Healthcare costs are rising across the board, and pet healthcare is no exception. In fact, according to insurance companies, the average amount that someone can afford for treatment at any one given moment is only $1,500. As a result of expensive treatment costs, veterinarians tell Pawlicy Advisor they have difficult conversations with pet owners about the cost of care between five and ten times per day.
The ASPCA estimates that the average cost of caring for a dog is $1,800 a year, not including unforeseen expenses that can exceed thousands of dollars. Luckily, you’re not alone: pet insurance is here to help you reduce the financial burden and prepare for the unexpected.
Pet insurance, or veterinary health insurance, helps cover the cost of veterinary care to keep your pets healthy. Most importantly, the right insurance plan can buy you priceless peace of mind.
Insurance plans can be tailored to your pet’s age, potential breed-specific health conditions, existing health issues, and many other needs. Whether your pet is susceptible to allergies, developing chronic conditions, or accidents from over-activity, plans can offset thousands of dollars in costs.
|Type of insurance plan||Covered||Not covered|
|Wellness||Checkups, yearly vaccines, routine care||Accidents, injuries|
|Accident-only||Emergency care related to accidents||Pre-existing conditions, illnesses, breed-specific issues|
|Accident-illness||Treatments & tests for accidents & illnesses||Routine care, pre-existing conditions|
|Accident-illness with Wellness||All expected or unexpected treatments||Pre-existing conditions|
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
These are some of the most common determining factors for pet insurance costs:
- Type of pet (size, purebred or mixed-breed status)
- Age of pet (compared to its typical life expectancy)
- Common indoor and outdoor risks in area
- Term and length of insurance policy
- Company offering the insurance plan
Buyers should be aware of preexisting conditions (diagnosed before enrolling in insurance) that may not be covered by insurance plans. Congenital conditions are usually not covered.
How Do I Use Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance is different than health insurance, where your doctors must be in network with your insurer: You can use any pet insurance policy at any licensed veterinary clinic in the U.S. There is no co-pay. Instead, most insurance carriers require that you pay upfront for treatment. Some carriers will pre-approve you for an upcoming procedure and offer to pay the veterinarian directly, alleviating your potential temporary financial burden. You may then submit an itemized receipt to your insurance company for reimbursement in a matter of days.
Deductibles, Reimbursements, Limits: What Do I Need to Know?
A deductible is the portion of the veterinary bill you’re responsible for before your plan’s reimbursement takes effect. Most pet insurance companies offer an annual deductible. Some insurance companies offer a per-incident deductible, meaning if the same injury occurs more than once in future years, the deductible will no longer apply.
Reimbursement is the amount a pet insurance company pays you back for the cost of care. A typical reimbursement ranges from 60% to 100% of the bill. The most comprehensive pet insurance plans will reimburse 80% to 90% of your total vet bills.
Limits are something you should consider when choosing a plan, as you anticipate how much and what type of care your pets might need for their ages and conditions. Per-incident limits cap how much you can be reimbursed for a single illness or accident. If a surgery, lab tests, medications, and follow-up care total $5,000 and your limit is $2,000, you are responsible for over half of the bill.
Annual limits mean your insurance coverage is capped at a set amount. Once you hit your plan’s annual reimbursement limit, you are responsible for paying until your coverage resets for the year. Depending on your pet, you may not hit the annual limit.
We know the insurance search is complicated. So we’re here to help you choose the right plan for your pet, and the one that makes financial sense for you. We analyze your pet’s health risks, coverage options on the market, and price differences to recommend a policy that will hopefully save you substantial money and frustration over your pet’s lifetime.