Last Updated: September 2022

An Intro to Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is similar to traditional, human insurance. A customer who insures their pet is paying for a kind of financial safety net against accidents, illnesses, and other maladaptive situations common in our four-legged friends. Following an event that harms your pet’s health, owners with pet insurance won’t be responsible for the entirety of their veterinary bill—most pet insurance companies will cover up to 90% of your bill, when eligible for coverage.

Traditional insurance and pet insurance share a similar payment format. Owners must pay a monthly premium for coverage. Pet coverage doesn’t kick in until an owner has met their deductible: a payment threshold that must be met from an owner’s own pocket for coverage to begin kicking in. Pricing varies from customer to customer, from company to company, all depending on a customer’s personalized quote and contract.

Let’s walk through a quick example. Let’s say your beloved bulldog, Gary, breaks his leg after taking a heroic leap from your bed. You would take Gary in to see a licensed vet, have the vets work their magic, and then receive your itemized bill of $1,500. Luckily, you’ve already met your deductible, whew! Next, you’d submit a claim to your insurance company, which, if all coverage conditions are met, would pay up to 90% of the bill. Your insurance company would pay out a whopping $1,350 from the bill, meaning your out-of-pocket payment is minimal.

Why You Should Get Coverage for Your Pet

The reality is accidents happen. And even when they don’t, other things go wrong: your dog gets the flu, your cat won’t stop turning your leather couch into shredded ribbons, or your puppy suffers from early-onset diabetes. Pet insurance covers the treatment for all of these instances and more, meaning you can worry less about the vet bill and more about getting the proper care for your pet.

The best feature of pet insurance for you, the customer, is the wide net of financial coverage that’s provided when you sign up. Pet insurance companies offer coverage for accidents, illnesses, behavioral issues, genetic ailments, and even preventive care (e.g. checkups, vaccines). When something goes wrong with your furry friend, you can have it taken care of with confidence that the payment won’t break the bank.

At the end of the day, owning a pet is inherently expensive—the fact that things will go wrong with your pet makes that financial burden tick even higher. To normalize your pet budget and to save potentially $1,000s a year, we recommend you shop around for pet insurance.

Pre-Existing Conditions and Other Common Limitations

Pet insurance can’t protect against everything. Check the list of common coverage limitations and exclusions, below:

  • Pre-existing Conditions: A pre-existing condition is a medical or behavioral issue that had an onset before the beginning of your coverage. If Gary the bulldog has hip dysplasia before his coverage begins, his treatments and vet visits for his hip won’t typically be covered by insurance.
  • Waiting Periods: Following contract approval, pet insurance companies have customers wait a short period of time—typically half a month or so—before their coverage can kick in. This “waiting period” can limit your coverage, as any medical or behavioral issues that begin during the waiting period are listed as pre-existing conditions and cannot be covered.
  • Non-Recommended Treatments: Most pet insurance companies will not cover the cost of treatments that are not explicitly listed by your veterinarian. If you believe that acupuncture, or a special diet, or chiropractic work will help your pet, these care expenses won’t be covered unless your vet recommended these treatments.
  • Miscellaneous: To ensure your pet’s coverage meets your needs, be sure to carefully read your pet insurance contract.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Your coverage will vary based on a few factors: the pet insurance company you choose, the coverage plan you pick, and the specific details of your unique contract. Always refer to your contract for coverage and limitations information. That being said, pet insurance coverage will typically cover illness, accident, behavioral issues, genetic conditions, chronic disorders, and alternative therapies recommended by a vet. Certain companies will offer add-on or bonus packages for preventive care protection. These packages often help pay for routine care, such as yearly vet visits, vaccines, testing, and de-worming.
Yes! Many pet insurance companies will first divide their coverage by animal type: dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens. Pet insurance can be further divided by specific styles of coverage. Typically, these coverage plans are comprehensive, accident-only, and preventive. Comprehensive coverage covers illness, injury, behavioral issues, and more. Accident-only covers just that: accidents—it is almost always cheaper than comprehensive coverage. Preventive care pays for routine care and is usually featured as an add-on.
Coverage prices will vary from customer to customer; as premiums, deductibles, and payouts are based on a customer’s unique contract. With that in mind, a monthly premium for comprehensive pet insurance will cost an average of $40–$60 a month. Accident-only coverage and preventive care coverage are a touch cheaper, averaging about $15–$25 per month.