Pet Insurance for Older Pets: Is It Worth It?

by Woody Mawhinney, Licensed P&C Insurance Agent
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Pet Insurance for Older Pets: Is It Worth It?
Pet insurance for older dogs and cats can help pet owners save thousands of dollars as their loved one progresses through age.

Those who own older dogs and cats sometimes wonder if purchasing pet insurance is a good option, or whether coverage will be available to them at all. It can be confusing to know at what age an insurance company considers your four-legged friend a “senior pet,” especially if they’re spry as ever and young at heart.

Although it’s best to enroll your pet in a policy while they’re young, you can still get pet insurance for older dogs and cats — and doing so could help you save a significant amount money if they develop health concerns in their late life.

If you’re considering pet insurance for older pets, here’s what you need to know.

What types of pet insurance policies are available for older pets?

Several pet insurance companies offer plans for older dogs and cats. The most common type of pet insurance is the accident/illness plan, which covers treatments and procedures related to physical accidents and common illnesses.

You can choose an accident-only plan for coverage strictly related to injuries, or you can include a supplemental pet wellness plan to cover routine care such as grooming, teeth cleaning, and flea medication.

It’s important to note that each provider has a unique set of guidelines that determine a pet’s coverage eligibility depending on its age, breed, and size. Small dogs have longer lifespans than larger dogs, which impacts the age they’re considered a senior. According to VCA Hospitals, the general classification is 11 years old for small dog breeds, 10 years old for medium breeds, and 7 for large.

Senior dog classifications

Some companies may provide pet insurance for older dogs above a certain age, while others offer unlimited coverage or none at all. To compare the plans available to your specific pet, type their information into Pawlicy Advisor’s search tool, and you’ll receive a list of top recommendations in seconds.

As an example, we used Pawlicy Advisor to search for a plan for a 14-year-old mixed-breed dog with no pre-existing conditions. We received a list with over 145 dog insurance options to choose from, sorted by plans with the most coverage and the best price. These results come from top providers like Pets Best Pet Health Insurance, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, and PetFirst Pet Insurance.

When you compare pet insurance companies, always read the details of your pet insurance policy before agreeing to the terms. Pawlicy Advisor includes a Coverage Details tab with every policy it recommends, so you can easily understand what treatments and conditions are covered under each plan, then make an informed decision.

End-of-Life Care

Is pet insurance more expensive for older pets?

Pet insurance for older pets is generally more expensive than younger puppies and kittens. This is because older pets are more prone to health problems and present a higher level of risk for the insurance provider.

Keep in mind that some breeds are prone to breed-specific health conditions that may affect the cost of your pet insurance coverage. Still, you can find plenty of affordable plans for your older pet. Even if your monthly deductible is higher than insurance plans for younger pets, the coverage can be a lifesaver in the face of expensive veterinary care.

There are a few ways you can make pet insurance for an older pet more affordable, and Pawlicy Advisor makes it easy to do so. For example, if you choose a plan with a lower reimbursement percentage — the percentage of the vet bill the insurance company will cover — you’ll generally pay less per month.

You can also get a multiple pet discount with most providers if you enroll more than one pet with the same company. If you have several older pets at home, you may want to consider enrolling them all in a similar plan to save on their insurance coverage.

Is pet insurance worth it for older pets?

Yes, pet insurance can be a worthwhile investment for your older pet, even if they haven’t shown any signs of serious health concerns. And if they have, your best fur-friend could still enjoy several years of quality life if they get the treatment they need. If that treatment is prohibitively expensive, it pays to have health insurance that can cover some of the cost.

Cancer prevalent in over 50% of senior dogs

For example, almost half of dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer. According to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, initial diagnoses of cancer in pets can cost at least several hundred dollars. More expensive cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy, can cost as much as $7,000 for dogs or more.

You can see how one pet parent with insurance saved $8,000 on their pet’s cancer treatment in the real example above. Not only did they avoid an expensive vet bill thanks to insurance, but they also provided their sick pet with immediate access to much-needed care.

Cancer Treatment Insurance Savings

Pet insurance is worth it for older cats as well. Cats can reach their senior years as early as age 7, as this is when their bodies begin to experience certain biological changes. That said, cats often live to be 16 or 17 years of age, and some domestic cats can even live to be 20 years old.

Although they may be considered “older” at the age of 7, the cat insurance plan you select now could cover your pet for another 13 years. Some plans even provide coverage for routine expenses, such as exam fee coverage, which can be extremely helpful if you need to bring your older pet to the vet often.

Does pet insurance cover euthanasia?

Some, but not all, pet insurance companies cover euthanasia. You can find ones that do through Pawlicy Advisor. After generating your list of top recommended plans, go to the “Coverage Details” tab and scroll down to the “Other” section. This section will provide details about whether the pet insurer offers coverage of alternative and experimental treatments, as well as euthanasia.

In most cases, euthanasia isn’t covered unless recommended by a veterinarian. Some plans may also cover extraneous costs associated with end-of-life care. For example, you can obtain coverage for cremation or burial costs through ASPCA Pet Insurance below, as seen below.

Euthanasia Coverage

Saying goodbye is one of the most difficult parts of owning an animal. For most pet parents, dogs and cats are a part of the family, and they want to make the end of their lives as comfortable and pain-free as possible. End-of-life care typically involves pain management and euthanasia.

These are difficult subjects to discuss, especially when you know your pet still has several good years left. But it’s important to think about the costs of end-of-life care before the time comes and in case your loved one becomes seriously ill at a premature age. Pet insurance can help.

What is the best pet insurance for older pets?

Most providers that partner with Pawlicy Advisor offer pet insurance plans for older pets. Other than ASPCA, some of the best pet insurance plans for older pets come from providers like Pets Best Pet Insurance, PetFirst Pet Insurance, and Hartville Pet Insurance. These companies all offer plans for a 14-year-old dog with no pre-existing conditions.

As a pet owner, you should consider your budget and the unique needs of your pet when choosing a pet insurance plan. If your dog’s breed is prone to certain hereditary conditions when they get older, you’ll want to go with a pet insurance provider that offers the specific type of coverage you might need later on. You can also prioritize plans based on cost, ensuring you find the option that works best for your financial circumstances.

To choose the perfect pet insurance plan for a senior dog or senior cat, start a search on Pawlicy Advisor today.


Key Takeaways

  • It's never too late to protect your cat or dog with insurance for older pets, although each provider carries its own set of coverage guidelines and restrictions.
  • The size and breed of your dog can impact the older pet insurance quote you receive, as some tend to live longer than others.
  • Depending on the company you choose, your plan may help you finance the cost of end-of-life care so you can ensure the most time and the most comfort for your beloved family member.
  • Pawlicy Advisor can help you compare insurance policies for older pets based on their unique eligibility criteria, saving you the stress of searching for specific details.

Woody Mawhinney and his dog Wrigley

About the author

Woody Mawhinney, Licensed P&C Insurance Agent

CEO and Co-Founder - Pawlicy Advisor

Woody Mawhinney, CEO and Co-Founder of Pawlicy Advisor, was relieved when his pet insurance covered his Shar Pei’s monthly prescription costs. However, many veterinarians and pet parents in his community shared with him the difficulties they faced when evaluating options. As a licensed insurance producer nationally, he launched Pawlicy Advisor as the first U.S. pet insurance marketplace actively endorsed by veterinarians, aiming to improve the pet insurance experience by providing objective analysis, more thorough comparison, and a streamlined educational experience.

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