UPDATED: Sep 30, 2019
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A trained service animal is more than the average pet; they require a great deal of expensive training. If you have a guide dog or another type of service animal, taking good care of your companion and protector is a top priority. Pet insurance can help.
While service animals are not pets in the usual sense of the word, they can still qualify for pet insurance. These policies are designed to help you with the cost of veterinary care so that you do not have to worry about a sudden illness or accident leaving you with a bill you are unable to afford.
The Basics of Insurance for Service Dogs and Service Animals
Insuring your service animal on a pet insurance plan is much the same as any other animal. You will want to get coverage for sudden illnesses or accidents, and you may also want to consider wellness care coverage to pay for routine veterinary services.
Wellness care covers you for things like annual well checks, vaccinations, and parasite prevention including heartworm, flea, and tick. In some cases, it may also include some dental care coverage, but that is dependent upon the specific plan.
Illness and accident insurance is designed for the vet bills that you cannot anticipate. These policies cover testing to find out what’s wrong, including x-rays and blood tests, surgeries, hospitalization, prescription medication, and more. This is the most common type of pet insurance because it’s these bills that can climb into the thousands and leave the animal’s owner struggling to afford the needed care.
Some pet insurance companies also offer accident-only coverage, which does not cover conditions like cancer, but would pay for an injury due to an accident. These are affordable plans that do provide some emergency coverage, but it will still leave you open to the costs of any sort of illness or condition.
Specifics of Insurance for Service Dogs and Service Animals
Your service animal is not a pet, it is a working animal. Insurance companies tend to see working animals – dogs in particular – differently from normal pets. Some pet insurance companies exclude working animals from their policies, but the good news is that this usually only applies to dogs that are working in law enforcement, guard dogs, or any other high-risk situation.
Service animals such as guide dogs are not usually in high-risk situations, which means that in most cases they qualify for regular pet insurance policies.
Our first priority when selecting our top picks for insuring a guide dog or another service animal was to review the top-rated pet insurance companies overall. This means looking at the companies with a solid reputation for taking care of their customers on two legs and on four.
We then checked all of the policy exclusions on these policies to look for any exclusions for working animals. Of the companies we chose, none exclude service animals, so there should be no difficulty in getting coverage. We also looked for companies that appear to be service animal-friendly.
Affordable, quality pet insurance plans are the final requirement to make our list of recommendations. We chose companies that have options to fit various budgets and also provide good value for the money.
Our Top Recommendations
These three pet insurance companies offer a great value on quality pet insurance coverage for a guide dog or other service animal.
Healthy Paws is our top-rated pet insurance company for good reason. They have a great reputation and their plans offer excellent value with enough customization to meet most budgets.
Coverage is extended to working pets, although they do exclude conditions that are the result or racing, breeding, guard or law enforcement, and commercial activities. There are no exclusions on service animals, and their website indicates that they understand how special service animals are.
Pets Best offers both accident and illness plans and wellness plans, so full coverage is available to your pet. The plans are comprehensive and have plenty of options to choose from, and their rates are affordable as well. They have an excellent reputation for taking care of customers.
Pets Best specifically puts wording in their policy terms that define any service animal not used commercially to be treated the same as a pet for insurance purposes; that means you should not run into any issues when it comes to claims.
Pet First is one of the few insurance companies that does not mention working or service animals anywhere in their exclusions, which makes them a safe bet to cover a wide variety of service animals.
They have the option to add routine care to their accident and illness plans, and they have a range of coverage levels and rates to fit most budgets. While they are not the least expensive pet insurance available, they’re service animal-friendly and have a good reputation.
Shopping for Insurance for a Service Dog or Service Animal
While we have done the fine print examinations of all of the companies above to search for any exclusions applying to guide dogs and service animals, the first question to ask when shopping for pet insurance is to confirm that all service animals – and yours in particular – do qualify for coverage.
There is no general reason why a pet insurance company should have any exclusion that is not in the fine print, but rules do change over time and policy information available online may not be up to date. Asking is always your best bet, and it will prevent the insurance company from claiming you weren’t upfront about your service animal when applying.
Once you have confirmed that your pet qualifies for coverage, take the time to consider the various options for coverage. Pet insurance works on a reimbursement basis that is a percentage of the bill, so it is important to weigh what you are willing to pay monthly for premiums against the out of pocket costs you’ll be responsible for in the event of a claim.
In order to understand pet insurance and your coverage options, take a minute to read through our full guide to pet insurance. Comparing based on rates alone does not give the full picture since plans vary in terms of what they cover, caps on coverage, deductibles, and percentages of reimbursement. It is important to understand what you’re getting for the price.
The Bottom Line
Since a service animal is slightly different from a household pet, it is important to be sure you are taking out a policy that doesn’t have any exclusions for those differences. The investment in training a service animal is a big one, so make sure your pet insurance policy will protect that investment and be there for you when your special animal needs care.