Pet Insurance

Pet insurance can help you manage vet costs and better afford emergency care, but policies and coverages often differ dramatically. Learn how to evaluate a pet policy and the company offering it to pick the best one for your pet.

Understanding Pet Insurance

A dog is on a veterinarian's table. A vet uses a stethoscope to listen to the dog's chest. A nurse holds onto the dog from behind.
What Is Pet Insurance?
Frequently Asked Questions
  • What does pet insurance cover?

    Pet insurance plans offer three main types of coverage: accident and illness, accident-only, and wellness plans. For example, an accident and illness plan would typically cover treatment for injuries and illnesses, including testing and diagnostics; prescriptions; and preventive care. Be aware of plan exclusions (items that aren’t covered) and dollar limits on coverage.

  • How does pet insurance work?

    Pet insurance charges a premium, has a deductible, and has a coinsurance percentage that you pay on bills once the deductible is met. It also may have annual, per-incident, and lifetime limits on covered services. You typically need to pay for care upfront, then file a claim with the insurer yourself. This is usually an easy procedure done via app, online, fax, or mail—once the claim is approved (typically within 30 days), you’ll be reimbursed.

  • Does pet insurance cover preexisting conditions?

    Incurable preexisting conditions are typically excluded from coverage, such as cancer, diabetes, hip dysplasia (on both sides even if it’s only presented on one), arthritis, cataracts, and heart disease. Other preexisting conditions that are considered curable may be temporarily excluded but later eligible for coverage once your pet has been symptom-free for a certain period of time, such as 12 months.

  • Should I get pet insurance?

    If you can afford the monthly premium but can’t afford to pay a $1,000 to $5,000 vet bill out of pocket, you should consider getting pet insurance. But even if you can cover a large vet bill, you might want a plan to manage vet costs via a monthly premium. It’s essential to compare different plans and their components to best suit your needs. And pay attention to waiting periods, deductibles, coinsurance percentages, exclusions, and limits.

  • What is not covered by pet insurance?

    What’s not covered depends in part on the type of plan you get (accident only, accident and illness, comprehensive with wellness benefits). Generally, preexisting conditions, elective procedures, vaccinable illnesses, pregnancy, and secondary conditions aren’t covered. Coverage may also be restricted based on age and only offered up to plan limits—these may be per-incident, annual, and lifetime. 

  • How much does pet insurance cost?

    According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), the average monthly premium in 2021 for accident-and-illness plans for dogs was $48.66. For cats, it was $28.57. Accident-only plans were cheaper at $19.93/month for dogs and $10.85/month for cats, but don’t cover illnesses, such as cancer, infections, and digestive issues.

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