Since state laws regulate insurance companies, a customer’s experience can vary by location.
This is true even for pet insurance, which exists to help insulate your budget against unexpected veterinary charges resulting from your pet’s accidents or illnesses.
Pet Insurance By Location
Most of the nation’s leading pet insurers like Petplan and Embrace offer coverage in all 50 states.
So it’s easiest for consumers concerned about state eligibility to go with these or other leading companies.
But the details of coverage, even from these industry leaders, can vary depending on your state, especially in the following areas:
Your state’s insurance commission may set limits on how low an insurance company can cap lifetime or annual expenses for your pet’s veterinary care.
These limits on caps protect you, the consumer, from getting a bad deal on your pet insurance.
For example, if a company caps expenses too low, you’d be on the hook for a bigger out-of-pocket percentage, despite having paid premiums for your coverage.
If you suspect an unusually low spending cap on a pet insurance plan you’re considering, check your state’s insurance laws to make sure the company complies.
Of course, a plan like Healthy Paws, which offers unlimited lifetime spending, can help you avoid these questions regardless of your state’s protections.
Your state should also have laws requiring your insurer to pay a certain percentage of covered expenses for your pet.
Most plans pay from 60 to 90 percent of veterinary care resulting from a covered illness or accident. Insurers tend to reimburse policyholders rather than paying the veterinarian directly.
Ideally, you should find a plan exceeding your state’s minimum requirements which exist simply to protect you from being scammed.
Also, remember your reimbursement rate can reach its max only if you’ve already met your policy’s deductible for the year.
Access to Providers
This is a big concern for many policyholders. If you’re out of state, will your pet insurance pay for unexpected veterinary expenses?
The good news: Most pet insurance policies will reimburse you for charges from any licensed veterinary provider.
Some companies do restrict policyholders to a network of providers, but I’d recommend staying away from this kind of coverage.
Ultimately, most consumers shopping for pet insurance will do best with a national brand which offers coverage in all 50 states or a plan offering pet coverage in Canada.
Find the Best Pet Insurance In YOUR State
- San Diego
- New Hampshire
- New York
- New York City
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- Washington (Seattle)
Finding Local Pet Insurance
Most of the time, pet owners expect to access veterinary care close to home. If you’re getting veterinary care locally, couldn’t you get pet insurance locally, too?
The simple answer: Yes, but it’d be up to you to make sure you’re still getting quality coverage at an affordable price.
If you have a relationship with an independent insurance agency, your agent should be able to share ideas about local companies providing adequate coverage.
Your pet’s veterinary clinic or hospital can also give you suggestions for pet insurance in your area.
Most likely, a local or regional insurance provider will meet your state’s minimum insurance requirements, but you should always check, especially if you have concerns about the quality of your coverage.
Insurance Rating Agencies
Any company I recommend has earned solid grades from independent insurance rating agencies such as A.M. Best and Moody’s Ratings.
If you’re shopping locally or regionally, though, it’ll be up to you to find the pet insurance company’s financial health. Ask the company about its grades or look for information about the company on A.M. Best’s site.
Companies with grades of A or better tend to be best situated to pay claims in the future.
How Pet Insurance Works
Wherever you live, you can expect the following standards in pet insurance:
Types of Coverage
Pet insurance is divided into three primary types:
The best and most expensive type of care; covers accidents and illnesses and is a good value for adult and mature pets.
A budget-friendly option which will not cover illnesses but will cover treatment resulting from accidents; OK for young animals with lower chances of developing an illness.
Also known as wellness care, this kind of plan helps pay for routine care such as check-ups, vaccinations, and some diagnostic tests. Preventive care typically isn’t a very good value since premiums can cost about the same amount as your vet’s bill.
Limitations on Coverage
Though these limits can vary from state to state, you’ll need to know about them before finalizing coverage:
This is the amount of money you’d have to pay before your insurance plan pays anything. Lower deductibles lead to higher premiums, but they also lead to less out-of-pocket responsibility for you.
Your pet insurance may limit the amount it will pay for your pet throughout his or her life, per illness or accident, or per year. Typically, lower payouts will lower premiums. You get what you pay for.
The best pet insurance will pay up to 90 percent of covered expenses. More affordable plans may pay only 60 percent of covered expenses.
Not all treatments, conditions, or accidents will be covered by your pet insurance plan. Make sure you read the policy closely to know for sure what you’re buying. We’ll get more into commonly covered expenses below.
In most cases, your pet insurance will reimburse you for the money you’ve already been billed at the vet. The insurance company will not pay the vet directly.
Some companies such as Trupanion have pioneered a direct-to-vet payment plan, allowing you to pay the vet only your after-insurance responsibility, much like you would for your own health care. Doing this, though, requires your vet to also agree to these terms in advance.
In general, you should be prepared to pay the full amount of your pet’s health care and then file a claim for reimbursement. If you can’t afford to pay, you may be able to work out an agreement with your vet or temporarily use credit to cover the expense until you get reimbursed.
Shopping for Pet Insurance in Your State
While the leading pet insurance providers tend to offer coverage in all 50 states, you can access a state-by-state list of top providers or a list of top pet insurers in Canada.
Pet insurance exists to protect your monthly budget from taking unexpected hits if your pet gets sick or has an accident.
No pet insurance companies in any state cover pre-existing conditions. This means it would be too late to buy coverage if your pet already has been diagnosed with an illness. You’d be fully responsible for the bill and more likely to face difficult decisions about whether you can afford to treat.
For this reason, I recommend getting comprehensive pet insurance early. Doing this can also give you access to lower premium rates.
What Your Pet Insurance Should Cover
The best pet insurance policies offer a comprehensive approach covering both illnesses and accidents. Specifically, your policy should protect you from expenses related to:
Many plans also let you opt into dental care, though you should expect to pay more for this added service.
In Any State, Pet Insurance Makes Sense!
A comprehensive or accident-only pet insurance plan can save you thousands of dollars per year in exchange for hundreds of dollars in annual premiums.
As with any insurance policy, you can’t know for sure whether or how often you’ll need the coverage. No one can guarantee the policy will pay off. In fact, most pet lovers hope they won’t need their insurance.
But if you ever worry about how you’d pay for your pet’s health care after an unexpected accident or diagnosis, the right pet insurance can ease these fears.*While we make every effort to keep our site updated, please be aware that "timely" information on this page, such as quote estimates, or pertinent details about companies, may only be accurate as of its last edit day. Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Please consult your own legal or tax adviser.