There are few things more distressing than watching a pet cat suffer from an injury or sickness. If the cost of care presents a financial hardship, pet parents might face extremely difficult decisions regarding which treatments they can afford for their feline friend.
Cat insurance is designed to help in these situations by reimbursing 70-100% of money spent on covered vet bills out-of-pocket (after your deductible is met). Despite the 26.7% growth in the total number of insured cats from 2019-2020,1 millions of cats still remain uninsured, leaving pet parents exposed to significant financial risk as cat health issues arise.
Though spending a little bit of money upfront each month could potentially save hundreds if not thousands of dollars down the road, some pet owners just aren’t sure how to fit pet insurance into the monthly budget unless it were free.
But does free cat insurance exist? Unless your employer offers pet insurance as a benefit, you will have to pay for coverage. It’s a fair question though, considering many Americans and people around the world have access to free health insurance plans.
Want to know why? Or need ways to make it more affordable? Let’s dive right in.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Why you can’t get cat insurance for free
- What alternatives there are for low-income families
- Which pet insurance discounts you may qualify for
- How to decide if cat insurance is worth it
- Where to find the most affordable rates
Why you can’t get cat insurance for free
Unfortunately, “free cat insurance” does not exist. One of the differences between pet insurance and human health insurance is that the latter is fully or partially subsidized through the government. The final price the consumer pays for health insurance is heavily dependent on their financial situation, but almost always heavily discounted.
In some cases, low-income individuals may demonstrate such financial need that they’re able to qualify for free healthcare through federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid — but that doesn’t include free cat insurance for the four-legged family members.
Human healthcare is heavily regulated by the federal government to ensure consumer protections, but privately-owned pet insurance companies are also regulated at the state-wide level. (That’s why the cost of pet insurance may be more expensive in one location than another, even for the same exact plan on a nearly identical pet).
The right to change your mind is one protection that consumers have in many states. For example, California pet insurance requires providers to offer a 30-day money-back that allows you to cancel your policy for a full refund within 30 days of enrollment. Keep in mind, though, that certain restrictions apply and requirements vary by state; for example, if you’ve used your plan and filed a claim within that time frame, you cannot get free cat insurance by later canceling the policy and requesting a refund for the premiums.
Alternatives for low-income families
If you’re having a hard time paying for the cost of a vet, don’t lose hope for your cat’s care quite yet. Apart from free cat insurance, there are several strategies you can use to make vet visits more affordable so your feline friend can receive the essential treatment they need.
First, try talking to your local veterinarian directly. Asking about a payment plan or negotiating a lower price for service; if they know your cat’s health and wellbeing depends on a certain treatment, they’ll likely be willing to work with you to ensure it happens. Some pet insurance alternatives — such as CareCredit financing or a membership with Pet Assure — could provide viable solutions, as well.
*NOTE: If you’re on Medicaid, know that Medicare/Medicaid does not cover pet costs related to adopting, feeding, providing veterinary care, or pet insurance.
You could also ask for donations from friends in-person or strangers online through platforms like Gofundme. Be sure to check and see if you may be eligible to apply for a charitable grant offered in your local county or state. You can find these opportunities and more by searching for these terms online:
- “Financial assistance for cat surgery”
- “Financial assistance for cat cancer treatment”
- “Financial assistance for cat with [condition]”
Which pet insurance discounts you may qualify for
Though you can’t get free cat insurance, getting a discounted rate might put a policy within the limit of your monthly pet care budget. Many providers offer discounted rates for various conditions, such as:
- Signing up for multiple pet insurance policies
- Reduced deductibles for claim-free enrollment periods
- Cheaper rates offered through employer plans or healthcare provider
- Exclusive membership-only discounts, including Costco Pet Insurance, USAA, and AARP
- Discounts for military members offered by Armed Forces Pet Insurance and many others
How to decide if cat insurance is worth it for your pet
Cat insurance is not always right for everyone. For many, it can be a lifesaver when facing a steep veterinary bill. For others, whose cats might be too old or have too many pre-existing conditions, pet insurance may not be the most helpful.
Use the decision tree linked via the button below to help decide if cat insurance is worth it for you.
Where to find the most affordable plans
The cheapest pet insurance options available will depend on your cat’s breed, age, and location.
Pawlicy Advisor is a free tool that helps pet parents find the best pet insurance plans at the lowest possible price. Trigger a search and you’ll be able to see exactly what’s covered by the policy and what’s not. More importantly, you’ll see each plan’s Lifetime Pricing Score side-by-side so you can make sure you’re getting the best deal.
There are a wide variety of plans on the market, and many of them may be more affordable than you think. For example, young, healthy cats may qualify for affordable pet insurance that costs as low as $9 per month. There’s never any obligation with free cat insurance quotes, so check your custom rates today and get one step closer to reducing your family’s financial risk of pet ownership.
- NAPHIA, "Total Pets Insured" Accessed Dec. 9, 2021.