Updated December 28, 2020
Reading time: 6 minutes
You want the best for your pet, but is pet insurance really worth it?
Pet insurance policies, much like health insurance policies, can be challenging to navigate, especially since it’s a relatively new idea and requires a bit of research to fully understand.
For many pet parents, costs could be a major deciding factor for whether or not to buy pet insurance. But before we get into details
After all, between paying for dog food, veterinary care, grooming appointments, and other pet upkeep costs, American pet parents spent nearly $75 billion on their pets in 2019.
That’s a pretty hefty chunk of change, so why add yet another cost?
The answer: Because buying pet health insurance may actually save you some cash in the long run.
Medical care costs for your pet can run up into thousands of dollars. Yes, you read that right.
If your dog happens to fracture its pelvis, you should be prepared for a $3,000 bill without insurance. And if your pet swallows a toy, treatment could cost you $7,000 in total. Surgery for hip dysplasia, which is pretty common in dogs and cats, could run anywhere from $7,000 to $14,000.
These are pretty exorbitant prices. And let’s face it, not everyone can afford to pay for their pet’s extensive surgeries, no matter how much you love your little pal. The financial strain of having to care for a sick or injured pet can force a lot of pet owners into economic euthanasia, where they must get their beloved pets euthanized because they can no longer afford treatment.
Here are some other common health issues your pet could face, along with how much it would cost to treat these issues without insurance:
|Dog||Ear infection||$149 per visit|
|Dog||Allergies||$235 per visit|
|Cat||Urinary tract infection||$295|
|Dog and cat||Cancer treatment||~$10,000|
While these health issues aren’t as colossal as others to treat, they’re still a pretty lofty price to pay for your pet’s health care.
But with pet insurance, you could end up paying for as little as just 10 percent of the bill. And if you pick the right pet insurance plan, you may not even have to pay at all.
In fact, some pet insurance companies will even offer coverage for routine vet bills, exam fees, and vaccinations. That would help cover the costs of not just emergency surgeries and extensive treatments, but also everyday costs that would otherwise begin to pile up.
Now that you know what pet health insurance covers, let’s talk about how much it actually costs.
Your pet insurance prices are largely determined by factors such as your pet’s breed, age, size, and location. Mixed-breed pets usually have lower pet insurance premiums, as do younger pets, smaller pets, and pets that live in states with cheaper veterinary care and medical costs.
In addition to these factors, which are mostly out of your control, things like your coverage plan, reimbursement rate, payout limit, and annual deductible also affect how expensive or cheap your pet insurance premium is. Most insurance companies allow you to customize these based on how much you want to pay every month.
Most pet insurance companies use a reimbursement model where you pay medical bills upfront and later get reimbursed for those costs. A 100 percent reimbursement level, where your pet insurer will cover 100 percent of medical costs, is quite rare. Most times, you can pick a reimbursement rate between 40 percent and 90 percent. It works sort of like a copay, where you pay for a certain percentage of the costs, and your insurer covers the rest.
The lower you set the reimbursement level, the lower your monthly payment will be. Of course, this means you would be reimbursed for a smaller amount of your medical bills.
Payout limits are the maximum amount of money your pet insurance company is willing to pay you. This is a significant factor to consider. Plans with low payout limits are usually the cheapest. But if your annual payout limit is $2,000 and your pet needs emergency surgery or treatment that costs $7,000, you would have to pay $5,000 out of your own pocket.
Some companies, like Healthy Paws and Trupanion, will give you unlimited annual payouts no matter what plan you’re on, while others have customizable options.
Plans that don’t have wellness options and cover fewer health conditions are cheaper than plans that are more expansive and cover things like vet visits, vaccinations, and cancer treatment. Keep in mind, however, while plans with fewer coverage options are cheaper, they may be more helpful in times of crisis.
If you want to know how much pet insurance would cost for your pet, you just have to visit Insurify. Insurify allows you to compare pet insurance plans and prices all in one place—for free!
Now that you have a better understanding of how pet insurance premiums are determined let’s have a look at some pet-specific insurance data.
Pet insurance quotes for dogs tend to be higher than those for cats, with the average dog insurance policy costing about $69 and the average cat insurance policy costing $37.
Dog insurance premiums are usually tied to the age, breed, and size of your dog. The older your dog is, and the bigger its size, the higher your monthly pet insurance premium will be. Your dog’s breed also affects your monthly premium, since certain pet breeds are more prone to hereditary and congenital conditions than others.
Health insurance for purebred dogs is also usually higher than insurance for mixed-breed dogs, with the average monthly premium for a mixed-breed dog costing $54.98 and one for a purebred dog costing $83.29. Of course, these prices are further impacted by your dog’s age, breed, and location where you reside.
With that said, let’s take a look at the average dog insurance quotes for some popular breeds:
|Shih Tzu Mix||$39/mo|
As you can see, dog insurance prices for mixed-breed dogs like labradoodles, cockapoos, and Maltese mixes tend to be much lower than prices for German Shepherds, bulldogs, and golden retrievers. This is because mixed-breed dogs aren’t as susceptible to hereditary conditions.
When it comes to age, younger dogs are typically cheaper to insure than older dogs, with the average quoted price for a one-year-old dog being about $60, a three-year-old dog being about $65, and a five-year-old dog being $83.58. Again, these figures are averages based on both mixed and purebred dogs in California, and you would have to find quotes based on your own pet’s information to really get an idea of how much pet insurance would cost for you.
When looking at these pet insurance figures, it’s important to remember that pet insurance providers offer varying coverage options, reimbursement levels, payout limits, and deductibles. As such, certain pet insurers offer cheaper pet insurance quotes than others. Here’s a sample of how much dog insurance costs, depending on the company you pick:
|Pet Insurance Company||Monthly price|
Again, remember that each pet insurance company has different coverage and payment options, and that factors into how much you pay for your monthly premium. While lower monthly premiums might go easy on your wallet, you might end up having to pay more if you pick a plan with low coverage options.
Remember to always compare pet insurance companies and quotes on Insurify before buying a policy!
Cat insurance premiums, which tend to be cheaper than dog insurance premiums, also rely heavily on your cat’s age, breed, and location. Size isn’t as much of a factor as it is with dog insurance premiums.
As with dogs, mixed-breed cats are cheaper to insure than purebred cats. This is because mixed-breed cats have a lower chance of developing hereditary conditions. While the average pet insurance quote for a mixed-breed cat is only about $27, the average for a purebred cat is $39.
Let’s take a look at how much it costs on average to insure a cat, based on its breed:
As you can see from this chart, certain cat breeds like the British Shorthair are cheaper to insure than others, like the Maine Coon or Persian.
Your cat’s age also affects your pet insurance premium, with older cats warranting higher premiums due to their increased proclivity to developing certain illnesses. For example, the average pet insurance quote for a one-year-old cat in Houston, Texas, is about $33, the average quote for a three-year-old cat is $34, and the quote for a five-year-old cat is $43.
Of course, these figures are based on averages, and you would have to find quotes based on your cat’s information to get a better idea of how much cat insurance would cost for you.
Each pet insurance company offers different coverage options, reimbursement levels, deductibles, and payout limits. Most pet insurers will let you customize these coverage options so you can set your own monthly premium. That being said, certain companies may cost more than others. To give you an idea of how much each pet insurance company charges for cat insurance:
|Pet Insurance Company||Monthly price|
Again, your monthly premium heavily depends on your coverage plan, reimbursement level, payout limit, and deductible. While a lower monthly premium would be easier on your wallet, it may end up costing you more in the long run if you pick a company that offers limited coverage, or if you’ve set a high deductible. These are important factors to keep in mind when you pick your pet insurance company and set your premium. Make sure you compare pet insurance plans and companies before settling on the right one.
Tanveen Vohra is an editorial manager at Insurify specializing in writing about property and casualty insurance. Through her work, Tanveen helps consumers better understand the components of their insurance policies so they can make smarter purchase decisions.
Tanveen's work has been cited by CNBC , Fox Business, Business Insider, Fortune, and Market Watch, among others.Learn More