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How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

Like most kinds of insurance, pet insurance costs vary by several factors: company and plan details; pet species, breed, age, size, and location; even additional financial considerations like deductibles, annual maximum payouts, and policy riders. 

For some, pet insurance makes sense; for others, it’s better to start a pet savings account. Let’s see where you fall on that spectrum.

Average Cost of Pet Health Insurance

Typically, pet insurance premiums range from $10 to more than $100 a month; most pet owners are looking at somewhere between $30 and $50 a month for an insurance plan with solid coverage.

Several factors contribute to your premium, including:

  • Your pets species, breed, and age. 
    • Older pets face higher insurance rates.
    • Usually dogs are more expensive to insure than cats.
    • Even your pet’s size can play a role in rates.
  • Where you live.
  • The pet insurance coverage package.

According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), industry-wide annual averages for pet health insurance premiums in 2018 in the U.S. were:

  • Accident and Illness Plans: $529 or $44/month
  • Accident-Only Plans: $177 or $15/month

Of course, that’s just a glimpse. Let’s dive in a little deeper.

>>MORE: What does Pet Insurance Cover?

>>MORE: Top Companies for Cheap Pet Insurance

Average Cost of Pet Insurance for Dogs

According to the NAPIA, in 2018 the average annual premiums for dog pet insurance were:

  • Accident and Illness Plans: $566 or $47/month
  • Accident-Only Plans: $190 or $16/month

Using the following profile, we obtained dog health insurance quotes from five popular pet insurance companies:

  • 4-year-old dog.
    • The NAPIA reports the average age of insured dogs in 2018 was 4.58 years.
  • Male.
  • Mixed breed.
  • Medium size. 
  • Residing in California.
CompanyPremiumDeductibleAnnual MaxSpecs
Embrace$37.97$500$10,000Covers accidents, illnesses, dental trauma, exam fees, prescription costs, etc.
ASPCA$38.64$250$5,000Covers accidents, illnesses, dental disease, behavioral issues, etc.
Petplan$48.72$500$5,000Covers accidents, illnesses, surgery, prescription costs, etc.
Nationwide$64.87$250N/A“Major Medical With Wellness” including accidents, illnesses, some preventative care, etc.
Trupanion$121.23$200N/ACovers accidents, illnesses, hereditary conditions, congenital conditions, etc.

Note that we chose either the lowest priced plan or the middle-of-the road plan; premiums will vary for different plans, choosing higher deductibles or annual maximums, and any riders or add-on coverage.

>>MORE: The Best Pet Insurance that Covers Pre-Existing Conditions

>>MORE: Compare the 4 Biggest Pet Insurance Companies

Average Cost of Pet Insurance for Cats

Once again looking to the NAPIA, in 2018 the average annual premiums for cat pet insurance were:

  • Accident and Illness Plans: $354 or $29.5/month
  • Accident-Only Plans: $141 or $12/month

To get cat health insurance quotes from five popular pet insurance companies, we used the following profile:

  • 5-year-old cat
    • The NAPIA reports the average age of insured cats in 2018 was 5.51 years.
  • Female.
  • Domestic short hair.
  • Residing in California.
CompanyPremiumDeductibleAnnual MaxSpecs
Embrace$19.52$500$10,000Covers accidents, illnesses, dental trauma, exam fees, prescription costs, etc.
ASPCA$23.20$250$5,000Covers accidents, illnesses, dental disease, behavioral issues, etc.
Petplan$28.31$500$5,000Covers accidents, illnesses, surgery, prescription costs, etc.
Nationwide$45.39$250N/A“Major Medical With Wellness” including accidents, illnesses, some preventative care, etc.
Trupanion$75.92$200N/ACovers accidents, illnesses, hereditary conditions, congenital conditions, etc.

As with the dog insurance plans, for cat insurance policies we chose either the lowest priced plan or the middle-of-the road plan and the final premiums will vary for different plans, choosing higher deductibles or annual maximums, and any riders or add-on coverage.

>>MORE: Pet Insurance that Covers Preventative Care

>>MORE: The Best Pet Insurance Companies

Additional Pet Insurance Costs

As we stated above, factors like your pet’s species, age, and even size can affect your final monthly premium and how much you spend overall; however, so can:

  • Riders and Add-On Coverage: Pet insurance doesn’t cover everything, but many companies offer policy riders, or add-on coverage, for an extra cost.
  • Deductibles: Typically, the lower your deductible the higher your premiums, and vice versa.
  • Annual Maximums: Your policy’s annual max is how much it will cover (either per year or per incident); after that, everything comes out of your pocket.

Be sure to get all these details from your insurance agent before you decide on a pet insurance policy.

>>MORE: Is There Pet Insurance With No Waiting Period?

Average Cost of Common Pet Treatments

As of 2018, researchers found that pet owners are spending between $9,000 and more than $13,000 on medical treatments over the course of their pet’s lifetime, and because pets are living longer these days — and becoming more and more part of the family — the researchers expect the pet insurance market will double.

The Healthy Paws Foundation dove into more than 500,000 pet insurance claims between June 2017 and June 2018 and found the following common accidents and illnesses in dogs and cats.

Top 10 Most Common Accidents & Illnesses in Dogs:

  • 1. Skin Conditions
  • 2. Stomach Problems
  • 3. Ear Infections
  • 4. Eye Conditions
  • 5. Pain
  • 6. Growths/Lumps
  • 7. Urinary Tract Infections
  • 8. Allergies
  • 9. Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  • 10. Cancer

Top 10 Most Common Accidents & Illnesses in Cats:

  • 1. Stomach Problems
  • 2. Urinary Tract Infections
  • 3. Skin Conditions
  • 4. Cancer
  • 5. Eye Conditions
  • 6. Ear Infections
  • 7. Pain
  • 8. Growths/ Lumps
  • 9. Foreign Body Obstruction
  • 10. Allergies

We share these because, odds are, you’ve either known someone with a pet that had one of these health problems or you yourself have had a dog or cat with one of these issues. So, while we’re not advocating for or against pet insurance, we are saying there’s a good chance your pet will experience some kind of accident or illness during its lifetime.

The trick is determining how much it’s going to cost you, and like most things, that varies depending on the exact skin condition, the exact type of cancer, the exact cause of the pain — you get the picture.

For example, treating your dog’s skin parasites (say, fleas or ringworm) could cost around $50 or more; treating your dog’s skin cancer could cost upwards of $6,000.

Likewise, treating your cat’s bacterial eye infection could run around $20 for ointment; removing your cat’s damaged eyeball might set you back around $2,000 or more. 

>>MORE: Find the Best Pet Dental Insurance

Pet Insurance vs. Savings Accounts

You might wonder if starting a pet care savings account is a better idea than buying a pet insurance policy. Maybe. There are a few things to consider, though.

Here are the pros and cons of Pet Savings Accounts:

Pros:

  • You aren’t bound to a monthly payment; if you need to skip a monthly deposit for financial reasons, you won’t lose your account.
  • There’s no middle man. You can pay for treatment directly from the account without waiting for reimbursement from the pet insurance company.
  • You might have a lucky pet who doesn’t need much if any medical treatment (aside from routine care), which will leave you with a nice nest egg when they pass.

Cons:

  • You’ll need self-discipline; it’s easy to let one month turn into six months.
  • It’s probably going to take a while to save up that kind of money; with a pet insurance account, even though you have to wait for reimbursement, you know it’s covered.
  • You might have an unlucky pet, and unless you manage to save enough to cover all those costs you could find yourself out of money mid-treatment.

>>MORE: Where to Find Exotic Pet Insurance?

Final Thoughts

  • Pet insurance policy premiums vary by company and policy as well as pet species, breed, age, size, and location. Your overall costs also can increase or decrease depending on your deductible, the annual max payout, and any riders or add-on coverages you choose.
  • Generally, dogs are more expensive to insure than cats, and purebreds are more expensive than mixed breeds.
  • There are both pros and cons to choose a pet savings account over a pet insurance policy.
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