan is great for older pets as they insure pets of any age, with no policy exclusions for hereditary and chronic conditions. They are one of the few providers that will cover hip dysplasia in all of their policies. Healthy Paws, while excellent, but does not cover hip-dysplasia.
Petplan’s reimbursement time frame is typically within 30 days. Processing can be faster by using its Petplan app to submit a claim. And you can get a 10 % discount when applying online.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs in Florida is around $29 and for cats is $19.
Read the full review of Petplan to find out more about their plans in Florida.
Nationwide has been around for years and is the largest pet insurer in the United States. Nationwide is A+ rated by A.M. Best.
When you buy Nationwide’s Whole Pet with Wellness Plan, you are getting one of the most comprehensive policies available. Although it does cost more than most other standard pet insurance plans, it covers nearly everything, from accident and illness conditions to physical exams, to vaccinations, to flea and heartworm prevention and even spaying and neutering.
Nationwide is one of the only pet insurance provides that insures almost any kind of pet from birds to other small critters.
There is a 24/7 help line.
There is only one deductible option of $250 but you do have unlimited claims.
You can even bundle up your insurance with home and auto to get further discounts.
Whole Pet plans currently start around $60 for dog insurance and $32 for cat insurance. The Major Medical plan currently starts around $34 for dog insurance and $18 for cat insurance.
You can get a 5% discount on all packages if you are already have Nationwide Home or Renters Insurance. They also offer a 5% discount if you insure more than one pet with them.
The starting monthly premium for dogs in Florida is around $38 for dogs and $20 for cats.
Read the full review of Nationwide to find out more about their plans in Florida.
5. Pets Best
Pets Best Pet Insurance has been offering pet insurance for cats and dogs since 2005. It also has an A+ rating from the BBB.
Pets Best offers two tiers of wellness packages that cover routine care and treatments. Its two tier plans, Elite and Plus, include coverage for exam fees, chiropractic treatment, rehab therapies, and acupuncture. There is also no hereditary or congenital condition limitations which is a nice benefit.
Pets Best offers unlimited benefits only in its top tier Elite plan. The other two plans have an annual benefit limit of just $5,000 which can be problematic if your dog has a serious injury.
However, they have no lifetime limits and won’t increase your premium based on the number or types of claims you make during the year. They usually reimburse you within a week and expenses are paid on the actual invoice amount and quickly.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs in Florida is around $32.00 and for cats is $17.00.
Reade the full review of Pets Best to find out more about their premiums in Florida.
Now that you have the information in front of you, make sure to get quotes from at least 2-3 pet insurance companies in Florida. Have your questions ready and see what works he best for your cat or dog and budget! If you would like some other information about pet insurance, make sure to take a look at our guide of the best pet insurance companies of 2018.