Accidents happen, not just with people, but with pets too. Despite your best attempts, Spot just doesn't understand why he shouldn't eat his favorite stuffed animal, or that jumping to the floor from halfway up a flight of stairs could be dangerous.
Luckily, pet insurance is a LOT less complicated than it is for humans. You don't have to find an "in network provider," and rates don't change depending on whose doctor you use. With pet insurance, you keep your current veterinarian and the company reimburses you after the bill is paid and receipts and records are sent in. Typically the reimbursement check can take 4-6 weeks, but can come as soon as one week. Coverage can start as early as two weeks from sign up, or can take as long as a year for certain conditions.
There are a few options to consider regarding coverage for your pets, even within one company. Providers most often offer a vaccination and "routine maitenance" plan, and an accident coverage plan. You can select either or both, and in most cases discounts are offered on multiple plans, like car insurance and home insurance bundling. The only caveat is that with a vast majority of companies, congenital defects are not covered, or require a much higher monthly premium.
When choosing a pet insurance provider, the biggest aspect to examine is that you are not paying out more than you are getting. (Really this only applies to the routine maitenance portion, and not accident coverage) Often vaccinations can run $300-400 a year per pet, plus heartworm medication and flea and tick prevention. If premiums end up totalling more than $600/year per pet for just routine items, it may be worth it to forgo that coverage and only use accident protection.
With puppies, things are slightly different. If you can pay $30 extra a month for the first three months, usually the cost of spaying or neuterring, and microchipping is fully covered. Not to mention puppies get multiple vaccines in that time, so you get more out of your money. With some companies you can even cancel the routine plan after the surgery, and just drop to emergency coverage.
There are a multitude of options available in regards to pet insurance companies. A few final things to consider. Some only allow for enrollment as puppies, others are for life. There are annual caps on reimbursement for some, and the amount varies company to company. Companies do also partner with home and car insurance providers, so there are potential bundling discounts to be had. For the list of top ten providers, check out Consumer Advocate's Rankings.