What it the Cost of Pet Insurance?
21 June, 2018
By: Lisa Fimberg
When you are looking into purchasing a pet insurance policy for your dog or cat, you want to get the best coverage at the best rate. After all, price is always a big factor in anything we might purchase even if we want only the best for our pets. And pet insurance can get expensive depending on the policy and coverage. Therefore, what is the typical cost of pet insurance?
How much does pet insurance cost?
Pet insurance policies generally range from $10 to $100 a month. The average monthly premium range for dogs is from $25 to $70 and from $10 to $40 for cats. Dogs tend to be more expensive than cats.
When you look into the different pet insurance policies, there are many different factors that can affect your monthly premium rates. The cost of your plan is determined by the type of pet you own, their breed, where you live, and, of course, the type of coverage you choose. And then, the deductible you choose and the reimbursement percentage will also determine the price and rate of your premium.
The deductible in a pet insurance policy is the amount is the amount you pay (standard is around $250) before your pet insurance policy starts to pay. Once you’ve met your deductible, your pet insurance plan kicks in to reimburse you for 90% of all medical bills (assuming you’ve chosen a reimbursement level of 90%). When the year is over, the deductible resets. Choosing higher deductibles and lower reimbursement percentages will result in lower monthly premiums.
Reimbursement is the percent of the vet bill your insurance will pay. Most plans will allow you to customize the reimbursement options and there are 3 choices:
Actual cost means that, once you have satisfied your deductible, you will be paid a percentage (i.e. 80 – 90%) of your actual veterinarian bill. Most plans that use this model so that you can choose your percentage. This type of plan will typically save you more money as it gives you more flexibility.
Benefit schedules are usually not the preferred choice as they set a maximum limit that your pet can receive. So if your dog, for example, has two accidents in one year, you might end up paying the difference out of pocket.
“Usual and customary” reimbursement is only a little better but it also has a limit on payments.
What is a co-payment?
A co-payment (or co-pay), is the percentage of the total medical expenses you must pay once your deductible limit has been reached. For example, if your veterinary bill is $3,000 and you have a deductible of $500 and a co-pay of 20%, you would pay your $500 deductible and a co-pay of $500 (20 % off the $2,500 balance). Your insurer will then reimburse you $2,000 to cover the rest of the cost of treatment.
There are three types of reimbursement models that most companies offer that can affect price of your policy:
Per incident refers to the maximum the provider will pay out for a single illness, condition or injury. If you see the vet multiple times for the same procedure, this can add up and you might reach your limit too quickly.
Annual limits are how much they will pay in total for the entire year regardless of reason. Annual deductibles only need to be met for the year, so choose a dollar amount that best fits in with your budget. Annual limits tend to be less expensive and only need to be paid once.
Lifetime limits are the maximum they will pay over the life of the pet. As with deductibles and reimbursement, plans often let you pick the annual or lifetime limit, thereby affecting the amount of your monthly deductible. The best companies offer unlimited benefits with no per incident, annual, or lifetime limits. There premiums may be a bit higher but you can save money in the long run.
Pet type, age, and breed will affect the price of your coverage
Typically, dogs are more expensive than cats to insure. Some pet insurance companies extend their coverage to other types of pets as well, i.e. birds, rabbits, reptiles, and all different types of exotic pets. Nationwide is one of the few that offers coverage for exotic pets.
Pets become more expensive as they get older because they are more susceptible to illness and injury. Some pet insurance companies put age limits on coverage and will not allow you to enroll a pet if it has passed the maximum age. The reality is that whatever coverage you choose for your older dog or cat is going to be more expensive. The best time to purchase pet insurance is while the dog or cat is young before any conditions occurs.
The cost of pet insurance also fluctuates significantly depending on the breed of your dog or cat. Different breeds have different health risks. Some breeds are notoriously susceptible to specific illnesses. For example, boxers and bulldogs with the smooshed faces tend to have breathing issues and their rates can run a bit higher. Even cats such as ragdolls or Himalayans tend to have kidney and hip issues making them more expensive to insure.
Type of coverage can also affect the price:
Every pet insurance companies offers different types of plans that can affect the price. Make sure to look through each specific policy to find out exactly what is covered.
Comprehensive – This is the most popular and most expensive option. Comprehensive plans cover all manner of accident, injury, surgery, hospital stays, medications, diagnostic tests, lab work, etc. With one or two exceptions these plans typically do not cover routine exams and preventative care. While more expensive, they do offer the best coverage.
Accident Only – This is a cheaper option but only covers unexpected accidents and injuries and not illness.
Wellness – Pet insurance companies are increasingly offering a wellness component, either as an add- on to the comprehensive plan, or as a stand-alone plan itself. Wellness plans typically are not very expensive and tend to cost about the same as an accident only plan. Wellness coverage includes routine exams, vaccination, flea/heartworm prevention, and other preventative measures.
Location is also a big factor in your pet insurance rates
A big factor in determining your pet insurance premium is where you live. Just like housing and the cost of living varies depending on the city you live in, veterinary procedures such as hip dysplasia surgery will vary significantly by state. This exact surgery can cause twice as much in Los Angeles or New York City as it would be in Wisconsin. And most pet insurance providers pay out on percentages of the actual vet bill so the average cost of procedures in your area will be reflected in the monthly premium offered.
Below are some of the top pet insurance companies and their average premiums.
1. Healthy Paws
The standard plan averages $39 a month.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs is $33 and for cats is $17.
Healthy Paws also offers an annual deductible range of $100, $250, $500 or $750. You can choose the level of deductible, which can help you control your premium costs.
Read all about Healthy Paws and their pricing
Petplan’s standard plan averages $31 a month.
The flexible deductible schedule which allows you to choose between $100 and $1,000 and not per condition can help you control costs and your premium.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs is $29 and for cats is $18.
Read all about Petplan and their pricing.
Embrace’s standard plan averages $66 a month.
Embrace offers a range of annual deductible options as specific as $100, $200, $300, up to $1,000 which helps.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs is $13 and for cats is $9.
Read all about Embrace and their pricing.
Nationwide’s standard plan averages $61 a month.
There is only one deductible option of $250 but you do have unlimited claims.
You can even bundle up your insurance with home and auto to get further discounts.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs is $35 and for cats is $19
Read all about Nationwide and their pricing.
Figo’s standard plan averages $36 a month.
Figo offers a 100% reimbursement at a higher premium. If you want to save on premium costs, you can choose between 70%, 80%, and 90% reimbursement. Figo reimburses based on the actual vet bill.
The starting monthly premiums for dogs is $52 and for cats is $29.
Read all about Figo and their pricing
Petfirst’s standard plan averages $65 a month.
Petfirst offers flexible deductibles of $50, $100, $250, and $500. Not many other pet insurance providers offer the option of such a low deductible.
The starting monthly premium for dogs is $17 and for cats $9 per month.
Read all about Petfirst and their pricing.
PetsBest’s standard plan averages $58 a month.
PetsBest does offer more flexibility among its deductible options and range from offers flexible deductibles of $50, $100, $250, $500 up to $1000
The starting monthly premiums for dogs is $30 and for cats $17 a month.
Read all about PetsBest and their pricing.
The best way to figure out the pricing for your dog or cat is to call the pet insurance companies, have your list of questions ready and compare and contrast pricing. Make sure to get a few quotes before deciding on a policy. Always ask how you can get a discount as sometimes it’s as simple as enrolling on-line or even having multiple pets!
There are many factors that will affect pricing and our comprehensive pet insurance guide can provide you will the terminology and what to look for in a pet insurance policy.