For Consumers

What to consider before buying pet insurance

Before you buy a pet policy, make sure you ask questions about cost and coverage. You don't want to get stuck with a policy that doesn't meet your needs. You'll also want to:

Compare policy costs

Find out if the policy limits payouts by incident, a yearly timeframe or your animal's lifetime.

Ask what premiums will be based on the age and breed of your pet, and the amount and type of coverage you choose.

Questions to ask about costs

  • Are there discounts for insuring multiple pets?
  • How quickly do you pay claims?
  • Are claims covered annually or by incident?
  • If the coverage is by incident, is there a time limit?
  • Is there a dollar limit for vet office fees?


Some companies pay the vet for covered services, but only after you pay the full bill when your pet is treated. The company then reimburses you for the covered amount.

Read and review the policy

Be sure to look at:

  • Deductibles
  • Copays
  • Coverage limits
  • Exclusions

Pre-existing conditions

Review the policy to make sure it covers pre-existing conditions (certain hereditary and medical conditions). For pre-existing conditions, the company may enforce a wait period before coverage kicks in. For other conditions, such as diabetes or cancer, they may exclude it entirely or cover it only on a limited basis. A vet may have to examine your pet to certify its health before you can insure it.

Renewable benefits

If your pet's treated for a covered condition during the policy term, some companies will then consider it a pre-existing condition when the policy renews. As a result, the company may exclude coverage for that condition in the renewal policy.

Veterinarian networks

Some plans require you to use a specific network of veterinarians. Make sure there's a veterinarian in your area or that your family veterinarian is in your network if you don’t want to change.