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The essentials

  • Pet insurance helps offset expensive veterinary visits — Whether routine or emergency, pet insurance covers a wide range of ailments and issues depending on your policy.
  • Coverage is available for all dogs and cats — The majority of pet insurance companies cater to both dogs and cats and sometimes other pets, too.
  • Gives pet owners peace of mind — Pet parents can breathe a sigh of relief thanks to the money they can save on pricey vet bills thanks to pet insurance.

Raising a pet can be expensive, especially when it comes to pet health. Visits to the vet aren’t cheap, and even regular checkup bills can leave pet owners wide-eyed. It’s even more of a surprise to pet owners — and their wallets — when unexpected expenses arise due to pet accidents, illnesses, and emergencies.

While it can help ease the burden of expensive vet bills, is pet insurance really worth it? Here are some of the top reasons why pet insurance is worth a look.

1. Veterinary costs are expensive

Many pets get anxious when they visit the vet. But they’re not anxious for the same reason as their owners, who have to pay the bill at the end of treatment. If you’re like most pet owners, you’ve experienced some level of sticker shock at the time of payment. No one wants to have to worry about that when their pet is in need of care.

But the truth is, veterinary care is steadily rising in the U.S., with veterinary care and product sales estimated to top $32.3 billion this year, according to the American Pet Products Association. This makes sense when even the most commonly performed diagnostic procedures at the vet can cost you hundreds of dollars. And if your pet gets sick during your vet’s off-hours (which always seems to be the case), you’re looking at convenience up-charges that easily put you well over $500. Yikes!

While you may find the expense of routine vet visits and treatments (such as shots) manageable, pet insurance really proves its value by offsetting the cost of emergency visits, when costs are at their highest. You don’t want to be caught with your tail between your legs when there’s an emergency.

2. Emergencies will happen

It’s estimated that 1 in 3 pets will need emergency vet care each year. So though you may be the most attentive pet owner in the world, emergencies outside of your control can and do happen. They may include:

  • Animal attacks
  • Bone fractures
  • Choking
  • Eye injuries
  • Heatstroke
  • Ingestion of toxins (e.g., grapes, raisins, chocolate) and foreign bodies (e.g., rocks, toys, socks)
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Urinary incontinence or inability to urinate

These are just a few examples. Emergency situations require highly specialized care that can quickly pile up in bloodwork, x-rays, tests and exams, medicines, overnight visits, and more. The average emergency vet visit costs pet owners $1,500. Pet insurance helps mitigate against the high costs of these unexpected visits to the vet.

👉 Note that most pet insurance policies have waiting periods before they take effect. So it’s important to have a policy in place well before emergencies strike.

3. Pet insurance can help cover non-emergency costs too

While many pet owners enjoy the cost-saving benefits of pet insurance for emergency situations, there are other situations where pet insurance can help.

Routine checkups and shots

Sometimes even routine shots or treatments aren’t cheap, especially when you consider all the preventative measures required to keep pets healthy, like rabies shots, kennel cough vaccination, heartworm, flea and tick preventions — you name it. They’re all essential, and they all add up.

Many pet insurance policies include discount programs or contain preventative medicine clauses, that can lessen the out-of-pocket expense of routine treatments. Be sure to read the small print to know what’s covered and what isn’t.

Third party liability coverage

There are also insurance plans specific to dogs that cover you if your pup injures a person or another dog, or damages or breaks someone else’s property. These policies compensate for costs associated with medical bills, legal fees, and damages and can save you thousands.

Like other pet insurance coverage, you’ll likely have a waiting period — ranging from 24 hours up to several months — before you’re covered. So consider purchasing while your dog is a puppy and unable to do significant harm. You’ll also likely have to show a history of nonaggression. Obedience classes can help verify that.

May lower the cost for spay or neuter

If you recently adopted a new puppy or kitten, some wellness pet insurance plans will cover specific surgeries for your young companion, such as a spay or neuter.

Getting these important procedures done early creates a great opportunity for immediate pet insurance benefits. Plus, you’ll be covered for the future, so you won’t have to worry about it down the road when you really need it or before it’s too late to sign up for a pet insurance plan.

4. It’s available for all dogs and cats

One of the best perks of pet insurance is that it’s available for all 89.7 million dogs and 94.2 million cats in the United States. That means yours!

It doesn’t matter the breed or age; there’s a provider with coverage. This is especially comforting for pet owners of dogs that face stigmas for being considered “aggressive” breeds, or for senior pets with more late-life conditions. Younger dogs and cats that are more likely to carelessly ingest toy material or other foreign objects are, thankfully, also eligible for coverage (there’s even coverage specifically for such accidents).

However, it’s important to sign up for a pet insurance plan as soon as possible because any pre-existing condition won’t be covered.  For example, if your dog has an ear infection and you sign up for an insurance plan after an ear infection was diagnosed, then the insurance company won’t cover the cost of workup and treatment of any future ear infection.  This is why signing your pet up for insurance as soon as possible, prior to any health concerns, is important.

Fear not, you can protect all your furry friends with the pet insurance policy that’s most suitable for you and them.

5. Allows your pet to get the quality care it deserves

With your pet insurance, you’ll likely find more options for care than with your own personal health insurance plan. That’s because most pet insurance policies don’t have in- and out-of-network veterinarians like their human insurance counterparts do with doctors. Generally, pet insurance companies let you take your pet to any veterinarian you like! This means you aren’t stuck with a particular vet. With pet insurance, you become empowered to choose the quality of care that will protect your pet’s health in almost every situation.

Pet insurance can also help you extend the life of your dog or cat by ensuring they receive their annual wellness care from a young age. Then, later in life, pet insurance can assist with the cost of expensive treatments and procedures for conditions typical in aging pets, like arthritis, glaucoma, cancer, or chronic illnesses.

6. There are flexible options for cost and coverage

Just like with human health insurance, you can choose the level of coverage that suits your lifestyle, risk tolerance, and budget. Let’s look at some of the most common options.



Coverage types

  • Accident only. Just as its name describes, this type of policy only covers accidents, such as foreign object ingestion (e.g., toys), poisoning, lacerations and ligament tears, vehicle accidents, etc.
  • Accident and illness. This type of policy covers accidents plus ailments that require more lengthy treatments such as ear infections, gastrointestinal issues, hip dysplasia complications, bladder stones, arthritis, cancer, etc.
  • Wellness plans. Wellness plans help to offset the cost of routine health maintenance, such as vaccinations, checkups, preventative tests (e.g., blood and fecal labs), nail trims, flea and tick medications, etc.

Pet insurance providers have different names for their plans and policies, and some may overlap in coverage. Compare quotes thoroughly and consider your pet’s situation so that you pick the best coverage type for your pet.

Deductibles and premiums

The type of coverage you opt for will determine the premium. Typically, the more that’s covered, the higher the annual premium.

According to NAPHIA, the 2020 average premium for dogs in the U.S. was $594.15 for accident and illness coverage and $218.13 for accident-only coverage. For cats, those figures drop to $341.81 and $133.61, respectively. Mind you, these are annual premiums, so the least expensive accident-only monthly premium for cats works out to be as little as $11 per month.

Deductibles vary by provider and policy as well. When deductibles are higher, premiums tend to be lower. The inverse is also true.

Even so, when you look at the veterinary costs of various treatments, most of the insurance plans pay for themselves in savings after a visit or two, particularly if they are emergency visits.

👉 Note that many plans are reimbursement insurance plans, so you may still have to pay upfront at the vet or pet hospital.

Alternative types of pet insurance

Having to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed by an insurance provider later isn’t an option for everyone. Additionally, if your pet has a pre-existing condition, many providers won’t cover that particular ailment.

That’s where alternatives to traditional pet insurance, like Pawp, come in. Pawp provides pet owners with a deductible-free $3,000 annual emergency fund for a monthly fee (less than $20). Pre-existing conditions are covered if part of an emergency, and Pawp pays the vet before you leave the clinic, so you don’t have to worry about getting reimbursed later.

Whether they purchase pet insurance or not, many pet owners also create their own “pet insurance” by regularly contributing to a separate bank account that acts as an emergency pet fund. Having some extra cash stockpiled can help cover costs that insurance won’t.

7. Helps you budget for now and later

We love our pets, and we want them to be happy. But we have to recognize that the cost of their happiness extends well beyond food and toys. It also means keeping them healthy. Unfortunately, health maintenance, accidents, and emergencies are some of the most expensive costs of pet ownership.

Responsible pet owners plan for such expenses as part of their monthly financial budgets. Understanding how much you spend on your pet each month gives you a historical look at cost. Over time, you may realize you are spending too much on toys (guilty) or can afford another pet (yay!).

The nice part about pet insurance is that for a low monthly budget cost, you know your dog or cat is protected from otherwise daunting expenses that catch you off guard. And if financial circumstances change in the future, you have the option to upgrade or downgrade your policy.

8. Gives you peace of mind

Pet insurance can do wonders to protect your pet’s health over the course of its lifetime. But having pet insurance also does wonders for you and your peace of mind.

When there’s a pet emergency, anxiety levels are already high. Add to that expensive vet visitation costs and it can weigh heavily on any pet parent. You should never have to choose between your bank account and your pet’s life.

Pet insurance isn’t a silver bullet that will reduce all anxiety associated with an emergency vet visit, but it provides comfort in knowing your pet can be cared for.

Determine if pet insurance is right for you

There’s a good reason why close to 5.36 million pets were insured in North America by the end of 2022, and t hat number only continues to climb (i.e. up from 4.4 million insured pets in 2021). If you think pet insurance is right for your dog or cat, see our list of the top pet insurance providers.