How Pet Insurance Works

You can't predict when your dog or cat will get sick or injured, but you know it could happen at anytime. Pet insurance protects your finances by covering your pet's unexpected vet bills.

dog and cat sitting together

What is pet insurance?

While many people try to compare pet insurance to human health insurance, it’s actually more like car insurance – it’s there to prevent financial upset in the event of something unexpected. Just like your car insurance doesn’t cover routine maintenance or any accidents you got into before purchasing the policy, pet insurance plans typically don’t cover routine care costs and pre-existing conditions.

Pet health insurance provides peace of mind that you can afford to get your pet the best care in the event of a costly accident or illness.

How does pet insurance work?

Pet insurance follows a reimbursement-based model. That means that when you take your dog or cat to the vet for an injury or illness, you pay the vet bill at the time of service and submit a claim for reimbursement. Because of this reimbursement-based model, you’re free to use any licensed vet you’d like.

Like car insurance, most pet insurance plans have:

  • Deductible

  • Reimbursement percentage or copay

  • Annual or per-incident maximum

  • Waiting periods

Some pet insurance companies, like Embrace, allow you to personalize factors of your pet insurance policy to best fit your budget and your pet’s needs.

What does pet insurance cover?

It’s best to research and compare each pet insurance plan thoroughly as coverage varies from insurer to insurer, but most pet insurance plans cover:

Some pet insurance companies, like Embrace, also cover:

For a full list of what Embrace Pet Insurance covers, check out the Embrace Plan.

What doesn’t pet insurance cover?

Most pet insurance plans do not cover: 

  • Cosmetic, elective, or preventative procedures

  • Breeding, pregnancy, or whelping

  • Prescription diet food

Why do you need pet insurance?

According to, every six seconds, a pet parent is handed an emergency vet bill of $1,000 or more. A 2017 survey conducted by GOBankingRates showed that 57% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account. Without pet insurance, that 57% could be facing a tough decision when it comes to their pet’s care.

When should you get pet insurance?

The sooner the better. Whether you’re three years into pet ownership or three minutes, insuring a healthy pet now ensures they’ll have the most coverage available later.

How long does pet insurance take to kick in?

Every pet insurance plan has waiting periods to prevent fraud, and they differ by company. For example, Embrace has a 14-day waiting period for illnesses. As long as your pet makes it through this waiting period before showing symptoms or being diagnosed with an illness, they’re covered. Once waiting periods are over, your pet is covered – this period does not start over at policy renewal.

*Complementary treatments were previously called alternative therapies.