Pet Insurance Cost: The Definitive Guide

Responsible pet ownership doesn’t start at the vet when your pet is already in need of emergency medical attention, but well before. Much like with our own health, it can be hard to see past corners until the unexpected is right around the bend.

Our definitive guide answers the most common questions regarding pet insurance cost by laying out everything you’ll need to consider when piecing together a financial protection plan for your pet, including:

  • The average cost of pet insurance industry-wide
  • Monthly premiums to expect — cat vs. dog
  • Age and breed
  • Costs of treatment comparisons — with and without pet insurance
  • Questions to consider before buying pet insurance

By taking the proper precautions from the get-go with a comprehensive pet insurance plan, quality healthcare for your pet will never be jeopardized by high vet bills.

The price you’ll pay for pet insurance — more commonly referred to as a premium — will never be a fixed, unanimous rate. Different pets need different dimensions of coverage, which is why premiums can start as low as $10 per month and reach as high as $90 per month. Aside from your selected plan option and add-ons, your cumulative cost will also factor in:

  • Species and breed
  • Age
  • Location

Other policy specifications such as your annual limit, reimbursement rate, and deductible will be rolled into calculating your personalized premium. Once you’ve gotten to the point where you’ve decided on an insurance provider and plan type, you’ll be able to freely adjust these specifications based on your budget.

Discounts are typically available to pet owners who enroll multiple pets under the same insurance provider, as well as to active and former military service members. On occasion, some pet insurance companies will also cut policyholders a deal if they opt to pay an upfront annual premium instead of month-to-month.

Average Monthly Cost of Pet Insurance for Cats and Dogs

Pet insurance is more expensive for dogs than cats, no matter your provider. On average, the monthly premium for dogs sits at around $45, whereas cats ring up at roughly $19. Ultimately, the pet insurance price gap between dogs and cats boils down to the difference in species.

A 60-pound dog will require larger doses of medication than a 10-pound cat. Also, because cats are household pets — unless you have an outdoor cat — its exposure to foreign illnesses is fairly limited, whereas dogs are at a higher risk for contracting transmitted diseases while socializing with other dogs and therefore require a wider schedule of preventative booster vaccines.

Below is a more succinct overview of how average monthly premiums vary between cats and dogs across the two most standard plan variations and with optional preventative add-ons:

Average Monthly Cost of Pet Insurance for Cats and Dogs

How Breed Affects Pet Insurance Costs

For both cats and dogs, breed will hold weight in your total monthly premium, with purebreds accruing higher rates than mixed breeds. Unlike mixed breeds, which tend to have a heartier health profile due to their genetic diversity, purebred pets are more likely to need future medical care because of breed-specific congenital and hereditary conditions.

For example, breeds with compressed, flattened snouts like English Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers are predisposed to an inherited respiratory condition called brachycephalic syndrome which affects their ability to breathe properly. In felines, cats with white coats and blue eyes are more likely to be blind and/or deaf in one or both ears due to a genetic abnormality.

All in all, purebred pets are a much higher liability for pet insurance providers because of their increased genetic probability of health issues.

Take a look at how average monthly premiums differ across species and breeds:

How Breed Affects Pet Insurance Costs

How Age Affects the Cost of Pet Insurance

Age is yet another variable that your pet insurance provider will take into account when formulating the price of your policy. Like people, your pet’s health will naturally begin to decline as it gets older, thus increasing its risk of illness or injury. And so, older pets inevitably tend to be more expensive.

Of course, it’s always ideal that pet owners enroll their dog or cat in a pet insurance plan as early as possible, given that no pet insurance providers will cover pre-existing conditions. But for those who’ve perhaps adopted a senior pet or are simply just now learning about all the perks of pet insurance, it’s better late than never!

Be wary when browsing providers that most companies have maximum age restrictions, usually disqualifying pets for initial enrollment once they’ve turned 14 years old. However, some leading providers won’t deny coverage based on age or breed whatsoever and offer senior-friendly plan features.

Now that you know the cost of pet insurance increases in tandem with the age of your pet, here’s a year-over-year view for both dogs and cats:

How Age Affects the Cost of Pet Insurance

How Age Affects the Cost of Pet Insurance (1)

How Much Is Dog Insurance?
Pet Insurance Cost The Definitive Guide

Dog owners should be prepared to pay anywhere between $24 to $86 per month for dog insurance, depending on the personal profile of their pet (age, breed, size, etc.) and the breadth of coverage they’re shopping for.

Most leading dog insurance companies offer an array of mix and match packages so pet parents can craft a plan that fits within the scope of their budget. Generally speaking, the less comprehensive your plan, the cheaper it will be, but at the cost of narrower incident eligibility.

Pet insurance plans are typically segmented into two predominant categories:

  1. Accident-only
  2. Accident-illness

While some pet insurance providers offer standalone wellness plans to cover checkups and preventative care outside of accident and illness protection, such are few and far between. Most plans pivot around either accident-only or accident-illness with optional riders for preventative care.

The cost of dog insurance does fluctuate among providers, ultimately depending on their respective base rate, the range of plan customizability offered, and the expense of available add-ons.

To sum up how leading dog insurance providers compare in terms of cost, we’ve consolidated their different price points into the chart below:

How Much Is Dog Insurance

How Much Is Cat Insurance?

Insurance Cost The Definitive Guide

If you’re a cat owner looking to insure your cat in the near future, you should expect to pay between $9-$30 per month for the most basic plan option. The lay of the land in regard to the price of feline healthcare doesn’t diverge much from the cost of dog insurance, other than the fact that cats are overall cheaper to insure.

As we discussed, your monthly premium will be translated based on your cat’s breed, age, size, etc., in addition to your chosen plan option and the clerical policy adjustments you’ll make to your preferred annual reimbursement level, deductible, and payout limit during enrollment.

How Much Is Cat Insurance

Want to learn more about some of the cool cats in our 2022 competitive analysis of the best pet insurance providers around? Click here to read on!

Average Cost of Treatments Without Pet Insurance

When it comes down to it, the overarching question most pet parents get hung up on is whether or not pet insurance is really worth it. And we understand the dilemma! But that’s the elusive thing about emergencies – you won’t even be able to fathom a worst-case scenario until it’s right in front of you. So it’s in the best interest of your pet and your own financial health to be preemptively prepared with a reliable pet insurance policy, even if the sky is blue right now.

Uncertain financial flexibility at the time of a medical emergency involving your pet increases the odds that its veterinary care will have to be compromised to fit however much you can shell out upfront, which puts it at further risk for long-term complications. Pet insurance is specifically designed to provide pet owners with a financial buffer for animal healthcare, so they can focus on effective emergency care instead of making a decision dictated by cost.

By taking a look at what you’d be paying out-of-pocket for medical treatment without a policy in place, the below charts may give you a better idea of how much pet insurance truly covers your tail in the long run:

Average Cost of Treatments Without Pet Insurance

Average Cost of Treatments Without Pet Insurance (1)

Things To Keep In Mind When Searching for a Pet Health Insurance Plan 

As you window shop for the best pet insurance policy, it’s crucial to keep two factors at the forefront of your mind — a feasible budget (start thinking about month-to-month along with your annual deductible) and your pet’s complete medical portfolio. Having a good initial grasp on how much you can spend to provide your pet with the best coverage level, as reflected by its unique health history, will start you with the right groundwork.

We recommended starting the plan comparison process by requesting quotes from a few different reputable pet insurance companies and making note of policies that might be a good fit for you — but don’t go signing any lines just yet.

An affordable monthly rate with all the benefits your pet could ever need might be alluring, but the research shouldn’t end at your free custom quote.

You’ll want to remember the basics. Ask yourself the following questions per company before making any commitments:

  • Am I more suited to pay a higher deductible with a lower monthly premium or a lower deductible with a higher monthly premium?
  • Is additional routine care available?
  • Are there any maximum age caps that will affect my pet’s eligibility?
  • How long are the waiting periods?
  • Are breed-specific, congenital, and chronic conditions covered?
  • Are hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament events covered?
  • Are rates raised significantly per year as my pet ages? By how much?

It’s imperative that you thoroughly poke through the fine print of any policy that piques your interest. Doing so will ensure that you aren’t surprised by any overlooked disqualifiers, exclusions, or coverage limitations after you’ve already signed your name on the line.

Lastly, look at verified customer reviews to get a sense of what pet owners like you have to say about their personal experiences with certain providers. Legitimate customer reviews should provide decent context as to whether the pet insurance company at hand actually delivers.

When browsing customer feedback, pay close attention to the general consensus on:

  • Customer service quality
  • Reimbursement turnaround time (anything over two weeks is a red flag)
  • Ease of claim filing process

Reaching out to customer service lines at different companies with any questions you might have will also give you an inside look at how accessible the provider is to its policyholders.

Final Thoughts

Now, I know we said sooner is always better when it comes to getting your pet covered, but take your time with the research process. Securing reliable pet insurance for your dog or cat is supposed to help you feel more confident in its overall health and longevity, so rushing to get it covered without doing your due diligence could leave you feeling quite the opposite.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get pet insurance for birds, reptiles, or other types of pets?

Yes. Pet insurance is available in the United States for any species that fall under the exotic category — birds, small animals, rodents, rabbits, ferrets, reptiles, amphibians, marsupials, pigs, livestock, etc. — but only through a few select providers.

Is it worth it to have pet insurance?

If you ask us, our answer is yes. Pets are expensive as is, but when an unprecedented vet bill of a few thousand dollars is thrown into the mix, suddenly your pet is at risk of not being able to receive the veterinary care that it needs if you can’t afford the upfront cost. And in more serious emergencies, that could very well mean life or death for your beloved friend. We always feel it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to our pets.

If pet insurance isn’t a feasible option for you at this time, be sure to at least have a well-funded pet savings account at your immediate disposal should an emergency ever arise.

What is the average cost of a pet emergency?

The average cost of a veterinary emergency ranges between $800-$1,500.

Are pre-existing conditions covered by pet insurance? 

No. Pre-existing conditions are not covered by any pet insurance provider.



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