Last Updated: June 2024

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.

*The ASPCA® is not an insurer and is not engaged in the business of insurance. Insurance products are underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (NAIC #26581. A Delaware insurance company headquartered located at 11333 N. Scottsdale Rd, Ste. 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85254). Insurance is produced by PTZ Insurance Agency, Ltd. (NPN: 5328528. Domiciled in Illinois with offices at 1208 Massillon Road, Suite G200, Akron, Ohio 44306). (California residents only: PTZ Insurance Agency, Ltd., d.b.a PIA Insurance Agency, Ltd. CA license #0E36937).

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Pet insurance typically covers illness, accidents, behavioral issues, genetic conditions, chronic disorders, and alternative therapies recommended by veterinarians. Companies may offer additional offers or bonus packages for preventive care including annual appointments, vaccines, routine testing, de-worming, and more.
There are many different types of pet insurance covering a wide range of health needs. The most common types are comprehensive, accident-only, and preventive. Plans are often divided by animal type and age including dogs/cats, puppies/kittens, and sometimes even small or exotic animals can receive coverage.
An average pet insurance policy starts at roughly $15-25 per month for accident-only and preventative plans. A monthly premium for comprehensive pet insurance plans offering the most extensive coverage will cost an average of $40–$60 per month. Prices will vary based on provider features, plan selection, premium and deductible fees, number of pets, health needs, and more.
On average, pet insurance plans can save you anywhere from 25-85% annually. The amount of money saved will vary but policies should cover a significant portion of veterinary bills depending on the plan and specific treatments needed.