Pet Insurances – Are they needed and what to know when researching your options

Longhair dachshund puppy wearing a band aid.Pet insurance is not meant for every pet and every situation, but there are plenty of times and situations that may arise in our animals’ lives where one might look back wishing they had known about or investigated insurance options.  Just this week we had a good long-time client bring their dog in for eating an entire plastic Christmas wreath.  Her owners were surprised that she would destroy such an item, but to eat the entire wreath with wiring and all?  In the past six weeks I have seen another couple and their dogs for two emergency abdominal surgeries- One for a ruptured spleen and the other for a sock ingestion.  The dogs did well but the untimely event of two expensive vet visits was not what they were looking for before this holiday season.

Yes, there are times insurance coverage is “playing the odds”.   Many animals are at lower risk of needing insurance due to breed, age, environment, etc.  So when you go shopping for pet insurances look into all the important deciding factors about the insurances and also look at your pets’ lifestyle.  Here in Central Oregon, veterinarians will run across many “common” Central Oregon emergencies, ie:  porcupine quill dogs, rattlesnake envenomation, mushroom toxicities, cheat grass seeds (getting into ears, eyes, skin, toes), salmon poisonings, or even deer attacks.  I can remember many weekends in July working at the Animal Emergency Center of Central Oregon; pulling out 10 cheat seeds lodged in ten different dogs’ ears.

I have listed below the top 5 Pet Insurances in my own personal experience.  ( Note: this is from over a decade as an emergency vet – hearing the feedback from clients and colleagues.  This is just my opinion and with the number of insurance companies increasing each year I could easily be overlooking a great new company out there. )  This list is in no particular order – I feel they all offer a good product.

  1. Trupanion
  2. Embrace Pet Insurance
  3. Pets Best Insurance
  4. Petplan
  5. ASPCA Pet Health Insurance


When looking at whether an insurance is good for your situation, I recommend looking at the following things:

  1. Do you need an accident and illness plan only, or are you interested in wellness care advantages as well?  Wellness can often cover items like dental cleanings, vaccines, heartworm testing, (each plan is different so please read the fine print)
  2. How does the plan reimburse?  I prefer the companies that reimburse on a percentage basis ( ie: 80 5 after your deductible on anything) vs the companies that have a set amount they will give per diagnosis/treatment.  Sometimes what they give back is half of the actual bill the vet may have charged.  Avoid plans that have a benefit schedule, or an incident deductible, or don’t give credit for the exam fees.
  3. What is their yearly limit? Lifetime limit?   There are companies out there with limits up to $10K and some up to $1 Million – and they both have the same premium to you as the owner.
  4. Do they have an age limit in which they will cover your pet?
  5. What range are their deductibles? and how does that affect your premium?
  6. Do they have a prerequisite exam you need to have completed by your vet before initiating coverage? Does an orthopedic exam have to be performed before they will cover orthopedic conditions?
  7. What is the max they can increase your premium each year?
  8. How will they reimburse you?  Some insurances “can” set up payments for large procedures directly to your vet when needed.
  9. Ask friends and family.  A majority of people are on social media- put out a request from friends and families to find out who they use and their experiences.   I am sure that you can walk the streets of Bend, or hike the woods of Deschutes County and find plenty of pet owners with experiences to share.


Do your research!  Form a spread sheet to compare all the benefits because it can get confusing!!

We are happy to help answer any questions you may have at any point with regards to pet insurances.


Chad Moles DVM