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The Best Pet Insurance…

Our Picks for the Best Pet Insurance

Figo is a new company in the pet insurance market, having sold its first policy in 2015. That inexperience initially made us hesitate, but our concerns vanished when we learned its policies are underwritten by Markel Specialty, an A.M. Best A-rated company with more than 70 years in niche insurance markets.

Figo’s three tiers of coverage all include comprehensive medical protection. The main difference between them comes down to how much they’ll cover in a given year: $10,000, $14,000, or unlimited (though, the more coverage you have, the higher the premiums). Whichever plan you choose, Figo has perks that exceed the typical pet insurance on the market:

  • It pays vet exam fees (generally around $50) when the exam is related to a covered accident or illness. This comes in handy if you need to make multiple visits for something like a broken leg.
  • It reimburses claims within 30 days (as opposed to 60 for Trupanion and Healthy Paws).
  • It waives the copay and deductible if your pet ever needs immediate, lifesaving treatment.
  • It has some of the shortest waiting periods before coverage kicks in (five days for accidents, 14 for illnesses), and no additional exclusions for hip dysplasia (unlike Healthy Paws).

All of this by itself was enough to earn Figo our top spot: It’s backed by a top-rated insurance underwriter and its policies are especially generous. But, its customer service truly impressed us, outperforming every contender we tested. A cheerful rep took our phone call almost immediately, clearly and patiently answered every question we asked, and never once pushed us to make a purchase. Some of the companies we looked at required you to submit your phone number — when we wanted to email a simple question. We didn’t like the idea of being on a sales call list.

Figo’s Pet Cloud lets you store medical records, file claims, and set up reminders in one simple tool.

Figo’s website features easy-to-read coverage checklists, sample policies for both dogs and cats, and a responsive live chat. It’s also the only company we reviewed that offers cloud-based storage for all your pet’s medical and insurance records, which helps keep everyone on the same page during the claims process. The fact that you can access records from the company’s mobile app also has the potential to make a real difference in an emergency.

“Unfortunately, it’s all too common for pets to arrive at emergency veterinary hospitals with incomplete medical records. This immediately puts my hospital team, the pet, and the pet owner at a disadvantage. I wish pet owners would carry their pet’s medical records with them including their veterinarian’s notes, lab work and radiograph/ultrasound images, especially if they have complex or chronic conditions. ”

Figo’s Pet Cloud can also geolocate your pet if it runs away, remind you when shots are due, and point out relevant landmarks like dog parks and pet stores based on your current location. On top of already great coverage, these extras impressed us even more.

Healthy Paws

Pets are eligible for injury and illness coverage in just 15 days.

Healthy Paws’ single plan offers comprehensive coverage that makes it an attractive choice. There’s no limit to how much its plan will reimburse each year, and it boasts a 15-day waiting period for injury and illness coverage. (Unlike Figo, it doesn’t cover exam fees.) Its plan is underwritten by Chubb, a strong, global insurer, and its customer service was top notch. Company representatives were prompt and courteous, both on the phone and over email, and the website made it easy to find all the info we needed. While Healthy Paws doesn’t have the high-tech wizardry of Figo’s Pet Cloud, we do appreciate that you can file claims through a mobile app.

What Is Hip Dysplasia?

It’s a genetic disorder that prevents the “ball and socket” hip joint from fitting together snugly. It most commonly affects large and giant dog breeds and gets worse with age. Smaller dogs and cats can be affected too, but clinical signs are much rarer.

But while it’s a solid choice, owners of large-breed dogs should be wary of a specific policy rule regarding hip dysplasia. Healthy Paws has a 12-month waiting period for hip dysplasia coverage regardless of breed, and won’t cover it at all if your pet enrolls after age 6. That means to be covered, your pet must A) be younger than 6 when you buy the policy, and B) make it through an entire year without any symptoms. Since early onset typically shows signs at 4 months, and later onset is due to long-term wear and tear, these rules effectively exclude most cases of hip dysplasia.

How big a deal is this? While many cases of hip dysplasia can be treated with simple pain medication, severe cases require surgery priced between $1,000 and $7,000 per hip (depending on the recommended procedure). So given the risk, it’s wise for owners of large dogs to go with a different insurer like Figo (which covers all hip dysplasia-related treatment after the standard 14-day waiting period) or Trupanion (same coverage, but with a 30-day waiting period).

Trupanion

Some owners (particularly those with puppies or kittens) may prefer its lifetime deductible structure.

Similar to Healthy Paws, Trupanion offers only one plan with complete medical coverage, though it covers hip dysplasia, and it has no annual limits on reimbursement. But, its unique deductible structure is something to note.

Traditional deductibles require you pay out-of-pocket up to a certain amount each year, after which everything else is covered. With Trupanion’s “lifetime” deductibles, you pay a separate deductible every time your pet is treated for a new condition, regardless of when it occurs. So if your pet has a lifetime of skin allergy problems, and you have a $250 deductible, you’ll only pay it once, and then all related skin allergy treatments will be covered for the remainder of your pet’s life. On the other hand, if your pet has a bunch of different, unrelated problems in the same year, you could wind up paying several $250 deductibles in a short span.

We like Trupanion for young animals in particular — if your pet develops a chronic condition, the one deductible payment will cover your pet’s treatment for the rest of its lifetime. It’s also a good choice for large-breed pups because it has no extra exclusions for hip dysplasia or cruciate injuries (like a torn ACL), two issues that predominantly affect large dogs.

Its waiting period for illness coverage (as opposed to injuries) is twice as long as our other top picks — 30 days, compared to 14 for Figo and 15 for Healthy Paws. Fifteen extra days may not sound like much, but if your pet were to get sick during that time, it wouldn’t be covered with Trupanion.

Trupanion’s customer service also left a tiny bit to be desired; it didn’t respond to our email and the website’s layout isn’t as user-friendly as Figo’s. There’s also no mobile app. But on the plus side, Trupanion is currently the only one of our top picks that can pay your vet directly if the coverage is pre-approved, saving you from having to wait for reimbursement (though Figo claims this feature is coming soon).

Nationwide/VPI

From chinchillas to chameleons, nearly every kind of pet is eligible for coverage.

Nationwide is currently the only pet insurance provider that insures almost any kind of pet. Its Avian and Exotic Pet Plan covers major medical expenses for most birds and a broad range of other domestic critters. But we didn’t like that reimbursement is on a benefit schedule (which is riskier than actual bill reimbursement because the predetermined benefit could be less than your actual vet bill), and its policy language includes broad exclusions for any pre-existing conditions. Though, if you want to insure a pet that isn’t a dog or a cat, then this is the only choice on the market.


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