How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

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Let’s face it. Pets get sick, injured or meet accidents at some point and we are more likely willing to spend thousands of dollars (to the point of bankruptcy) for treatments and surgeries; unless of course, we have every intention of putting them down if afflicted with serious illnesses we can’t afford to subsidize.

What turns most pet owners off is the fact they treat the cost of pet insurance as an investment that most likely wouldn’t yield a profit; let alone “break even”. But would you rather your pet have cancer or break a limb just to get even with the insurance company?

Typical Pet Insurance Rates

Insurance for every pet differs and it depends on a lot of factors – with dogs and cats being the popular animals being insured.

It is said that dog insurance is 60% higher than cats in most cases. Older and larger animals, on the other hand, have higher insurance rates due to being more prone to illnesses and accidents and being more expensive to treat.

For this reason, expect the coverage to be almost 50% more compared to their counterparts. In fact, pet companies may even refuse to sign up a pet when it reached a certain age.

If your animal is genetically predisposed to something, you should select a plan that does not exempt it as a pre-existing condition. So, shopping around for the best fit for you and your animal is very important.

This is also a reason why getting an insurance plan when the animal is still young is a good idea, so as to not have issues developed in older age be considered as exempt from coverage.

In general, the average pet insurance plan will range between $10 to $100 per month. This range does, at first glance, seem wide. However, the typical pet owner should expect to find a mid-tier plan with decent coverage for about $30 to $50 per month; with the higher costs associated with more at-risk animals, among other factors.

Some dog breeds also are more likely to encounter health concerns such as Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds, and Bulldogs, so the rates can be higher for these breeds.

One sample coverage we can quote is that of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance which offers $45 per month, $100 annual deductible, 90% coverage or $540 per year with 30 days waiting period for the plan to officially commence or to take effect. This price will fluctuate by breed.

To know how some factors affect the dog insurance premium pricing and coverage, please see some illustrations below. We gave input of $250 deductible and 80% coverage for the purpose of generating the below sample quotes.

Mixed breeds tend to have lower premiums since they are less prone to genetic illnesses compared to purebred. When compared with pedigree dogs, these costs are typically 15% to 40% lower:

  • Labrador Mix (1-year old) – $35 per month
  • Goldendoodle (1-year old) – $37 per month
  • Pomeranian Mix(1-year old) – $37 per month

The older the dog, the higher the pet insurance cost:

  • Labrador Mix (5-year old) – $57 per month
  • Goldendoodle (7-year old) – $75 per month
  • Pomeranian Mix(9-year old) – $85 per month

Large breeds tend to have the most expensive premiums of all, especially if older:

  • Newfoundland (5-year old) – $75 per month
  • Bernese Mountain dog (7-year old) – $105 per month
  • Great Dane (9-year old) – $135 per month

On the other hand, the same rule tends to apply with cats which have a premium price range of $12 to $36 per month or $144 to $432 per year for kittens and up to around $100 per month for senior cats. Please see the examples below:

  • Mixed cat (1-year old) – $25 per month
  • Siamese (7-year old) – $30 per month
  • Manx (13-year old) – $90 per month

Other pet insurance price:

  • Rabbit – $12 per month, with $50 per-incident deductible, 90% reimbursement
  • Horse – $200 to $800 per year for equine mortality and $75 to $325 per year for accidents

Exemptions are almost the same as our personal insurance wherein pre-existing illnesses and conditions are not valid for claims or reimbursements. Routine wellness check-ups, those treatments that are meant to ward off possible future illnesses (except when under wellness plan), and those having to do with the pet’s behavior are also not covered by the most insurance companies.

Other Bases of the Premium Explained

Unlike all other cost pertaining to owning a pet which can be pretty straightforward, pet insurance can be a little more complicated than what meets the eye.

Additionally, the area where you live may affect the cost to get your dog insured or any pets for that matter, if veterinary care is more expensive in your region due to market availability or cost of medical supplies. Depending on your area, the wellness coverage premiums may supplant vet costs anyway, so research before purchasing a final plan is crucial.

There are different types of insurance coverage and the cost depends on how comprehensive they are or what specific part of your pet’s well-being you want to take care of. It all boils down to what your pet really needs, its breed, and how much you are willing to pay for its “future.”

Deductible and reimbursement amounts are another big part of plan selection and cost. Deductibles usually range from $100 to $1,000 annually – with higher deductibles, of course, being associated with lower monthly premiums.

Reimbursement refers to how much of the bill the insurance will cover, and this typically ranges from 60% to 90% of the total cost. Again, higher reimbursement amounts will be reflected in higher premiums.

You may also come across a few pet insurance companies that would treat microchipped, spayed or neutered pets as special. These companies would generously give out around 5% to 15% discount for these cases perhaps because fixed pets won’t have cancers associated with the reproductive organs while microchipped ones have extra layer protection when lost.

Lastly, your choice of the pet insurance company will also make a huge impact on what you will have to pay. These companies tend to have varying computations and judgment based on the criteria and the requirements submitted to them. Even prestige has a big influence on pricing.

What is Covered in Pet Insurance?

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Veterinary bills and cost of treatment – the veterinarian’s professional fees as well as all of the charges pertaining to the medical services provided to your pet will be paid by the insurance company up to the percentage of coverage after the deductibles.

Confinement fees – your pet’s insurer will shoulder expenses pertaining to the hospital, clinic or kennel stay after surgery or for the much-needed confinement or rest while recuperating from an illness as recommended by the veterinarian.

Liability Coverage – this accounts for all the expenses pertaining to injuries and damages to properties of a third party caused by your pet that the insurance will be covering as stipulated.

Cost of Advertising – this pertains to the expenses for the advertising and rewards in case of a lost pet.

Types of Pet Insurance

Pet insurance can be a worthwhile investment for pet owners, especially those with lesser means to afford potentially expensive veterinary costs. The question is, what type of insurance to choose?

The type of plan you get is likely the biggest
determinant for premiums. There are 3 different types of general coverage available and these pertain to different coverage that suits every pet’s needs.

Accident and Illness Insurance (time-limited, usually 12 months) – this is the most comprehensive insurance of all and this is typically renewable every year; with costs closer to $40 to $60 a month.

Accident-Only Insurance – considered as the most affordable type of pet insurance, this covers the cost of veterinary care in case of any potential sudden accidents that may befall your animal such as a broken bone, a torn muscle, an attack by another animal or being hit by a vehicle resulting in injuries or deaths. This can be as low as $15 to $20 a month.

Per Condition – this is the type of insurance wherein there is a certain amount that is being allocated per type of condition, injury or illness. Coverage includes breed-specific conditions, allergies, chronic conditions, cancers, dental disease, urinary tract infection, and similar diseases. Prices for this type of coverage vary widely.

Treatment Cost per Illness

Pet owners seem to always focus on the pet insurance policy cost. Consider how much the potential cost of treatment is when the seemingly improbable scenario begins to materialize.

We’ve summarized the most common illnesses and conditions that are being the subject of claims on different insurance companies in the US.

Illness / ConditionTreatmentTypical Cost
Ingestion of foreign object (dog)Surgery$5000
Skin Tag RemovalCauterization or Surgery$75 to $500
Torn CruciateSurgery$1,000 to $8,000
CancerDiagnostic tests$300 to $2,000
 Surgery with Chemotherapy$10,000 to $20,000
Allergies (dog and cat)Depending on severity$100 to $1000, but usually considered pre-existing
Stomach issues  
  • Dog splenectomy
Surgery$800 to $1,200
  • Dog pancreatitis
Diagnosis and Medications$400 to $900
  • Dog Addison’s disease
Medication and Ongoing MonitoringCase to case
Ear hematomaSurgery$400
Eye conditions  
  • cherry eye
Surgery$300 to $1,600
  • glaucoma
Surgery$1,100 to $2,600
  • cataracts
Surgery$2,500 to $4,500
Urinary Tract Infection Diagnosis and Medications$400
Bone fracture (cat)Surgery$2000
Growth (tumor, lumps – dog)Surgery$400 to $2000

What Other Options Do Pet Owners Have?

Based on your location, there have been veterinarians and vet clinics that offer their regular and loyal customers Care Plans or Wellness Plans wherein you pay a monthly fee for regular wellness and preventative services.

The covered services are standard veterinary wellness services such as a yearly physical exam, parasite and worm treatment, fecal and urine testing, bloodwork, spaying or neutering, heartworm test and treatment, dental cleaning, and vaccinations for rabies, Bordetella, Parvo, DHLP, and Lyme, among others. Even some non-surgical emergency and first aid treatments may be covered.

This typically costs less than $500 a year (Banfield Vet) and specifically caters to heavy users of outpatient services. You would typically save around $1,500 a year if you decided to get every possible service covered by the plan.

Usually one may choose to get either accident or wellness coverage or both, with wellness being an optional expense.

Another option would be to apply for Care Credit. It is unlike your typical credit card as you can use it to pay expensive pet health services and treatments that are either not covered by insurance or your pet doesn’t have any insurance at all and have an option to use its financing terms of 6, 12, 18 or 24 months – zero interest.

Dr. Patty Khuly

Patty Khuly, VMD, MBA is a prolific pet health writer, occasional media personality, and a practicing veterinary clinician (for almost 23 years!).

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