Which Type Of Dog Insurance Do You Need?

by Kari Steere, Licensed Insurance Agent
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Which Type Of Dog Insurance Do You Need?
Out of all the different options, learn how to identify which type of dog insurance plan you need for your pet.

For many of us, our dogs are more than just pets; they are family members. But while our canine companions are a source of laughter and joy, they can also incur substantial bills if they get sick, injured, or injure someone else. This is where different types of dog insurance can be very helpful.

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Most people know about pet insurance for dogs, but what other types of dog insurance policies are there? How does each policy provide financial protection? Are any legally required?

Here’s everything you need to know about different dog insurance policies to ensure you’re properly protected from end-to-end:

Types of insurance for dogs

Pet health insurance

Like humans, dogs can get injured or suffer from serious diseases that could end up costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars to treat without pet health insurance.

Owners can choose from two different types of dog health insurance coverage: Accident & Illness and Accident-Only.

  • Accident & Illness plans cover injuries in addition to illnesses such as arthritis, hypothyroidism, cancer, ear infections, UTIs, digestive issues, and sometimes even a pre-existing condition. After your deductible is met, the insurance provider will reimburse you for a portion of the money you spent on covered vet costs (typically between 70% and 100%) including the vet’s diagnosis, treatment, and more.

This type of dog insurance policy is the most comprehensive and provides complete peace of mind when dealing with the stress of caring for a sick or injured pet by knowing that you can afford the best veterinary care possible without stressing about the financial hardship it might otherwise present.

  • Accident-Only plans, as their name suggests, only cover veterinary care related to accidental injuries, including bite wounds, torn ligaments, broken bones, toxic ingestions, and swallowed objects. They cover diagnostic testing necessary during medical pet emergencies — such as ultrasounds, MRI, x-rays, and bloodwork — as well as surgical procedures preformed by the veterinary specialist and overnight hospitalizations, if necessary.

Accident-Only coverage does not cover the treatment costs for common illnesses in dogs, but they can help you cover unexpected vet bills so that you never have to choose between an emergency treatment and the cost of care.

Pro Tip: Many people confuse pet wellness plans with pet health insurance, but these are insurance riders that you can add onto your traditional dog insurance policy. They provide additional coverage for routine pet care, including spay or neutering procedures, microchipping, parasite preventatives, grooming, and more.

Homeowners & renters pet insurance

For homeowners: A homeowners insurance policy typically includes liability coverage that may offer financial protection if you are found liable for third-party injuries or damages caused by your dog. This type of insurance policy typically doesn’t cover property damage or injury to occupants of your home caused by your pet, but generally covers claims made by other parties as a result of your dog's actions, regardless of whether the incident happened at your home or elsewhere.

For renters. If your dog bites or otherwise injures someone, a renters insurance policy may also provide financial protection against liability claims for another party’s medical expenses and legal fees, as well as your own fees you may incur in small claims court. It also offers liability protection for damage your dog may cause in or on someone’s property. However, renters pet insurance does not typically cover property damages in the unit or building that are caused by a tenant’s dog.

Dog liability insurance

Both renters and homeowners dog insurance are limited in the financial protection they offer. They will only cover third-party liability claims up to a certain amount (if at all), then the individual policyholder is responsible for the remaining costs their dog caused.

Some homeowners and renters insurance policies have breed-specific exclusions that require pet owners to obtain additional liability coverage elsewhere. This is also common in states that mandate the owners of some pets to have dog liability coverage of a specific value.

In these cases, dog liability insurance offers a solution. These providers specialize in insurance for dogs that typically excluded from traditional policy coverage. They can also provide liability coverage for dog owners who neither rent nor own a home, and therefore lack financial protection in the event of a lawsuit.

Auto insurance with dog injury coverage

Some auto insurance policies can pay for collision-related medical expenses for your four-legged friend. Pet injury insurance typically falls under the collision coverage on your auto insurance policy and reimburses you for vet bills and burial expenses if your dog is riding in your vehicle when you have an accident that leads to injury or death. This type of insurance might also cover the cost of a new pet.

Pro Tip: If you often drive with your dog and your current insurance doesn't offer pet coverage, consider getting pet insurance. Having a separate pet health insurance policy will guarantee coverage of veterinary expenses in the event of pet’s car accident injury, no matter who's at fault.

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Life insurance for dogs

Pet life insurance policies provide reimbursement for the pet’s value in the event it disappears or gets stolen, as well as replacement of future income in the case of show dogs (for instance, from breeding fees or product endorsements). Insuring your dog’s life will also cover funeral expenses.

These policies (formally known as mortality and theft insurance) are most often purchased for dogs with an economic value — i.e. dogs that generate income — as well as valuable dogs breeds like the French Bulldog (which purebred puppies can cost as much as $10,000) and service dogs that cost thousands of dollars to train. Some pet owners might also decide to purchase a life insurance policy in order to be able to give their dog a proper sendoff.

Pro Tip: Most life insurance policies for dogs are quite expensive, so it may make more financial sense to invest in pet insurance to protect the health of your invaluable companion. Some providers also offer coverage for your dog’s eventual cremation or burial costs.

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How to compare dog insurance options

So, what types of dog insurance do you need for your specific pet? The answer depends on where you live and what financial risk your pet presents, but almost all owners need pet insurance dor dogs.

Each type of dog insurance policy will vary by provider in terms of coverage details. To find the best dog insurance that suits your needs, it’s very important to read the fine print for answers to key questions, such as:

Pawlicy Advisor makes it easy to compare dog insurance options from top providers side-by-side, so you can see exactly what’s covered in each plan. We provide personalized recommendations based on your dog’s specific age, breed, medical history, and location to help you pick insurance coverage that you feel confident about.

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Key Takeaways

  • When it comes to financial protection for your canine companion, there are several different types of dog insurance you can choose from, including pet health insurance, life insurance, liability insurance, plus coverage through homeowners, renters, or auto insurance policies.

  • Nearly all dogs experience an illness or injury at some point in their life, which makes pet health insurance the most common type of dog insurance among owners. Plans are available with two types of coverage options: one for both accidents and illnesses, and the other for accidents only.

  • Which type of insurance you choose will depend on your dog’s needs as well as your own. Regardless of whether you’re shopping for a home, auto, life, or pet health insurance policy, be sure to read the fine print and compare several different providers before making a final decision.


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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