Pet insurance was only available through a few providers during the late 20th century, but as the pet industry expanded, so have the insurance options for pets. North Carolina may be the perfect home for pets that enjoy the outdoors because of the temperate climate and diverse wildlife, but domesticated animals face several threats when they spend long hours outside. Ticks, fleas, and predatory animals are common in every county, and pet parents must protect their pets from automobiles, burglars, and sadistic humans.
Veterinary expenses can add up when your pet experiences a tragic accident or illness, but pet insurance providers can help reimburse you for some of your costs. Although we ranked the pet insurance companies in North Carolina from our favorite to least favorite, some of the companies further down the list may be more suitable for your pet’s needs than the highest-ranked insurer. While some policies may be less customizable or affordable than our top selections, they often provide benefits, discounts, or additional coverage that the top insurers exclude.
A Quick Comparison of the Winners for 2023
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The 10 Best Pet Insurance Providers in North Carolina
1. Spot – Best Overall
Unlike most providers, Spot Pet Insurance does not have an upper age limit restriction, and it’s our pick for the best overall pet insurance company in North Carolina. Whether you have a senior, lively kitten or puppy, or a combination of both, Spot has policies for practically any canine or feline. Although it’s not the most affordable option, since policies for young pets tend to be more expensive than the competition, Spot includes plan customization features that other firms lack.
It has deductibles as low as $100 and is one of the few insurers that includes a 100% coverage option; you will not be charged for a co-payment. Spot provides an accident-only plan, accident and illness plan, and has two preventative care add-ons that cover services such as dental treatments. Spot insurance’s primary drawbacks are the high premium costs for young animals and the limited ligament and knee coverage.
2. Lemonade – Best Value
Although Lemonade is not new to the insurance industry, it has only recently begun offering pet insurance. However, many pet owners are glad it did because Lemonade is one of the most affordable insurers in the state. You save even more money if you bundle your pet insurance with homeowner’s or car insurance policies, and Lemonade offers additional discounts for insuring multiple pets. The annual coverage options range from $5,000 to $100,000, and you can pick a deductible as low as $100.
Lemonade’s accident and illness policy is pretty standard but does not cover exam fees. However, the company stands apart by providing several wellness add-ons that cover services such as vaccines, dental cleaning, heartworm tests, wellness exams, bloodwork, and flea and tick medication. Lemonade’s excellent claims process features a well-designed app for speedy processing.
If you have a pet over 14 years old, Lemonade will not insure it, and some restrictions apply to owners of vulnerable breeds. Besides those issues, Lemonade is an excellent insurer for cat and dog owners.
3. Fetch by Dodo
Previously named PetPlan, Fetch by Dodo does not provide additional plans for preventative care, but its only plan covers more services and treatments than the competition. Some companies reimburse users for behavioral therapy with an additional wellness add-on, but Fetch covers it without charging additional fees. It also covers holistic treatments like acupuncture, dental treatments, sick-visit exam fees, and breed-specific conditions.
Fetch covers more services in its plan but is not as flexible as other companies with claim submissions. You only have 90 days to submit a claim, and you must wait 6 months if you want coverage for your pet’s hip dysplasia. However, Fetch provides more discounts for its policyholders than most insurers. You can get a 10% discount if you’re a veterinarian or veterinary employee, AARP member, rescue adopter, therapy pet owner, veteran, or active military member.
Although Trupanion has higher premium costs than most of the competition, it has no payout limits and an unlimited annual benefit. Trupanion has been in the pet insurance business for over 23 years, and it’s one of the only insurers that send direct payments to veterinarians. After you visit the vet, most insurance companies require you to pay the doctor and wait for the reimbursement, but Trupanion will pay 90% of your bill upfront.
The company’s standard policy covers any treatments or services related to accidents and injuries, including prosthetic devices and carts, medications, diagnostic tests, and veterinary supplements. Trupanion also has a Recovery and Complementary Care Rider and Pet Owner Assistance Package to cover additional expenses.
With Pumpkin Pet Insurance, you can visit a veterinarian anywhere in the United States and Canada, and you’ll be reimbursed for 90% of your veterinary costs. The company’s standard 14-day waiting period applies to all accidents and illnesses, including cancer and hip dysplasia. If you have several pets, you’ll get a 10% discount, and there are no breed exclusions or upper age limits.
Pumpkin’s health insurance plans for dogs and cats are more comprehensive than the competition and even include coverage for tooth extractions, periodontal disease, and dental exam fees. You can also add a Preventative Essentials plan to cover parasite screening, vaccines, and check-ups. Although its standard coverage is more extensive than most plans, it has higher premiums than the competition since it only has a 90% reimbursement rate. Also, Pumpkin does not have customer service available on the weekends.
Unlike most of the insurers on our list, Embrace does not offer a typical Wellness plan with its accident-only and accident and illness policies. However, it has a Wellness Reward program that lets you choose an annual coverage limit of $250, $450, 0r $650 for preventative care. The reward plan pays for dental cleaning, anal gland expression, grooming, vet visits, and microchipping.
Like most providers, Embrace will not cover pre-existing conditions, but it will reimburse you for exam fees, prescription medications, alternative treatments, and chronic condition treatments. It also has a 10% multi-pet discount and a 5% discount for military members. Policyholders were generally pleased with Embrace, but some were disappointed that older dogs (over 14 years old) were only eligible for accident-only plans. Others complained that the accident-only plan covers up to only $5,000. Embrace is better suited for healthy young pets; policyholders get $50 back each year a claim is not filed.
ASPCA Pet Insurance has a comprehensive accident and illness policy that covers several services that usually require an add-on, such as chiropractic care, treatments for hereditary conditions, and payments for prescription medications. ASPCA volunteers and owners of multiple pets receive a 10% discount, and unlike most policies, veterinary visits are covered for accidents and illnesses. If you want additional coverage, you can select one of the many preventative care packages. ASPCA covers expenses like vaccinations, fecal screens, dental cleanings, heartworm prevention, and more.
It has a 24-hour pet telehealth line, but its customer service and claims processing are more problematic compared to other insurers. If you have a vulnerable breed that may be susceptible to several medical conditions, ASPCA may not be the best insurer. It has a low annual coverage limit of $10,000, and a pet that requires several treatments each year may exceed the reimbursement limit.
8. Healthy Paws
Healthy Paws has 11 years of experience in the pet insurance industry, and it’s one of the few insurers without a maximum limit on claim payments. If your cat or dog gets in an accident or contracts a new illness that is not a pre-existing condition, your veterinary costs are likely to be covered. An expensive surgery or costly treatment may not be entirely covered by companies that set limits on the claims payouts. Another advantage of using Healthy Paws is the user-friendly mobile app. After visiting any U.S. veterinarian, you take a photo of your bill and submit it through the website or app. The company claims that most payments are processed within 2 days. However, Healthy Paws does not provide additional add-ons or wellness plans to cover vet visits, preventative care, or spay or neuter surgery.
Like our top pick, Spot Pet Insurance, Figo allows customers to choose a 100% reimbursement option. It also has more affordable rates for older pets than many of its competitors. Figo’s accident and illness policy covers chronic conditions, injuries, and even hip dysplasia (as long as it’s not a pre-existing condition). If you want additional protection for your pet, you can purchase an Extra Care Pack or wellness coverage plan. The Extra Care Pack is an inexpensive add-on that pays for third-party property damage and lost-pet advertising. With a Basic or Plus wellness plan, you will be reimbursed for veterinary exams and fees, bloodwork, vaccinations, and heartworm prevention.
Healthy Paws have more add-on options than most other insurers, but, unfortunately, your pet must receive a dental exam and veterinary check-up every year to remain eligible for coverage.
Nationwide is unique in that it does not exclude all pre-existing conditions. Pets that have been cured of disease for at least 6 months may be eligible for coverage. Nationwide has four plans: Pet Wellness, Major Medical, Whole Pet, and Avian and Exotic Pet. Wellness plans cover services like exams, testing, and vaccinations, and Major Medical covers surgery, chronic conditions, prescriptions, and hospitalizations. If you choose the Whole Pet plan, it covers everything under Major Medical plus parasite treatments, prescription food, supplements, and gingivitis.
Nationwide is one of the few providers with an exotic pet plan, but you’ll pay more on premiums than most insurers. However, customers have more customizable options with the various Nationwide policies.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Pet Insurance Provider in North Carolina
What to Look for in Pet Insurance (for Cats, Older Dogs, Etc.)
Although the providers we reviewed have similarities, they each have their own exclusions, benefits, and plan structure. Virtually every insurer does not cover pre-existing conditions, but some offer add-ons to cover treatments not covered by standard policies. The ideal policy for your pet will depend on its age, health, and sometimes its breed depending on the insurer. With a young, healthy pet, you’ll have your pick of insurance providers, but your options are limited if you have an older animal.
Most providers have accident and illness policies, but some companies offer accident-only coverage. An accident-only policy is less expensive and may be appropriate for less active animals that rarely venture outside. However, indoors dogs and cats can also contract illnesses, and most pet owners select accident and illness plans to protect their animals.
Standard policies reimburse you for treating sickness and injuries but do not generally cover vet exams, spay and neuter surgery, vaccinations, or wellness visits. However, you can purchase add-ons to cover additional expenses through most providers. The most comprehensive accident and illness policies cover several services, but they’re more expensive than policies that only cover the basics.
Customer Service & Reputation
Researching a company’s customer service record will ensure you deal with a reliable organization. Several insurers provide 24-hour helplines, but others only have customer service representatives working Monday through Friday. If you’re concerned your questions about your coverage will not be answered if an emergency occurs after hours on the weekend, look for an insurer with 24-hour customer service and a mobile app. Also, you can check off-site reviews and chat forums for information about an insurer’s reputation.
Except for Trupanion, most insurers require you to pay the veterinarian and wait a few days for reimbursement. Nearly every company claims that it has a speedy claim process, and most customers receive their payouts in less than 2 weeks. However, if the insurer disputes a charge or refuses to pay for a service, the process can get dragged out, and you’ll have to wait longer. Before choosing an insurer, carefully read over the exclusions and coverage options so that a technicality will not delay your reimbursement.
Price Of Policy
Standard policies (accident and illness plans) that cover fewer services are much cheaper than the comprehensive plans with extensive coverage. If you have a healthy pet that is not vulnerable to many chronic conditions, you may be better off with a policy that only includes protection for severe injuries and illness. However, dogs or cats at risk for severe medical conditions are better suited for comprehensive coverage.
For instance, if you have a French bulldog, you should look for an insurer that covers respiratory issues and dental treatments. A Frenchie is an expensive animal to purchase and care for, but your costs will be much lower regarding veterinary care if you have an insurer that reimburses you for costly procedures.
Most insurance firms allow you to select your deductible, reimbursement rate, and annual coverage limit. You’ll pay a higher monthly premium if you choose a lower deductible. Insurers calculate your premium based on your pet’s age, breed, and health. If you want extensive coverage for your cat or dog, you’ll pay more for a comprehensive plan. However, you can lower your upfront costs by taking advantage of discounts when you sign on to a new company. Some insurers provide discounts for multi-pet homes, military members, and veterinary employees.
Although you won’t save a ton with discounts, you can usually get around 10% off the cost of a policy.
Do Insurers Have Regulations Regarding Which Veterinarians You Can Use?
Unlike medical insurance, you can choose any vet within the United States to treat your pet. If you have Trupanion pet insurance, you can see vets in Canada, the United States, and Puerto Rico. With Fetch by Dodo, you can visit American and Canadian doctors.
Is Pet Insurance Available Outside the U.S.?
Pet insurance is available worldwide, but the coverage you enjoy in the United States may differ from the plans offered in other countries. Each country has different restrictions on pet ownership, and it’s essential to review a region’s regulations before signing up for insurance. The United Kingdom and Australia have many of the same insurance companies as the United States, but their policies may differ, depending on the country’s laws.
How Long Do I Have To Wait for Reimbursements?
Most insurers reimburse you for veterinary services within 2 weeks, but some customers receive payments in 2 to 7 days. However, you’ll have to wait longer for compensation if there’s a dispute about a charge. When you can speak to a customer service representative to resolve the issue, you should receive your reimbursement faster, but companies that only include an email address for after-hour requests may take longer to send your money.
What the Users Say
The most common complaint about pet insurance firms is that the claims process was delayed due to a dispute. Sometimes, the customer did not realize that a treatment was not covered by their policy and was disappointed they had to pay so much. Policyholders were also upset when the insurers increased their premiums without warning. However, premium increases are not uncommon, and most insurers claim they have to raise prices due to higher costs associated with veterinary services or supply chain issues. Overall, most customers seemed satisfied with their insurance. Here are a few customer reviews from various insurers.
Which Pet Insurance Provider Is Best For You?
If you have a dog or cat, you will not have any problems finding a reliable insurance provider, but owners of exotic animals or birds have fewer options. However, Nationwide insurance provides a special policy for birds and exotics.
We suggest selecting a comprehensive policy if you have a senior animal or a breed that is vulnerable to several medical conditions. You’ll pay higher premiums for an extensive plan that covers multiple services, but as long as your pet is not excluded for any reason, the policy will ease your financial burden when you have to pay for medical procedures. A basic accident and illness plan may be all you need for younger pets.
The pet industry is currently booming due to the increase in pet ownership in the United States and around the world. Pet insurance companies have also profited from the trend, and several established insurance companies have added pet policies to meet the demand. We consider the 10 companies in our reviews to be the best in North Carolina, but you can investigate other options if you feel the insurers listed do not meet the needs of your beloved pet. Although the claims process of some firms can be problematic, pet insurance is a valuable service that can ease your veterinary expenses and ensure your pet receives the best care.
Featured Image Credit: Drazen Zigic, Shutterstock