Adopting a pet is a big decision. Not only does it require a lot of responsibility, but it can be expensive. According to the PDSA, the average cost of owning a dog is somewhere between $27,000 and $42,000, and cats are between $21,000 to $31,000.
These figures are just averages and cover routine costs like food, grooming, annual vet visits, pet toys and more. What they don’t take into consideration, however, are emergencies such as accidents and illnesses, which can cost thousands. If you have enough money saved up to cover unforeseen costs, then pet insurance to cover these types of expenses may not be for you. However, if you cannot afford to pay $3,000 for emergency surgery should your dog tear his ACL while jumping off the sofa, then you should learn how pet insurance works and consider signing up for it.
What Is Pet Insurance?
Similar to personal insurance, pet insurance is a health care policy for pets that reimburses owners for certain medical expenses and veterinary visits. It is not all-inclusive, and some illnesses and diseases are excluded, so make sure you research various policies before committing to one.
What Does Pet Insurance Cover?
The best way to think of pet insurance is to liken it to catastrophic insurance: It doesn’t cover everything (including routine check-ups), but it’s there when you need it most, such as in times of emergency. When you sign up for pet insurance, you’ll be required to take your pet for a check-up to establish any pre-existing conditions, as these will not be covered. Learn more about what is covered by pet insurance.
What Are the Different Types of Pet Insurance?
Different levels of pet insurance coverage exist, but most basic plans cover:
- Accidental injury: This type of pet insurance is there for emergencies such as broken bones, torn ACLs and flesh wounds. If your dog is attacked by another dog and requires stitches, this is covered. If your cat is hit by a car and breaks his leg, vet fees will be covered by pet insurance. Even snake bites are covered under accidental injury insurance.
- Illness: While preexisting conditions are excluded from most pet insurance plans, illness is not. If your pet suddenly falls sick with an upset stomach, skin infection or other illness, pet insurance will help reimburse you for the vet bills. Common illnesses include arthritis, cancer, colitis and more.
How much does pet insurance cost? It varies depending on which plan you choose. In addition to the above, some policies may include (or give you the option to add) extras such as spaying and neutering, microchipping, annual vaccines, dental procedures, hospitalization costs, flea and tick treatments and after-hours services. Some plans also reimburse emergency boarding costs should the owner become hospitalized and unable to care for the pet for an extended period of time.
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
Unlike health insurance for humans, pet insurance requires full payment up front at time of treatment, and reimbursement is then submitted after you file a claim. You will typically not be reimbursed in full. Similar to health insurance, pet insurance does require a deductible and covers a percentage of your pet’s medical fees. Reimbursement varies by plan, but having pet insurance can help drastically reduce costly veterinary bills.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost Per Month?
So how much does pet insurance cost? It’s not as bad as you think, and affordable pet insurance plans exist. According to Value Penguin, the average monthly cost of pet insurance is $43.14 for dogs and $26.77 for cats.These costs are for pet insurance plans that cover both accident and illness.
Value Penguin obtained quotes from 11 of the largest pet insurance companies and found that the monthly cost of the average pet insurance plan ranged from $25 to $70 for dogs and $10 to $40 for cats. So, on the cheap end, insuring your dog for one year could cost as little as $300! That’s certainly worth it when you think of how expensive emergency surgery could be.
Pet insurance policies and costs vary based on the type of pet you’re adopting. Most plans only cover cats and dogs, but some do cover rabbits, birds and more. Plans also vary by breed: Pure breeds are most costly to insure, as they typically have more health problems than mixed breeds. Age is also a factor, as older pets typically encounter more health problems than their younger counterparts, making them more costly to insure.
Value Penguin obtained quotes from 11 insurance companies based on a healthy four-year-old male labrador retriever. They had a $500 deductible, $5,000 annual max and 80% reimbursement level. Costs came in as follows:
For a better idea of monthly premiums, and to see which companies Value Penguin looked into, see below:
They also gathered quotes for cat insurance based on a four-year-old female cat with no pre-existing conditions, also with a $500 deductible, $5,000 annual max and 80% reimbursement level. Quotes from various pet insurance companies are as follows:
For a better idea of monthly premiums, and to see which companies Value Penguin looked into for cat insurance, see below:
Pet insurance isn’t mandatory, of course, but affordable pet insurance does exist and certainly comes in handy in cases of emergencies. As you can see from the above charts, it’s not unreasonably expensive, either.
Do you have pet insurance? If so, tell us how much pet insurance costs each month under your policy!