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Let's face it, if you own a dog or cat in your home, they are an important part of your family.

They are the ones that love on you when no one else is around, protect you, cuddle with you, and can even be your best friend.

That being said, it is important that you protect them whenever possible and you can do this by obtaining pet insurance.

Below you will learn the essentials of getting the right type of insurance for your dog or cat.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is not unlike human insurance.

It’s kind of strange to think about having insurance for animals, but it can be the most considerate and loving gesture to your pet. 

Pet insurance comes in a variety of plans, and price points.

It’s most comparable to a health savings plan sometimes and a regular insurance network plan in others. 

The good news is, you won’t have half as much trouble choosing a plan for your pet as you would for yourself. 

What is Pet Insurance

Pet insurance comes in 3 separate, easy categories. Accident-Comprehensive and Membership. Below is a chart that tells you how each category works.

There’s something for you depending on what you want to accomplish with the insurance. 

Do you think that accident may be a factor?  

Is your dog-breed one with a lot of congenital issues or future issues such as hip dysplasia or arthritis? In that case you may want a policy built to keep vet expenses down. 

Using the chart below you can determine what may be available and I’ll clue you in on the details you won’t see.


Accident Plans

Comprehensive Plans

Membership Plans

How it works

Like car insurance or homeowners insurance, it reimburses you a set percentage of your out-of-pocket costs for a claim.

Like car insurance or homeowners insurance, it reimburses you a set percentage of your out-of-pocket costs for a claim.

Not pet insurance. You have to stick to specific vets, who offer members discounted services. Common example is the Banfield Optimum Wellness Plan sold at PetSmart.

Covers accidental injuries

Covers Illnesses

Covers Congenital & Hereditary

Covers Wellness & Preventative Care

Coverage can be added

Coverage can be added

Go to any licensed vet

Best for smaller & predictable bills

Best for larger & unpredictable bills

Only covers accidents, which is just a portion of what creates larger bills

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

This is the trickiest question to answer. The first thing I’ll advise you to do is to look at the small print of any insurance policy.

Especially with pets because they’re animals, the risk is higher. After all, the insurer doesn’t know what type of lifestyle or home the pet has. 

Since pet insurance coverage varies widely, I’ll empower you. Let’s look at what a typical dog or cat insurance may cover, what you should look for and the reasons why.

  • Accidental Injury: Yes, your dog or cat may not go out of the house until, for your dog, they need to get walked. But, accidental injury can happen at any time and if it’s serious will for sure cost you thousands. It’s pretty scary sometimes what types of things cost a lot and what will unexpectedly be less. Since it’s hard to guess, this is one I believe you should have.
  • Fees to Board your Pet: If you get sick yourself and have to board a pet then you can have your fees covered. The stipulation according to PolicyGenius is 4 consecutive days in the hospital. You may be able to get someone to watch your pet but you may have to pay out of pocket to a service for that.
  • Emergency Illness: I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how old or young they are. Emergencies come up. Maybe fluffy ate a box of chocolates and now they’re poisoned and need the emergency Vet. Maybe they ate a frog. I’m sure you’re a great fur mom or dad but things happen. Be prepared. 
  • Liability: This is one of the most important coverages to have. If your dog or cat causes any damage or injury to a third party then you’re covered. Make sure you read the fine-print and get a firm understanding of what you are covered for before something happens.
  • Rewards for Missing Pets: This is one of the coverages that surprised me. Some insurers will reimburse you for any administrative fees accrued for finding your lost animal.  Of course there are stipulations between each insurer so check it out.

What It Doesn't Cover?

The short list here is the reason why you must read the fine print and understand the terms clearly so that there is no guesswork, only clarity.

  • Prevention: This is illness and pregnancy prevention. So, if you get a new animal don’t assume that neutering is going to be covered. Preventive exams can be covered on some plans.
  • Dental Treatment: Most do not
  • Pre Existing Conditions: There are some plans that will cover this as in the list I provided but again, make sure the insurer you choose covers you.
  • Routine Checkups: Some do, make sure
  • Behavioral Issues: Some do , make sure.

Pros & Cons

According to MarketWatch there are 1.4 million insured pets out of the 70 to 80 million dogs and just north of that number for cats. They also suggested that you tell your Vet that you have insurance because they’re more apt to do all they can for your pet. Source:  Michael Cohen, veterinarian and owner of Center City Veterinary Hospital in Philadelphia. You can read the extended quote here.


  • Bonus Reimbursements. Depending on your plan and carrier, some will even reimburse you
  • Low Deductibles. Unlike human insurance, pet insurance for the most part has low deductibles
  • Serious Illnesses. Almost all plans cover injuries and serious illnesses for fairly low monthly premiums.
  • Choose Your Vet. Don’t worry about not being able to go to your own vet.
  • Free Visits. Most pet insurance plans include at least one free visit a year.


  • Upfront costs. Unlike human insurance where you just pay your co-pay out of pocket, pet insurance makes you pay the bill and then send it to them for reimbursement.
  • Maximum Benefits. Regardless of the plan and carrier you choose, you will be faced with a maximum benefit each year.
  • Preexisting Conditions. Not surprisingly, if your dog already has a lot of conditions, the insurance ship has probably sailed for you.


How to reduce the cost of pet insurance?

What deductible should I get on my pet insurance policy?

How do I get reimbursed for a vet bill?

If my pet is prone to a disorder or illness but has not exhibited any symptoms yet can I get pet insurance?

Can I Submit a Paper Claim?

If i’m not satisfied, how do I cancel a claim and can I do it at any time?

What if I don’t know my pet’s age?

Can I Change my Deductible?

How do I know which vets accept pet insurance?

What are congenital and hereditary conditions?

What is a Payout Cap?

Why aren’t Pre Existing Conditions Covered?

Will the insurance cover diagnosis as well as treatment?

If I travel with my pet are they covered?

How can I determine a pre-existing condition in a new rescue?

Why do many companies exclude Vet visit fees?

Precancerous or Cancer in a Pre Existing Growth?

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Who Needs Pet Insurance?

If you can manage $10 to $60 per month then pet insurance should be something to consider.

Here’s why. An unexpected illness that may need surgery or other expensive treatments can cost on average $3000 plus. 

Pet insurance can be the difference between a pet that goes home with you healthy and one that you had to make a decision to put down.

Doing that can cost the same so why not do the best you can if you can manage the monthly payment. 

Who Needs Pet Insurance

So, is it worth it? I think that’s been answered. Yes, because it can protect your pet from an untimely passing and you from unnecessary heart ache.

How Much Pet Insurance Costs

*This chart was created by ValuePenguin

The average cost of pet insurance is as seen in the graph above.

However, the rates will tend to increase between 15 to 19%. Between all of the top insurers the average cost is just north of $42.00 and for cats just north of $20.00. 

As per the research I’ve done from sites that have calculated the cost by breed and between dogs and cats the premiums don’t seem to move more than $3 to $5 dollars max.

There doesn’t seem to be a breed that costs wildly out of range.

Some folks just get paired with a fur cutie that has every condition possible for the breed.

It’s hit or miss sometimes; however, I don’t see much in rate change and that’s good news.

How to Apply for Pet Insurance

Applying for pet insurance is probably the easiest thing of all that you’ve learned here.

Go to one of the policies that I have at the beginning of the article and check rates.

Make a list of the conditions your breed has or may have. Be aware of what pre-existing conditions they have.

Choose the deductible you can afford. Then, if you don’t have a Vet, get one and make sure they take your plan. 

Some insurers will require a physical exam.

There could be up to a 14 day waiting period to kick in.

Some will not take certain pre-existing conditions and others won’t take senior animals.

So, filling out the application is not the hard part.

It’s going through this article and using the facts to choose the best policy for you.  

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