Pretty much your preference with what you're comfortable paying. Seems no two people have the same experience with any of them. You could gamble that the money you save from not paying for any will pay for what you need. Pet Assure is better than nothing and covers 25% of everything. For insurance though, you HAVE to look at every detail and all the fine print. Some will not cover ongoing care, medicine, checkups, dental... the biggest one is breed specific illnesses like hip dysplasia, but thankfully I doubt that would apply to either of your breeds. Just look at everything and see what you're comfortable with. Dirty trick I keep reading about is coverage for a condition one year, but not carrying over to the next year. Or even not covering tests and exams.
Adjustable premiums? Annual cap for coverage? Customizable coverage? No caps?
Never had to use it *knocks on wood* but I have Healthy Paws. Just watch out when researching, found out that companies will pay people who rank insurances to put theirs at the top with glowing reviews.
First go to 2015 Pet Insurance Review - comparison of VPI, ASPCA, etc.. On the right hand side of the page are all of the companies offering insurance in the US, listed from the highest to lowest rated. I agree with the site's ratings: I would limit my research to Healthy Paws, Pet Plan, Embrace and Trupanion. I have had Pet Plan for years and am very happy with it, but I would be fine with Healthy Paws otherwise. Embrace and Trupanion have good reputations but appear to be more expensive. I would avoid any company with less than a 9.0 average rating.
Mixed breeds get the lowest rates and pure breds with known congenital problems get the highest so if your dog is not really a purebred then don't list it as such. Make sure you have seen a vet within a year of starting the policy and submit your vet's notes to the company for "underwriting." This will ensure that you will not be surprised later on because your dog has been determined to have a "pre-existing condition."
Provided the policy is underwritten early, the pet is up to date on preventative care, and all notes and invoices are submitted Healthy Paws and Pet Plan are known for paying quickly and without hassles. Your rate will depend on your dog's breed and your location. An English Bulldog in San Francisco will incur a very high premium.
You can lower the premiums by either increasing your deductible or the percentage of reimbursement. In general a higher deductible will lower the premium more than a lower percentage of reimbursement. HP and PP do not pay for or offer reimbursement for routine care. Plans that do offer that are not cost effective.
Your premiums will go up over time, based on the dog's age (PP) or increased costs in your area (HP). If they get to be too high you can adjust the policy as suggested above.
I have found the premiums to be very close between PP and HP. They each have "features" you may not like: PP charges 20% for specialist care but pays for exam fees. HP never pays for exam fees but does not charge extra for specialist care. PP's deductible is per "incident" per year, while HP's is one deductible per year regardless of incidents.
I am very happy with PP because I've had them for years and they've paid me a lot of money. But many people comparing the two companies are choosing to go with HP because of the yearly deductible, the rate increases based on prevailing vet fees, and the lack of a surcharge for specialist care.
I prefer PP because once I satisfy the deductible ($200 for my policy) they pay 100% where HP only offers 90%. I also don't like the idea of always paying the exam fee out of pocket with HP.
All this said, both companies have some negative reviews on the review website. I find that most of the time the complainers did not provide adequate documentation or they failed to identify a pre-existing condition up front.
I am a big believer in insurance. Even if you have thousands saved up and set aside just for a pet emergency, it might not be enough and withdrawing it is painful. With insurance you can budget and relax.
I absolutely believe in health insurance, both for humans and canines. For Samantha, we have had VPI,, now Nationwide since we adopted her over six years ago. They have a number of different plans, so you can somewhat customize the policy for your dog. Premiums have gone up as she ages, but I still get at least our premium back every year, and some years they have covered some fairly serious and expensive health issues. I would not be without it. Vet expenses are very expensive, and necessary.