How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
Veterinary background provided by Dr. Jennifer Coates DVM
Updated September 2022
If there’s one thing nearly all pet parents have in common, it’s that they want to give their pets the best care possible. That includes making sure their pets’ medical needs are taken care of, whether during routine veterinary checkups or unexpected emergencies.
One of the best ways to protect your pet is through pet insurance coverage, but it can be difficult to know which plan is best for your pet’s needs and your budget. We believe it’s possible to find an insurance plan that provides the veterinary coverage your pet deserves without financially overburdening you. The first thing you need to know when finding the right plan is, how much does pet insurance cost?
Pet Insurance Cost Overview
While the average cost of pet insurance is $46 per month (according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association), many factors affect how much you’ll end up paying for your specific pet insurance plan. Your location and the type of policy you choose can affect pet insurance cost, as can the type, breed and age of your pet. For instance, pet insurance for dogs typically costs about $49 per month, while the average monthly cat insurance price is just $29.
Average Cost by Company
In addition to factors such as where you live and your pet’s breed, the pet insurance provider you choose can have a significant impact on how much you end up paying.
Here are the average costs of dog insurance and cat insurance for some of the most popular pet insurance providers:
Average Dog Insurance Cost
|Dog Insurance Provider||Average Monthly Cost|
|Pets Best||$27 per month|
|Healthy Paws||$48 per month|
|Fetch||$39 per month|
|FIGO||$37 per month|
|Embrace||$52 per month*|
|Petco||$77 per month|
|ASPCA||$53 per month*|
|Nationwide||$38 per month|
|Trupanion||$56 per month|
|Prudent Pet||$58 per month|
|National average||$49 per month|
*Average prices are based on accident and illness policies for a 2-year-old mixed breed dog with a deductible of $250, reimbursement of 80% and unlimited or max available limit where applicable in the zip code 43221.
Average Cat Insurance Cost
|Cat Insurance Provider||Average Monthly Cost|
|Pets Best||$16 per month|
|Healthy Paws||$19 per month|
|Fetch||$26 per month|
|FIGO||$10 per month|
|Embrace||$23 per month*|
|Petco||$38 per month|
|ASPCA||$27 per month*|
|Nationwide||$18 per month|
|Trupanion||$35 per month|
|Prudent Pet||$25 per month|
|National average||$29 per month|
*Average prices are based on accident and illness policies for a 3-year-old mixed medium hair breed cat with a deductible of $250, reimbursement of 80% and unlimited or max available limit where applicable in the zip code 43221.
Comparing the cost of pet insurance for different plans and different providers is a great way to find a good deal. Two companies may have vastly different prices even though they offer roughly the same coverage. You will likely find that you can save a lot of money by doing a little research.
Finding the Lowest Cost
Finding a pet insurance plan that provides the coverage you want at a price you feel comfortable paying is certainly possible—but you may need to do some digging to find a good fit. We know it can be daunting to figure out which factors you should consider when searching for the lowest pet insurance cost. You’re likely to get the most out of a pet insurance plan when you follow some helpful guidelines:
1. Compare Plans and Prices
Since prices can vary widely from one provider to another, it’s a good idea to compare quotes from multiple companies. In addition to looking at price differences, pay attention to the types of coverage offered by different companies.
2. Customize Your Plan
A good way to keep costs low without sacrificing service is to customize your plan so that it covers what you need most while staying within your monthly budget. If you’re not sure what type of coverage you need, we recommend a plan with a $250 to $500 deductible, 80% to 90% reimbursement rate and a minimum $10k annual limit for dogs and a minimum $5k annual limit for cats—but keep in mind that you may have specific needs that differ from this guideline. Play around with your options to find the plan that feels like the best fit.
3. Take Advantage of Discounts
Most providers offer discounts that can help lower the cost of pet insurance. You may find multi-pet insurance plans, pet insurance wellness plan add-ons that cover spaying and neutering costs or discounts for military service, microchipping and employee benefits. Look into every discount that’s available before you enroll in a plan—discounts can be as much as 10% or even 20%.
4. Enroll Early
Start looking for pet insurance as soon as you bring your pet home. The younger and healthier your pet is when you enroll them, the lower your monthly pet insurance cost is likely to be. Enrolling in an insurance plan right away also ensures that your pet has emergency protection from the beginning.
5. Choose One Provider and Stick with Them
Once you’ve done your research and found a plan that feels like a good choice, try to stay with that plan for the duration of your pet’s life. Frequently switching insurance plans can end up costing you money instead of helping your budget, and it has the potential to create issues with pre-existing conditions.
How Do Companies Come Up with Rates?
How much does pet insurance cost for someone who has your same type of pet but lives in a different zip code? As you compare pet insurance prices, you may be surprised to learn that the cost of pet insurance can vary greatly not just from one company to another, but from one locale to another.
The cost of living in each area influences the cost of veterinary care and pet insurance. Other factors also play a part in the big differences you’re likely to find among pet insurance plans. Some of the most common factors that affect pet insurance cost include:
If you live in an area where gas, food and rent are more expensive than the national average, you’ll probably end up paying more for pet insurance too. You can get an idea of the average cost of pet insurance in your area by finding out where your city ranks according to the cost of living index.
This index can be used to determine how expensive it is to live in a particular place, with 100 given as the average for a U.S. city. Some locales exceed 100 and are considered to have a high cost of living, whereas others are below 100 and are said to have a low cost of living. For instance, the cost of living in New York City is 209—more than twice the cost of living in an average city with a score of 100. Meanwhile, the cost of living in Omaha is about 95.
By this index, we can see that living in New York City is more than twice as expensive as living in Omaha. If you live in New York City, therefore, you can expect to pay about twice as much for pet insurance as someone who lives in Omaha.
Type and breed:
In general, you’ll pay a higher monthly premium to insure a dog than to insure a cat. Not only do dogs tend to be bigger than cats—and therefore a little more expensive to treat—they also tend to get into more trouble. Between swallowing socks, chasing cars and picking fights with surly skunks, dogs are simply prone to getting themselves into scrapes that require medical attention.
Additionally, your pet’s breed can affect the cost of pet insurance. For example, some breeds—such as German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers—are at increased risk of hip dysplasia, while Dachshunds have a higher-than-average likelihood of developing intervertebral disc disease. Some dogs are predisposed to certain types of cancer.
The higher a breed’s risk of developing a genetic disease, the higher your monthly pet insurance cost may be—especially if your pet is at risk of a disorder that’s known to have a costly treatment plan.
It’s reasonable to assume that, as your pet ages, they’ll experience more illnesses than they did when they were young. As a result, an insurance provider will charge a higher premium for an older pet, particularly one that did not have coverage through that company when they were younger. It’s another reason why you should find an insurance plan for your pet while they’re young and stick with the same plan throughout their life.
You’ll have a lot of coverage options to choose from when you’re deciding on a pet insurance plan. The coverage option most frequently chosen by pet parents is accident and illness coverage, though you’ll also have the option to select accident-only coverage. You can further customize your plan—and therefore adjust the monthly cost of pet insurance—through the selections you make regarding your deductible, annual limit and co-pay.
The provider you choose can have a significant impact on the cost of pet insurance. You may find that one company charges nearly twice as much to insure your pet as another company, even when both providers offer roughly the same coverage. One of the reasons for this lack of consistency across pet insurance providers is that each company has different criteria—such as breed and age—that they consider most important when they’re deciding on pet insurance cost.
One company may favor younger pets while another company favors older pets. Two different companies may not agree on what they consider the most high-risk dog breeds to insure. Comparing pet insurance providers and the types of coverage they offer can help you make the best decision for your own unique pet.
Affordable Pet Insurance Plans
The cost of pet insurance should be seen as an investment in your pet’s well-being, and we believe that having proper pet insurance coverage should decrease your stress, not add to it. Having the right insurance plan can remove uncertainty and save you money in the long run. And if your pet experiences an unforeseen illness or injury, pet insurance coverage can save you from having to make a very difficult decision about your pet’s future at an emotionally fraught time.
While pet insurance may seem like just one more expense on top of all the other costs that come with pet parenting, we believe that the benefits of pet insurance far outweigh its potential financial burden. Instead of going without pet insurance, find a plan that works for your budget. Not only will you be protected in case of a veterinary emergency, but you may also end up saving money on more routine services such as annual veterinary visits or medications. Even pet parents on a tight budget should be able to find a plan that helps them feel protected. While it’s natural to ask, “How much does pet insurance cost?” you may also wish to consider the potential cost of not insuring your pet.
Pet Insurance Plans for Any Budget
Some pet parents on a limited budget are curious about finding low-cost or no-cost pet insurance. Unlike similar assistance that is available for personal health insurance, this type of insurance is not currently available for the pets of lower-income families. Though you won’t find free pet insurance, you can keep your costs as low as possible when you follow a few helpful guidelines:
- Decide on a plan The three main types of pet insurance plans are major medical (also called accident and illness), accident-only and wellness. Some providers offer additional levels of coverage beyond these three basics. Decide which plan is best for your pet and whether you can budget for the cost of the pet insurance plan you’ve chosen. Major medical insurance plans have the highest up-front costs but are also the most popular due to the fact that they’ll pay up to 90% of veterinary bills for approved emergencies, accidents, illnesses and medications. Wellness plans can save you money on checkups and preventive care, but in most cases, you’ll need to have a major medical plan before you can purchase this type of coverage. Accident-only plans are the most affordable, but the services they cover are limited and you can’t be reimbursed for your pet’s illnesses or routine care. Though your pet insurance cost may be lower with an accident-only plan, you can end up spending more money for veterinary services.
- Insure immediately Choose an insurance plan for your pet as quickly as possible. and try to keep your pet on the same plan for their whole life. This will ensure that there are no gaps in coverage and that your pet is protected in case of any pre-existing conditions.
- Prevent coverage gaps Don’t let your insurance plan lapse. Choose a plan with a premium that you can comfortably pay each month, regardless of your pet’s current health status.
Whichever pet insurance plan you’re drawn to, the best way to make sure you’re getting the coverage you want with the lowest cost of pet insurance for your budget is to compare plans. Use our site to conduct a side-by-side comparison of some of the top pet insurance companies until you find the coverage that feels right for you and your pet.