Understanding Pet Insurance

As an animal hospital, we receive a lot of questions from pet parents about pet insurance. What is it? How much does it cost? Which one is best for my pet? What does it cover? Therefore, we decided to address these questions in detail over a series of articles on our website.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance has been around since the early 1980s, with Lassie receiving the first policy through Nationwide.  Today, there are almost 20 companies providing pet insurance in the US and this number will most likely grow as more and more pet parents continue to seek major medical protection for their furry family members. The top four pet insurance providers (measured by market share) are: Nationwide (formerly VPI), Trupanion, Petplan, and ASPCA Pet Health Insurance.   Read Top 3 Pet Insurance Providers to learn more about each one.

Like human health insurance, it is designed to cover your pet’s major medical expenses due to illness or injury. It will not cover routine and preventive care such as wellness exams, spay/neuter surgeries, and vaccinations. Though some insurance providers will offer routine and preventive care through optional riders.  [UPDATE:] Since we wrote this article, Nationwide has created a product called Whole Pet with Wellness and they are now the only insurance provider to cover 90% of preventive care along with 90% of all accidents and illnesses (not pre-existing).  Please visit their website to learn more.

Unlike human health insurance, every veterinarian accepts pet insurance, no matter the provider. Typically, pet parents will pay for the veterinary services out-of-pocket at 100% and then fill out a claim form, have it signed by their veterinarian, and submit copies of invoices and payments, along with the pet’s medical record to their insurance provider. Provided the claim is covered by the policy and exceeds any applicable deductible, the claim should be accepted. Usually, pet parents are reimbursed, minus any applicable co-pay (10-30%) and deductible, within 15-30 days of a claim being submitted.   Currently, Trupanion and Embrace are the only two pet insurance providers that offers pet parents the ability to only pay the deductible (if applicable) and co-pay at time services are rendered, all other expenses are paid directly to the hospital by the insurance provider.  Not every hospital offers this option as the hospital has to sign up for it.  We currently work with Trupanion in this manner.

No matter which provider you select, know that having pet insurance for your furry friend is invaluable.  In our experience, having pet insurance often means not having to make a difficult decision between what is medically best for your pet and your finances. We encourage you to visit each provider’s website to learn more about their coverage and contact them directly with any questions.


This article has been created for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for expert advice directly provided by pet insurance providers.  We do not recommend or endorse any specific pet insurance provider.  It is very important to do your own research before selecting an insurance provider based on your own personal circumstances.  You should take independent insurance advice from a professional in connection with, or independently research and verify, any information that you find on our Website and wish to rely upon, whether for the purpose of making an insurance decision or otherwise.