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How Much Is Pet Insurance, and What Does It Cover?

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Adopting a new dog or cat comes with many responsibilities, including ensuring that they have proper veterinary care. Pet insurance can be an effective way to make sure the newest member of your family has access to emergency healthcare while protecting yourself financially.

Pet insurance is a financial product that helps cover the cost of veterinary care for your pet. It’s similar to health insurance for people in some ways. But most pet insurance plans won’t cover general checkups or preventative care unless you pay extra. However, for services that are covered, these plans can be used with any veterinarian — as opposed to having to choose a provider from a specific medical network.

While it can be helpful for many, pet insurance doesn’t make sense financially for everyone. To decide if it’s right for you, it’s helpful to know how much pet insurance costs and what it covers.

What does pet insurance cover?

Most pet insurance plans cover your animal’s care in the case of emergency or serious illness. There are three major types of insurance available to pet owners, which are outlined below.

Comprehensive coverage

Comprehensive pet insurance — sometimes referred to as accident and illness coverage — has the widest range of benefits. These types of plans cover:

  • Accidents

  • Injuries

  • Chronic illness

  • Infections

  • Hereditary issues

  • Diagnostic care

  • Emergency care

On average, comprehensive coverage costs $640 for dogs and $387 for cats each year. These policies may exclude pets with pre-existing or genetic conditions. So check for those exclusions before making a purchase.

Accident-only coverage

Accident-only pet insurance coverage offers more limited benefits, and generally doesn’t cover care related to most illnesses. This type of policy is best suited for emergencies, such as:

  • Accidents

  • Injuries

  • Bites from animals or insects

  • Swallowed objects

  • Accidental poisoning

The yearly cost for accident-only coverage averages $200 for dogs and $122 for cats as of 2022.

Wellness coverage

Many insurance companies offer additional coverage options, such as well-visit benefits or dental coverage. These are typically sold as add-on options — also known as riders — to a pet insurance plan. Depending on the company, you may be able to add on wellness coverage for:

  • Annual checkups

  • Wellness visits

  • Vaccinations

  • Spaying or neutering

Some insurance plans also offer end-of-life care and beyond, covering things like urns for cremation. This varies from company to company. So verify whether or not these benefits are included before purchasing a plan if these are important to you.

Average cost of pet insurance

The cost of pet insurance varies widely depending on the company, the pet, coverage choices, and the state you live in.

The table below outlines the average cost of pet insurance as of 2022, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA).

Cost of comprehensive coverage

Cost of accident-only coverage

Dogs

$53 per month ($640 per year)

$17 per month ($200 per year)

Cats

$32 per month ($387per year)

$10 per month ($122 per year)

Some pet insurance companies also charge a one-time enrollment fee, typically around $25, when you sign up for a plan. Some companies may also charge an installment fee, such as $3 per month, if you elect to pay monthly instead of in full.

Most pet insurance companies don’t provide detailed prices online. So to help you gain more insight into how much pet insurance costs, we used a test dog and cat subject to get sample quotes. While your costs may be very different in the end, these prices can help you get a sense of what your options are. Where possible, we tried to compare with the same deductible and coverage limits, though some plan details below vary slightly.

Estimated cost of dog insurance

We obtained a sample quote for dog insurance from a number of companies, using this dog as an example:

  • Boston terrier

  • 3-year-old male

  • Lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Insurance company

Cost for comprehensive coverage

Additional cost for wellness coverage

Figo

$21 per month

$10-$17 per month

Pets Best

$21 per month

$16-$21 per month

Lemonade

$25 per month

$18-$27 per month

Spot Pet Insurance

$26 per month

$10-$25 per month

AKC Pet Insurance

$31 per month

$16-$27 per month

Wagmo

$31 per month

$39 per month

Fetch

$36 per month

N/A

Petco Insurance

$36 per month

N/A

Prudent Pet

$39 per month

$12-$20 per month

Embrace Pet Insurance

$43 per month

$19-$52 per month

Pumpkin

$43 per month

$19 per month

Healthy Paws

$44 per month

N/A

Trupanion

$48 per month

N/A

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

$54 per month

$10-$25 per month

Estimated cost of cat insurance

To estimate the average cost of cat insurance, we used this cat as an example:

  • Mixed breed

  • 4-year-old female

  • Lives in Corpus Christi, Texas

Insurance company

Cost for comprehensive coverage

Cost for wellness add-on coverage

Lemonade

$12 per month

$11-$18 per month

Spot Pet Insurance

$12 per month

$10-$25 per month

Healthy Paws

$13 per month

N/A

Pets Best

$14 per month

$16-$26 per month

Petco Insurance

$16 per month

N/A

Felix

$22 per month

$12-$22 per month

Pumpkin

$22 per month

$12 per month

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

$24 per month

$10-$25 per month

Embrace Pet Insurance

$24 per month

$19-$52 per month

Fetch

$26 per month

N/A

Prudent Pet

$27 per month

$8-$14 per month

Trupanion

$28 per month

N/A

What are the factors that determine the cost of pet insurance?

The factors that can impact your pet insurance premiums generally fall into one of two categories, both of which are outlined below.

1. Factors related to your pet

Just like an auto insurance policy takes your age, driving history, and vehicle into consideration, a pet insurance policy also considers your unique situation when calculating how much you pay for insurance. That means considering characteristics of your pet, such as:

  • Species: While dogs and cats are the most commonly insured pets, there are plans that will cover other animals, like gerbils or bearded dragons. Exotic pets are much harder or impossible to insure.

  • Breed and size: Some dog and cat breeds are prone to certain health issues. People with these breeds may pay more for insurance or find themselves unable to get coverage.

  • Age: Your pet’s insurance premiums can (and likely will) rise as they age. This can eventually make pet insurance too expensive for many people. Most pet insurance companies won’t take your pet as a new customer after a certain age, usually 14 and older.

  • Multiple pets: Many pet insurance companies offer plan discounts if you enroll multiple pets for coverage. You typically save a percentage off each additional pet you insure.

2. Factors related to your policy

After an insurance company has considered your situation, you will have a chance to adjust certain aspects of your policy, which can bring down your premium. Choosing a lower reimbursement percentage or a higher deductible can help keep your costs lower, for example.

Items you can adjust to lower the cost of your policy include:

  • Deductible: Choosing a higher deductible — the amount you have to pay before your coverage kicks in — will lower your premium. A lower deductible will raise your monthly cost.

  • Annual maximum benefit: An annual maximum benefit caps the amount an insurance company pays for care in a given year. A plan with a $10,000 annual maximum benefit pays no more than $10,000 each year, even if your vet bills are higher. The more a plan can be required to pay in a year, the higher your premiums will be.

  • Reimbursement percentage: You may be able to choose to have insurance cover 60% to even 90% of your bills. If an insurance company pays a higher percentage of your vet bills, you can expect to pay more for your insurance rates.

Should I get pet insurance?

Determining whether or not you need pet insurance isn’t always an easy calculation. You may want to consider:

  • How your pet’s estimated veterinary expenses compare to the cost of insurance

  • Whether insurance will cover enough of your pet’s medical care to make it worth paying the monthly premium

  • Whether your pet insurance premiums will increase or stay the same over time

  • What lower-cost veterinary services are available in your area

  • That a single emergency or urgent care veterinary visit for your pet is often several hundred dollars or more

  • How you would feel about euthanizing a pet who needed expensive medical care you couldn’t afford

While pet insurance can be a helpful financial tool, many pet owners are shocked to find that their monthly premium amount increases each year. Because of these increases, most people only insure their pet for 3 years before the cost becomes unaffordable.

In an investigation from Consumers’ Checkbook, Trupanion and Healthy Paws were the only companies that didn’t increase premiums as pets aged, among the ones included in the investigation.

Another way to break down whether you need pet insurance or not is by making a pros and cons list. Below is a sample checklist.


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