As a pet owner, you will undoubtedly deal with unexpected illnesses, accidents, and emergencies during your pet’s lifetime. When your pet is sick or injured, coming up with the funds for emergency treatment can add stress and tension to an already difficult situation. But, a pet insurance plan can save you thousands of dollars in veterinary bills every year, and help you make the best decisions when your pet needs care.
Pet insurance carries a monthly premium, but the cost is well worth your peace of mind when you are able to provide the best care possible for your pet in every situation. Each provider, and policy, covers different services for different costs, and you should explore all options before choosing the best plan for your pet.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
This is one of the most common pet owner questions. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), the average cost for pet insurance in the United States is $46 per month for a dog and $26 per month for a cat.
Average Monthly Cost of Pet Insurance for Dogs
According to Value Penguin, which provides the costs for different pet insurance policies, the average monthly premium for dog health insurance is $42.45, when looking at the top 11 providers. Monthly premiums that several popular providers charge include:
- Embrace — $22.25
- Figo — $31.13
- Nationwide — $33.08
- Pet First — $34.95
- AKC — $35.00
Average Monthly Cost of Pet Insurance for Cats
Value Penguin found the average monthly premium for cat health insurance was $20.99 when looking at the top 11 providers. Monthly premiums that several popular providers charge include:
- Embrace — $13.79
- Pets Best — $9.94
- Figo — $15.38
- ASPCA — $16.77
- Pet First — $16.95
Factors That Determine the Cost of a Pet Health Insurance Policy
Many factors determine the monthly premium for each individual pet, and you will need to provide information about your pet to receive quotes from different insurance providers. When calculating your pet’s premium, insurers consider the following main factors:
- Age — Younger pets are less prone to costly illnesses and will have lower rates, while older pets will have increased rates because of their inevitable ailments as they age.
- Breed — Some breeds are more likely to develop health issues, which can increase the monthly cost.
- Species — A dog typically costs more to insure than a cat.
- Location — Veterinary care costs can vary significantly by location. For example, care costs more in densely populated metropolitan areas, which will mean higher insurance rates. Veterinary costs, and thus insurance rates, are typically lower in rural areas.
- Coverage — The most significant factor determining pet insurance cost depends on the coverage you choose. For example, a comprehensive policy that covers veterinary expenses for accidents, illnesses, and hereditary conditions will cost more than coverage for only routine veterinary visits, like check-ups and vaccinations.
- Deductible — Many companies allow pet owners to choose their deductible. A higher deductible will allow you to pay a lower monthly premium, whereas a lower deductible will correlate with a higher monthly premium.
What is the Average Cost of Veterinary Treatment?
Although veterinarians keep their prices as low as possible, medical care is costly and can add up quickly if your pet needs surgery or hospitalization. Data based on average claims from PetFirst show that a dog’s average treatment cost is $252.75, and a cat’s is $266.79. Without pet insurance, you will pay your pet’s entire treatment cost out of pocket, whereas pet insurance allows you to pay only a small percentage of the total, and covers the remainder of eligible costs.
What Does Pet Health Insurance Cover?
Pet health insurance covers a percentage of your pet’s eligible veterinary expenses, but eligible expenses can vary significantly between plans and providers. Costs that may be covered include:
- Accidents — Unintended or unexpected events commonly cause pet injuries.
- Illnesses — An illness is a health issue that does not arise from an injury.
- Exam fees — Many pet insurance companies do not cover the exam fee for diagnosing a health issue, but cover treatment costs.
- Alternative therapies — Alternative therapies, such as holistic treatments, physical rehabilitation, chiropractic care, and acupuncture, are becoming more popular, and may be offered as part of your pet’s treatment and therefore covered.
- Emergency care — Insurance plans typically cover emergency treatments, such as X-rays, CT scans, and surgery, at an emergency clinic or traditional veterinary office.
- Hospitalization — Most plans cover hospitalization that your pet requires to recover from an illness, injury, or surgery.
- Pet medications — Medications are generally covered, so long as your plan covers the diagnosis. Prescription pet food for illnesses such as kidney disease and pancreatitis may not be covered, so always reach out and ask about specific medication coverages.
- Hereditary and congenital conditions — Some hereditary conditions (i.e., genetic health conditions passed down from parents to offspring), such as hip dysplasia, may not become apparent until later in life. Congenital conditions, on the other hand, are present at birth. Many pet health insurance companies restrict congenital and hereditary conditions coverage, so review this part of the policy carefully. The policy you choose should cover these conditions, especially if your dog is a breed, such as a golden retriever, prone to genetic conditions like cancer.
Some insurance plans, like Pet Plan, allow you to customize your coverage by choosing from a combination of deductibles and reimbursement levels. Others offer routine care or other add-ons to provide more comprehensive coverage.
What Coverage Types are Available?
Many insurance companies offer several plans, while others may offer only one basic plan. When considering the right plan for your pet, you must compare rates and coverage, and read reviews. The different plan types offered typically include:
- Accident and illness coverage — Accident and illness coverage helps cover veterinary bills for unexpected incidents, like sprains, toxin ingestion, and ear infections. This plan type typically covers related veterinary expenses, including lab tests, surgery, hospitalization, prescription medications, and emergency veterinary care.
- Accident-only coverage — This plan type covers certain medical expenses if your pet has an accident, such as a broken leg or laceration. Coverage may include diagnostic tests, surgeries, X-rays, hospitalization, prescription medications, and emergency care.
- Wellness plans coverage — Add-on wellness care riders cover medical expenses for routine exams, disease screening, flea and heartworm prevention, and vaccinations. Some pet insurance companies don’t include wellness, but you can typically add coverage to a policy.
- Comprehensive pet coverage — Comprehensive coverage offers the most well-rounded coverage, with wellness care, accidents, injuries, and illnesses included.
To further lower your costs, you may consider adding a discount plan to maximize your pet care savings. Pet Assure’s veterinary discount plan does not exclude pre-existing conditions and has no age limitations or exclusions. Simply put, all pets are covered. Pet Assure also offers additional benefits, such as ThePetTag 24/7 lost pet recovery service.
Pet insurance is a worthwhile investment for any pet and can help defray costs if your pet unexpectedly becomes injured or sick, and may prevent you from being forced to make difficult decisions based on finances. As you can see, determining the cost of each insurance plan—and each pet’s costs— is complex. Spend time thoroughly reviewing each policy, to ensure you choose the plan that works best for your pet’s specific situation.