While health insurance coverage for people is no longer mandatory at the federal level, California is one of five states (plus Washington, D.C.) that passed a state law in 2020 requiring all individuals to have health insurance.
Health insurance helps cover the cost of medical expenses in exchange for the payment of a monthly premium. Coverage varies from one plan to another, and premiums change depending on the plan’s annual deductible and payout limits. Pet insurance is similar in many ways.
Pet insurance is designed to help pet owners cover unexpected vet bills for accidents and illnesses. Having a pet insurance plan could save you thousands of dollars on a single vet bill, but there’s no guarantee you’ll ever need to use it.
While there are pros and cons to pet insurance, it’s worth taking a look at the options to determine whether it’s the right choice for you and your cat.
We’ve delved deep into the world of pet insurance specifically for California residents. Here you’ll find pricing and coverage information for some of the top pet insurance companies on the market.
Top 9 Best Cat Insurance in California Reviewed and Compared
Why Should You Trust Us?
At Cats.com, we’ve put hundreds of hours into pet insurance research. To create this guide, we gathered quotes from 15 of the most popular pet insurance companies on the market, evaluating rates, policies, and customer service.
To compare costs, we’ve requested quotes from each company using the same fictional cat profile: a spayed 4-year-old domestic shorthair living in San Francisco, California. Her name is Sweet Pea and she’ll be helping us compare the rates offered by the insurance providers on this list.
After spending hours researching plans and compiling quotes, our top recommendation is Lemonade Pet Insurance. In addition to comprehensive coverage, Lemonade offers customizable plans, comprehensive wellness add-ons, and quick claims processing.
While Lemonade has earned the top spot on this list, there are other pet insurance plans that might work better for you and your cat.
Before we jump into our reviews, keep reading to learn the basics about pet insurance what factors to consider as a cat owner in California when you start shopping around.
What Is What Is Cat Pet Insurance And Do You Need It?
Most health insurance plans pay your provider directly then bill you for any uncovered costs (on top of your copay or coinsurance and monthly premiums). With pet insurance, things are a little different.
Pet insurance plans typically work via reimbursement. In other words, you pay the vet bill upfront then submit a claim. The plan will then reimburse covered costs at a predetermined percentage rate, generally between 70% and 90%. Some plans cover the cost of treatment but don’t pay the exam fees and, unless you purchase a wellness plan, preventive care costs are not usually covered.
While pet insurance offers protection against unexpected veterinary costs, some pet owners end up paying thousands in premiums over the lifetime of their pet without making a significant claim.
You’re required to pay your monthly premium whether you file a claim or not. If you do file a claim, you may only get 70% of the cost reimbursed, often not including the exam fee. As long as your cat remains healthy, you could be paying hundreds of dollars per year for a policy you don’t use.
Before you write off the idea of pet insurance, however, consider the opposite possibility.
If you don’t have pet insurance and your cat becomes seriously sick or injured, you could be stuck with a vet bill that totals in the thousands. Even if you don’t get all of it back, having a pet insurance plan means you don’t foot the entire bill yourself.
Mallory Crusta, our head of content, spoke with Dr. Gary Richter, MS, DVM, CVC, CVA about the subject.
Dr. Richter is the owner and medical director of Holistic Veterinary Care, an alternative veterinary care practice located in Oakland, California. He told Mallory that “pet insurance is 100% worth the cost” but reminds pet owners that insurance companies are for-profit businesses. It’s the pet owner’s responsibility to research the options before deciding if pet insurance is worth the cost.
Special Considerations for California Cat Owners
As you’re weighing the pros and cons of cat insurance, take a moment to consider whether there’s anything about where you live that might sway your thoughts in one direction over the other.
For example, cat owners in California have more reason to be worried about natural disasters than pet owners in other parts of the world. Wildfires and earthquakes are of particular concern in California. Natural disasters can create dangerous situations from falling objects to smoke inhalation. California is also home to a variety of rattlesnakes, venomous spiders, and large predators that could be a problem for cats who spend time outdoors.
Though it’s entirely your decision whether you think pet insurance is worth it, California residents are lucky that pet insurance providers are required to disclose key details that might impact your decision.
California’s Consumer Protection Law requires pet insurance companies to disclose:
- Policy exclusions (like pre-existing conditions or hereditary disorders)
- Waiting periods (a length of time after enrollment before you can submit a claim)
- Deductibles and coinsurance rates
- Annual and lifetime policy limits
- Whether claim history affects premium price
It’s also worth looking into local regulations your municipality may have regarding pets. For example, Los Angeles County requires cat and dog owners to have their pets spayed or neutered after 4 months of age. This surgery is generally considered preventive care and isn’t covered by most pet insurance plans, though some have wellness add-on packages that provide some coverage.
Now that you have a better understanding of pet insurance and what California residents might need to consider before buying, let’s take a closer look at our top picks for the best cat insurance in California.
9 Best Cat Insurance Plans in California
*Monthly premiums obtained using the profile of Sweet Pea, a 4-year-old, spayed domestic shorthair who lives in San Francisco, California.
Average Cat Insurance Cost in California
According to a 2021 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), American pet owners spend over $34 billion to keep their cats healthy. This figure represents spending on things like veterinary care, surgical procedures, and prescription medications. Vet care is the highest category of spending among pet owners after pet food and treats.
Pet insurance can help mitigate some of the costs associated with veterinary care for pets, but premiums vary greatly.
According to Market Watch, the monthly premiums for cat insurance average between $15 and $30. Market Watch collected quotes using a 4-year-old male cat from the top ten most popular breeds. Forbes Advisor calculated a monthly premium cost between $30 and $48 for plans with a 90% reimbursement rate, $250 deductible, and $5,000 annual maximum payout.
Location is a key factor in determining insurance rates. Based on our research for this piece, the average cost of cat insurance in California is between $18 and $30 per month. Again, we assembled quotes for a 4-year-old female domestic shorthair with no pre-existing conditions.
The Bottom Line
No matter where you live, cat insurance has the potential to save you thousands of dollars on unexpected vet fees. In some cases, having pet insurance coverage makes a difference in making decisions about life-prolonging treatment for serious accidents and illnesses. Some pet owners simply can’t afford to give their cat a potentially life-saving surgery or expensive treatment for chronic illness.
There are no guarantees that you’ll get your money’s worth out of a pet insurance policy but, for many cat owners, having the peace of mind knowing there’s a backup plan in place is enough.
Here are the key takeaways from our research into cat insurance in California:
- Most pet insurance companies in California offer reimbursement rates between 70% and 90%, though a few offer 50% or 100% as an option.
- California cat insurance plans for a 4-year-old female cat with 80% reimbursement, a $250 annual deductible, and $5k annual limit cost between $18 and $30 per month.
- Pet insurance companies selling to California residents must disclose information about policy exclusions, waiting periods, deductibles, and payout limits.
When it comes to buying cat insurance, it’s entirely your choice to make. As a cat owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your cat safe and healthy but buying pet insurance isn’t the only to do that.
Pet insurance can give you peace of mind knowing that you’ll have help covering unexpected vet costs in the event of an accident or serious illness. It generally doesn’t, however, cover planned costs like spay/neuter surgery, wellness exams, and vaccinations. If your cat is young and healthy, it may be more worth your while to put what you’d spend on insurance premiums into an emergency fund for your cat.
If you decide that pet insurance is worth the cost, we’d encourage you to consider one of the plans we’ve reviewed above.