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Insurance Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance for Adopted Dogs and Cats

Adopting a pet is a joyous experience for your entire family and it has a number of benefits. Adopting a dog or cat from an animal shelter is much less expensive than purchasing a pet from a pet store or breeder. Plus, many adopted pets have already been spayed or neutered and vaccinated, which can reduce your vet costs.

However, you don’t always have the full picture of an animal’s medical history when you adopt a pet from a shelter. To help you pay for unexpected illnesses, injuries, and routine care, you might be looking for pet insurance that covers adopted dogs and cats. 

In this article, we’ll explain the basics of pet insurance for adopted dogs or cats and share which pet insurance companies are the best.

Does pet insurance cover adopted dogs and cats?

Pet insurance is similar to health insurance for humans. If your pet needs medical treatment after an unexpected accident, illness, or injury, pet insurance will cover a portion of their veterinary bills. 

Some pet insurance plans also cover preventive care services, like annual vet visits, vaccinations, and dental cleanings.

Most pet insurance companies cover adopted dogs and cats, even if you’re unsure about the animal’s exact age, breed, or medical history. You don’t need this information to insure your adopted dog or cat. 

However, the insurance company will want to have any information you receive from the shelter regarding vaccines or procedures the animal had before you brought them home. 

Pet insurance providers that cover adopted dogs and cats

While almost every pet insurance company covers adopted dogs and costs, some insurers are better than others. We researched some of the top pet insurance companies to find the best providers that cover adopted pets. 

Insurance companyBest forUnique featuresLendEDU rating (out of 5)
LemonadeFast claimsAI-powered digital claims process that allows for quick reimbursement processing times4.7
EmbraceQuick coverageThe waiting period for accidents is only two days, which is shorter compared to most other insurers4.7
SpotVariety of termsLargest combination of deductibles, reimbursement rates, and benefit limits out of the providers we reviewed4.5
FetchBest coverageThe highest rating for coverage and the most comprehensive pet insurance plans4.9
ASPCAReliability17 years in business and hundreds of reviews from satisfied customers4.3

Lemonade: Best for fast claims

  • Adopted dogs and cats up to age 14 are insurable
  • Several plans to choose from, including preventative care packages
  • Digital claims with faster payouts than many competitors

Lemonade offers two pet insurance plans—Complete and Plus. The Complete plan offers more coverage, including coverage for behavioral conditions, which can benefit adopted pets. 

You can also add a preventive care package covering things like blood tests, parasite testing, microchipping, and other services you might want for your adopted dog or cat. 

When you complete the online application, you will be asked to input your pet’s breed, age, and medical history. However, there’s an option to select “I don’t know” for each question if you aren’t sure. If you don’t have your pet’s detailed medical history, Lemonade will accept any documentation the shelter provides.

Lemonade stands out for its fast claim processing. The company uses an AI-powered digital claims process that significantly shortens the time between filing the claim and getting reimbursed. We gave it an editorial rating of 4.7 out of five, which is one of the highest scores in our roundup.

  • Annual coverage: $5,000 to $100,000
  • Reimbursement: 70%, 80%, or 90%
  • Deductible: $100, $250, or $500
  • Waiting period: 14 days for illness and 30 days for orthopedic conditions (no accident waiting periods)
  • Pet age restrictions: Up to age 14 
  • Medical exam required? Yes, if no vet records from the last 12 months
  • Discounts: Bundling, multi-pet, annual pay

Embrace: Best for quick coverage

  • One plan that covers accidents, illnesses, and medical conditions
  • Comprehensive wellness plan for preventative care coverage
  • Pet parents get access to a 24/7 vet helpline

Embrace insures dogs and cats that are adopted from any animal shelter. The company sells a full-coverage pet insurance plan that covers accidents, injuries, dental illness, and chronic conditions. 

You can also add a wellness rewards plan, which covers many services and treatments that adopted animals might need, like training, grooming, microchipping, and flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives. 

Out of the pet insurance companies we reviewed, Embrace is the best for quick coverage. Accidents are covered after two days and illnesses are covered after 14 days. If you insure your adopted pet immediately after you take them home, you can use your pet insurance benefits almost immediately.

We gave Embrace an editorial rating of 4.7 out of five because of its short waiting periods and comprehensive coverage. We also like that Embrace gives dog and cat parents access to a 24/7 vet helpline for use if you’re unsure what medical care your pet might need after leaving the shelter. 

  • Annual coverage: $5,000 to unlimited
  • Reimbursement: 70%, 80%, or 90%
  • Deductible: $100, $250, $500, $750, or $1,000
  • Waiting period: 2 days for accidents, 14 days for illnesses
  • Pet age restrictions: Up to age 14 
  • Medical exam required? No
  • Discount: Multi-pet

Spot: Best variety of terms

  • Three insurance plans to choose from with varying types of coverage
  • No upper age limit for enrolling dogs or cats
  • Excellent range of coverage limits, deductibles, and reimbursement rates

Spot offers accident-and-illness, accident-only, and preventative care insurance plans. Adopted dogs and cats are eligible for each plan up to age 14. You can visit any vet and get reimbursed for up to 90% of your pet’s veterinary bills. 

Based on our evaluation of the company, we gave Spot an overall score of 4.5 out of five.

Depending on your chosen plan, you can get coverage for expenses like prescription medications, surgeries, hospitalization, dental illnesses, behavioral issues, hereditary conditions, and more. Teeth cleaning coverage is also available with the optional preventive care plan. 

Spot has the largest variety of terms—including a combination of deductibles, reimbursement rates, and annual coverage limits—out of the providers we reviewed. This is ideal for pet parents who are still learning about their pet’s medical needs and may need to adjust coverage in the future.

  • Annual coverage: $2,500 to unlimited
  • Reimbursement: 70%, 80%, or 90%
  • Deductible: $100, $250, $500, $750, or $1,000
  • Waiting period: 14 days for accidents and illnesses
  • Pet age restrictions: Pets can be insured after eight weeks; no upper age limit
  • Medical exam required? No
  • Discount: Multi-pet

Fetch: Best coverage

  • One plan that covers accidents, injuries, and illnesses
  • Up to $15,000 in annual coverage
  • Comprehensive preventive care plans available

Fetch received the highest rating for its pet insurance coverage, with an editorial rating of 4.9 out of five stars. Its accident-and-illness plans are very robust and cover a variety of treatments and services. 

Fetch also covers some extras that other pet insurance companies don’t, like breed-specific conditions, annual exams, and complete sick visits. Plus, you can get $1,000 in virtual vet visits covered annually, with no copay required.

Fetch also sells an optional wellness plan, which has no copays, waiting period, or deductible. There are three levels of coverage to choose from (essentials, advantage, and prime), which provide coverage for a wide range of preventative care services. 

In addition to its excellent coverage, Fetch also has efficient claim handling. You can submit a claim online or through the mobile app and get reimbursed in as little as two business days. You can take your dog or cat to any veterinarian or animal hospital in the U.S. or Canada and use your benefits. 

  • Annual coverage: $5,000 to $15,000
  • Reimbursement: 70%, 80%, or 90%
  • Deductible: $250, $300, or $500
  • Waiting period: 15 days for accidents and illnesses
  • Pet age restrictions: Pets can be insured after 6 weeks; no upper age limit
  • Medical exam required? No exam required to get coverage, but an exam is required to renew the policy each year.
  • Discount: AARP membership, military

ASPCA: Best for reliability

  • ASPCA has been selling pet insurance for 17 years.
  • The company has paid out more than 2.2 million claims.
  • No vet exam required to get coverage.

ASCPA is the best pet insurance company for reliability. The company has been around since 2006 and has hundreds of positive reviews from happy pet parents. 

The company offers an accident-and-illness plan called Complete Coverage or an accident-only plan. There’s also an optional preventative care plan that will pay for things like routine vet visits, vaccines, dental cleaning, and other things your adopted pet might need.

ASPCA scores lower compared to the other companies listed here, with a score of 4.3 out of five points. However, it’s one of the oldest and most reputable pet insurance companies on the market. There is also a 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to cancel the policy within the first month for a full refund.

  • Annual coverage: $2,500 to unlimited
  • Reimbursement: 70%, 80%, or 90%
  • Deductible: $100, $250, or $500
  • Waiting period: 14 days for accidents and illnesses
  • Pet age restrictions: Pets can be insured after eight weeks; no upper age limit
  • Medical exam required? No
  • Discount: Multi-pet

Ask the expert

Erin Kinkade


First, determine what is most important to you personally and financially when confronting health care costs for pets. Personally, I would compare my pet’s insurance coverage in the same manner as my medical care costs. With an adopted pet, you may have less of an idea of the potential health care costs, I would recommend getting the most comprehensive coverage from the start (that also fits your budget). 

How to choose the best pet insurance plan for adopted dogs or cats

Adopted dogs and cats often have special medical needs. As a result, it’s important to choose the best pet insurance company for your newest family member. Here are some things to consider as you compare pet insurance plans:

Pet age

Knowing your pet’s age (or their estimated age) can help you choose the right plan. For example, if you adopted a dog that you believe is between one and two years old, you might choose a plan that caters to the needs of puppies rather than older dogs. 

You might also consider adding a preventive care plan that will cover some expenses that you might face with a young dog, such as spaying, vaccinations, and microchipping.  

Breed-specific conditions

When you adopt a pet, you don’t always know their specific breed. But if you know the breed (or have a general idea), it’s a good idea to purchase pet insurance that will cover breed-specific conditions that the dog or cat might face later in life. 

For instance, if you adopt a Siamese cat, it can be beneficial to get pet insurance that covers hip dysplasia and intestinal tumors, which this breed is predisposed to. 

Medical history

Pets that are adopted from a shelter don’t always have a detailed medical history. However, having a general idea of their medical history or current conditions can be helpful when getting insurance. 

For instance, if your pet hasn’t received the necessary vaccinations or isn’t microchipped, you should consider getting a preventative care plan to cover those costs. 

Vet recommendations

After you adopt a dog or cat, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet, especially if you aren’t sure about their breed, age, or medical history. 

Your vet can probably recommend things that your dog or cat might need, such as prescription food or physical therapy. Then, look for a pet insurance plan that covers those services or treatments to reduce the amount you must pay.

Out-of-pocket costs

Another factor to consider when choosing pet insurance for your adopted dog or cat is the out-of-pocket costs you’ll pay when filing a claim. In general, plans with higher coverage limits, higher reimbursement rates, and low deductibles will have the most expensive premiums. 

If you don’t mind paying for some of your pet’s vet bills out-of-pocket, you can choose a plan with lower coverage limits or higher deductibles, resulting in a lower premium. 

Is pet insurance for my adopted dog or cat coverage worth the cost?

If you’re adopting a dog or cat, you might wonder if pet insurance is worth it. While everyone has different needs, pet insurance can be a good investment for many pet parents for a couple reasons:

  • An accident-and-illness pet insurance plan can help you pay for unexpected vet bills that would be very expensive to pay out-of-pocket.
  • Adding a preventive care plan can help cover the cost of routine vet visits, vaccines, and other things that your pet will need over the course of their lifetime. This type of coverage is especially beneficial if you don’t have past medical information for the animal.
Pet insurance vs. wellness plans

For example, if you aren’t sure what vaccinations your dog or cat has had, a preventive care plan would cover their initial vet exam, as well as the vaccines they still need. Without pet insurance, you would pay for those services out-of-pocket. 

Before you purchase pet insurance for your adopted dog or cat, it’s important to know that pet insurance doesn’t cover everything, including pre-existing conditions. If your pet develops a health problem before you insure them, you must pay for their treatment out-of-pocket. 

For instance, let’s say you adopt a 10-year-old cat that has been previously diagnosed with a thyroid condition. Because the cat was showing symptoms of the condition before you insured them, pet insurance would not cover their treatment. 

If your pet has pre-existing conditions, it won’t affect your ability to insure them, and it doesn’t mean that pet insurance won’t be beneficial. Your insurance plan will still cover other diagnoses your pet receives after they’re insured, which can help you save money at the vet. 

How to file a claim with your pet insurance provider

Filing a claim with your pet insurance provider is usually a simple process. Whether your pet is adopted or purchased from a pet store or breeder, you can follow the same steps to file a claim. Here are some elements to know:

  1. Paying the vet: Most pet insurance companies require you to pay for your dog or cat’s care out-of-pocket when you visit the vet. However, there are some companies that will pay the vet directly. 
  2. Filing your claim: You can typically file a claim online or through a mobile app, so you can start the claim process before you even leave the clinic. 
  3. Getting reimbursed: Once the claim has been submitted and approved, you will get reimbursed based on your policy’s coverage limits. Most pet insurance plans reimburse up to 90% of the vet bill minus your deductible. So, for instance, if the vet bill was $8,000 and your plan had a 90% reimbursement rate and a $250 deductible, you would get back $6,950.
  4. Coverage limits: Many pet insurance plans have a coverage limit, which is the maximum amount of money the insurer will pay out in a single year. However, there are some insurers that have no annual coverage limit, including Embrace, Spot, and ASPCA.

While pet insurance is no different for adopted pets, it’s important to note that many pet insurance plans have a waiting period before you can use the benefits. For example, Lemonade has a waiting period of two days for accidents and 14 days for illnesses starting on your policy’s effective date. During that time, you won’t get reimbursed for any claims you file. 


Are there any age restrictions for insuring adopted pets?

Some pet insurance companies do have age restrictions for insuring pets, whether they are adopted or not. For example, Lemonade will only insure dogs and cats up to age 14. However, other companies, including Fetch and ASPCA, have no upper age limit for insuring dogs or cats. 

Is pet insurance more expensive for adopted dogs and cats?

Insuring an adopted dog or cat isn’t more expensive than insuring a pet you purchase from a pet store or breeder. The factors determining the cost of pet insurance are the same, regardless of where you get your pet. 

Some of the things that impact pet insurance premiums are the pet’s age and breed, the type of plan you purchase, the reimbursement rate, your annual coverage limit, and your deductible.

Does pet insurance cover routine care for adopted pets?

You can purchase pet insurance covering routine care for your adopted dog or cat. Many pet insurance companies sell an optional preventive care plan that you can add to an accident-and-illness or accident-only plan. 

Most preventive care plans cover things like annual vet exams, vaccines, grooming, teeth cleanings, flea/tick prevention, and heartworm prevention.

Are there any breed-specific restrictions for adopted dogs or cats?

Some pet insurance companies may have breed-specific restrictions for adopted pets. However, the breed restrictions will be the same for all pets, whether they are adopted or not. Before you purchase pet insurance, make sure that your pet’s breed qualifies for coverage.

How soon after adoption can I get my pet insured?

You can insure your adopted dog or cat immediately after you take them home. There’s no waiting period between adopting and purchasing pet insurance. However, most pet insurance companies have a waiting period before you can start getting reimbursed for claims. 

The average waiting period is 14 days for accidents and illnesses, but some insurers, like Lemonade, have shorter waiting periods.