Pet Insurance

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Hello

    i have 2 two year old cats. I’m thinking of pet insurance because I spent a huge amount of money on vet bills in the past and promised myself that I would get pet insurance in the future.

    I got a quote for 140 per month for both cats from one company which seems pricey. I’m wondering if people who have insurance for younger pets think it’s worth it, (or at what age would make more sense), if so, which insurance companies you recommend, and if there tends to be fine print I should be aware of such as yearly premium hikes or hikes as pets age.


    We’ve had great experiences with TruPanion. They cover 90% of anything unexpected. Not routine care. But routine care (vaccines) isn’t what breaks the bank. 

    Pet insurance quotes are going to vary wildly depending on the type of coverage you want - preventative care, coverage for congenital conditions, whether there's a cap on payout, lifetime maximums, co-insurance, deductible level, etc.

    We ultimately went with Healthy Paws for our Pomeranian (when we got him at 9 months) and, later, our cats (when we got them at 4 months). What I like about them is that it is a pretty straightforward calculation: there is no maximum (not per condition, not per pet, not per year), you have an annual deductible and co-insurance. They are a little on the pricey side, I believe, but they are also the only one that I know of that doesn't kick pets off once they reach a certain age or claim too many events.

    We're paying around $40 for our two cats (still under 1 year) for 80% reimbursement/$250 plan year deductible. There was a notable premium hike for our dog once he crossed the "senior" threshold at 7 years - from $82 to $112 (with 90%/$100 coverage), but pretty moderate increases (maybe $5-$10?) year over year otherwise. It's worth noting that adding pets at a later age runs the very large risk of running into a condition that will disqualify them from later care for that condition, whereas it would have been covered if they had been enrolled and passed the waiting period before it came up. 


    • No maximums of any kind; other plans often offer annual, lifetime, or condition-based payout maximums
    • Reimbursement is generally reasonable, within 3-5 business days
    • They've never nickel and dimed me over whether a medication or a test was considered medically necessary. They do not cover exam fees or preventive care, but they cover everything else so long as it's documented.
    • No pre-authorization requirement for care and can use with any vet
    • Covers holistic care like acupuncture, chiropractic care, hydrotherapy, physical therapy, laser therapy, massage


    • It is expensive, one of the top monthly premium plans available
    • There is a notable price change depending on age cliffs that are not clear to me
    • There is no preventive care package available (I don't care about this because the savings don't outweigh the premiums but I know this matters for some)
    • The waiting period after initial enrollment is 15 days(!)--one of the longest--and 12 months for hip dysplasia
    • You need to have an enrollment exam (just a whole health overview from your vet, doesn't need to be a special visit just for Healthy Paws)

    Bottom line:

    I have never regretted having insurance for my dog, and so I added my cats. It took 1 emergency incident in the first 2 years of my dog's life to justify the premiums for that entire period, and there have been a couple since. More than anything, I have this insurance--specifically this one, without any maximums--because I will never hesitate to give my pets the care they deserve simply based off cost or coverage. 

    I have read that generally pet insurance isn't worth the cost. Paying each month might feel easier but in the long run you spend more. I would recommend putting the money you would spend on insurance asside in case you need it for your pets' medical care. Of course there is some risk of a pet having a large expense soon, but it is likely a small risk. 

    For us, we always thought it was better to just set aside the monthly premium to save for any eventualities, and then pay out of that, rather than pay for insurance. 

    I have had a great number of companion animals and have found that pet insurance was never worth the money I spent. However I do have a suggestion - there is an affordable option to the current vets in local practice - Dr. Crystal Heath. Her practice is She offers a hybrid model - on-line, pop-up clinics and home visits. Her prices were extremely affordable and she is an obviously compassionate, competent veterinarian that is an excellent communicator (and is a recent 2012 U.C. Davis graduate).

    I have been very disappointed with the local vet population in practice here. The most highly trained, recent graduates are all employed at the very expensive 24 hour Vet Emergency clinics and the rest have been meh in terms of knowledge.

    Best of luck! 

    Hello -- I'm on the animal health clinic side of this equation. I can say that the pet owners I work with really like Trupanion -- that company does not cover yearly preventative things (dental cleanings, vaccines), but does cover the majority of big things that can set you back (surgeries, kidney treatment, cancer, etc.) If you aren't the type of person that would do big ticket treatments (which is totally fine), then you can look into insurance that covers a finite amount of preventative care, or consider having a pet savings accounts where you save monthly to cover the yearly costs. 

    I have two cats ages 10 and 12 and I really wish I had paid for pet insurance throughout their lives (too late now with pre-existing conditions).  As they got older we started paying for the more comprehensive annual bloodwork which this past year identified early thyroid problems for one cat and early kidney problems for the other, both of these are extremely common and since they were caught early can be managed more easily.  One of our cats also had to have an eye removed due to freckles in his eye that were cancerous.  Otherwise our cats are healthy and in great shape for their age, but it seems like something is always bound to come up in the lifetime of a pet that would make the insurance worth it if you are the type of person that will be proactive with vet care and pay for almost any treatment/surgery to keep your pet healthy.  If you would be comfortable not doing a surgery or treatment if it was over a designated amount, then putting some money into a savings account could be a cheaper alternative.  I had read that advice years ago that it was better to put the money into a savings account, and while I do have a designated account for them, we've easily exceeded that amount in the past year.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Pet Insurance Rate Increase

June 2013

I just found out that my pet insurance company (Trupanion) just raised my monthly premium by 36%! It's going from $46.38 (which already seemed crazy high) to $63.16. I'm wondering if I have any recourse. Are they allowed to do that? If they are (which is what I assume), I will definitely want to find another insurer. Does anyone have a recommendation for another insurer (especially one that's good for a dog who isn't a puppy? Our dog is 4 years old). Thanks! Unhappy Customer

I've used Petplan ( for the past four years for all five of my cats and am ECSTATIC with them. Very reasonable rates, they hardly ever go up, they've never questioned a claim, etc. In fact they lose money on me every year (literally, every year they have paid out more than I've paid in). I'm not even sure how they make a profit.

Before I bought the insurance, I'd spent about $6,000 on a sick cat who subsequently died. I realized if that happened with a bunch of my cats simultaneously I'd be up the creek. So I spent about two months researching all the companies. Petplan came out first (according to my criteria), with Embrace a close second. Phrasing the next part carefully: I liked ASPCA and VPI the least, from what I saw. That is my opinion and I am not suggesting that you not do business with them. I'm saying that I personally wouldn't. Get Petplan and you'll never look back. Anon

A recent responding poster was too tactful to say anything negative about ASPCA Pet Insurance, but as someone whose dog has been insured by them for 9 years, I have no such qualms. Stay away. I agree that frequent rate increases are annoying, but if your current pet insurer is reimbursing your claims fairly, I'd stick with them. You really don't want a pet insurer that makes no allowance for the higher cost of veterinary services in the Bay Area. That's ASPCA Insurance. Of course, they SAY they do market surveys and adjust for geographical differences, but in my experience it isn't true. Every time I've filed a claim, they've discounted what I was charged to what they say is 'reasonable and customary' -- that means it takes longer to reach my annual deductible and the 80% the plan supposedly pays back after reaching the deductible is never -- ever -- really 80% of what it cost me. Also, one year, my dog was diagnosed with something a few days before the end of the 'plan year'; when I had her treated for that condition after that date, all expenses related to the condition were rejected as 'pre-existing.' Unfortunately, my dog was already of an age where it was impossible to switch to another pet insurance company. But I will never insure a pet with them again. ASPCA did itself a grave disservice lending its good name to this. P.O.'d Pet Parent

Anyone have Pet Insurance?

March 2012

I have a 3 y.o Aussie mix. She is healthy now but had distemper and mange when I got her. My last girl died of cancer and it was pretty expensive. I'm thinking of getting insurance but the few brochures I picked up at my Vets all seemed the same. Does anyone have experience with any of the various companies, and if so, how has it worked for you? Dog mom

The best pet insurance by far is TruPanion. They cover 90% of ANYTHING unexpected (illness, injury, etc). They do not cover routine issues (vaccines, etc). Since it''s the unexpected things that will cost you (knee surgery, kidney failure, hospitalization, cancer treatment) this makes more sense. Avoid VPI at all costs. They are terrible and try to decline payment with loopholes in coverage. -Been through it and happy with TruPanion!

I have pet insurance with VPI. I just filed my first claim and haven't heard back yet. If you want, send me your email address and I'll let you know how it turns out. Jon

Pet insurance for our cats

Sept 2011

Can anyone recommend some Pet Insurance? We have several cats, and I know from experience that as they get older, there will be more, and bigger vet bills. I want to find some pet insurance before I actually really need it. Thanks. animal lover

We have ASPCA pet insurance for two dogs and have been pretty happy with it; previously we had VPI and had a harder time with them paying claims. It's definitely smart to get it *before* any chronic/serious health problems develop. insured pooches

Hello, As someone in the Veterinary Field, I can recommend highly recommend TruPanion Pet Insurance. Avoid VPI at all costs- they do everything they can to avoid re-imbursement. You definitely want to get insurance now as most insurance companies exclude pre-existing conditions (sound familiar?). -Anon

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Is pet insurance worth the cost?

June 2006

Does anyone have any experience with veterinary pet insurance, good or bad, s/he would like to share? What I'm trying to figure out is whether it is worth the cost (considerable, as we have three older dogs). We just spent a fortune on medical care for an (uninsured) dog; if insurance pays a significant share of the cost in the event of a catastrophic illness such as cancer, it might be worth doing. Thanks for your help, ljz

We have used VPI for about 5 years now and are very satisfied. We have two dogs and two cats, all fairly young, and didn't want to face the dilemma of finances versus giving them necesary medical care in the event of an accident/injury. We have the highest level of coverage, which covers vacinations, preventative stuff like heartworm medication and flea/tick medication, and maybe one annual ''checkup.'' VPI only pays up to a certain amount - it never covers the entire vet bill - but there have been several times when our dogs have been injured and we've been charged a huge amount for stiching up lacerations, etc. --- and we were glad we had insurance. We've never had a claim turned down and when I've had to get on the phone with the company, they've been very helpful anon

I had bad experiences with them about 6 years ago. I had an older rottweiler who I got insurance on when she was about 4 or 5, with the cancer policy. They covered barely anything and the type of cancer she got when she was 7 was not covered under the policy, and told me it was a pre-existing condition, which it wasn't. They have so much fine print, it is hard to find anything that they do cover and you have to play a lot out of pocket before the insurance will kick in. I think I got *maybe* $300 back total for 2 dogs being covered for 6 years, for incidental things like teeth cleaning and shots, nothing major. But when major things ($$$$) went down with my dogs (cancer, vomiting, eye lesions, fox tails in the nose), they totally screwed me and I got such a lousy return for it, like $25 for a $600 vet bill. It was a very unwise investment for me. It was worth it once when our second dog was a puppy and we had her spayed, but now days, any vet will fix your dog on a sliding scale and sometimes free! It makes me sad just to think about it. When times were tough with my dog suffering, I *thought* I had planned well for her care, only to find out that VPI was heartless and found every way to get out of covering her bills. Hope my 2 cents helps

We have been using VPI for several years now. Our dog had a pre- existing condition (hip displaysia) so anything related to this condition is not covered but we decided it was worth the $160 we spend each year just in case something does happen. It is like any insurance - you wish you had it if something bad happens and dogs can do crazy things sometimes. We have gotten some money back for testing we did earlier and medications we had to give to her. One thing though - they might not cover older dogs or charge a lot if they have not been covered before Wendy

I have VPI for my two dogs (5 and 9 years old). I have only needed to submit claims for my 9 year old so far. One of the last times was for teeth extraction, and I think VPI ended up covering about half of it. They have a defined schedule of what they will pay for what illness/treatment, regardless of how much your vet charges (they don't pay a certain percentage). If you sign up your dogs with them, they will also review their medical records and probably will exclude any prior problems from coverage. You can talk to them about the details if you're concerned. Their customer service is very good. I believe that having health insurance for my dogs is worth it. I have the basic plan, so it's not that expensive, but it gives me peace of mind. In fact, I've always said that I hope I never have to use the insurance, even if I pay for it their entire lives Hope this helps