Alternatives to traditional pet health insurance

Alternatives to traditional pet insurance for veterinary emergencies

In my previous post, I shared how I came to regret not signing my dog up for pet health insurance. After maxing out my credit cards, I started looking at alternative options to help cover my pets in the event of a veterinary emergency.

These are all options I’ve looked into for my own dog. They may not work for everyone, but might be helpful to pet owners in a similar situation. And some might be good to have in addition to pet insurance.

Note: Links to websites mentioned in this post are for informational purposes only and in the hopes that they might be helpful. They are not endorsements of any companies, products, or services. Please do your own due diligence before signing up for any product or service. I do not receive any compensation for mentioning or linking to these companies.


Pawp is an emergency fund that will pay your vet directly in a life-threatening emergency. At $24/mo. it’s a lot more affordable than traditional pet insurance and covers up to $3,000 a year in emergency visits.

When you’re ready to check out, have the vet’s receptionist call Pawp’s hotline and Pawp will take care of your bill up to $3,000.

This makes Pawp a good backup plan even if you have insurance, because even when you have insurance, you still need to pay upfront and hope the insurance company will reimburse you.

It’s important to note that you will need to get on chat with a Pawp vet beforehand to evaluate your pet and whether it is a life-threatening situation. If not, you may not be covered.

Pawp will even cover an emergency related to a pre-existing condition, which made it the best option I could find for my dog. I found Pawp just a few weeks before he passed away, so I ended up not signing up for it, but am considering it for a family member’s pets.


Eusoh is a community cost-sharing program. Pet owners join groups that share the cost of veterinary expenses. There’s a monthly limit (currently $48), so you don’t have to worry about suddenly having to shell out a huge amount for someone else’s emergency.

There’s an annual deductible of $250 and reimbursement limit of $8,500. Pre-existing conditions aren’t covered, though, and if your pet has pre-existing conditions, you might have a hard time getting accepted by a group.

The company takes $17/mo. from your fees and the rest goes to the community fund.

I started looking into Eusoh a few years ago, but didn’t try signing up for it, because my chances of being accepted into any group were slim with my dog’s many pre-existing conditions.

Progressive Collision Coverage

Dogs love car rides. But have you ever worried about getting in an accident with Fido on board?

In 2008, I saw that Progressive had added pets to their collision coverage. If a pet is injured in a car accident, Progressive will cover up to $500 in vet bills. That might not seem like much, but you have enough to deal with after a car accident without vet bills, too, and $500 can help cover the costs of an exam, x-rays, and treatment for minor injuries. This was all the motivation I needed to switch from an insurer I wasn’t happy with.

Thankfully, I’ve never had occasion to use their pet coverage, but I did use their roadside service (about $1 a month) about half a dozen times when I had my old car and have been happy with them over the years.

Emergency fund

Pet insurance is great in that it will reimburse you after the fact, but you still need to be able to pay the vet at the time of treatment.

This is where a good old-fashioned emergency fund can help. If you regularly put money away to save for a rainy day, you won’t have to rely on a for-profit company to approve your claim and wait for the check to arrive.

In fact, even if you have insurance, it might still be a good idea to have an emergency fund just in case. This could be a sub-share under your savings account just for pet emergencies.

I know how hard it can be just getting all the bills paid every month, but if you can put even a little bit away once in a while, you won’t regret it.

Not an emergency plan – Chewy “Connect With a Vet”

This one is just a potential cost-saver and not an emergency plan. But Chewy’s new telemedicine program Connect With a Vet might be a way to save you an office visit for a wellness question or behavioral issue, allowing you to put the money into your pet emergency fund instead.

Obviously, this is for non-emergent and general advice only, and if you suspect something serious, you shouldn’t delay seeing a vet.

Telemedicine is still new and subject to the limits of the law. Vets cannot legally diagnose, treat, prescribe medications, or authorize refills without having examined the pet in person, so they’re limited to general advice.

For minor medical questions, they might be able to tell you if it’s something you should see a vet about, but my instinct is that if your question is medical in nature, they will advise you to go to a vet to be on the safe side—for your pet and for them.

Connect with A Vet is free for Chewy’s Autoship customers, so it might not hurt to give it a try for something minor.

These were just a few options that I’ve personally explored and there are probably lots more out there. I hope they’re helpful and that you can find something that works for you and your pet.

Remember, it’s our responsibility as pet owners to pay for our pets’ care. It’s not a vet’s responsibility to look after your finances, and it’s never OK to accuse them of not caring because they can’t afford to treat a pet for free. They’ve taken on the significant costs of providing us a place to go when our pets are ill. The rest is our responsibility.

There are many options out there; the important thing is to choose one or more and hope you never need it.

Updated March 10, 2022

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