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What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

From surgeries to acupuncture, learn what incidents and treatments are commonly covered by pet insurance. Editorial Team

February 17, 2023

Just like auto and life insurance, pet insurance policies won’t provide coverage for every type of incident. If you’re shopping around for a pet insurance policy, it’s good to be aware of what’s usually included (and excluded) so you can make the best decision for you and your pet.

Types of Pet Insurance Plans

The first thing you need to know about pet insurance: you’ll generally be picking one of two types of plans–accident or accident and illness–and deciding whether you want a wellness add-on.

Accident-Only Plans

Accident-only pet insurance plans provide coverage for medical treatments that are necessary after an accident. For example, these plans often cover broken bones, sprains, and toxic ingestions.

These plans are designed for pet owners with young, healthy pets. While young pets are less likely to become seriously ill, they are at greater risk of incurring an accident due to their high energy and lack of training.

Pros Cons
Inexpensive: Accident-only plans are typically $15–$30 cheaper a month than accident and illness plans. No Illness coverage: Accident-only plans do not provide coverage for costly illnesses such as cancers.
Shorter Waiting Period: Accident-only plans go into effect quickly, with policyholders only having to wait 1–7 days after signing for coverage to start.

Accident and Illness

Accident and illness plans cover your pet’s veterinary bills that result from both accidents and illnesses. Commonly covered illnesses include cancers, UTIs, and kennel cough, while commonly covered accidents include broken bones, sprains, and toxic ingestions.

Accident and illness plans are perfect for pet owners with middle-aged and older pets. As pets get older, they are more susceptible to serious illnesses such as cancers or some genetic diseases. While older pets are less likely to experience an accident, accidents still happen, making accident protection an important inclusion.

Pros Cons
Broader Coverage: Accident and illness coverage provides protection for the broadest amount of incidents and treatments (excepting add-ons). Longer Waiting Period: Accident and illness plans typically have a long waiting period, as much as 30 days after signing.
Worth the Price: Some disease treatments can be costly. Luckily, accident and illness coverage can reimburse a pet owner up to 90% of the bill. Price: Accident and illness coverage is more expensive than accident-only.


Wellness plans are unique. They are typically sold as an add-on bundle to an accident-only or accident and illness package, meaning they are not “stand-alone” coverage options.

Wellness plans provide coverage for preventative care; that is, any treatment or medication that is designed to prevent a pet from getting sick or injured. Wellness plans commonly cover vet checkups, blood tests, fecal tests, and vaccines.

Wellness plans are perfect for pet owners who want their pet insurance coverage to be as broad as possible.

Pros Cons
Broadest Coverage: When paired with an accident and illness package, wellness plans provide the widest array of pet insurance coverage possible. Added Price: Wellness plans are bundled packages, meaning policyholders will have to pay an additional cost each month on top of their base coverage package.
Pays for Itself: Many pet owners would bring their pet in for an annual checkup regardless of their pet’s health. For these owners, the wellness plan reimburses them for services they already use.

Accidents and Treatments Commonly Covered by Pet Insurance Plan Type

Accident-Only Accident and Illness Wellness
Broken Bones X X
Sprains X X
Bite Wounds/Cuts X X
Toxic Ingestions X X
Cancers X
Kennel Cough X
Arthritis X
Hip Dysplasia X
Hyper- / Hypothyroidism X
Skin Allergies X
Routine Care X
Vaccines X
Parasite Tests X
Heartworm, Flea, or Tick Preventatives X

What’s Covered by Pet Insurance

Although every pet insurance company offers some unique coverage options, the differences tend to be minor. For the coverage that matters the most to you and your furry friend, pet insurance companies tend to offer the same protections.

Most Plans Cover:

  • Emergency Care: Emergency procedures (e.g. surgery, X-ray) for injuries or illnesses are usually covered.
  • Hospitalizations: Veterinary stay costs are often covered if the hospitalization is a result of an injury or illness.
  • Medications: Medications prescribed by a veterinarian are typically covered.
  • Physical Therapy: Medically-prescribed physical therapies are often covered.

Some Plans Cover:

  • Behavioral Therapies: Some insurers will cover therapies to counteract a pet’s behavioral issues, such as self-scratching or destruction of property.
  • Alternative Therapies: An insurer may cover an alternative therapy, such as acupuncture.
  • Microchipping: Insurers may cover microchipping procedures, especially for younger pets.
  • Dental Care: Dental care that is the result of an injury or illness is almost always covered. Routine dental care may be covered.
  • Preventative Care: Preventative care, or wellness plans, can be added to most pet insurance policies.

What’s Not Covered by Pet Insurance

Coverage exclusions are an important part of every pet insurance contract. Most pet insurance companies will overlap in excluding the same incidents and treatments.

Never Covered:

  • Pre-Existing Conditions: A pre-existing condition is any injury, illness, or necessary treatment that begins to show symptoms before the end of the mandatory waiting period. Accident and Illness waiting periods tend to be 30 days long—any incident that occurs before those 30 days are up would be labeled “Pre-Existing” and not meet coverage.
  • Cosmetic Procedures: Surgeries and procedures that are not medically necessary are never covered by pet insurance providers. For example, tail docking, ear cropping, or dyeing a pet’s coat a different color would be deemed cosmetic procedures and not meet coverage requirements.
  • Injury from Cruelty or Neglect: Pet insurance companies do not cover any injuries that are the result of a pet owner’s cruelty or neglect.

Rarely Covered:

  • Congenital/Breed Diseases: Diseases that are present from birth or are common in a particular breed may not be eligible for coverage.
  • Reproductive Treatments: Procedures such as spaying and neutering, and any pregnancy or birthing treatments, do not typically meet coverage requirements.
  • Non-Prescription Foods: Special diet foods that are not prescribed by a vet rarely meet coverage requirements.

Pet Insurance Coverage Summary

Accident-Only Coverage Accident & Illness Coverage Wellness Coverage
Testing and Diagnostics Usually Always Usually
Emergency Care (Accidents) Always Always Never
Prescription Food & Supplements Usually Usually Usually
Prescription Medication Usually Always Never
Emergency Care (Illnesses) Never Always Never
Dental Care Rarely Usually Rarely
Alternative Therapy/Medication Rarely Usually Never
Behavioral Conditions Never Usually Never
Chronic Conditions Never Usually Never
Wellness Visits Never Never Always
Preventative Care Never Never Always
Microchip Implantation Never Rarely Rarely
Breeding Costs Never Rarely Rarely
Hereditary and/or Congenital Conditions Never Rarely Never
Pre-Existing Conditions Never Never Never
Cosmetic Procedures Never Never Never

Find the Right Coverage for Your Pet

Now that you know what coverages, add-ons, and exclusions to expect from your future pet insurer, you’re ready to find the perfect pet insurance for your pet. The next step: find your favorite pet insurer.

Check out our list of the top-rated pet insurance companies in the United States. Whether you’re looking for low rates, customizable coverage options, or multi-pet discounts, you’re sure to find the right pet insurer on our list.

Compare Pet Insurance Plans