The average monthly cost of pet insurance ranges from about $20 to $49 for a dog and $11 to $29 for a cat, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA). But many factors influence pet insurance costs. We’ll cover how much pet insurance costs, how you can save money, which common exclusions you can expect, and other questions about pet insurance costs.
Average Cost of Pet Insurance
According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, the average monthly premiums for dogs and cats in the U.S. are as follows.
|Types of Coverage||Average Premium Dog||Average Premium Cat|
|Accident and Illness Coverage||$48.66||$28.57|
Accident-only coverage for pets is significantly cheaper because it doesn’t cover illnesses like cancer or diabetes. But not all pet insurance companies offer accident-only coverage, and accident-only plans can leave pet owners vulnerable to high care costs.
When selecting a pet insurance plan, it’s important to compare pet insurance quotes, since every company will evaluate your pet a little differently, and not all pet insurance policies are created equal. Some include benefits, such as coverage for vet exam fees and dental illnesses, that others don’t. Below are sample premiums for a three-year-old dog and cat at some of the best pet insurance companies.
|Sample monthly premium for accident and illness coverage for a cat||Sample monthly premium for accident and illness coverage for a dog|
To get our quotes, we used the following criteria:
- A three-year-old male mixed-breed 45-lb dog and a three-year-old female domestic shorthair cat located in Denver (80014 ZIP code)
- Plans with 70% reimbursement, a $250 deductible, and a $10,000 annual limit
If those exact limits weren’t available, we chose the most similar option (the quotes for Pets Best are for unlimited annual coverage).
There are variations in what each plan covers and how each company deals with pre-existing conditions. And while cost is an important consideration, you should also evaluate companies for financial strength and customer service and determine what features and digital tools are important to you.
Additional Pet Insurance Companies to Consider
|Insurance Companies||Insurance Marketplaces|
|Trusted Pals||Pawlicy Wizard|
|AKC Pet Insurance|
Factors Influencing Cost
How much does pet insurance cost? The answer depends on the following factors.
Pet insurance companies generally offer one or more of the following products:
- Accident & illness coverage: A comprehensive pet insurance plan will include coverage for accidents, such as foreign body ingestion, and illnesses, such as ear infections. These plans may also come with coverage for behavioral issues or hereditary conditions.
- Accident-only coverage: These plans help pay for medical care after your pet tears a ligament, gets a laceration, or ingests something foreign or poisonous, along with other common accidents. Accident-only coverage excludes coverage for diseases.
- Routine wellness coverage: These plans cover expected medical expenses, such as vaccinations, veterinary wellness exams, and screening tests. Some plans may also cover dental cleanings. There are typically dollar limits for each covered expense.
Your pet insurance deductible is a fixed amount you’ll pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. The best pet insurance companies have annual deductibles, but some also impose per-incident deductibles. When choosing an annual deductible, a lower dollar amount will result in a higher monthly premium.
The reimbursement option you choose dictates the share of medical costs your insurer will reimburse after you hit your deductible. It typically ranges from 70% to 90%. If you had a plan with 70% reimbursement and a $500 deductible and your pet needed a $2,500 surgery, you’d get $1,400 back from your pet insurance provider ($2,500-$500, then 70% of $2,000). The higher the reimbursement level you choose, the more expensive your premium will be.
Breed of Pet
Certain breeds of cats and dogs are more prone to health issues than others. And with regards to dogs, larger breeds often have more health issues and require more medication. Your insurance company will take your pet’s size and breed into account when setting your premiums.
Age of Pet
As pets get older, their chance of becoming ill increases. As a result, most pet insurance companies raise premiums every year. But it’s still important to buy pet insurance as early as possible to get the most coverage, since most pet insurers won’t cover pre-existing conditions.
The average cost of veterinary care varies from one location to the next. Pet owners in urban areas with a high cost of living are likely to incur more expensive vet bills than pet owners who live in rural areas, for example.
What Doesn’t Pet Insurance Cover?
Most pet insurance policies come with exclusions, or things the policy doesn’t cover, but coverage varies between insurers. For example, Lemonade does not include coverage for behavioral conditions, but ASPCA does. The following are common exclusions:
- Pre-existing conditions, unless your pet has been symptom-free for a period of time
- Bilateral conditions that occurred on one side prior to policy activation
- Anything that occurs during your policy’s waiting period
- Certain joint and ligament conditions
- Elective treatments
- Preventative care
- Spay/neuter procedures
- Experimental treatments
- Alternative therapies and rehabilitation
- Veterinary exam fees
- Behavioral conditions
- Dental illness
- Euthanasia and cremation
Some pet insurance companies may include many of these commonly excluded coverages or offer them as endorsements. And each provider handles curable pre-existing conditions differently. These differences are, in part, why premiums vary between pet insurance companies.
How To Save Money on Pet Insurance
Pet insurance can put a dent in your monthly budget, but there are a few ways you can reduce your costs.
- Compare pet insurance quotes: Since each pet insurance company determines premiums a little differently, shopping around increases your chances of getting the best possible price. For example, some companies are more affordable for cats than dogs, and some companies are more affordable for pets that are older.
- Take advantage of discounts: You may be able to get discounts as a member of certain groups (e.g. military members or animal care workers), through your employer, or even just by purchasing online or paying annually. Some insurers also offer multi-pet or multi-policy discounts.
- Raise your deductible: Some insurers offer high-deductible options, which can help you save on your monthly premiums. Just make sure you have enough savings to cover your deductible in the event of a veterinary emergency.
- Choose a lower reimbursement option: Choosing a lower level of coverage will mean a lower premium.
- Get an accident-only plan: An accident-only plan can make sense if your pet is already ill or old. Just bear in mind that while an accident-only plan is cheaper, it can leave you on the hook for expensive vet bills if your pet falls ill.
Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
Yes. It is estimated that about one-third of pets will need to visit the veterinarian in an emergency each year, and a visit to the emergency vet can cost thousands, especially if your pet needs surgery. With a cat or dog insurance policy, you’ll be able to handle expensive vet bills that may be necessary to keep your pet alive.
Can You Get Pet Insurance for Exotic Animals?
Yes, some of the best pet insurance companies offer coverage for exotic pets. Nationwide offers insurance for exotic animals, such as birds, reptiles, and ferrets. Pet Assure offers a veterinary discount plan for exotic pets, available as a benefit through your employer.
How Do I Know Which Vets Accept Pet Insurance?
Unlike health insurance for humans, pet insurance usually doesn’t require you to use certain providers. As long as your vet is licensed, your pet insurance company will reimburse you for covered veterinary expenses under your plan. However, note that, if your pet insurance company offers direct vet pay, your vet may need to sign a reimbursement release form.
Why Doesn’t Pet Insurance Cover Pre-Existing Conditions?
Some pet insurance companies provide coverage for pre-existing conditions if your pet has been without symptoms for a certain period of time. Insurance is intended to protect you from unexpected costs in the future rather than ongoing costs from something that happened in the past. And because covering pre-existing conditions would require insurance companies to take on more risk, they would have to charge everyone higher premiums.
What Deductible Should I Get On My Pet Insurance Policy?
When purchasing dog or cat insurance, you’ll want to choose a deductible you can afford if your pet has a medical issue. Bear in mind that if you choose a reimbursement option of less than 100%, you’re on the hook for costs that exceed your deductible. That said, choosing a higher deductible can help reduce your premiums.
NAPHIA. “Average Premiums - NAPHIA State of the Industry Report.”
MetLife. “6 Shocking Pet Health Statistics.”
Pawlicy Advisor. “How Much Does a Vet Visit Cost? Here's Everything You Need To Know.”