Is Pet Insurance Worth The Expense?

The house burns down. Someone sideswipes your car. Or maybe you have emergency surgery.

Here’s hoping none of those ever happen! But if they do, they’re much easier to cope with if you have insurance. Paying monthly premiums is no fun, but when the rubber meets the road, you’re grateful to have that safety net.

What does any of this have to do with cats? Everything!

Show me the money…

Any cat owner will tell you about the bills paid for regular checkups, to ensure their fabulous feline is in tip-top shape. And then maybe kitty swallows something poisonous, or gets in a fight with another cat.

Or what if your cat suddenly develops diabetes? Having pet insurance is literally a lifesaver in such instances, keeping you from having to choose between paying rent or kitty’s surgery bills.

FYI

Check out these eye-opening statistics from petinsurancequotes.com:

  • In 2016, expenses on veterinary care totalled $16 billion
  • Less than 1% of American dogs and cats are insured
  • The most expensive health issue is heart disease, which can exceed $20,000
  • Only 11% of pet owners would spend over $10,000

Re-read that last one. 89% of pet owners won’t spend over $10,000 on their pets, probably because they simply can’t afford it.

Who has $10,000 in spare cash lying around?

But that means that a huge number of animals go without medical treatment or are even euthanized.

Having a pet is a commitment, and that commitment includes providing critical medical care. So what can you do to ensure you fulfill that commitment without going broke? Well, look at this other statistic also from petinsurancequotes.com:

  • The average pet insurance policy for a cat costs $30 per month

That’s right. For the cost of a few meals out, you can buy peace of mind for you and your kitty. But just like researching human insurance can take endless hours, so can researching pet insurance. There is a TON of information to consider.

To help reduce at least some of the legwork you’ll need to do to find the perfect plan for your precious furball, we’ve researched and broken down some of the most vital information on the top pet insurance companies in the country.

What insurance is best for you and your cat?

Healthy Paws

Healthy Paws is the #1 customer-rated cat insurance plan according to the Better Business Bureau. Almost 90% of ConsumersAdvocate.org reviewers rank it as their top choice. Veterinarians have ranked it as their top choice since 2013.

Safe to say, it’s great.

Part of the reason it’s not associated with the headaches and annoyances of other insurance companies is it’s unusual plan set up.

They’ve only got one type of plan, so there’s no “premium” option…their only plan is the premium plan.

With Healthy Paws you can:

  • Choose your own vet
  • File all claims 100% online or through their mobile app
  • Get discounts for multiple pets

You also have full coverage for:

  • Both accidents and illnesses
  • Hospitalizations and surgeries
  • Labwork and scans
  • Prescription meds
  • Hereditary and congenital conditions
  • Alternative therapies such as pet acupuncture

Healthy Paws has no:

  • Age limit
  • Limits per medical condition
  • Lifetime or annual limits

Average monthly cost is:

  • $27.61, with an annual deductible (instead of a per-condition deductible)

However, Healthy Paws does not offer a wellness plan add-on for routine checkups.

Petplan

Petplan is ranked #2 by ConsumersAdvocate.org’s reviewers. It’s way up there with the best largely because of its comprehensive coverage. There are very few medical conditions Petplan will not cover for your kitty, which means this is probably the choice for you if you don’t want to leave anything to chance.

With Petplan you can:

  • Choose your own vet
  • Tailor your plan based on age and breed because they believe that “your cat is one a kind; her pet insurance coverage should be, too.”
  • Also tailor your plan based on where you live and what you want your annual coverage, reimbursement level, and annual deductible to be
  • Get discounts for multiple pets

Petplan has a tiered insurance plan, meaning that you can pay for just the basics or can pay more for full coverage. Their top plan reimburses you for 90% of medical costs with a $100 annual deductible.

Depending on the level of plan, you may have full coverage for:

  • Both accidents and illnesses
  • Hospitalizations and surgeries
  • Labwork and scans
  • Prescription meds
  • Hereditary and congenital conditions
  • Alternative therapies such as pet acupuncture

Petplan has no:

  • Age limit
  • Limits per medical condition
  • Lifetime or annual limits

Average monthly cost is

  • $38.61/basic coverage; $52.63/higher-tier coverage

Petplan does not offer a wellness plan add-on for routine checkups.

Embrace

Embrace is ranked #3, mostly based on their outstanding customer feedback. Though Embrace can cost more than other insurers, it also offers coverage for conditions that other companies often exclude, such as prosthetics or behavioral therapy.

With Embrace you can:

  • Choose your own vet
  • Get discounts for multiple pets
  • Get discounts for spayed/neutered pets

Embrace has a tiered insurance plan, meaning that you can pay for just the basics or can pay more for full coverage.

Depending on the level of plan, you may have full coverage for:

  • Both accidents and illnesses
  • Hospitalizations and surgeries
  • Labwork and scans
  • Hereditary and congenital conditions
  • Alternative therapies such as pet acupuncture

Embrace has no:

  • Limits per medical condition
  • Lifetime limits

Average monthly cost is:

  • $41.76/basic coverage; $56.85/higher-tier coverage

Embrace does offer various add-ons which include:

  • A wellness plan for regular checkups, training, and grooming
  • Prescription drug coverage

Embrace will cover curable pre-existing conditions.

For instance, if your kitty is already sick when you sign up for pet insurance, most companies will cover illness moving forward, but (unfortunately) not the one that you need covered right then. On the other hand, if your kitty is constantly vomiting, you sign up for Embrace and discover it’s something treatable, Embrace will cover the medical bill.

Nationwide

Nationwide is on your side … and not just your car or house’s side. They cover pets too and are ranked 4th by ConsumersAdvocate.org’s reviewers. Their high ranking is based on the fact that they cover more than just the usual domestic pets, expanding out into birds and various exotic pets. Obviously this isn’t going to help with cat insurance, unless you’ve also got more exotic pets as well.

We found Nationwide was sort of a decent option but didn’t stand out for any one thing in particular. That being said, if you’re using them already, or are comfortable with their big brand name, then you won’t regret it! Just make sure they cover everything you’re looking for.

They also cover a wide range of illnesses.

With Nationwide you can:

  • Choose your own vet
  • Get discounts if you are a Nationwide member

Nationwide has a tiered healthcare plan, meaning that you can pay for just the basics or can pay more for full coverage.

Depending on the level of plan, you may have full coverage for:

  • Both accidents and illnesses
  • Hospitalizations and surgeries
  • Labwork and scans
  • Alternative therapies such as pet acupuncture

Nationwide has no:

  • Lifetime limits

Average monthly cost is:

  • $33.33/basic coverage; $65.66/higher-tier coverage

Nationwide does:

  • Have an upper age limit
  • Have limits for certain conditions and possible annual limits, depending on your plan
  • Offer higher-cost plans for pets with hereditary and congenital conditions
  • Offer a wellness option add-on

Figo

Figo is ranked #5 by ConsumersAdvocate.org’s for its “extremely generous coverage for the price”, though we think it’s actually one of the better options.

It is the only company that has a 100% reimbursement option, when other plans top out at 90%.

Another BIG benefit Figo offers that no other company does:

  • It waives co-pays and deductibles for life-saving care.

With Figo you can:

  • Choose your own vet
  • Get unique discounts including discounts for medical service pets, veterans/military, multiple pets

Figo has a tiered healthcare plan, meaning that you can pay for just the basics or can pay more for full coverage.

Depending on the level of plan, you may have full coverage for:

  • Both accidents and illnesses
  • Hospitalizations and surgeries
  • Hereditary and congenital conditions
  • Chronic conditions that appear after you’ve enrolled kitty (such as allergies, diabetes, cancer)
  • Prescription medications
  • Cancer treatments
  • Specialty care (such as cardiology, neurology, orthopedics)
  • Emergency dental care
  • Labwork and scans
  • Alternative therapies such as pet acupuncture
  • Boarding fees
  • Advertising/rewards for lost pets
  • Working dogs

Figo has no:

  • Lifetime limits
  • Upper age limit
  • Limits per medical condition
  • Lifetime or annual limits

Average monthly cost is:

  • $45/month/basic coverage; numbers for higher-tier coverage are not available because they have so many possible add-ons

Figo does:

  • Pay for initial vet fees
  • Offer 100% reimbursement
  • Offer a multitude of add-ons, including a wellness plan

So there you have it. That’s the most basic information distilled down, to get you started on finding the perfect plan for kitty!

However, don’t stop there. Remember that all of the above depends largely on your pet’s age, breed, and general health. So make sure you determine what you’re actually looking for before you compare, and check through each company’s website (or talk to a representative via chat, email, or phone) to be sure what you’re signing up for. The good news is that these providers typically allow you to get a quote for free, so you know exactly what you’ll pay before you commit.

This is a handy checklist of questions you should ask before committing to a plan.

Ask if a plan covers …

  • Both injuries/accidents and illnesses (Many companies have plans that cover one or the other.)
  • Lab tests
  • X-rays and various scans such as MRIs and ultrasounds
  • Hospitalizations
  • Surgeries
  • Prescription meds
  • Dental care (routine and/or emergency)
  • Wellness (vaccinations, spay/neuter)
  • All 50 states (or are any excluded)
  • Travel

Find out whether …

  • You can choose your own vet
  • The price of your premium will go up as kitty ages
  • There is an age limit (in other words, can your 15-year-old kitty qualify for a plan?)
  • There is an age limit (in other words, can your newborn kitty qualify for a plan?)
  • There are plan add-ons (for instance, if a plan doesn’t include routine check-ups, maybe that can be covered for an additional fee)
  • There is a discount for multiple pets
  • There is lifetime coverage (in order words, will your kitty never lose its coverage, regardless of age?)

And finally (and most importantly to your wallet), ask what is:

  • The basic waiting period after you do all the paperwork, before you can have kitty seen at a vet
  • The annual deductible
  • The co-pay
  • And, of course, the monthly cost

Forewarned is forearmed! Since no pet insurer covers incurable pre-existing conditions, your best bet is to insure your precious kitty sooner rather than later. And if kitty is a baby, then so much the better! You’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re covered for almost any eventuality, and you’ll be able to create a concrete budget for kitty’s medical care, rather than guess-timating the amount an emergency could deplete your bank account!

Vitamins, exercising, and supplements won’t do you much if your cat needs serious medical help.

With a pet insurance plan for your little feline friends, your cat will get the chance to spend more purring moments with  you, and you’ll get to enjoy the health and monetary benefits the insurance plan can offer.

Ensure your cat’s safety and health as soon as you can, so that when the time comes you won’t have to worry between choosing your pet’s needs and your finances.

Imagine kitty gets sick, you didn’t get insurance, you can’t afford the medical care, and then realize you could have saved your kitty’s life for only $30-60/month. Don’t let hindsight convince you to protect your cat…do it today!

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  • Updated December 11, 2017
  • Health
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