10 Best Pet Insurance for Older Dogs: Unbiased Cost & Coverage Comparison

Introduction

Most Americans are woefully ill-equipped to handle an emergency. Emergencies can cost many thousands of dollars that few Americans can afford to pay. In fact, about 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 saved to face such a situation. If something were to happen to a loved one in your family today, could you afford to cover the expense?

When it’s a person that’s in need, hospitals will treat you and charge you on the backend. But pets don’t get the same consideration. If your dog needs medical attention, you’ll have to pay for it upfront. Without pet insurance, you could be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Pet insurance can help cover those expensive bills, but how much they help is dependent on your provider and your plan. If you want the best coverage possible for your aging dog, then the following 10 providers offer the best pet insurance in 2021.

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A Quick Look at the Best Pet Insurance Providers in 2021

  • Progressive Pet Insurance
  • Healthy Paws Pet Insurance
  • Lemonade Pet Insurance
  • ASPCA Pet Insurance
  • Figo Pet Insurance
  • Embrace Pet Insurance
  • AKC Pet Insurance
  • Pumpkin Pet Insurance
  • Trupanion Pet Insurance
  • Nationwide Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance Reviews 2021: Unbiased Cost & Coverage Comparison

1. Progressive Pet Insurance – Best Overall

progressive insurance homepage

When comparing the prices of different pet insurance providers, one provider stood out as far and away the most affordable option. That provider was Progressive, with rates that were less than half as expensive as competing providers! And the coverage was equal to or better than most of the competition. Your plan with Progressive includes unlimited annual coverage with customization available for your reimbursement percentage and deductibles.

The Progressive plans cover everything related to accidents and illnesses that your dog might experience. If you want less coverage and an even cheaper monthly price, then you can opt for the accident-only coverage, which could cost a mere $9 per month! Of course, it only covers accidents and not illnesses and your annual limit is $10,000.

If you go with the accident and illness plan, there are three tiers to choose from, all of which are priced far cheaper than plans from other providers. With the top-tier elite coverage, you’ll have exam fees covered, as well as alternative care. It will also take care of hereditary conditions, emergency care, cancer, and more. Exam fees are also covered under the mid-tier plans but not on the “essential” plan at the lowest tier. Only the highest tier covers alternative care.

You can also get discounts on these already affordable plans by paying annually, spaying or neutering your dog, or if you cover multiple pets. You can even add-on wellness plans for additional coverage, though we don’t think these add-ons really added much value.

Pros
  • Coverage includes dental issues
  • Discounts for annual pay, spay/neuter, and multiple pets
  • Super affordable policies
  • Unlimited annual coverage
  • Options to cover exam fees and alternative care
  • Two tiers of optional wellness add-ons
Cons
  • Wellness add-ons don’t provide much value
  • Read our full review of Progressive Pet Insurance.

2. Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

Healthy Paws Homepage

With no caps or maximums on your payouts and speedy claim processing, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance is a great choice for most old dogs. No matter how many times you have to use your insurance, with Healthy Paws, there are no caps on your payouts. That includes per-incident, annual, and lifetime payouts; none of them have maximums. If you need to file a claim, you simply snap a picture of the vet bill and submit it through the Healthy Paws app on your phone. Then, you’ll be reimbursed; generally, within just two days.

As a member of Healthy Paws, you can visit any licensed veterinarian. Getting coverage with Healthy Paws is simple since there’s just one main plan and no expensive add-ons. Covered in the plan are all sorts of conditions and care, including hereditary conditions, illnesses, accidents, X-rays, blood tests, hospitalization, emergency care, alternative treatment, and more. However, routine and preventative care are not covered by the Healthy Paws plan.

Pros
  • Takes just 2 days to process most claims
  • No caps on per-incident, annual, or lifetime payouts
  • Can visit any licensed vet
  • Claims can be submitted through the app
  • It’s easy to set up your plan and get coverage
Cons
  • Doesn’t cover routine or preventative care
  • Read our full review of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance.

3. Lemonade Pet Insurance

Lemonade Homepage

Affordable and easy to get started with, Lemonade Pet Insurance offers adjustable plans that can fit any need or budget. Lemonade is a full-service insurance provider that deals with a lot more than just pet insurance. As such, you can get further discounts by pairing together multiple types of insurances through the company. They’re also incredibly easy to get started with. Their website walks you through each step of the process.

Depending on your needs, there are multiple add-ons you can opt into, including a wellness package that will cover routine care, checkups, and even some vaccines. The base plan covers diagnostic procedures, health care procedures, and medications due to illnesses and accidents. However, there is a one-time waiting period before you can claim your first injury or illness.

When choosing your plan, there are many options for you to fine-tune, including what you want to pay for the deductible, how much you want them to reimburse you, and you can even decide what caps you want on your plan. As you make changes, you’ll see your monthly price change in real-time. And if you need to file a claim, you can do it directly through the Lemonade app. Sometimes, you’re even reimbursed before leaving the vet!

Pros
  • Optional wellness package covers routine care
  • Covers diagnostic, procedures, and medications
  • Options for reimbursement, caps, and deductibles
  • Some claims filed before you leave the vet
  • Claims can be filed through the Lemonade app
Cons
  • There are one-time waiting periods for injury and illness
  • Read our full review of Lemonade Pet Insurance.

4. ASPCA Pet Insurance

ASPCA Homepage

ASPCA offers customizable insurance plans for your old pup that can greatly reduce your overall cost of healthcare, depending on how you set your plan up. They offer two main plans; an accident-only plan and a complete coverage plan. The complete coverage plan will cover accidents, illnesses, hereditary conditions, and even behavioral issues. However, it’s a bit pricier than similar plans from other providers, and it doesn’t cover preventative care, though you can add on preventative care packages after you choose your base plan.

If you opt for the accident-only plan, the only thing covered will be new injuries caused by accidents. Illnesses won’t be covered by the plan. That said, it’s far cheaper than a complete coverage plan and could be one of the most affordable ways to get pet insurance.

Your plan with ASPCA pet insurance is utterly customizable. You can change the amount they reimburse you, how much of a deductible you want to pay, and what your annual limits will be. Of course, the prices will adjust to reflect the changes you make. Lower deductibles, higher limits, and more reimbursement will naturally mean you’re paying more for coverage each month. After enacting your policy, there’s a 15-day waiting period before you can utilize any of your benefits.

Pros
  • Covers behavioral issues
  • Accident-only and complete coverage plans
  • Can add-on preventative care packages
  • Customizable deductibles, limits, and reimbursements
Cons
  • Complete coverage is more expensive than other providers
  • 15-day waiting period before policy is usable
  • Read our full review of ASPCA Pet Insurance.

5. Figo Pet Insurance

Figo Homepage

If you’re looking for affordable coverage for your pet that covers accidents and illnesses with customizable plans, then Figo pet insurance is worth checking out. Their basic plans are on the more affordable side and can be customized to fit your specific needs. They offer three basic levels of coverage; essential, preferred, and ultimate. Essential and preferred plans have limits of $5,000 and $10,000 annual benefits, but the ultimate plan has unlimited annual benefits.

Regardless of which tier coverage you opt for, you can adjust the amount that Figo will reimburse you, as well as the deductible. Deductibles are available from $250 to $1,000 and reimbursement options are from 70% up to 100% reimbursement. Unfortunately, there’s no coverage for routine, wellness, or preventative care. Dental cleanings aren’t covered either.

All three plans will cover accidents and illnesses. However, if you want the exam and consultation fees to be covered and not just the treatment, you’ll have to add the “PowerUp” to your plan for an additional fee.

Pros
  • Access a vet through the app
  • Packages available with unlimited benefits
  • More affordable than many providers
  • Customizable plans with up to 100% reimbursement
  • Can do everything through the Figo app
Cons
  • No coverage for routine, wellness, or preventative care
  • Doesn’t cover dental cleanings
  • Coverage for exam fees is extra
  • Read our full review of Figo Pet Insurance.

6. Embrace Pet Insurance

Embrace Homepage

Embrace pet insurance offers a comprehensive accident and illness plan that includes dental illnesses, breed-specific and genetic conditions, chronic conditions, and cancer. Exam fees are also covered, as well as some specialized care like behavioral therapies and alternative therapies, which aren’t covered by many pet insurance providers.

When selecting your plan, you can alter the reimbursement percentage, deductible, and reimbursement limits. Limits can span from $5,000 to $30,000 per year, but there’s no option for unlimited benefits. Deductibles range from $200 to $1,000, and you can choose from 70%, 80%, or 90% reimbursement, though you can’t opt for 100% reimbursement as some providers allow.

Regardless of which deductible you choose, every year that you don’t file a claim, your deductible will decrease by $50. If you’re not satisfied with the coverage of their main plan, you can add on a wellness plan of $250, $450, or $650 per year. This will cover routine care, grooming, microchipping, flea and tick medications, and a lot more. Unfortunately, the wellness add-ons are far pricier than the add-ons from other providers.

Pros
  • Decreasing deductibles each year
  • 24/7 pet health line
  • Optional wellness add-ons
  • Covers diagnosis and treatment of accidents and illnesses
Cons
  • Wellness add-ons are overpriced
  • No option for unlimited benefits
  • Can’t opt for 100% reimbursement
  • Read our full review of Embrace Pet Insurance.

7. AKC Pet Insurance

AKC Homepage

The American Kennel Club or AKC is one of the most well-known advocates in the dog world. They have a gigantic registration database of purebred dogs and put out a ton of information to help dog owners. Furthermore, they offer services for people with dogs, including pet insurance. AKC pet insurance is a great bet if you have multiple dogs since they offer a multi-pet discount. For basic coverage, AKC is one of the more affordable providers, so this discount can help make their coverage even more affordable.

AKC insurance for your pet has some great features. For instance, there’s an option to get unlimited annual benefits, and it’s more affordable than similar plans from most providers. However, some basics aren’t covered under the plan, including the cost of exam fees. If you want those covered, you’ll have to select an optional add-on that increases your price.

Also not covered under the AKC plans are any type of routine coverage. You can opt to add “defender” or “defender plus” coverage to your plan that will cover some of the costs associated with routine care, such as heartworms, microchips, flea and tick prevention, and rabies. But the add-ons are very costly and don’t offer as much value as similar wellness add-ons we’ve seen from other providers.

Pros
  • Multi-pet discount
  • Unlimited benefits available
  • Defender add-on for routine coverage
Cons
  • Coverage of exam fees is an add-on
  • Add-ons are overpriced for the benefits they provide
  • Read our full review of AKC Pet Insurance.

8. Pumpkin Pet Insurance

Pumpkin Homepage

Pumpkin is an insurance provider that only deals with pet insurance and they’re extremely new to the scene. In fact, they’ve only been in business since April 30, 2020. But new doesn’t necessarily mean bad, and Pumpkin has a few great things on offer. For instance, we love the multi-pet discount of 10% on each additional pet. They also offer coverage for things many providers don’t, including exam fees, microchipping, behavioral issues, and conditions that many insurances won’t cover, such as hip dysplasia.

Of course, no preventative care is included with your coverage, though you can add it on as an extra expense. Unfortunately, the preventative care add-on offers very limited coverage at a rather high price. This is stacked on top of one of the most expensive plans we’ve seen, so Pumpkin isn’t the insurance provider for those on a budget. Disappointingly, they don’t offer any unlimited benefits plans either, so you’re stuck with a limit of either $10,000 or $20,000 annually.

Pros
  • Save 10% on each additional pet
  • Can add on a package for preventative care
  • Covers exam fees, microchipping, and behavioral issues
  • Coverage for accidents and illness including hip dysplasia
Cons
  • Plans are overpriced compared to other providers
  • No unlimited plans
  • The preventative care add-on doesn’t cover much
  • Read our full review of Pumpkin Pet Insurance.

9. Trupanion Pet Insurance

Trupanion Homepage

Trupanion, underwritten by the American Pet Insurance Company, is a popular pet insurance provider. Their plans cover many health concerns, including hereditary conditions, unidentified issues, congenital conditions, as well as tests and treatments related to injuries and accidents. There’s a lot they don’t cover though, including exam fees. Wellness and preventative care are not covered either and there’s no way to add-on coverage for any of these.

All Trupanion plans include unlimited payouts, so, no matter what your dog’s healthcare costs, they’ll be willing to cover 90% of it. At some establishments, they even offer vet direct pay, so you won’t have to pay out of pocket; instead, Trupanion will pay before you leave.

The biggest problem we found with Trupanion is a lack of customizability. You can change your deductible, but you can’t adjust limits, coverage, or reimbursement percentage to adjust your price. And the truth is, they offer some of the most expensive plans we’ve seen, even though they don’t cover things that many other providers include in their plans, such as alternative care. Luckily, you can cancel your coverage in the first 30 days if you’re not happy, but you probably won’t have had a chance to see how you like it by then!

Pros
  • Coverage can be canceled in the first 30 days
  • Vet direct pay at some establishments
  • No limits on payouts
Cons
  • Prohibitive pricing
  • Alternative care is not covered
  • Plans offer limited customization options
  • No options for wellness coverage or exam fees
  • Read our full review of Trupanion Pet Insurance.

10. Nationwide Pet Insurance

Nationwide Homepage

Nationwide is a major insurance provider that deals with all sorts of insurance. You’ve probably even seen their commercials with mega-stars like Peyton Manning. There’s no doubt that they have the reach and influence to get their advertising in front of people, but in terms of pet insurance policies, we aren’t big fans.

When you first sign up and pay for your plan, there’s a 14-day waiting period before your policy even goes into effect. If your dog has cruciate ligament injuries, you might want to consider a different insurance provider as the wait for receiving care on them is 12 months through Nationwide; double the time that many providers make you wait.

Nationwide’s policy prices weren’t great, but they weren’t the most expensive we’ve seen either. On the other hand, their enrollment fees are outrageous. When signing up, our enrollment fee was about the same price as a month of coverage.

We found it difficult to determine exactly what’s covered when signing up for a policy, but it’s clear that wellness is only covered with the optional wellness add-on. However, we could see that holistic and alternative treatments were covered. You really can’t customize your plan though. They offer you two selections with no way to modify them, which is just one more reason why we weren’t impressed with Nationwide pet insurance.

Pros
  • Optional wellness coverage available
  • Coverage includes holistic and alternative treatments
Cons
  • 12-month waiting period for cruciate ligament injuries
  • They make it difficult to determine what’s covered
  • High enrollment fees
  • Policies don’t go into effect for 14 days after payment
  • Lack of customization options
  • Read our full review of Nationwide Pet Insurance.

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Buyer’s Guide

What to Look for in Pet Insurance

Comparing pet insurance providers and plans can be difficult when you don’t know what aspects to compare. The following parameters are how we base our comparisons as we’ve found these to be the most important components of a good pet insurance policy.

Policy Coverage

The most important aspect of any policy is its coverage. What things does it cover and what is excluded? You must know this to be able to evaluate a policy. Some policies are accident-only, others are accident and illness. There are also add-ons such as wellness and preventative care packages that will increase your coverage on certain select items like vaccines, routine checkups, and microchipping.

Each provider offers different coverage. Some providers will cover vaccines in their wellness packages, others won’t, and others won’t even offer wellness add-ons. You’ll find providers that cover hip dysplasia and others that won’t. So, it’s vital that you thoroughly check through your policy to what things it covers.

Customer Service & Reputation

If you have to file a claim, you’ll be hoping that your insurance provider lives up to your expectations. One of the best ways of ensuring this is to research their reputation. You can easily find out what other real-world customers of these providers thought of the coverage and customer service they received. It’s possible that people have had bad experiences with a certain provider that you were considering and reading those reviews might save you from a lot of headaches.

Horror stories exist of providers that don’t want to pay for things that should be included in their coverage. You never know what could happen, so you’ll want to know how the company has behaved in the past. And if you have questions about your policy or need help with something, you want to be certain that the customer service reps actually want to help and that they’re easy to get a hold of.

Claim Repayment

The way that typical pet insurance works is you pay for the cost of medical care up front and the insurance company reimburses you later. That’s fine if care isn’t too expensive, but if you had to pay out thousands of dollars upfront, you’d want to be reimbursed as quickly as possible. This is why it’s so important to understand how your provider handles claims and repayment.

Today, many of the best and biggest pet insurance providers offer claim filing through their smartphone apps. It’s as easy as snapping a picture of your vet bill and submitting it on the app. Many companies are managing payments in two days or less. Some are even able to pay the vet before you leave so you don’t have to pay out of pocket at all!

Price of Policy

When you purchase pet insurance, you’re hoping that you rarely have to use it. Unfortunately, the more you use it, the more you get your money’s worth out of it. Some pet insurance policies can be prohibitively pricey. Each month, you’ll have to make that payment whether you made use of their services that month or not. Over time, those payments can add up to a lot of money.

Granted, your payments will be different under each provider and depending on the changes you made to your policy. You have a lot of control over what you pay, but getting a cheap policy isn’t the best if the coverage is poor or the company is awful to work with. So, you have to weigh out the value of the service compared to the price you pay.

Plan Customization

Some companies attempt to simplify the process of getting pet insurance by offering only one plan or very limited options. But we prefer customizable options. Maybe you like the coverage that a provider offers, but you need to adjust the cost. With customizable plans, you can adjust things like the deductible you pay, the percentage of the total cost that they’ll reimburse, and your annual limits for how much they’ll pay out, without changing the coverage.

You’ll find that many pet insurance providers offer tiers of coverage that offer different things for different prices. These can be good ways to adjust the coverage you’re getting. Then you can further adjust your price by manipulating the deductible and reimbursement parameters.

a woman and dog on the trunk of a truck
Image Credit: Cparks, Pixabay

FAQ

What is a deductible?

A deductible is the amount that you have to pay out of pocket before the insurance company will start their coverage. For example, if your deductible is $500 and you take the dog to the vet for an injury that costs $2,500 for care, then you’ll have to pay $500 out of pocket. Then, the insurance company will reimburse you the percentage of the remaining $2,000 that’s agreed upon in your plan. Deductibles usually only have to be paid once a year on the first claim or claims. If the care you get on your first vet visit only costs $300, you’ll have to pay it out of pocket and still spend another $200 out of pocket before the insurance company will start reimbursing you.

What are annual limits?

Annual limits represent the maximum amount that your insurance provider will pay out in a single year. Some insurance providers offer unlimited plans with no annual limits.

What are waiting periods?

When you first begin an insurance plan, you’ll have to wait for a specified amount of time before getting care. This could apply to the entire plan or to specific types of care.

Which Pet Insurance Provider Is Best For You?

Regardless of our opinions about each of the insurance providers we covered, you need to find the coverage that’s the best option for you and your senior dog. Take our reviews as a starting point and use them to get a good feel for which of these providers might be a good fit. Then, gather some quotes from the providers you picked. See what prices they quote you and take a close look at what each provider covers in their plans. Once you do this, you can more accurately compare each of the providers and plans available to you.

Remember to revisit our buyer’s guide to get reminders about what traits you should be comparing each of these companies on. It doesn’t make sense to pay out each month for a service that doesn’t fit your needs, so be certain you find the provider that’s right for you.

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Conclusion

As your dog ages, the amount of healthcare necessary to keep him living as long and healthy as possible increases. Along with the increase in healthcare is a rising cost for you. Paying out of pocket could be cost-prohibitive, but if you find the right pet insurance, you can offset a majority of that cost and let the insurance take care of your dog’s healthcare needs for a small payment each month.


Featured Image: Christin Lola, Shutterstock