Pet insurance helps pay your pet’s medical bills, but it works differently from human health insurance. Instead of paying a copay upfront, pet insurance works with a reimbursement model. You pay a monthly or annual premium for your pet’s plan, and you can choose any licensed veterinary clinic or hospital. You pay for veterinary services out of pocket and then submit a claim to your insurer, which reimburses you.
What Pet Insurance Covers
Insurance provider policies differ, but most offer the following coverage options:
- Accident-only coverage: This plan covers accidental injuries (broken bones, injuries, etc.) and other emergency care.
- Illness and accident coverage: This plan type usually covers diagnosis and treatment costs for major conditions (cancer, endocrine disorders, some orthopedic injuries, etc.).
- Wellness coverage: Many pet insurance providers offer wellness riders to add to accident and illness plans. These riders may cover preventive services, such as:
- Annual wellness check-ups
- Routine blood work
- Spay and neuter procedures
- Dental cleanings
- Flea, tick and heartworm prevention and testing
Benefits of Pet Insurance
Quality veterinary care, especially for emergencies, can get expensive. Pet insurance can help you avoid paying large out-of-pocket costs for maintaining your pet’s health. Owning a pet comes with unexpected illnesses or injuries, and pet insurance can protect your bank account from unplanned veterinary care expenses, removing some of the worry pet parents have about being able to afford vet care.
Drawbacks of Pet Insurance
While pet health insurance offers many benefits, it has a few drawbacks. Pet owners pay a monthly or annual premium to have insurance for their pet, no matter how little they use the policy. Also, most insurance policies have a deductible, which is the amount you pay out of pocket before your pet insurance starts paying for eligible expenses.
Pet insurance doesn’t cover all treatments, conditions or services. Exclusions often include pre-existing conditions, hereditary or congenital conditions, elective procedures and behavioral therapy.
Most policies have limits on the amount they will pay over a specified period. Some pet insurance providers won’t cover older pets or certain breeds — or will charge significantly higher premiums for them.
Pet Insurance Plan Examples
Several aspects of your pet affect your pet insurance costs. Among them:
- Your pet’s age
- Your pet’s breed
- Your location
- The deductible you choose
Premiums and deductibles are inversely related — to get a lower monthly premium, you’ll need to select a higher deductible. This means you’ll have to pay more out of pocket before your benefits kick in.
Below are sample quotes to get a sense of the cost of pet insurance from Lemonade Pet Insurance for three pets in Roanoke, Virginia. These pet insurance premiums are based on policies with a $250 deductible, an 80% reimbursement rate and a $20,000 annual limit.