In an emergency, pet insurance can be a huge help for pet owners. However, the cost and extent of coverage can vary widely. If you’re considering pet insurance, you likely have questions about how much it will cost.

Before you buy insurance, it’s helpful to know the average costs of pet insurance, the different types of policies available and the factors that influence pricing. You’ll also want to compare the costs of veterinary care without insurance to help you determine if pet insurance is worth the investment.

Average pet insurance costs

The cost of pet insurance depends on several factors, including the type of coverage, your pet’s age, breed and where you live.

On average, pet owners in the U.S. can expect to pay between $17 (accident-only coverage) and $56 (accident and illness coverage) per month for a dog and $10 (accident-only coverage) to $32 (accident and illness coverage) per month for a cat.

Dog insurance costs

Dog insurance premiums are generally higher than those for cats due to the higher risk of certain health issues and accidents.

For a policy providing $5,000 annual coverage with a $250 deductible and 80 percent reimbursement, you can expect to pay between $30 and $71 per month.

For comprehensive dog insurance with unlimited annual coverage, costs are between $36 and $101 per month. Factors such as breed, age and location can significantly influence these costs.

Cat insurance costs

Pet insurance companies regard cats as less of a risk. Pet insurance for your cat will typically cost less than that for a dog.

For an accident and illness policy with a $250 deductible, 80 percent reimbursement level and $5,000 annual coverage, you can expect to pay between $18 and $34 per month. The monthly cost for unlimited coverage is between $18 and $62.

Like dog insurance, the cost of insuring your feline will vary based on factors such as your cat’s breed, age and where you live.

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The different types of pet insurance

As with vehicle and health insurance, there are several types of coverage options for pet insurance.

Accident-only coverage

Accident-only policies cover veterinary costs resulting from injuries due to accidents, such as bone fractures or ingesting a foreign object. This type of insurance is typically the most affordable option.

Accident and illness coverage

This is the most common type of pet insurance. It covers accidents and illnesses, including chronic conditions, infections and hereditary diseases. This comprehensive coverage is more expensive than accident-only policies.

Wellness plans

Some insurance companies offer wellness plans that cover routine care, such as vaccinations, pest control, dental cleanings and annual exams. Pet owners can add these plans to accident and illness coverage for an additional cost with many pet insurance companies.

Factors that determine pet insurance pricing

As with any other type of insurance, each pet insurance provider measures risk differently. You could pay substantially more for the same pet in one location compared to another. Similarly, one pet insurance company may provide the same insurance coverage at a slightly better price than another.

Type of coverage

Accident-only policies are less expensive than accident and illness coverage, as they cover fewer scenarios. Wellness plans add to the cost but provide coverage for routine care.

Amount of annual coverage

The amount of annual coverage, or the maximum payout your insurance company will provide per year, greatly impacts the cost of your premiums.

Policies with higher annual limits are more expensive because they offer more financial protection. For example, a policy with a $10,000 annual limit will cost more than one with a $5,000 limit.

Annual deductibles

The deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage begins. For example, if you opt for a $500 deductible, your vet bills for the year must exceed $500 before your pet insurance will start reimbursing you for veterinary expenses that fall within your policy specifications.

Higher deductibles result in lower monthly premiums because you assume more of the initial financial burden. Conversely, lower deductibles increase your premiums because the insurance company takes on more risk from the start. Annual deductibles typically range from $100 to $1,000.

Reimbursement percentage reimbursement

The reimbursement level is the percentage of the vet bill that the insurance company will pay after you meet your deductible. Typical reimbursement levels are 70 percent, 80 percent and 90 percent. Higher reimbursement levels equate to higher premiums.

Age of pet

The age of your pet is a crucial factor in determining insurance premiums. Younger pets typically have lower premiums because they are less likely to develop chronic health conditions. As pets age, the risk of illness and injury increases, leading to higher premiums. Many insurance companies have age limits for new policies, and some may not offer coverage for senior pets.

Breed

The breed of your pet also influences insurance costs. Certain breeds are more prone to specific health conditions, and this can result in higher premiums.

For example, large dog breeds like great Danes and Saint Bernards are more susceptible to joint issues, while certain cat breeds like Persians and ragdolls are more prone to develop genetic health problems. Insurers consider these breed-specific risks when setting premiums.

Location

The cost of veterinary care varies by location, which affects insurance premiums.

Urban areas with higher living costs and more expensive veterinary services generally have higher premiums. Conversely, rural areas with lower veterinary costs may have cheaper insurance rates.

Additionally, some regions may have higher incidences of certain illnesses or accidents, which can also influence pricing.

Discounts

Many pet insurance companies offer discounts that can reduce your premiums. Common discounts include:

  • Annual payment discount: Paying your premiums annually rather than monthly can sometimes result in a lower overall cost.
  • Membership discounts: Discounts may be available if you are a member of certain organizations or professional groups.
  • Multi-pet discount: If you insure multiple pets with the same provider, you may receive a discount on your premiums.

Costs of veterinary care without insurance

Veterinary care can be expensive, and many pet owners are unprepared for the costs associated with serious illnesses or accidents.

Here are some examples of common veterinary expenses:

  • Allergy testing: $300
  • Dental cleanings: $400
  • Fecal exam: $45
  • Geriatric screening: $110
  • Heartworm test: $50
  • Routine check-ups: $242 for dogs per year
  • Spay/neuter at a private animal hospital: $500
  • Vaccinations: $75 per vaccine

Average costs for surgeries and emergency visits

The cost of an emergency vet visit will depend on the extent of the injury or illness, the size of your pet and the type and number of diagnostics the clinician needs to perform.

  • 1–2-day hospitalization: $600–$1,700
  • 3–5-day hospitalization: $1,500–$3,500
  • ACL surgery: $1,500–$4,000
  • Blood work: $80–$200
  • Emergency surgery: $1,500–$5,000
  • Oxygen therapy: $500–$3,000
  • Ultrasound: $300–$600
  • Radiation therapy for cancer: $2,500 to $7,000
  • Wound treatment: $800–$2,500
  • X-rays: $150–$250

Is pet insurance worth it?

Determining if pet insurance is worth it depends on your circumstances and financial situation. Here are some points to consider:

  • Budgeting: Pet insurance allows for predictable monthly payments, making it easier to budget for pet care.
  • Financial preparedness: Many people are unprepared to cover unexpected veterinary costs, which can quickly add up. Pet insurance can help you avoid the difficult choice between your pet’s health and your financial stability.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing that you have coverage for major health issues can provide peace of mind, allowing you to focus on your pet’s recovery rather than financial concerns.

While pet insurance may seem like an added expense, it can be a valuable investment in the long run, especially if your pet develops a serious health condition or requires emergency care.

The bottom line

Pet insurance can help limit the high costs of veterinary care, providing financial protection and peace of mind. The cost of pet insurance varies based on several factors, including the type of coverage, your pet’s age, breed and where you live. While it might seem like an additional monthly expense, the benefits often outweigh the costs, especially in the face of unexpected medical emergencies.

If you’re considering pet insurance, compare different plans and providers. Look for policies that offer the coverage you need at a price you can afford. Remember to read the fine print and understand what is covered and what isn’t to avoid surprises down the road.

Ultimately, investing in pet insurance can be a wise decision to ensure your pet receives the best possible care without the burden of exorbitant veterinary bills.

Frequently asked questions

  • Yes, most pet insurance policies have exclusions. Common exclusions include pre-existing conditions, cosmetic procedures (such as ear cropping or tail docking), breeding costs and preventive care unless you have a wellness plan.


    It’s important to carefully read the policy terms and conditions to understand what is and isn’t covered.
  • Yes, you can get pet insurance for older pets, but premiums will generally be higher, and some insurers may have age limits for new policies. Getting insurance while your pet is younger is advisable to lock in lower rates and ensure coverage before age-related health issues develop.
  • To choose the best pet insurance plan, consider the following:

    • Cost: Compare premiums, deductibles and reimbursement levels to find a plan that fits your budget.
    • Coverage options: Ensure the plan covers the conditions and treatments you’re concerned about.
    • Customer reviews: Research customer satisfaction and reviews of the insurance provider.
    • Exclusions and limitations: Understand what the policy excludes from coverage to avoid surprises.