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How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

by Bella Woof

Approximately 90.5 million households in the United States have at least one family pet. And as much as we love our dogs and cats, many pet owners are not fully prepared for the expenses of a furry family member, especially if there is an accident or if their pet is diagnosed with a long-term illness. To make matters worse, veterinary expenses continue to rise.

If you are looking for a way to control veterinary expenses, pet insurance can help cover unexpected veterinary costs that would normally cause a financial burden for many households. You can find plans that will help cover your pet for everything from accidents and illnesses to routine vet visits and even dental care. But how much does pet insurance cost?

But before you buy, it’s a good idea to thoroughly research a pet insurance plan so you can understand how much it costs and what it covers. Here’s what you need to know about pet insurance costs.

Average Pet Insurance Costs

The average cost of pet insurance is $10 to $53 per month, or $122 to $640 per year. There are several cost elements when it comes to pet insurance:

  • Cousins: These are the monthly or annual costs you pay to keep the policy active.

  • Deductible: This is the amount you must pay the vet before the insurance policy takes effect.

  • Reimbursement or co-payment percentage: This is the percentage you pay for covered expenses even after you meet the deductible.

The cost of each of them depends on the type of policy, your budget, and your pet’s needs.

However, the right choice is not a purely financial decision. Older pets may benefit from more comprehensive coverage as they are more likely to require treatment for an illness. Younger pets may be healthier but also prone to more accidents.

How much does pet insurance cost for dogs?

Here are the average premiums for accident-only and accident-and-illness plans, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA):

Dog insurance: average premiums in 2022 (US)

A&I – Accidents and Illnesses

  • Annual: $640

  • Monthly: $53.33

AO – Accident only

  • Annual: $201

  • Monthly: $16.75

How much does pet insurance cost for cats?

In general, cat insurance tends to be less expensive than dog insurance.

Cat Insurance: Dog Insurance: Average Premiums 2022 (US)

A&I – Accidents and Illnesses

  • Annual: $387

  • Monthly: $32.25

AO – Accident only

  • Annual: $122

  • Monthly: $10.17

When it comes to pet wellness plans, there are usually two options: a basic one and a premium one. Some pet insurance offers three options. Here are the monthly average price points:

  • Standard: $15

  • Middle range: $28

  • Advanced care: $31

Factors Affecting the Cost of Pet Insurance Premiums

The cost of premiums can vary depending on a variety of factors, including:

  • Pet age: The younger the pet, the less likely it is to be diagnosed with a chronic medical condition. Senior pets that are at higher risk for diseases, such as diabetes, kidney disease, joint disease, or heart disease, may have higher premiums.

  • Breed: Certain breeds are prone to certain medical conditions. For example, French Bulldogs and English Bulldogs tend to experience chronic skin and eye conditions, which can become costly to treat over time. Some policies will exclude certain breed-specific issues or charge more to cover your pet.

  • Be spayed or neutered: Your pet’s spay or neuter status may affect the premium.

  • Pre-existing medical conditions: Most pet insurance policies will not cover any pre-existing conditions (issues related to diagnosed medical conditions). The premium will also likely be higher to cover the pet. This is another good reason to consider pet insurance at a young age.

  • Deductible choice: Depending on the plan, you can select the deductible level. Generally, a higher deductible means a lower monthly premium.

  • Accessories: Your cost may increase if you add dental or wellness plans.

  • Location: Pets living in more populated cities may have higher premiums due to access to advanced medical care.

  • Plan type: Accident-only plans generally have lower premiums than plans that cover accidents and illnesses and/or wellness.

As an example of changes in premium costs over the life of a pet, here is the average monthly premium for an enrolled Labrador Retriever at various ages with a $500 deductible and no known medical conditions*:

  • 8 weeks old: $57/month

  • 1 year old: $66/month

  • 5 years old: $89/month

  • 10 years old: $160/month

*Average of premiums quoted from various pet insurance companies.

Cost of pet insurance deductibles

A deductible is the amount you must pay the veterinarian before the insurance company begins to reimburse you for eligible veterinary expenses. There are two types of deductibles:

  • Annual deductibles They are applied annually before any veterinary treatment costs are reimbursed. Generally, any covered issue can be applied to your deductible.

  • Deductibles per incident They apply to each newly diagnosed condition. For example, if your pet breaks a leg, gets sick, or ingests a foreign object in a calendar year, each incident will have its own deductible. This type of policy is often recommended for older pets who need coverage for many years to treat a chronic illness.

Most policies allow you to choose the level of the deductible, usually up to $1,000. Generally, the higher your deductible, the lower your premium will be. While it’s important to choose a deductible that fits your budget, choosing a lower deductible can save you money over the life of your pet.

While it’s important to choose a deductible that fits your budget, choosing a lower deductible can save you money over the life of your pet.

Copays (reimbursement percentage)

This is the amount you will have to pay even after you meet the deductible. Copays are usually given as a percentage of the bill. They usually range between 10 and 20%. That means the “reimbursement percentage” paid by the insurance company would be 80% to 90%.

For example, let’s say your dog needs a $3,000 surgery and your deductible is $200:

  • You pay the bill at the vet (normally) and send the receipt (claim) to your insurance company.

  • The pet insurance company will subtract the $200 deductible, so the remaining amount is now $2,800.

  • If your copay was 10%, that’s another $280. That leaves $2,520 for the insurance company to pay.

  • If everything on the bill was a covered item, that would be the amount you would be reimbursed. Your total out-of-pocket expenses in this scenario would be $480.

  • You would also have met your deductible, so any additional eligible expenses would be 90% covered for the rest of the year.

If your insurance company is set up to pay the vet directly (currently only a few do), then you would pay your vet $480 and the insurance would pay you the rest. You would not need to file a claim.

Depending on the policy, you may be able to select a higher or lower copay to help reduce or increase your premium and/or deductible.

Is pet insurance worth it?

Fur babies are beloved members of the family. But unexpected emergencies or illnesses can occur resulting in significant financial strain, which can lead to heartbreaking decision-making.

Pet insurance can be a great way to help offset these unexpected costs while still giving your pet the care it needs. In most cases, pet insurance will pay for itself over the life of the pet and will even help you pay for care through monthly insurance premiums instead of a big trip to the emergency room.

Tips to Save Money on Pet Insurance Costs

We’re all looking for a good deal and finding a good deal on pet insurance should be no different.

  • Ask your insurance provider if they offer discounts for things like signing up multiple pets, military discounts, or even bundling them with your homeowner’s insurance.
  • You can also save money by signing your pet up for insurance as soon as possible. Younger pets tend to have much lower veterinary bills, so implementing a plan early will help keep costs down later.
  • You can also save by enrolling your pet in multiple policies, such as adding a wellness plan to your accident and illness plan.
  • Most insurance companies allow pet owners to customize their plans to meet the specific needs of their pets. Selecting a higher deductible or lower reimbursement percentage may lower your monthly premium.

Featured Image:


Amber Souza


Amber became a licensed veterinary technician in 2007 while earning her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Nevada Las…

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