The Aussie Cattle Dog

You insure your car, your home, your family, yourself. Why not insure your pet?

Last month I had to take my nine-year old cattle dog, Stavros, to the vet because I had given him a bone and he ate too much of it at one time. Usually I gave him a 10-minute time limit on his bones to ensure he was not going hog wild eating it. This time I wanted him to be entertained while I went downstairs to my neighbors for dinner. He had eaten both knuckles and a lot of the midsection too. I was shocked when I picked it up and tossed it into the trash. In the middle of the night he vomited. He continued to vomit and have thin stools throughout the remainder of the night. By morning we were both exhausted and he was no better. I was concerned that something serious was wrong with him and that I had caused it. At 8 am I took him over to his vet on Marco Island. They kept him for the day, gave him fluids because he was dehydrated, prescribed some meds for his nausea, and did blood work and an MRI. I knew it would be costly and it was. It was a $650 dollar mistake on my part. Luckily, he is fine. Lesson learned. I will never ever give him bones again. If I had had some insurance on him I may have saved some money.

According to during a typical dog lifespan of ten (10) years pet owners can spend upwards of $42,000 for various preventions and treatments including vaccinations and check-ups. For cats it is somewhat lower, but still significant at approximately $30,000 for a decade.

Medical treatments and prevention have come a long way for our four-legged friends. Veterinarians now use MRI’s, ultrasounds, and CAT scans to help evaluate illnesses or injuries. These tests are comprehensive, but costly. Insurance can help defray those costs. But how do you pick the right one? has selected which providers they think are the top 10 pet insurers and they are listed as follows:

  1. Healthy Paws
  2. Embrace
  3. PetPlan
  4. Trupanion
  5. Nationwide
  6. ASPCA
  7. PetFirst
  8. Assure
  9. Pets Best
  10. FIGO

More information on all of these organizations is available after the chart.

The Canine Journal has created the below chart for easy comparison of plans, lifetime caps and deductibles. Their picks for organizations as the top providers of pet insurance are designated as follows.

  1. Healthy Paws
  2. Pets Best
  3. FIGO


Company     Deductible* Reimbursement** Claim Limit Options*** Limit Term
    $100, $250, $500, $1,000 80% $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 Annual
    $100, $250, $300, $400, $500, $600, $750, $1,000 70%, 80%, 90% $2,500, $5,000, $7,500, $10,000, $15,000, $20,000,


    $100, $250, $500 70%, 80%, 90% $3,000, $5,000, $7,000, $10,000 Annual
    $200, $300, $500, $750, $1,000 70%, 80%, 90% $5,000, $8,000, $10,000, $15,000, $30,000

(Unlimited available via phone)

    $100, $200, $250, $500, $750, $1,000, $1,500 60%, 65%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 100% $5,000, $10,000, $20,000, Unlimited Annual
    $100, $250, $500, $750 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% Unlimited Annual
    $250 50%, 70%, 90% Limited Per Condition, Unlimited Annual & Per Condition Annually
    $0, $50, $100, $250, $500, $2,500 70%, 80%, 90%, 100% $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, $10,000, Unlimited Annual
    $250, $300, $350, $400, $450, $500, $550, $600, $650, $700, $750, $800, $850, $900, $950, $1,000 70%, 80%, 90% $2,500, $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, $20,000, $25,000,


    $50, $100, $200, $250, $500, $1,000 70%, 80%, 90% $5,000, Unlimited Annual
    $0-$1,000 (in $5 increments) 90% Unlimited Lifetime


Most applications and claims can be made via the internet or fax.

Plans start at as low as $20 for dogs and $15 for cats with Healthy Paws. They also allow you to select your veterinarian and claim to reimburse you in as short as two days. ( You can customize your insurance plan for your pet. Beware there are some age restrictions, dogs over 8 years old. They do not offer an annual wellness plan and do not pay for exams or behavioral therapies. (

Pets Best is an accident/injury plan designed for our four-legged friends so their coverage differs from those who specialize in prevention and/or health and wellness. ( For instance, they cover accidents, injuries, surgeries, medicine, hospital stays and emergency care. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. ( Pets Best is also known for targeting elder pets. They have no maximum age for coverage, but do not cover any pre-existing conditions. They offer a variety of plans and coverage to fit your budget. (


Embrace specializes in pet dental plans. ( They have a $1,000 cap per year as far as claims are concerned. Each year that you do not have any claims against them they offer a $50 credit toward the following years plan. Their plans cover broken or fractured teeth, gingivitis, root canals, extractions, and crowns.  Geico bundles with Embrace so customers may get other discounts. ( To learn about these policies and discounts please visit

PetPlan can begin covering your pet as early as six weeks of age. Monthly premiums start as low as $19 for both kitties and puppies, cats and dogs. They cover hereditary, congenital and pre-existing if insured prior to the conditions being discovered. ( You can learn more about them at

Trupanion offers very comprehensive coverage for pets. It costs a bit more than some of the others, but covers some of the bigger ticket items. Cats can be insured for as little as $32 per year and dogs for $59. Plans includes thyroid disease, hip dysplasia, diabetes, and respiratory disorders. They also offer a proprietary software that allows you to only pay the deductible and no other out of pocket expenses during your visits. ( For more information please visit

Nationwide is one of the few insurers that covers exotic pets, as well as, traditional pets. They will not insure venomous pets or those that are considered an endangered species. Birds, mice, goats, lizards, guinea pigs, turtles, snakes, and ferrets are some of the more commonly known exotic pets they do cover. Cat plans start as low as $18 per month and dogs at $34. ( To learn more please about these coverages visit

ASPCA which is well known for the animal rescue and adoption has a good plan if you have more than one pet. They allow you to use any vet in the USA or Canada. Their plans cover behavioral disorders, accidents, and illnesses. A 10% discount is applied for each additional policy. The most expensive of the pets to insure will not get the discount. ( You can learn more at

PetFirst, a subsidiary of MetLife, concentrates on preventative coverage for pets. They cover items like dental care, parasite prevention, vaccines, spay and neutering. There are three basic plans to choose from. (

PetAssure is another exotic pet plan. It is really a cost sharing plan for all intents and purposes. Their plans will include kangaroos, monkeys, fish, reptiles, birds, and large cats. There are no deductibles, no caps on coverage, and no waiting periods. However, vets must be part of the PetAssure network. (

FIGO has been a pet insurer for over ten years. They offer three plans and cover cancer treatments so long as they are not pre-existing, hospitalizations, diagnostic testing, emergency care, hereditary, congenital, and chronic conditions. (

Be sure to do your homework before signing up with any particular insurer. Know what you are getting before you sign up for coverage. Get something that gives your pet the coverage they deserve and is the best that you can afford.





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