How & Where To Buy The Best Dog Insurance

by Kari Steere, Licensed Insurance Agent
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How & Where To Buy Dog Insurance
In this guide, a licensed insurance agent explains how to buy the best dog insurance for YOUR specific pet at a rate that's impossible to beat.

Figuring out how to buy dog insurance can be confusing; knowing which policy to choose is even harder. There are so many variables that impact a policy’s coverage and price, and making the right decision for your four-legged family member is the top priority.

Best Dog Insurance Companies

Is Pet Insurance Worth It For Dogs?

Pet parents usually run into a number of questions when learning how to sign up for pet insurance, such as “What exactly does pet insurance cover?”, “How much does dog insurance cost?”, _and “What is the best dog insurance to get?”_

We’ll go over all of these answers and more in our complete guide below, so you can rest assured your canine companion will always have access to veterinary care you can afford.

Here’s what you need to know before you buy dog insurance:

How to choose a dog insurance plan

You shouldn’t buy dog insurance based on price alone; you first need to understand the different types of plans available:

  • Accidents & Illness plans can help manage unexpected vet bills if your dog gets injured or falls sick with an infection, genetic (hereditary) disorder, chronic disease, congenital condition, and even cancer. Depending on your reimbursement rate, these plans payout between 70% and 100% of the out-of-pocket costs for covered veterinary services (after your annual deductible is met).

  • Accident-Only plans cover veterinary expenses related to an accidental injury, but not an acquired sickness. This type of dog insurance is less comprehensive, but it costs much less in premium rates and offers financial protection from expensive vet bills if your dog were to ever break a bone, tear a ligament, require emergency surgery, and so forth.

  • Wellness plans help offset the cost of your dog’s routine care. They’re offered as a supplementary add-on to your insurance plan to manage expenses associated with preventative vet services, including the cost to microchip a dog, annual health checkups, spay/neuter procedures, parasite prevention, and dog vaccines.

Can you get pet insurance at any time?

Enrollment is open all year, but there are certain requirements and restrictions for pet health insurance; these variables may impact when and how you get dog insurance:

Age restrictions

Every pet insurance company has a minimum age requirement for enrollment; most start at eight weeks, but there are a few that start at six or seven weeks. Be sure to check the upper age limit, as well — especially if you’re buying pet insurance for an older dog. Most companies will insure senior dogs, so long as they were enrolled before a certain age (from nine to 14), although they may restrict coverage.

Vet exam or medical records

Some pet insurance companies — including** Nationwide, Embrace, Healthy Paws, Trupanion, and Figo — will require a thorough vet exam within the previous year or ask for all of your dog’s medical records to be submitted for review before coverage becomes effective. The expenses for these tests are covered by the owner and the pet insurance provider will not reimburse you for them.

Pre-existing conditions

No pet insurance policy covers pre-existing conditions, i.e. an injury or illness that started prior to coverage beginning or during the waiting period. Depending on the pet insurance provider, the waiting period could be from 24 hours to 30 days for illnesses and up to 15 days for accidents.

Some insurers, however, do cover curable pre-existing conditions including ear infections, respiratory infections, bladder infections, UTIs, diarrhea, and vomiting. For example, Embrace will cover your pet’s curable pre-existing condition as long as your dog is symptom-free and treatment-free for 12 months from the date of the last episode. ASPCA, alternatively, will not consider a condition that was pre-existing if it is cured and free of symptoms for 180 days, with the exception of ligament and knee conditions.

Breed-related exclusions

Purebred dogs are generally at a higher risk of developing certain hereditary conditions due to their smaller gene pool. Some pet insurance providers exclude these breed-specific conditions or increase the premium rate because they often result in expensive vet bills. Most of the time, pet owners can expect to pay more for dog insurance if their canine friend is purebred.

Hereditary conditions that involve joint and ligament problems like hip dysplasia, intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), cruciate ligament disease, and patellar luxation seem to be more prevalent in larger-sized dogs. These breeds can include Cane Corsos, Great Danes, Boxers, Saint Bernards, English Bulldogs, Bloodhounds, and Irish Wolfhounds.

What is the average insurance cost for a dog?

On average, dog insurance costs $49.51 per month. The rate you pay will depend on several factors, including your pet’s breed and age, where you live, and the level of coverage you choose.

Accident & Illness coverage is most popular dog insurance plan, as it provides comprehensive protection for both sicknesses and injuries, but it is more expensive than Accident-Only coverage and may be more challenging to fit within your dog budget. Note that senior dogs, large dogs, as well as breeds susceptible to genetic disorders also face higher rates, as they tend to have more health issues.

Many companies offer pet insurance discounts for promotions such as:

  • Enrolling multiple pets in an insurance plan
  • Bundling a renters insurance or car insurance policy
  • Paying the annual insurance premium upfront versus monthly installments
  • Going claim-free for the duration of a policy term

Some dog insurance providers, like USAA and Armed Forces, offer discounts to former and active-duty military members. Others, like Costco pet insurance, provide exclusive, members-only savings.

See Dog Insurance Costs By Breed, Age & Location

How to get the best deal on dog insurance

Before you buy dog insurance, do your research to find out what types of vet services and treatments are covered, in addition to policy exclusions and restrictions. Some questions you may want to ask include:

  • How long has the provider been selling pet insurance? What’s their brand reputation?
  • Does the insurance company have good customer service?
  • Is the application process easy? What about the claims submission process?
  • How fast does the insurance company reimburse claims?
  • Do premiums increase after you submit a claim?
  • Is there a maximum payout limit per year? Or a lifetime payout limit?
  • Are plans flexible? Can you choose your pet insurance deductible and reimbursement rate, or are these predetermined?
  • Can you make changes to your dog insurance plan later on?
  • Do they have a money-back guarantee?

Where to buy dog insurance

In order to make the best decision for your four-legged friend, there’s a lot you’ll want to consider as you shop for dog insurance. Unfortunately, a policy’s fine print can be difficult to find and even harder to read, in language that’s often confusing and lacks the clarity you need to enroll with confidence.

Pawlicy Advisor is the best place to buy dog insurance you can trust. We make it easy to compare pet insurance plans and coverage details side-by-side so you quickly know what’s covered and what’s not. We’ll also reveal personalized dog insurance recommendations based on your pet’s unique age, breed, and location, which you can sign up for within just a few clicks.

At Pawlicy Advisor, you can stop worrying about where to buy dog insurance or what company you can trust, and get back to spending time with your pup with a new peace of mind knowing their health is protected. Quotes are always free, so start your search today.

Shop Pet Insurance For Dogs

See Personalized Plan Recommendations


Key Takeaways

  • Figuring out where to buy dog insurance may take some research, but given the potential to save hundreds or thousands of dollars on vet bills, the effort is well worth it.
  • To find the best dog insurance plan, you’ll need to consider a number of factors, such as your pet’s age, breed, location, your desired level of coverage.
  • Pawlicy Advisor’s free comparison tool can help you compare dog insurance plans easily, in a single location, by simply entering a few details about your canine companion.

Kari Steer, Licensed P&C Insurance Agent at Pawlicy Advisor

About the author

Kari Steere, Licensed Insurance Agent

Customer Support - Pawlicy Advisor

Kari Steere is a licensed P&C insurance agent in all 50 states and has focused entirely on pet insurance since 2019. As an animal lover with a rescued Terrier named Barry, when she's not helping pet owners find the perfect plan on Pawlicy Advisor, she runs a ranch in Oregon and rehabilitates any animals that come across her path.

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