How Much Is Full-Coverage Pet Insurance? (2024)

Full-coverage pet insurance helps pay for veterinary care when your furry friend has an injury or illness.

Lindsay Frankel
Written byLindsay Frankel
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Lindsay FrankelInsurance Writer
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Lindsay is a widely published creator of auto insurance content. She also specializes in real estate, banking, credit cards, and other personal finance topics.

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Chris Schafer
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Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
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Mark Friedlander
Reviewed byMark Friedlander
Mark Friedlander
Mark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
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As Director, Corporate Communications for Triple-I, Mark serves as the non-profit’s national spokesperson, sharing information and education on a wide array of insurance issues.

Updated December 10, 2023

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Full-coverage pet insurance — also known as pet accident and illness coverage — helps reimburse you for the cost of veterinary care when your cat or dog becomes sick or injured. It also provides essential protection for your finances, since treatment for an accident or illness can be expensive.

This article is your guide to full-coverage pet insurance, what’s included, and where you can get a policy, so you can keep your fur baby healthy without going into debt. Comparing pet insurance quotes is the best way to find coverage that’s right for your pet.

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Understanding full-coverage pet insurance

Full-coverage pet insurance is more comprehensive than accident-only coverage because it provides financial protection for the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses, in addition to accidents. It’s separate from wellness coverage, which provides savings on routine exams and preventative care.[1]

In order to use your coverage, you’ll typically need to pay your veterinarian first and then file a claim for reimbursement. However, some companies offer direct vet pay. Many plans allow you to choose your reimbursement percentage. 

Most policies also come with an annual deductible, which is your share of the financial responsibility for the policy period. Policies are also subject to an annual limit, though some companies offer unlimited options for coverage.[2]

Keep in Mind

Just as with car insurance, the higher your pet insurance deductible, the lower your premium will be. Deductibles may be annual (you only meet the deductible once, no matter how many times your pet sees the veterinarian during the policy period), or per incident or per condition (you pay it each time a vet treats your pet for a new condition).

What is covered?

The offerings covered vary by plan, so read your policy carefully. However, even the most basic policies tend to cover diagnostic tests and procedures such as surgery or hospitalization. They also usually include medications for covered accidents and illnesses such as:

  • Broken bones and sprains

  • Accidental poisoning

  • Swallowed objects

  • Vomiting and diarrhea

  • Infections, such as ear infections and UTIs

  • Cancer

  • Allergies

  • Diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • Arthritis

  • Skin conditions

  • Eye disorders

By contrast, accident-only coverage only covers accidents, like broken bones and foreign object ingestion, and wellness coverage only pays for routine care.

Sometimes covered

In addition, some comprehensive pet insurance policies also cover:

  • Vet exam fees

  • Behavioral issues

  • Hereditary conditions

  • Dental illness

  • Elbow and hip dysplasia

  • Alternative therapies

  • Microchip implantation

  • Prescription food and supplements

What Is Pet Insurance and How Does It Work?

What Is Pet Insurance and How Does It Work?

What isn’t covered?

Most pet insurance policies don’t cover the following:

  • Cosmetic procedures, like tail docking and claw removal

  • Breeding and pregnancy

  • Preventative care, unless you add a wellness package

  • Experimental treatments

  • Treatments that occurred during a waiting period

Most policies also don’t cover pre-existing conditions that occurred before your policy went into effect, but some policies cover curable conditions after a period of time. Some companies will also consider bilateral conditions, such as ruptured ligaments, to be pre-existing if they occurred before coverage kicked in.

Cost of full-coverage pet insurance

Pet insurance costs vary depending on your pet’s species, age, and breed, as well as your location and the coverage you choose. Below are the U.S. average monthly premiums pet owners paid in 2022, by species and coverage type, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. Prices are rounded to the nearest dollar.

Type of PetAccident and IllnessAccident Only
Dog$53$17
Cat$32$10

It’s important to understand that not all pet insurance policies offer the same coverage, and while the cost of the plan is important, you also want to find a plan that meets your needs. That’s why it’s a good idea to compare quotes, but bear in mind that the best pet insurance plan for your cat or dog may not be the cheapest.

Average full-coverage pet insurance costs for dogs

To give you an idea of the cost of pet insurance for dogs, here’s a list of policies from nine pet insurance companies for a 2-year-old mixed-breed, medium-sized male dog living in Hartford, Connecticut. Quotes are for an accident and illness policy with a $500 deductible, 80% reimbursement rate, and a $10,000 annual limit, or the closest available. Prices are for the base policy, without add-ons, and are rounded to the nearest dollar.

Pet Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Cost
Lemonade  $24
Figo$25
Pets Best $30
Nationwide$33
Healthy Paws $38
ASPCA $44
Embrace$46
Spot $49
Trupanion $63
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

Average full-coverage pet insurance costs for cats

The cost of pet insurance for cats varies by company. Here’s a list of quotes for a 2-year-old American Shorthair female cat living in Hartford. Quotes are for an accident and illness policy with a $500 deductible, an 80% reimbursement rate, and a $10,000 annual limit, or the closest available. Add-ons are not included, and prices are rounded to the nearest dollar. 

Pet Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Cost
Figo$13
Lemonade  $14
Nationwide$18
Healthy Paws $18
Pets Best $20
ASPCA $23
Trupanion$24
Spot $26
Embrace$32
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

Other types of pet insurance

If you’re looking for additional coverage options, you may be interested in the following:

  • Accident-only insurance: Accident-only insurance doesn’t cover any illnesses, but it does cover accidents like bites, poisoning, car accidents, foreign body ingestion, and more. Accident-only insurance is a more budget-friendly option that may make sense for older pets or those with pre-existing conditions.

  • Wellness coverage: Wellness coverage doesn’t cover accidents and illnesses and is typically purchased as an add-on. It may cover wellness exams, vaccines, dental cleaning, deworming, preventative medication, and more. Wellness coverage is typically not subject to waiting periods, deductibles, or limits.[3]

Life Insurance for Your Pet

Life Insurance for Your Pet

What factors affect pet insurance costs?

Several factors may affect your pet insurance costs, including your pet’s:

  • Species: Dogs are more expensive to insure than cats. That’s because most cats are kept indoors, and two-thirds of injuries that require vet treatment happen to dogs.

  • Breed: Purebred cats and dogs, larger dogs, and short-nosed dogs are typically predisposed to more health issues, so they tend to be more expensive to insure, while mixed breeds get access to the lowest pet insurance premiums.

  • Age: Since senior pets are more likely to become ill, pet insurance rates are higher for older cats and dogs.

  • Coverage type: Accident-only plans are cheaper than accident and illness plans. Choosing a plan with unlimited annual coverage, a low deductible, and a high reimbursement rate will also cost more, and many plans offer add-ons that’ll increase your premium. Furthermore, since coverage varies from one company to the next, so does cost.

  • Location: Veterinary costs are more expensive in areas with a high cost of living, so you’ll likely pay more for pet insurance in a pricey urban area like Los Angeles or New York City than in a rural area.

Tips for finding cheap pet insurance

You have several ways to reduce your pet insurance premiums, including:

  • Shop around. Comprehensive plans tend to be more expensive, but some companies may offer cheaper premiums than others for similar coverage. Collect multiple quotes so you can compare costs across different pet insurance companies.

  • Look for discounts. Many pet insurance companies offer discounts, such as a multi-pet discount or a military discount, to help you save money.

  • Insure your pets at an early age. Pet insurance premiums tend to increase with age, and if you wait to buy pet insurance, you’ll risk losing coverage for pre-existing conditions.

  • Buy less coverage. A basic plan will likely be cheaper than a more comprehensive plan. Additionally, choosing a lower reimbursement rate or annual limit will result in a lower premium.

  • Raise your deductible. A higher deductible will mean lower premiums, but you should make sure you can afford to cover the out-of-pocket costs in the event of a claim.

  • Select an annual payment option. Some pet insurance companies offer a discount if you pay annually instead of monthly.

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Full-coverage pet insurance FAQs

Below are some of the most common questions pet parents ask about pet insurers and health care plans for cats and dogs.

  • What is the average cost of full-coverage pet insurance?

    The average U.S. monthly cost of an accident and illness plan is about $53 for dogs and $32 for cats, according to 2022 data from the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.

  • Is full-coverage pet insurance worth the cost?

    While the decision to buy pet insurance coverage is a personal one, it’s important to understand that unexpected vet bills can be costly. Comprehensive coverage plans are usually worth the cost because they allow you to keep your pet healthy without destroying your finances. Furthermore, there are steps you can take to keep premiums low, like raising your pet insurance deductible.

  • Does pet insurance cover dental care?

    It depends on the plan. Routine teeth cleaning is typically only covered under wellness plans, but extractions may be covered after a dental accident or a dental illness that wasn’t a pre-existing condition. Read your pet insurance policy for details.

  • What company has the cheapest pet insurance?

    Rates for each company vary by pet, breed, age and location, so the best way to find the cheapest pet insurance is to compare quotes.

  • What’s the most expensive pet to insure?

    The most expensive cat breeds to insure are generally Himalayans and Sphynx, while the most expensive dog breeds to insure are Rottweilers and Great Danes. Large purebred dogs tend to be the most expensive animals to insure.

Sources

  1. American Kennel Club. "What Is Pet Insurance and What Does It Cover?."
  2. ASPCA. "How Does Pet Insurance Work?."
  3. American Kennel Club. "Pet Wellness Coverage."
Lindsay Frankel
Lindsay FrankelInsurance Writer

Lindsay Frankel is a content writer specializing in personal finance and auto insurance topics. Her work has been featured in publications such as LendingTree, The Balance, Coverage.com, Bankrate, NextAdvisor, and FinanceBuzz.

Chris Schafer
Edited byChris SchaferSenior Editor
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

Featured in

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Mark Friedlander
Reviewed byMark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
Mark Friedlander
Mark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
  • Corporate communications director for Insurance Information Institute

  • 20+ years in insurance and communications

As Director, Corporate Communications for Triple-I, Mark serves as the non-profit’s national spokesperson, sharing information and education on a wide array of insurance issues.

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