Pet Insurance Cost

The Cost of Pet Insurance

The cost of veterinary care has risen substantially over recent years, reflecting the advancements and improvements that have been made in medical technology and treatments for pets. Not only have pet treatment options increased, however, but today’s pet owners are more likely to consider their pets a family member or companion and spend money to diagnose and treat an illness or injury. In the past, it was more common to simply euthanize the pet rather than pay for extensive veterinary care.

Pet owners spent $24.5 billion on veterinary medicine in 2006, which is more than double what was spent 10 years ago, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

If your pet becomes ill or injured and you choose to treat the problem, the cost of veterinary treatment can run into the thousands of dollars. The list of expenses for dealing with an illness or injury includes a wide range of items, such as X-rays, MRI’s, blood work, hospitalization fees, and prescription medications. For these unexpected situations, pet insurance can help you defray the cost of expensive veterinary care.

Pet Insurance Premiums

Fortunately, pet insurance can be quite affordable. The price of pet plans will vary depending on the type of policy you choose, but basic accident coverage can start at less than $10 a month. Pet owners who choose the most comprehensive plans and routine care coverage will pay more, often up to $50 or more per month. On average, most pet insurance health plans cost between $20 and $40 per month.

The cost of pet insurance is determined by many factors, including:

  • Pet Insurer
  • Type of coverage
  • Policy limits
  • Geographical location
  • Type of pet (dog or cat)
  • Breed of pet
  • Sex of pet
  • Age of pet
  • Whether pet is spayed or neutered

Type of Coverage

The type of coverage - accident, illness, or routine care - affects the cost of pet insurance. Find out what is covered and what is not covered. As with all types of insurance, the greater the amount of coverage, the higher the premium amount. If you absorb a greater share of the veterinary care, you will be able to lower the premium. You can make pet insurance more affordable by choosing not to cover routine care.

Policy Limits

The policy limits - deductible, co-pay, incident cap, annual cap - affects the cost of pet insurance. Find out how much you will have to pay before the insurance company reimburses expenses, and what the maximum amount paid per incident or illness as well as annual caps. As with all types of insurance, you will be able to lower the premium if you absorb a greater share of the veterinary care. You can make pet insurance more affordable by choosing a higher deductible, higher co-pay, and lower annual maximum.

Geographical Location

Where you live can affect the premium, since veterinarian costs vary significantly between areas. The cost of veterinary care will usually be higher in a big city than in a small town, which affects reimbursement rates. Some insurance companies will base pet insurance premiums on either your state or zip code to more accurately reflect veterinarian cost in your home area.

Pet Insurance

Type of Pet

On average, dogs have more injuries and illnesses than cats and tend to visit the veterinarian more often. Because of the increased risk, it costs more to insure a dog than a cat.

Breed of Pet

The breed of your pet can affect the cost of insurance or coverage. Some breeds are predisposed to certain genetic conditions, which may increase the premium amount. Some insurance companies may simply exclude certain illnesses or conditions that are considered hereditary within a breed.

Age of Pet

The cost of pet insurance typically increases with age. The best rates are usually given to pets who are 8 weeks old thru 5 years old. Some insurers will not write new policies for older pets. For pets that are insured at a younger age, the premium amount may be increased as the pet gets older.

Spayed and Neutered Pets

Dogs and cats that are spayed or neutered will often receive a lower premium as they tend to have a lower risk of certain diseases and illnesses.

Money Spent on Pets

Money Spent on Pets
Source: The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (Expenses in United States 2007)

Costs of Pet Insurance

The costs associated with pet insurance will vary from plan to plan, but some of the common expenditures to consider are:

  • Premium amount (monthly or annually)
  • Processing fee (monthly plans)
  • Deductible (approximately $100, but varies by company)
  • Co-pay (per visit, per incident, by percent or benefit schedule)
  • Percent paid (varies by company, average is 70% to 100%)
  • Caps (per incident, per policy period, per lifetime)

Pet Insurance Discounts

When comparing pet plans, find out if the insurance company offers discounts. If you are eligible for any of the applicable items, you will be able to lower the premium for the pet plan.

Some of the discounts offered for pet insurance:

  • Annual payment discount
  • Multiple pet discount
  • Microchip discount
  • Service dog discount
  • Employee group discount

Pet Insurance - Cost vs. Coverage

The cost of pet insurance should not be the only determining factor in choosing a pet insurance plan. The right plan for you will be a balance between the amount of coverage that meets your needs and premium amount that fits your budget.