Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is an excellent way to protect your pets and ensure that you have the funds available if an emergency occurs. Pet insurance costs start around $10/mo on average. Shop around and compare pet insurance policies online to find the right coverage to protect your pets and provide them with the high standard of care they deserve.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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  • Pet insurance helps provide vital coverage for a range of pet medical care expenses, from treating injuries to chronic illness, including preventative care
  • Like health insurance for humans, pet insurance may have limitations and exceptions to its coverage
  • You might need pet insurance if you do not have the means to pay out of pocket for serious pet injury or illness but want to provide for your pet’s medical care if needed.

Just like choosing the right health insurance for your family can prove critical to the standard of care they receive when they’re sick or hurt, choosing the ideal pet insurance is critical.

Whether you need pet insurance for routine care or more extensive coverage to protect your pet in the event of an emergency, pet insurance can protect you from unexpected veterinary bills. Read now to get more insurance advice and pet insurance reviews of coverage, providers, and more.

Looking to buy pet insurance that covers preventative care? Enter your ZIP code to get free pet insurance quotes from local providers in your area.

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance is exactly what it sounds like: insurance for your pet. Medical treatment for a pet, especially in the event of a disaster, can be almost as expensive as dealing with a medical emergency for a person. Pet insurance can help alleviate some of the cost of your pet’s treatment and ensure that you can get the care your pet needs in an emergency.

Pet insurance may also pay out for other scenarios, such as if a pet dies or gets stolen.

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What does pet insurance cover?

The risks covered by pet insurance will depend on your insurance carrier and the specific policy you choose. A closer look at the types of coverage pet insurance offers is discussed below.

Does pet insurance cover preventative care?

Some pet insurance policies will cover the cost of preventative care for your pets, including annual wellness exams, your pet’s vaccines, and even screenings and tests that will help ensure that your pet stays as healthy as possible.

However, a basic pet insurance policy may not offer preventative coverage. You may need to talk to your pet insurance provider to learn more about the cost of preventative coverage as part of your pet insurance and how it compares to the costs you will pay each year.

What services are typically included under normal pet insurance?

Your pet insurance will typically cover the major costs associated with treating a pet under a variety of circumstances stemming from accidents or illnesses.

As you choose a pet insurance policy, make sure you take a look at exactly what your specific policy covers and how that policy will impact your ability to treat your pet if an accident does occur or if your pet becomes ill.

In general, pet insurance will include coverage for:

Accident Coverage

Your pet accidentally ate something he should not have eaten, resulting in severe stomach pains or toxicity. Your dog ran out in the road, and now he has serious injuries, including broken bones, that may require surgery.

Any time an accident occurs, you may have expensive medical costs to treat your pet and ensure that he has the best odds possible of making a full recovery. Pet accident insurance helps cover those costs, including the costs of x-rays, tests, sedation, blood work, sutures, and even a stay at your local vet clinic.

Since those costs can grow exponentially following an accident, having pet insurance may be the best way to ensure that you can provide the highest possible standard of care for your pet.

Illness Coverage

Many pet owners find themselves struggling when their pet is diagnosed with a serious illness. Your pet is part of the family, but treating that illness, whether your pet is suffering from a type of cancer or is struggling with diabetes, a thyroid issue, or even just an ear infection, can quickly drain your available funds.

Many pets end up needing long-term medical care to help them live long, healthy lives/ Without that care, you may have to make the dreaded decision to put your pet down. Having illness coverage can make it easier to provide the treatment and care your pet really needs, from the cost of diagnosing those ailments to the prescription costs to cover your pet’s medications.

Alternative Therapies

While there are many medical therapies available for pet conditions, sometimes, you may want to try out alternative therapies to help your pet, from acupuncture to chiropractic care. Using these services, however, can quickly grow expensive.

You may even find yourself wondering why you have to pay so much for treatment for your pet! Some insurance coverage options, however, will provide for the cost of alternative therapies, especially those recommended by your vet.

Behavioral Therapies and Treatments

Pets can suffer from a variety of behavioral issues that may impact their overall health and your family’s home environment. Problems like excessive licking, pacing, or chewing could indicate that your pet is distressed for another reason. You may also find yourself struggling with a pet who just doesn’t do as well when the family isn’t at home, or who can’t seem to handle disruption when the kids are playing actively.

Behavioral therapies can help address the root of the problem, provide the support your pet needs, and make your pet healthier again. As you consider pet insurance policies, take a look at whether your policy offers coverage for behavioral treatment, which can make it much more affordable.

Prescription Food and Supplements

Some pets need special food or supplements to keep them as healthy as possible. Special food may be as simple as a prescription food that does not contain a known allergen, or food designed to help an overweight pet lose weight, which can prove to be very expensive.

Some pet insurance policies will offer coverage designed to help with the cost of those prescription foods and supplements, allowing you to keep your pet healthier no matter what circumstances may get in the way.

Treatment Costs for Chronic Conditions

Like people, pets can develop a variety of chronic health problems, including conditions like diabetes or cancer. These conditions can impact your pet’s overall quality of life, especially without the right treatment. Unfortunately, many pet owners struggle with the cost of providing treatment for those ailments, especially if they crop up early in a pet’s life.

What is the right decision to make, and what should you do to keep your pet as healthy as possible? With pet insurance, you can receive financial support that will make it easier to deal with those ongoing costs.

Pet Theft Coverage

In addition to offering coverage when your pet has a medical issue that you need to take care of, some pet insurance policies will offer coverage that will provide compensation if someone steals your pet. Most of the time, people with expensive pets, especially purebred dogs, are the most likely to need this type of coverage.

Death Coverage

Like insurance that covers the cost of final expenses for a human, death insurance for your pet can make it easier to take care of final expenses for your pet. Some pet insurance policies may provide coverage for those vital final expenses, allowing you to lay your pet to rest in the environment that best fits the specific needs of your family.

What does pet insurance not cover?

Chances are your health insurance policy has specific exceptions that you need to consider when you choose a policy. Just like your insurance, your pet insurance may have specific limitations that determine what the policy does not cover. You will need to be prepared to have the funds on hand to manage those conditions or to choose other options for your pet if your pet insurance does not cover everything you need.

In general, pet insurance does not cover:

Cosmetic Procedures

Some procedures you may choose for your pet for primarily cosmetic reasons. You may, for example, want to have a dog’s ears or tail docked, or a cat’s claws removed. Because these are cosmetic, elective procedures, most pet insurance policies will not cover those costs. You should also review those decisions carefully with your vet before deciding to move forward with them.


You may want to breed your animals, especially if you have an expensive purebred dog or cat. However, you will need to plan ahead for those expenses and for the costs associated with raising kittens or puppies. Most pet insurance policies do not offer coverage for breeding, including insemination costs and other costs associated with treatment during pregnancy.

If you do plan to breed your pet, check your insurance coverage ahead of time to ensure that you have the right coverage for your specific needs. It’s also important to confirm your state dog laws to make sure you’re following any mandated breeding restrictions. Consult with a local attorney if you have questions regarding animal control laws in your state.

Pre-existing Conditions

Many pet owners may consider pet insurance for the first time only when they realize that their pet already has a serious condition that is going to require extensive medical treatment. Unfortunately, some pet insurance policies may not offer coverage for pre-existing conditions. You may have to go through a waiting period before getting coverage for those diagnoses, or the insurance company may deny payment for them altogether.

If you have already adopted a pet with known medical conditions, or if you have discovered that your pet has serious medical concerns and you do not already have insurance for your pet, you may need to seriously consider how much treatment for those conditions will cost and how you want to make arrangements to pay for that vital treatment.

How much does pet insurance cost?

The average cost of pet insurance varies between $10.51 per month and an estimated $585.40 per month depending on the policy type you choose.  How much you pay for pet insurance, however, may depend on several key factors, including:

What type of pet are you insuring?

Insurance for dogs, who are larger and may require larger doses of many types of medication, may prove more expensive to insure than a cat. A big dog may also cost more to insure, in general, than a smaller dog.

What type of coverage do you need?

Accident-only coverage will, in general, cost less than coverage that also extends to cover the cost of unexpected illness. An accident-only policy can help provide much-needed coverage for a pet that runs out of the house unexpectedly and gets hit by a car or who eats something they shouldn’t, but may not offer any assistance paying for a range of illnesses, including ear infections, cancer, or diabetes.

It’s important to weigh the cost of pet insurance against the cost of potentially providing those services for your pet in the event of an emergency.

Are you adding any extra types of coverage to your policy?

Some policies provide more types of coverage than others. One policy might offer accident and illness insurance, while another might be specifically designed to provide coverage for other events. Coverage for preventative care, coverage for pet death, or coverage that will reimburse you for the cost of a pet that has been stolen may be more expensive than coverage for accidents and/or illnesses alone.

The more riders, or additional types of coverage, you add to your policy, the more you may pay for that coverage, so shop around for free pet insurance quotes before you buy to guarantee you’re getting the best price.

How many pets are you insuring?

In some cases, pet insurance companies may provide you with a discount if you insure multiple pets through the same provider. For some pet owners, this makes the cost of pet insurance much more affordable.

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Do you really need pet insurance?

Many pet owners find themselves wondering, why would I need pet insurance? If you’re planning to purchase accident and illness insurance for a dog and want to include coverage for preventative treatment or theft, you may find that the cost of pet insurance looks higher than the regular cost of providing medical treatment for your pet.

Before deciding to opt-out of pet insurance coverage, however, there are several things you may want to consider:

Do you have the means to pay for treatment if your pet is seriously injured?

A serious pet injury can quickly put a damper on your budget. Worse, some emergency vets may not provide treatment when pet owners do not have the immediate means to pay for the cost of that treatment.

Many pet owners find themselves having to make a hard decision fast as they determine how to proceed after a pet suffers serious injuries in an accident, especially if they cannot afford the cost of emergency treatment or know the cost of long-term care after a serious injury will end up costing more than they can afford.

Often, pet owners have to put their pets down because of those costs. On the other hand, if you have quality pet insurance, you may be able to afford that vital treatment more easily–and in some cases, that can save your pet’s life.

Can your budget support the cost of treatment for a pet’s chronic illness?

Often, chronic illnesses in your pets can seem just as expensive as the cost of treating the same chronic illness in a person, especially if you do not have insurance to help cover those costs.

If you have older pets in your family, you may want to seriously consider what it will cost to provide treatment for those pets in the event of chronic illness and what it will do to your budget if you have to find a way to cover the cost of that treatment out of pocket.

Pet insurance can provide vital peace of mind throughout your pet’s entire lifetime and allow you to make better decisions about your pet’s care without having to worry about the cost. In many cases, pet insurance can even provide the funds you need for things like prescription food or behavioral therapy, all of which can substantially improve the quality of life for your family and your pet.

Does your pet already have a serious chronic condition?

If your pet already has a serious chronic condition, you may want to carefully consider the value of pet insurance. Sometimes pet insurance will kick in after a specific waiting period, allowing you to get coverage for treatment for your pet’s chronic ailments, but expect to pay more for coverage.

Other times, you may want to consider the possibility that a current chronic ailment will lead to other concerns that your pet may have to deal with in the future–and other medical costs that you will need to arrange for if you want to keep your pet healthy.

Do you have an expensive pet that is considered an investment, not just an animal or a member of the family?

In some cases, you may breed animals. Dogs, in particular, are often as much an investment as they are pets in your household, and you may want to make sure you have the funds on hand to protect that investment.

Pet insurance can not only payout if something happens to your pet, it can ensure that you can protect that valuable investment by offering compensation for pet medical treatments.

Do you understand the limitations and requirements of your pet insurance policy?

As you consider an insurance policy for your pet, make sure that you fully understand what the policy covers and what it doesn’t. Take a look at your copays and deductibles as well as additional fees you may face, especially if the cost of your pet’s medical care increases suddenly or you have unexpected struggles that could add to the cost of your pet’s care.

How long will the policy cover your pet? Are there circumstances under which the pet insurance company might drop your pet? How many pets can you insure through the company, and are there specific requirements–like an annual exam, for example, or microchipping your pet–that will impact your coverage?

Before you select a policy or decide whether you need pet insurance coverage for the furry members of your household, make sure you fully understand your coverage and what it covers. If you don’t understand something about the policy, make sure you consult with the insurance provider to develop a deeper understanding and ensure that you know what you’re going to have to pay and how much help you will have with basic medical bills.

How many pets do you have at home?

Pet insurance may become increasingly expensive as you consider it for multiple pets, though many insurance companies do offer a discount if you need to insure more than one animal. However, you should carefully consider how many pets you have at home when determining whether you need coverage.

If you have only a single pet at home, it may be easier to afford sudden surgery costs and veterinary bills. On the other hand, if you have multiple pets, you may need that insurance coverage to help protect your family in the event of a pet disaster.

Start shopping for affordable pet insurance rates with our free comparison tool below. Enter your ZIP code now to get quotes from the best pet insurance companies near you.

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