As more and more people open their homes to four-legged family members, pet insurance has also become more widely adopted. Pet insurance gives pet parents peace of mind that if an unexpected injury or illness should occur, they can focus solely on the care and treatment of their pet—not on the cost.
This guide will break down pet insurance costs and examine the factors that could affect your monthly premium to choose the best pet insurance for your beloved pet.
How Much Does It Cost?
Pet insurance providers consider several factors when determining premium prices. These include the type of coverage you’ve chosen, your location, and specific details about your pet, including its species, age, and breed.
These factors can cause monthly premiums to range anywhere from $10 to $100. However, pet owners can usually expect to pay between $30 and $50 for dogs and $15 to $30 for cats per month.
Here, the This Old House Reviews Team compares the average cost of pet insurance premiums based on your pet’s species, specifically dogs and cats. Since a vet visit for a dog is typically more expensive than a cat, dog insurance premiums tend to be higher than those for cats.
First, we’ve broken down the average cost of pet insurance for dogs based on the most popular dog breeds in the United States, followed by provider averages based on age.
Average Pet Insurance Premium for Dogs by Breed
*Average of the monthly premiums from eight pet insurance providers for an accident-and-illness policy for a 4-year-old male dog in Cincinnati, with an annual limit of $5,000, a $250 deductible, and an 80% reimbursement rate
Average Pet Insurance Premium for Dogs by Provider
*Based on sample quotes for a mixed-breed male dog in Cincinnati (ages 8 months, 4 years, and 12 years)
We’ve also researched the costs of cat insurance premiums, first based on the most popular cat breeds, followed by a breakdown by age.
Average Pet Insurance Premium for Cats by Breed
*Average of the monthly premiums from eight pet insurance providers for an accident-and-illness policy for a 4-year-old male cat in Cincinnati, with an annual limit of $5,000, a $250 deductible, and an 80% reimbursement rate
Average Pet Insurance Premium for Cats by Provider
*Based on sample quotes for a mixed male cat in Cincinnati (8 months, 4 years, and 10 years)
Average Cost of Vet Bills Without Insurance
Often, there is a misconception that pet insurance is expensive. However, as a pet owner, it’s crucial to weigh the costs of a pet insurance plan against the costs of the most common health issues your pets could face.
Let’s look closer at the five most common health problems for dogs and cats and how much treatment could cost you.
Most Common Conditions for Dogs
*These potential vet costs are based on the highest covered claim filed for each condition with Healthy Paws Insurance between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019, for dogs. Vet costs for your pet could be higher or lower than the amounts listed here.
Most Common Conditions for Cats
*The potential vet costs are based on the highest covered claim filed for each condition from Healthy Paws Insurance between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019, for cats. Vet costs for your pet could be higher or lower than the amounts listed here.
As you can see, veterinary care for the most common illnesses for dogs and cats is significantly more expensive than an average yearly pet insurance policy. In these instances, having coverage for your furry family member would drastically reduce your out-of-pocket costs.
What Determines Monthly Pet Insurance Premiums?
Several factors can affect the monthly premium for your dog or cat, including your pet’s breed and the type of coverage you’ve chosen. Here are the main factors considered by pet insurance providers:
- Pet’s age: Rates for older pets are higher, as they are at a greater risk for health issues and, therefore, costlier to insure. We recommend getting insurance for your pet as young as possible when your rate will be the lowest.
- Pet’s species: According to a 2021–2022 survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association, dog owners pay roughly 30% more on routine care and 78% more on surgical treatments than cat owners. Because a dog’s medical care is typically more expensive, dogs cost more to insure than cats.
- Pet breed: Some pet breeds are prone to specific health conditions. For example, German shepherds are commonly predisposed to hip dysplasia, for which surgery can run $3,500–$7,000. Since higher vet bills will accrue over a shepherd’s life, this breed will have a higher monthly premium.
- Location: Pet insurance providers consider the costs of local veterinary care, so if you live in a larger city like New York City or Chicago, vet costs will be higher than those in smaller, rural areas.
- Coverage: Many providers offer several coverage options. However, the two most common are accident-and-illness and accident-only. Wellness care (or routine care) is often not a policy option but can usually be included as an add-on to a base plan.
- Deductible: A deductible is the fixed amount you must pay before reimbursement for vet bills can begin. Pet insurance deductibles generally range from $100–$1,000. If you’re comfortable paying more out-of-pocket, a higher deductible will lower the monthly premium.
- Reimbursement Rate: Since pet insurance reimburses pet owners directly for the vet bills they’ve already paid up-front, policyholders are typically given the option to choose their reimbursement level—usually ranging from 70% to 90%. If you choose a higher reimbursement rate, your monthly payment will be higher, but you’ll pay less out of pocket for veterinary care.
- Discounts: Many major pet insurance providers offer discounts, though the type of discount will vary. Fetch rewards pet parents who have adopted their pets from a shelter or rescue with a 10% discount. Lemonade, Spot, and Embrace offer a 10% discount for multi-pet policies. Healthy Paws offers AAA members a 10% discount.
Is It Worth It?
Ultimately, as a pet owner, the decision to invest in pet insurance is yours. If you’re on the fence about purchasing a pet insurance plan, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do I have extra savings in the bank to cover the costs outlined above for an unforeseen accident or illness?
- Is my pet young and healthy, which is when the cost of a pet insurance premium is at its lowest?\
- Do I want to have peace of mind that my pet is covered in case of an emergency or unexpected illness?
If you answered yes to any of the above, pet insurance might be for you.
Pet insurance coverage varies across providers, so it is essential to research and retrieve a few pet insurance quotes before purchasing a plan. Most importantly, you’ll want to ensure the provider offers the level of health care coverage you’re seeking. For example, if you know your German shepherd is prone to hip dysplasia, that is a condition you should make sure is covered.
Generally, pet insurance companies offer two types of plans: accident-and-illness and accident-only. An accident-and-illness policy will usually provide coverage for the following:
- Injuries resulting from accidents (such as broken bones, ingestion of foreign objects, lacerations)
- Unexpected illnesses (such as allergies, glaucoma, cancer, epilepsy)
- Surgery (such as cruciate ligament tears, tumor removal, tooth extraction)
- Diagnostic tests (such as X-rays, bloodwork, MRIs)
- Emergency care (relating to an accident or illness)
Preventive care (otherwise known as routine or wellness care), is usually available as an add-on to one of the coverage options mentioned above. These add-on packages can offer coverage for the following:
- Flea, tick, and heartworm prevention
- Routine blood work
- Routine vaccinations
- Spay/neuter surgery
- Wellness checkups
What Isn’t Covered?
No pet insurance provider covers preexisting conditions or any illness or injury that arises during your waiting period (or the period of time at the start of enrollment when coverage has not yet begun). Waiting periods vary depending upon the provider and coverage you’ve chosen.
In addition to preexisting conditions, these are some other typical coverage exclusions:
- Bilateral conditions (a condition that affects both sides of the body)
- Cosmetic procedures
- Elective procedures not recommended by your vet
A few providers, like Embrace, differentiate between curable and incurable preexisting conditions. If your pet has a curable preexisting condition, as long as the symptoms do not return within 12 months, the provider will insure it.
If you’re one of the 90.5 million households nationwide with a furry family member, you might be looking to protect its health and safety like any other family member.
While some health conditions can be minor and easy to pay for out of pocket, major illnesses or unexpected accidents could cost thousands of dollars. Pet insurance offers peace of mind that your beloved companion is covered financially, and you can focus solely on its recovery.
As coverage, deductibles, and reimbursement levels vary from company to company, we always recommend getting quotes from several reputable providers to choose the best pet insurance policy for your pet’s needs.
If you need some help choosing between providers, here are our reviews for each so you learn more:
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