Tips For Buying a Dog Health Insurance Policy


"Comparing dog health insurance policies in the United States is important since plans vary in terms of monthly cost, deductibles and whether or not they will cover certain breeds or pre-existing conditions.

First, check to see if your plan covers three areas: accidents, illness, and preventative care. Some companies, such as Pets Best (see below) cover elements of all three in every plan. Others increase the cost when you add wellness or preventative care. Also make sure that the plan you select will let you choose any veterinarian, so you have flexibility for everyday care or when visiting an emergency veterinary center.

One approach for comparing plans is to get free online quotes from multiple companies at the same monthly cost and deductible level, followed by a comparison of benefits before making a decision (see below for suggestions). In general, buy a policy that protects against the types of problems that you can't afford, such as coverage for illness and accidents, and then add preventative care if you prefer a policy that is more comprehensive.

Here's our list of questions to ask before buying pet health insurance."


Dog health insurance policies in the United States are very similar to human health insurance. Insurance companies offer a range of policies tailored to suit the needs of your dog. Plans are designed to make sure that you can afford any needed medical treatment. Plans are also a way to protect against rapidly rising veterinary medical costs.

Many dog owners are starting to buy dog health insurance policies the United States due to the rising costs of health care and the peace of mind in knowing that you can give your pet the level of care you would expect for yourself.

Most companies start policies at age 6-8 weeks and depending on the company there may or may not be an age limit.

In Europe buying dog health insurance policies is common where over 1 out of 10 dogs are now insured.

Why Buy a Dog Health Insurance Policy?

Veterinarians can now successfully treat conditions that were previously considered untreatable. However with these advances comes an escalating cost of veterinary care. It is estimated that North American dog owners now spend over $10 billion a year on health care for their pets. The statistics show that most owners could benefit from some type of dog health insurance.

  • One in three pets will need emergency veterinary treatment every year.
  • Two out of every three pets experience a significant health problem during their lifetime.
  • Treating a broken leg can cost: $2,000 - $5,000; surgically extracting toys and rocks: $1,000 - $3,000; chronic illnesses such as diabetes or arthritis can cost an owner: $1,000 - $2,500 per year

Selecting a Dog Health Insurance Policy in the United States

Policies tend to include some type of accident, illness, or preventative/wellness coverage and protects the owner from unreasonably high costs. Some offer all three in one policy such as Pets Best (the first company to offer pet health insurance) and others such as Purina enable owners to choose just accident insurance.

Insurance policies vary by annual premium, deductibles, and coverage. Costs will change based on species, age, pre-existing conditions and sometimes if your dog lives primarily inside or outside.

For additional advice review our article on 6 ways to reduce pet insurance premiums.

Features of US Pet Health Insurance

There are several features that you should compare between Pet Health Insurance Policies:

  • Percentage of the bill covered:Usually 80% - 90%
  • No Pre-Authorization: Best policies do not require pre-authorization
  • Discounts for Multiple Pets: A useful option.
  • Deductibles: Tend to range from $75 to $300.
  • Coverage Limits: Most insurance polices set a range of between $25,000 - $100,000.
  • Per Incident Limit: Reimbursement per incident is usually $2,500 - $14,000.
  • Veterinarian and Hospital Selection: Most owners what to be able to choose.
  • Monthly Cost: If you are on a budget like me $20 per month or more can hurt the budget, but our pets are worth it.
  • Behavioral Consultation Coverage
  • Coverage for Physical Therapy or Acupuncture

 For more on the common features of pet health insurance see our page on US dog pet insurance or dog health insurance policy guide.

Pre-existing Conditions and Canine Health Insurance

As in all insurance, it varies by company. I was surprised to learn that even with a pre-existing condition, if your dog is stable for 3 to 12 months, many companies will accept your pet. This also depends on breed and type of illness (eg; if an illness is common in your breed, they may not write the insurance policy).

Try These Companies to Compare Dog Health Insurance Policies

Every insurance company is different. It is worth getting a few quotes to compare deductibles and coverage. A few reputable companies to request a free quote from are:

Pets Best

Policies as low as $19 a month. Founded by Jack Stephens, DVM, who also founded the pet insurance industry in the United States. All plans include coverage for preventative care, accident, and illness care.

  • All plans reimburse up to 80% of your vet bill for treatment related to accidents and illnesses, after a deductible.
  • Plans cover Emergency visits, Hospitalization, Specialist care, Surgeries, Outpatient care, Prescription medications, Cancer treatments
  • Limited coverage for acupuncture and chiropractic
  • Select any licensed veterinarian, specialist or emergency center anywhere in the world
  • No upper age limits for dogs
  • Plans will not cover pre-existing conditions (they will if the problem no longer exists such as a healed broken leg), congenital conditions present at birth, and conditions that could have been prevented by usually required vaccinations such as Kennel Cough

24 Hour Pet Watch

This company offers a flexible range of programs to meet the needs of all budgets. Features of 24 Hour Pet Watch Policies include:

  • Lifetime accident coverage (Up to $72,000 lifetime illness coverage)
  • Coverage for hereditary conditions available
  • Premiums and deductibles DO NOT increase due to pet aging
  • Guaranteed acceptance into a 24PetWatch program for all dogs regardless of age or current health (exclusions may apply)
  • Additional benefits including trip cancellation insurance, boarding kennel fees, coverage for prescription food, microchip discounts

After you receive your quotes compare them to the checklist on our best choices dog insurance page or our information on cat and dog health insurance.  You can also consider if you actually need dog health insurance or should you care for your pet without insurance.

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Source for Dog Health Insurance Policies in the United States

Pet Health Insurance
Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM
Your Guide to Veterinary Medicine