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Best pet insurance for renters 2023
If you’ve ever paid a big vet bill, you’ve also probably thought about pet insurance and wondered if it was worth it. Choosing the best pet insurance used to be trickier because there weren’t many options. But according to NAPHIA (North American Pet Health Insurance Association), pet insurance has experienced double-digit growth for six consecutive years. The 2020 results show total premium volume in the U.S. amounted to $1.99 billion USD, a 27.5% annual increase over 2019.
More pet insurance providers are good news because it means more coverage options for you (er, for your pet). It can also be overwhelming news because you have more research to do. Fortunately, we’ve done it for you. Here are our recommendations for the best pet insurance for renters in 2023.
Our recommendations for the best overall pet insurance
Lemonade: Cheapest pet insurance
Lemonade wins our cheapest pet insurance prize. While they don’t offer a lot of flexibility, they provide the cheapest coverage for a pretty comprehensive policy.
Pawp: Best overall value
Pawp isn’t actually pet insurance for direct care. It’s online 24/7 access to vets and pet experts that can answer your questions and provide advice. (Marco just ate an entire bottle of your prenatal vitamins. Should you take him in? They’ll answer questions like that.)
The rate doesn’t change because of species or size and covers up to six pets. Plus, you get a $3000 emergency vet fund with no deductible.
Spot: Best overall coverage
Although a little more expensive, Spot wins our vote for best overall coverage. They include microchipping and preventative care in their standard packages (most policies don’t).
Best pet insurance compared
We checked with each pet insurance company to see what type of comprehensive coverage (accident and illness) rates they would give us according to the following:
- Cat or dog
- Medium size
- Mixed breed unknown
- 6 years old
- 80% pay percentage
- $10,000 annual pay up to amount
- $250 deductible
|Plan||Highlights||Cost per month|
|Lemonade||• Comprehensive package includes illness and accidents|
• Has wellness rider you can add
• Has extended accident and illness package that includes ongoing vet visits and therapy for accidents or illnesses
|Average dog $33/mo |
Average cat $16/mo
|Spot||• Offers accident-only coverage|
• Exam fees
• Comprehensive coverage
• Preventative care
• Therapeutic diets & dietary supplement plans
• No vaccination charge for coverage of certain conditions
• Multiple pet discount
|Average dog $62/mo|
Average cat $32/mo
|Pawp||• Unlimited telehealth visits with vets and pet experts|
• 24/7 access to vets
• No appointments or waiting times
• $3000 fund for emergency vet bills
• Online access to your pets
• Can use for up to 6 pets
|Average dog $19/mo|
Average cat $19/mo
|Embrace||• Prepay discount|
• Comprehensive accident & illness coverage
• 10% Muli-pet discount
• Military discount
|Average dog $64/mo|
Average cat $30/mo
|Pets Best||• Has more flexible coverage options including basic comprehensive package, accident & illness exam rider, & a rehabilitative rider|
• Wellness package riders that for an extra $16 or $26 a month that isn’t affected by type or size of pet
• 24/7 Pet Helpline
• Accident only coverage
|Average dog $52/mo|
Average cat $25/mo
*Pawp isn’t a traditional pet insurance company. They offer you online access to vets and pet experts to ask questions and get advice without taking your pet in for a vet visit.
How much does pet insurance usually cost?
The average premium runs about $585 a year for dogs and $350 a year for cats. Some of the factors that go into determining pet insurance premiums for your pet are:
- Species—Dogs tend to cost more than cats because they are larger and have more claims submitted for them.
- Age—Older pets cost more because of increased health problems.
- Gender—On average, females cost less than males because fewer claims are submitted for them, statistically speaking.
- Breed—Breeds known to be predisposed to certain types of genetic diseases cost more.
- Location—Plans costs more in urban areas than in rural areas.
What does pet insurance actually cover?
Most companies that offer pet insurance have a three-tiered system comprised of wellness, accident, and comprehensive coverage (accident & illness).
Wellness pet insurance
Wellness coverage is preventative or routine care. Wellness plans are typically riders (or add-ons) to more popular comprehensive plans.
The majority of wellness plans offer a dollar amount or percentage of the cost of covered procedures rather than have deductibles and typically include the following:
- Certain tests
- Flea and tick control
- Annual checkups
- Heartworm prevention
- Teeth cleaning
Accident pet insurance
You guessed it; accidental coverage pays for vet care due to both self-inflicted problems (like eating your car keys for breakfast) or an accident (like being hit by a car).
Accident-only typically covers the following types of incidents:
- Hit by car
- Foreign body ingestion
- Torn cruciate ligament
- Insect/snake bites
- Cuts and lacerations
- Prescription drugs (for a covered event)
- Eye injuries
- Broken bones
Comprehensive pet insurance (accident and Illness)
Comprehensive plans cover accidents and illnesses or diseases like cancer. These are the most common types of policies. Comprehensive plans cover everything listed above under accidents as well as the following:
- Diagnostic testing and imaging
- Cancer treatment
- Breed-specific conditions
- Chronic conditions
- Surgery, hospitalization, nursing care
- Dental illness
- Prescription drugs
- ER and specialist care
Additional pet insurance coverage options
Some companies offer extra levels of coverage that you can add on to your policy for an additional cost. The following list includes some common examples of this extra coverage.
- Reward for a lost or stolen pet
- Liability coverage for bites or injuries caused by your pet (typically part of renters insurance, but a few policies offer it as an option.)
- Pet boarding and care if you are incapacitated
- Emergency out-of-country treatment
How does pet insurance work?
Like health insurance for people, pet insurance still has premiums and deductibles, and sometimes even co-pays. But that is where many of the similarities end.
Unlike most health care plans, pet insurance plans let you choose any vet you want. There are no HMOs in pet insurance (at least not yet). That means you can keep the same vet if you switch plans.
Three tiers of coverage
The majority of companies that offer pet insurance only offer the three tiers of coverage discussed above, wellness, accident, and comprehensive.
You bill the insurance
Unlike human’s health insurance, where you go to the doctor, and your doctor bills your insurance first before you see a bill, you pay the total bill to the vet, and then it is your responsibility to send the bill to your insurance company.
Pet insurance has a waiting period during which time your pet is not covered. The amount of time will depend on the insurance company.
Lemonade’s waiting period, for example, is 2 days for an injury, 14 days for illness, and 6 months for cruciate ligaments AND if your pet received any vet care or advice for any of the above conditions during the waiting period, that condition would not be covered even after the waiting period is over.
Pre-existing conditions are never covered by pet insurance. Many companies require you to provide medical exams going back a year to review any conditions noticed by your vet.
Is pet insurance worth it?
As with any insurance, it is a gamble. You are hoping nothing happens but paying the extra money every month to save yourself more money if your pet is in an accident or develops an illness.
In all honesty, wellness pet insurance is probably not worth it as the total premium costs per year add up to just about how much the average well care costs for pets add up to each year.
The story is slightly different for accident and illness coverage as emergency room visits and certain illnesses, including cancer, can be very expensive.
Some possible costs:
- Emergency room fees: From $1000 and up
- Cancer: Could run around $5000
- Torn ACL: Up to $3300
- Hip dysplasia: $3500 – $7000 a hip
Premiums for accident and illness policies
- Large-sized mixed breed dog: From $638 to over $1000 a year
- Medium-sized mixed breed dog: From $396 to over $768 a year
- Cat: From $192 to over $384 a year
- Add in a breed like a German shepherd, and you could be looking at over $1770 a year
These premium prices don’t include any wellness care for your pet, that is, the annual vet wellness visit and normal care like vaccines that your pet needs.
At the end of the day, whether it is worth it is up to you. It pays to get pet insurance before your pet gets sick because pet insurance never covers pre-existing conditions.
In some cases, it may also be better off to set aside monthly savings just for pet care rather than purchasing an expensive policy that you may or may not lead.
How to choose the right veterinarian/provider
- Ask your friends for personal recommendations.
- Make sure they are a licensed professional.
- Consider cost and location.
- Look for the cleanliness of the facility.
- Do they take appointments or non-appointment only?
- Friendliness of staff.
- How comfortable are you and your pet? Does the vet take time with you and ask you questions and allow you the time to talk about your pet’s health and any concerns you may have.
- Compare prices with nearby vets.
What pet insurance doesn’t cover
Pre-existing medical conditions
Any health problem in your pet’s medical history will not be covered on your pet insurance policy.
Death or Theft of a Pet
Pet insurance does not normally cover the death or theft of a pet. There are some special riders you can obtain for rare or expensive animals.
As mentioned above, most pet insurance policies have a waiting period that lasts between 2 to 30 days. During this time, your pet does not have coverage.
Pregnancy and/or Birth
Most policies completely exclude pregnancy and birth.
This includes anything that you can have your pet vaccinated against, but you failed to do so, such as parvovirus or kennel cough.
Some dog and cat breeds are excluded or cost more to insure because they are predisposed to certain conditions like diabetes.
It is very common for pet insurance policies to exclude very young (8 weeks or younger) or very old (over 14 years old) because of their increased medical needs.
Services such as behavioral training or boarding are not covered.
Most elective procedures such as tail docking and ear cropping are not covered.
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