Dog Life Insurance vs Health Insurance: Which Do You Need?

by Kari Steere, Licensed Insurance Agent
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Dog Life Insurance vs Health Insurance: Which Do You Need?
What is pet life insurance and does your dog need it? Read on to learn the key differences between health insurance and life insurance for dogs.

Pet life insurance and pet health insurance provide two different coverage options for dog owners. The differences between them can be confusing, but are nonetheless important to learn so you can choose the product that’s right for you and your four-legged friend.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

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This post will help you understand how pet life insurance works and differs from pet insurance for dogs.

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Can you get a life insurance policy for your dog?

Life insurance policies for dogs do exist and are usually purchased for working animals that generate revenue, such as show dogs that might earn six-figure income through product endorsements and breeding.

This type of insurance can also be a worthwhile investment in the case of service dogs which are typically expensive to train and might be impossible to replace without financial assistance.

Dog life insurance could also be considered for valuable dog breeds such as the French Bulldog which can cost from $3,000 to $10,000.

Finally, because pet life insurance covers funeral expenses, people who consider dogs to be family members might want to invest in such a policy in order to give their loving pet a proper send-off as part of their grieving process. A pet funeral can include many of the features and equipment of a funeral for a human family member. If you opt for a burial, a burial plot in a pet cemetery can cost between $400 and $600 and a pet casket can cost from $50 to $500. Cremation, on the other hand, typically costs from $60 to $150 and an urn can cost between $35 and $400.

How does pet life insurance work?

Formally known as mortality and theft insurance, dog life insurance reimburses the value of the dog, provides replacement of future income, and covers the cost of pet funeral services.

Your dog is technically your personal property, but unlike other types of possessions, the value of your pet is not covered by renters/homeowners insurance. Pet health insurance is valuable because it can be used to pay for your dog’s veterinary treatment if he or she were to fall ill or get injured, so you can maximize the amount of time they spend by your side.

Pet health insurance vs. pet life insurance for dogs

Pet health insurance covers the cost of veterinary care by reimbursing 70-100% of eligible vet bills. Currently, there are about 20 pet insurance providers on the market, including Embrace Pet Insurance, Pumpkin Pet Insurance, MetLife Pet Insurance, etc.

Pet owners can choose from Accident & Illness policies, which cover medical expenses related to incidents and a wide range of illnesses including chronic conditions, hereditary conditions, congenital conditions, orthopedic conditions, breed-specific conditions, hospital stays, and cancer treatment, and Accident-Only policies which cover veterinary expenses in case of a sudden emergency or accident.

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Most pet insurance companies also offer Wellness plans that reimburse you for various routine care expenses. Some pet insurance providers include cremation/burial coverage, while others might include end-of-life care and euthanasia.

Nationwide Pet Insurance sometimes offers payouts for the value of a pet at death, but there are certain limitations. The coverage is limited to the price you initially paid for your dog, but no more than $1,000. In addition, senior dogs (eight years or older) or dogs that were euthanized are not eligible for reimbursement.

Note: You might hear some pet insurance providers in the UK talk about a “lifetime policy”, which essentially guarantees your dog’s medical issues will be covered throughout their entire life (as opposed to time-limited pet insurance, which offers a fixed sum of money for each injury or illness your four-legged friend gets). A maximum lifetime payout, on the other hand, refers to payout limits and determines the maximum amount your pet insurance provider will reimburse you for claims during your pet’s lifetime.

Lifetime pet insurance policies tend to be the most expensive option, but they can be the best choice for senior dogs. Health problems in older dogs tend to worsen with every passing year, so if you want to ensure that your canine friend receives the care they deserve, lifetime pet insurance can cover your pet for life, so long as you renew your policy every year. It should be noted that life insurance policies exclude pre-existing conditions.

Is a dog life insurance policy worth it?

Pet life insurance policies are typically very expensive. The average cost is approximately $250-900 a year, which means that for a dog that lives ten years, you would spend $90,000 on premiums. The cost of life insurance monthly premiums is also based on the dog’s breed, age, location, deductible amount, and level of benefit. Insurance companies that offer pet life insurance might also sell pet health insurance that you could bundle for a lower premium rate.

Given its cost, pet life insurance is unlikely to be a worthwhile investment unless you have a very valuable dog, especially if you already have traditional pet health insurance. However, everyone’s risk comfort is different, so even if you don’t own a dog with economic value, you might still want to purchase a life insurance policy.

Just like any family member, you love your dog and you will give anything to support its needs — but that doesn’t mean you should risk financial ruin in the unfortunate event it needs expensive emergency care. Pawlicy Advisor can help you find pet insurance plans that could ensure your dog lives a long, happy life by making sure it never has to go without critical medical treatments due to cost.

Use Pawlicy’s free online tool to easily compare pet insurance coverage details and identify plan features that matter most, including benefits to give senior dogs a high quality of life.

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Key Takeaways

  • Pet life insurance, formally known as mortality and theft insurance, is usually purchased for working dogs that generate revenue, service dogs, valuable dog breeds, and also covers funeral expenses.
  • Pet health insurance, on the other hand, covers pet medical costs by reimbursing up to 100% of eligible vet bills, depending on the plan. However, it won’t cover the expenses if your dog dies.
  • Considering the fact that dog life insurance is quite expensive, it’s probably not a worthwhile investment unless your dog has a value that justifies the cost of a life insurance policy.
  • Pet health insurance might be a better option to support your dog’s needs in case it needs medical care without risking financial ruin.

Kari Steer, Licensed P&C Insurance Agent at Pawlicy Advisor

About the author

Kari Steere, Licensed Insurance Agent

Customer Support - Pawlicy Advisor

Kari Steere is a licensed P&C insurance agent in all 50 states and has focused entirely on pet insurance since 2019. As an animal lover with a rescued Terrier named Barry, when she's not helping pet owners find the perfect plan on Pawlicy Advisor, she runs a ranch in Oregon and rehabilitates any animals that come across her path.

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