2018 Best Dog Insurance
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If you are looking for the best dog insurance, then look no further. We break down dog insurance policies so you can find the best one for your dog based on age, size, breed and value for the money.
For you to determine the best dog insurance, first you need to understand a few things about how pet insurance works.
First, there is a deductible. The deductible is the amount you have to pay out of pocket before your benefits kick in. Most dog insurance plans will let you select a custom deductible, ranging from $0 to $1000. When you are selecting a plan, make sure you determine whether your deductible is an annual one or a per-incident one. An annual deductible means that is an amount that needs to be met every year. An incident deductible means your plan may charge a separate deductible per incident or illness, even if they are within the same year. This can add up, particularly if you have a very sick pet at the time you visit the vet.
Reimbursement is the next thing you need to understand when looking at pet insurance. If you are used to human insurance, you are used to visiting the doctor and then getting billed for your portion weeks later. This is not the case with most pet insurance policies. Instead, you must pay out of pocket first, and then get reimbursed later at 70%, 80% or 90%. Reimbursement may have a maximum limit, like a schedule of benefits, depending on your plan, and some may reimburse off the total vet bill. Make sure you look at annual limits, which are covered more below.
Annual limits are another factor you need to pay attention to with dog insurance. The best dog insurance plans have no annual limit. A plan may look cheap overall, but has a really low annual limit. While you may save on the monthly payment, you might run over that annual limit with a single trip to the vet, and then you are responsible for everything else out of pocket. Some plans have annual limits as low as $1,000, so make sure you understand all of the nuances of your dog insurance plan before purchasing, as you don’t want surprises later.
Once you feel like you have a grasp of the definitions, it is time to start shopping for a plan. With dogs, size matters, as does age. Preexisting conditions may stop you from getting insured for certain ailments, but they shouldn’t raise your overall premium. However, you do get the best value for the money the earlier you insure your dog.
Once your dog hits eight years of age, they are considered a ‘senior’ dog, and you will see your premiums start to rise from this point on. Some insurance carriers, like Healthy Paws and Embrace, have upper age limits, meaning they won’t kick off your dog as they age, but your dog must be under age 14 to enroll.
Some dog insurance is broken down by small, medium and large, and pounds determine other prices: toy, small (up to 25 pounds), 25 to 50 pounds for medium-sized dogs, large dogs (over 50) and giant dogs like Great Danes or Newfoundlands that are over 100 pounds. To find the best dog insurance, you have to do your homework specific to your breed, know the conditions your breed may face, and be able to figure out if the cost of treating anything and everything that may come up out of pocket is an option for you, or if you’d rather have the peace of mind of a dog insurance plan.
Since what is the “best” plan varies depending on your criteria, we broke down “best” into a few categories: reimbursement, customer service and best plans for older dogs.
We voted for Trupanion for the best reimbursement for dog insurance. With their Vet Direct Pay, they are trying to move pet insurance to a new era by working directly with vets and flipping the pet insurance on its head by operating more like human insurance. Even if your vet doesn’t participate in the Vet Direct Pay program, Trupanion offers a 90 percent reimbursement for all plans, and we think that is awesome. They do have a per-incident deductible, which some people find as a sticking point, but since they do Vet Direct Pay, we find that most people shell out less out of pocket for this plan.
Best Customer Service
Healthy Paws is our pick for best customer service because they are just so nice! They have great reviews all over the internet, and happy dog owners sing their praises because Healthy Paws came through when it really counted – when their dog was sick and they needed insurance coverage, which is really important. Their site is also easy to navigate, and they have more than just dog insurance, they also have tips on keeping your dog healthy so they don’t need to go to the vet.
Best for Older Dogs
If you are late to the pet insurance game and are seeking pet insurance for your much older dog, you may be too late for companies like Embrace and Healthy Paws, who have upper age enrollment limits of 14 years. You may also find that your premium seems very high, and this may turn you off of pet insurance altogether. Know that if you had enrolled your dog at a younger age, you would have had lower premiums that would have carried into your dog’s old age.
We picked Petplan for best dog insurance for older dogs because they cover more and cost less than other plans. To come to this decision, we looked at a few different scenarios. We got a quote for a medium-sized dog, nine years old. With a $500 annual deductible, 80% reimbursement, and $5,000 annual coverage, our monthly premium would be $69.12. We got a cheaper quote from PetFirst with almost the same data, but we didn’t like their $250 per-incident deductible. However, if you are just looking at price, theirs is lower at $52.95 per month with a discount on the first month. Senior pets do cost more to insure, as younger pets are only $34.95 a month with the same inputs. Conversely, a 16-year-old pet will run you $116.95 per month with PetFirst, but over $200 a month with Petplan, should you be so lucky as to have your four-legged friend live that long.
Finding the best dog insurance is no easy task. We encourage you to shop around but remember than any insurance is better than no insurance.