Best Pet Insurance in New York
24 July, 2018
By: Lisa Fimberg
When you are looking for a new pet insurance policy in New York, it can be difficult to know where to start. There are many different pet insurance companies to choose from and it can become overwhelming. The best pet insurance in New York should offer well-rounded comprehensive insurance which is the best overall coverage.
Why purchase pet insurance in New York?
New York is the one of the most expensive states in the country. Therefore, if you live in New York, particularly in the city, you can anticipate some of the highest costs in the United States for veterinary care. If your dog or cat gets sick, it is not uncommon that a medical bill cost you $20,000 which is when pet insurance really is a life saver.
With the traffic in the city to the very cold winters, pet insurance in New York can be vital in case your dog gets hit by a car or even frost bite from the very cold winters. If anything were to happen to your beloved pet, you want to be able to afford the medial bill and pet insurance does just that.
Location, type of pet, breed and age of your pet is a big determinant in the price of a pet insurance policy. For instance, a dog in Albany might cost $40 a month to insure and a dog in Manhattan could be as high as $50. Just like car insurance, the type of car you have and the city you live in can greatly affect the price.
How does pet insurance work?
The reason you purchase pet insurance is to be protected for the unexpected accident or illness. Pet insurance is really the assurance that if your dog or cat gets in an accident or ill, you will have the majority of your medial bill paid for by the insurance company. There are many different things to look out for in a pet insurance policy including coverage, price, and reimbursement levels.
How do you find the best coverage for your dog or cat in New York?
Choosing the right coverage is one of the most important items to consider in a new policy. The reason you are purchasing pet insurance is to be reimbursed for your veterinary care when you dog or cat is sick or injured. Even NAPHIA agrees with our guidelines of what to look for in a pet insurance policy.
All the top pet insurance companies should cover a minimum of the following:
- Accidents & Illnesses
- Hereditary, Congenital, & Chronic Conditions
- Diagnostic Tests
- Emergency Care
- Specialist Care
- Prescription Medication
Some pet insurance companies even like Healthy Paws include alternative therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic, behavioral and hydrotherapy.
When considering pet insurance for your dog or cat there are three variations of coverage to choose from:
Comprehensive Medical Coverage – As the name dictates, comprehensive pet insurance is the best well-rounded coverage as it covers everything but routine care and similar to all pet insurance coverage, does not cover pre-existing conditions.
Comprehensive medical coverage allows you to be prepared for a range of expensive medical issues that could happen over the course of your dog or cat’s life. For example, if your dog gets in an accident or has a disease like cancer, you want to make sure that your dog will continue to be treated for the occurrence when the policy rolls over into the next year. Without the continuous care, your coverage could go away at the end of the renewal year.
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. These plans are fine as an additional but not really why you get pet insurance because the costs on their own are affordable.
Accident Only Coverage– These plans are cheaper but only cover vet bills related to accidents. A solid pet insurance company should cover accidents AND illnesses in their policies which is why this is our least favorite.
What to look for in the best pet insurance policies in New York:
Each plan has different terms and conditions that you should know about:
Exclusions – 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.
Most pet insurance policies won’t cover routine veterinary expenses that can be paid out of pocket, like spaying and neutering. And most won’t cover dental cleanings or conditions unless it relates to an accident or illness. Some policies, like Embrace, offer a dental cleaning allowance.
Benefit Limits –
The benefit limits are essentially the pay-out limits that are offered in a pet insurance policy. And this can be equally important as this is why you get pet insurance in the first place.
Unlimited Lifetime: After you pay your deductible, there will be no upper limit the pet insurance policy will pay to cover your pet’s medical bills. This is the most favorable of the benefit limits.
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.
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 atopy or allergies, you can reach the limit quickly.
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, you can quickly hit the benefit limit.
Make sure to choose a pet insurance policy that covers the actual cost of the bill
When choosing a pet insurance policy, make sure to look for one that pays the actual cost of the bill. Look for a policy where you are reimbursed on your total vet bill, rather than on a benefit schedule or what some companies refer to as customary or routine charges. In a state like New York, this could greatly increase your medical costs if they are categorized as customary.
How to adjust the price of your pet insurance policy in New York
The cost of pet insurance depends not only on the coverage you choose, but also where you live in California, i.e. Manhattan is more expensive than Rochester, New York, the breed of your dog or cat and your pet’s age.
Every pet insurance plan allows you to adjust the price of your plan by choosing a custom deductible and custom reimbursement percentage.
Deductible – If you choose a higher deductible, you will pay less for pet insurance. And if you choose a lower deductible you will get more back when you file a claim, but your monthly rates will be higher. Deductibles range from $100 to $1,000; we recommend between $250 and $500.
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 of reimbursement level. When the year is over, the annual deductible resets. A deductible is not to be confused with a co-payment.
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 $5,000 and you have a deductible of $200 and a co-pay of 20%, you would pay your $200 deductible and a co-pay of $960 (20 % off the $4,800 balance). Your insurer will then reimburse you $3840 to cover the rest of the cost of treatment.
2. Per Condition Lifetime– The per-condition lifetime separates varying 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 or cat needs on-going treatment for a specific illness or injury.
3. 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. 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 have satisfied 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 are usually not the preferred choice as they 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.
3. Usual and customary reimbursement is only a little better but it also has a limit on payments.
Customer service and reviews
After considering the coverage and cost, you want a plan that has excellent customer service. Even if the plan offers the ideal coverage, it the company doesn’t offer an easy way to pay for your medical bill, it will be more of a headache than benefit. You want to be able to easily fill out the necessary forms, get it to your provider and be paid within a reasonable time frame.
The top pet insurance plans offer 24/7 customer service. 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.
Based on all the information we provided, below are our 5 best pet insurance companies in New York:
1. Healthy Paws
Healthy Paws has an excellent customer satisfaction rate (an A+) and are great customer reviews. They are underwritten by Chubb Group, a consistently highly-rated insurer.
Healthy Paws has no limit to how much its plan will pay out each year (which is what you want) 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. All of this is included in their standard plan which makes Healthy Paws our favorite choice.
Healthy Paws also offers an annual deductible range from $100 up to $750. You can choose the level of deductible, which can help you control your premium costs. Healthy Paws is known for its fast claims service which is important when you pay for a big medical bill. 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. This is a great addition particularly in older pets.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs in New York is $40 and for cats is $30.
If you want to know more about Healthy Paws, read our full review.
Embrace policies are underwritten by American Modern Insurance Group and it is rated A+ by the BBB. All Embrace accident and illness policies fully cover breed-specific conditions with no per-incident or per-condition limits.
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 a dental cleaning allowance of up to $650.
Embrace’s lowest benefit limit is $5000 (which can be beneficial for younger pets) while the highest is $15,000. This is the maximum they will pay for all incidents and procedures for the entire year. If your pet requires multiple, serious procedures, or cutting edge treatment, this might be limiting for you dog or cat. Healthy Paws is one of the few that we reviewed that has an unlimited benefit schedule.
However, a big plus is that Embrace offers a range of annual deductible options as specific as $100, $200 up to $1,000 which gives you more flexibility in choosing a policy that fits your specific budget. You can further save with Embrace’s Healthy Pet Deductible program, which decreases their deductible by $50 every year that you don’t make a claim which certainly is a nice perk.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs in New York is $40 and for cats is $25.
If you want to learn more about Embrace’s policies, read our full review.
Petplan Pet Insurance is underwritten by AGCS Marine Insurance Co. and is rated A+ by BBB. Petplan is one of the few providers that covers the vet exam fee in their comprehensive coverage. The annual limit is flexible and can go as high as unlimited with the more expensive plans.
The flexible deductible schedule is the best choice of plans as it 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.
Petplan does not offer an optional wellness plan. Their philosophy is that they want their policy holders to be reimbursed for the big expenses! Wellness issues are generally not very expensive and easily payable out of pocket.
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.
Petplan is great for the older dog or cat since there is no age limit.
The starting monthly premiums for the most basic plan for dogs is $35 and for cats is $22
If you want to learn more about Petplan’s policies, read our full review.
4. Pets Best
Pets Best Pet Insurance has been offering pet insurance for cats and dogs since 2005. It is underwritten by American Pet Insurance Company and it 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 that aren’t pre-existing.
Similar to Petplan, Pets Best doesn’t have an age limit which is great for older pets.
Pets Best, however, only offers unlimited benefits on its top tier Elite plan. The other two plans have an annual benefit limit of just $5,000.
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.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs in New York is $32 and for cats is $22.
If you want to learn more about Pets Best policies, read our full review.
PetFirst Healthcare LLC, founded in 2004, is a pet insurance company based in Jeffersonville, Indiana. PetFirst policies are underwritten by American Alternative Insurance Corp. and it is A+ rated by the BBB.
PetFirst doesn’t have an upper age limit on enrollment, and no waiting periods for a few conditions many other providers just don’t cover. PetFirst also has a healthy pet discount for every year you don’t make a claim! The upper tier plans are a bit on the pricier side and the company does not offer unlimited coverage.
PetFirst offers accident and illness coverage that is pretty much industry standard for the price. What really makes PetFirst stand out is that they don’t have waiting periods for hip dysplasia, patella issues or orthopedic conditions. The company also offers a wellness plan as an add-on rider to any of their plans to cover vaccinations, neutering and spaying and other more routine vet visits. They also offer discounts for multiple pets and you can choose any vet you want without pre-approval.
PetFirst lets you choose $5,000, $10,000, and $20,000. This is the maximum amount PetFirst will reimburse you per policy year and doesn’t offer unlimited like Healthy Paws and Embrace’s upper-tiered policy.
You can earn a $20 discount for purchasing your policy online.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs in New York is $30 and for cats is $20.
If you are interested in learning more about PetFirst’s policies, our review.
When choosing a new pet insurance policy in New York, make sure to get at least a few quotes and see for yourself the best price, coverage and customer service for your particular dog or cat. If you want to learn more about some other pet insurance companies and the coverage they offer, take a look at our top 7 pet insurance companies of 2018, all of which offer coverage in New York.