Heads and Tails of Pet Insurance

Let Chester Valley Veterinary Hospital help you understand pet insurance. Overall, it helps cover the cost of medical expenses if your pet becomes ill or has an accident. In addition, some pet insurance companies also offer routine care such as vaccinations, bloodwork, etc. Pet insurance is best used for unexpected medical events that are difficult to plan or budget for.

Currently in Anchorage, it is not unreasonable to expect any pet to cost approximately $3000 at the time of unexpected illness or surgery. Many people do not realize, until it is too late, that this is not an unusual or extreme case.

Learn more from our pet insurance brochure using the link below.

How does it work?

Pet insurance is similar to human health insurance in many ways. These similarities include the following: premiums, deductibles, co-pays and maximum payouts, pre-existing conditions, and waiting periods that define when coverage starts. Pet insurance is very different from human health insurance in the following ways: you pay the bill with your veterinarian, then file the claim with the pet insurance company for reimbursement. In addition, pet insurance companies do not use networks. This means that you are able to visit any licensed veterinarian regardless of insurance carrier.
What does it cover?
If you can cover the worst case scenario costs for your geographic location, out of your own pocket, then you may not need pet insurance. In Anchorage, this worst case scenario could easily range between $3000-$10000 in total fees. If your decision is that pet insurance is right for you, each pet insurance company may have multiple advantages and disadvantages. One of these considerations is cancer therapy. If you decide that you would choose to perform cancer therapy (if needed), this could impact your choice of pet insurance company. Another consideration is hereditary conditions. These are conditions that are due to genetic problems within a specific breed. An example of this would be hip dysplasia in a Labrador Retriever. If your pet(s) are mixed breeds, these exclusions may not apply to you. Here are some important points to look for:

Does it cover accidents / injuries AND illnesses? The illness part of the coverage must include coverage for chronic diseases. Chronic diseases are illnesses that have long duration but the pet may be able to live a very happy life when managed well. Examples include: heart disease, chronic kidney disease, thyroid conditions, and allergies. Some companies will only cover chronic disease in the policy year that it was diagnosed.

Does it have a maximum payout limit that will cover the worst case scenario costs for Anchorage? The maximum payout limit is the maximum amount of money the insurance company will reimburse you. The payout limit can be based on an annual, lifetime, or per incident basis.

Are there exclusions and requirements? Read the exclusions and requirements so that there are no surprises!

Accident only policies tend to be much cheaper than all the other policies. We do not recommend these policies. The insurance company will often not consider an accident what the owner would consider an accident.

Specific Companies
There are 10 pet insurance companies available in Anchorage. We contacted them all for quotes on different breeds and ages of dogs and cats. No company is perfect, but some are definitely better than others. For example, it is common for many companies to stop coverage at the age of 10 years. It is also common to have hidden pre-existing condition clauses. Call a few companies for your own pet’s specific age and breed. When comparing coverage with cost, our overall favorite company was Pet Plan. Another good company, but a little more expensive, is Embrace. VPI is the most common and was the cheapest but coverage was only average.

The following is a list of questions that we asked:

  • Deducible amount per year and per condition
  • % coverage
  • Age that coverage ends
  • Hereditary or congenital restrictions
  • Cost per month
  • Cancer coverage
  • Pre-existing conditions and how those are determined
  • Chronic care of long term diseases
  • Routine yearly care included
  • Max benefit per year and per condition
Helping Pets Enjoy Every Adventure


1571 Muldoon Rd.
Anchorage, AK 99504
Click here for directions.


Mon - Fri: 8 am - 7 pm

Sat & Sun: Closed


Fax: 907-337-4311

Ready to come see us?

Request an appointment online!