Pet Travel Insurance: Everything You Need To Know

by Kari Steere, Licensed Insurance Agent
Pawlicy Advisor
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Pet Insurance Blog
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Pet Travel Insurance: Everything You Need To Know
Learn all about insurance coverage for traveling pets from Pawlicy Advisor, with advice on how to protect their health and safety at home or away.

Traveling with pets by your side can be great, but it does make planning trips a bit more complicated. Between finding pet-friendly locations, choosing the best method of transportation, and packing all your essential pet supplies, there’s a lot to think about every step of the way — including your pet’s safety, first and foremost.

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So many things can go wrong when traveling, that you might find yourself in need of unexpected veterinary care. In these cases, insurance coverage can be a literal life-saver, but can you use pet insurance anywhere? Or do you need pet travel insurance? And what’s the difference, anyway?

Keep reading to learn how pet insurance works when traveling, or use the links below to jump to the answers you’re looking for:

What is pet travel insurance?

Pet travel insurance covers the loss, injury, or death of your pet during a trip from Point A to Point B. Otherwise known as pet transport or pet taxi insurance, these policies provide liability coverage to companies that offer transportation, shipping, and delivery services for pet traveling without their owners.

If you are sending a pet by land, air, or sea, there are certain health risks that make pet travel insurance well worth your consideration. Ground transportation is more favorable for pet travel safety than traveling as air cargo, but the common issues that occur in either setting include:

  • Motion sickness
  • Increased stress levels
  • Unexpected injuries
  • Heat stroke
  • Hypothermia

When making transportation arrangements for your pet, ensure that your carrier company is licensed and provides a minimum amount of pet travel insurance — typically from $100 to $500 per pet. Or, if you’re entrusting your pet directly to an airline, know that they all have different pet policies. The results of one legal case found that some may limit their liability to that of checked baggage, currently set at $3,330 for domestic flights.

Note that these hypothetical figures represent the maximum amount you’d receive for a pet injury or death mid-travel. Travel insurance doesn’t cover sick pets or natural illnesses that may occur in transit. Nor do they these policies cover ongoing health problems caused by an incident mid-transport that develop later on.

For coverage that’s comprehensive and long-lasting, you’d need a traditional pet insurance plan.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Can you use pet insurance anywhere?

It depends on the provider. While all pet insurance companies allow you to use any licensed veterinarian, emergency hospital, or specialist in the United States, restrictions on where you can use pet insurance vary at the international level. Here are some examples from top providers:

For pets traveling abroad, covered vet fees may differ depending on the length of stay in the foreign country.

dog on beach vacation

How does pet insurance work when traveling?

If your pet insurance covers travel, then you can get reimbursed for veterinary bills while you’re away from home, so long as the service does not relate to a pre-existing condition. Unless your provider offers Vet Direct Pay, the policy will work the same overseas or out-of-state:

  • Pay for veterinary care out-of-pocket
  • File a claim for covered services
  • Get paid out at the policy’s reimbursement rate (pending you’ve met your deductible and haven’t hit your annual limit)

Some providers, like ASPCA Pet Insurance, offer additional travel benefits for pets that may include:

  • Lost or stolen pet passport or health certificate coverage
  • Quarantine kennel fee coverage
  • Advertising and reward coverage in case your pet gets stolen or lost.
  • Access to 24/7 pet help hotline

Many insurance companies offer supplementary pet wellness plans that could help reimburse expenses incurred to get a pet passport, including the cost of a vet exam, microchipping, and required vaccinations for dogs and cats.

Does pet insurance cover travel cancellations due to sick pets?

Some pet insurance companies, such as Pet Plan and Trupanion, reimburse travel cancellations due to sick pets. The cancellation coverage often pays for your travel expenses in case you have to abruptly cancel your trip or cut it short because you had to take your pet to the emergency room.

cat in carrier near suitcase

How much is pet insurance for a flight?

Only businesses can buy insurance for travelling pets, so if you want to get pet insurance for a flight, you’d have to enroll in a traditional pet insurance policy and pay the price of a monthly premium. The cost of pet insurance averages $49.51 for dogs and $28.48 for cats, but this number could go up or down depending on where you live and the coverage you choose.

Many people get pet travel insurance prior to their cat or dog flying unattended, then cancel the policy upon safe arrival. If you plan on only getting pet insurance for a flight, you’d need to research the cancellation policy to see whether you’d incur any fees or receive a prorated refund for the monthly premium.

However, if you travel with your four-legged companion often, you may want to keep your pet insurance for flights in the future. By canceling and re-enrolling for each flight, you risk the any pre-existing condition your pet may develop being excluded from your next policy. If anything related to that health issue were to happen while traveling — such as the stress of flying worsening a pet’s heart condition — it would be ineligible for insurance coverage.

Keep in mind that you’ll likely need a pet health certificate issued within 10 days of your trip for pets flying abroad, which will require a visit to your vet. If you want to be reimbursed for exam fees and services your pet may need for international travel, be sure to enroll well in advance, since the policy won’t go into effect until after the mandatory waiting period has passed.

If you’re looking for pet insurance coverage that will provide protection for your pet while you’re home or away, Pawlicy Advisor makes it easy to read the fine print, compare plans, and find the features that matter the most for your preferences. Click on the button below to get started today.


Key Takeaways

  • Pet travel insurance covers expenses relating to issues or accidents when pets are traveling. The benefits of this type of insurance typically extend only from airport to airport. If you are looking for ongoing coverage, you should consider traditional pet health insurance.
  • Some pet insurance providers also cover pets traveling both domestically and internationally. Most insurance companies allow pet parents to use any licensed veterinarian throughout the US, but some of them also provide coverage when your pet is traveling abroad.
  • It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you are shopping for pet insurance, but Pawlicy Advisor can help keep you organized when comparing different options and make sure you choose the best plan for your pet and your budget.

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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