If you’re like most animal lovers, you can’t put a price tag on the life of your four-legged best friend. But unfortunately, for some pet parents, giving your beloved dog they care they need and deserve can present a major financial burden. Pet insurance is designed to offset expensive veterinary costs — but those premiums aren’t exactly cheap, either.
Despite the 22.5% increase in the number of insured dogs from 2019 to 2020, the majority of dogs still don’t have insurance. While it is true that pet insurance could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on emergency care, low-income individuals and families might have trouble paying the monthly premiums and may be wondering, “Does free dog health insurance exist?”
Unfortunately, the answer is no, there is no such thing as free pet insurance for dogs unless your employer offers it as a voluntary benefit. We’ll discuss why and how else you can affordable pet care in the sections below.
Click on a link to learn more:
- Why you can’t get dog insurance for free
- Alternatives for low-income families
- Pet insurance discounts you may qualify for
- Do dogs really need insurance?
- Where to find affordable plans
- Key Takeaways
Why you can’t get dog insurance for free
The difference between pet insurance and human health insurance is that the former is subsidized (partially or fully) through the government. This means that the government pays part of your premium directly to the insurance company, and you are responsible for the rest. Low-income families might qualify for government-funded programs like Medicaid or Medicare, but these don’t cover pet medical expenses.
When it comes to human healthcare, the federal government establishes rules to protect the public and promote access to care. Pet insurance, on the other hand, is regulated by states. For this reason, the price of the same insurance plan might vary depending on your location. However, the state-by-state regulation also means that pet insurance rules, restrictions, and protections (such as rising rates, coverage exclusions, claim denials, and how pre-existing conditions are defined) might vary depending on your location.
Unlike human health insurance which can't be exchanged whenever you feel like changing your coverage, pet insurance companies allow customers to change their minds. In most states, insurers are required to offer a 30-day money-back guarantee that lets owners cancel their pet insurance policy and get a 100% refund if no claims are filed.
Alternatives for low-income families
Just because you can’t get free dog health insurance doesn’t mean you don’t have other options for affordable pet care. If you haven’t saved money to cover your dog’s veterinary expenses, there are alternatives to pet insurance you could take into consideration.
Start by speaking to your vet or animal hospital about deferred payments or a payment plan. Most of them will work with you to make sure that your pet gets the necessary medical help.
Your local Humane Society or animal advocacy group might also be able to provide information about other organizations in your area that assist pet parents with vet bills. You should also check if you qualify for a charitable grant.
Another option is to ask for donations through crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe or directly from family and friends. Other alternatives to explore include veterinary financing such as CareCredit For Pets, community pooled funds like Pawp, veterinary discount plans through PetAssure or AlignCare, and so forth.
Pet insurance discounts you may qualify for
Although there’s no such thing as free pet insurance for dogs, you can still get a plan at a reduced rate that fits your budget. Many companies offer pet insurance discounts for various criteria, such as:
- Getting more than one dog insurance plan for each of the furry family members in your household from the same insurance carrier
- Bundling different policies, such as renters pet insurance, travelers insurance, or liability insurance
- Member-only discounts offered by some pet insurance providers like USAA, AARP, and Costco
- Savings for current and former military members from providers like Armed Forces, Embrace Pet Insurance, etc.
- Diminishing deductibles for every year your pet goes without receiving a claim reimbursement
- Cheaper pet insurance rates offered through employer plans or healthcare providers
Do dogs really need insurance?
Most veterinarians recommend dog insurance to the majority of their patients, and some dogs need insurance more than others. Some owners are surprised to learn that indoor dogs need pet insurance just as much as outdoor dogs need pet insurance.
However, a health insurance policy may not be the best decision for all dogs, including seniors and pets with pre-existing conditions.
Where to find affordable pet insurance plans
Ultimately, the cost of pet insurance will depend on several factors, including your dog’s age, breed, and location.
Dog owners can choose from a wide range of plans, many of which are pretty affordable. For instance, young, healthy dogs might qualify for pet insurance policies that cost $24 per month. For older pets that have aged out of comprehensive coverage, Accident-Only coverage can be a great, less expensive option.
The best way to find cheaper dog insurance is by comparing quotes from different providers. Pawlicy Advisor’s free online tool helps you compare pet insurance plans side by side to see what each plan covers and check its Lifetime Value Score so that you can make sure you find the best insurance plan for your pet and your budget.
- Unfortunately, free dog health insurance doesn’t exist, but you may be able to get free, deferred, or reduced-cost veterinary care through charitable grants, . The good news is there are other options you can look into, such as charitable grants, crowdfunding, pooled funds like Pawp, CareCredit financing, etc.
- Another way to get pet insurance if your budget is limited is to opt for Accident-Only plans that typically cover emergency veterinary care.
- You can also get a pet insurance plan at a discounted rate. Most providers offer discounts on various bases, including discounts for military members, discounts for insuring multiple pets, shrinking deductibles for each year you don’t make a claim, etc.