If you're curious about dog insurance, you're not alone. Every year, more and more pet owners purchase dog insurance plans to help protect their four-legged family members and make veterinary healthcare costs more affordable.
This Q&A covers everything you need to know about plans, coverage benefits, rates, prices, and online purchasing tips.
What Is Dog Insurance and How Does It Work?
Dog insurance is a type of medical insurance for dog and puppy members of your family. Just like us humans, pets can rack up big bills if they get sick or injured. Luckily, veterinary pet insurance (VPI) exists to help you cover the cost of veterinary surgeries, treatments and procedures that your pet might someday need.
The best plans offer a variety of deductibles, premiums, annual policy limits, coverage benefits, and features to suit any budget.
Depending on your policy, pet insurance can reimburse you for up to 100% of covered claims at the vet, including unexpected costs like accidents and injuries. Some plans also cover routine wellness care.
Plus, pet insurance covers you at home or while traveling, so you can take your dog to any licensed veterinarian of your choice, including many emergency or specialty clinics.
Is Dog Insurance Affordable?
Yes! Pet insurance is very affordable, with many policies available for less than $1 a day. Dog insurance is more affordable than many people health insurance options, but the benefits can be just as valuable. Many serious pet injuries and illnesses can cost four or even five figures to treat. But with working pet insurance coverage, you don't have to worry about whether you can afford it. Instead, you can focus on helping your dog or puppy get better.
Do I Need Pet Insurance for My Dog?
No, it's optional. While pet insurance can help you offset the high costs of an emergency vet bill, it's not necessary for any pet owners in the USA or Canada to purchase or maintain pet health insurance. Local US laws may require pet owners to license or register their pets, but insurance isn't one of those requirements.
How Do I Get Dog Insurance?
Here on PetInsuranceFinder it's easy to request cheap dog insurance quotes from multiple recommended companies, get instant customized rate quotes, read the reviews, and buy your policy safely and securely online.
You can search for and compare coverage by entering your ZIP code and supplying the following information for your pet:
- Pre-existing conditions (if any)
- Vet's name and contact information
After reviewing your PetInsuranceFinder quotes, choose the site of the most appropriate provider and complete your purchase online with a credit card to lock in your rate and receive your new insurance policy. 90% of companies will provide insurance for at least one year.
When Is the Best Time to Buy Dog Insurance?
Many vets recommend insuring your dogs when they're young and healthy. Puppies can get insurance from most companies as soon as they turn 8 weeks old. This is also the period when you'll be able to get the cheapest and best price.
If your dog is no longer a puppy, you can still get insurance. Even many senior dogs can still sign up. However, the best time to buy pet insurance for puppies and dogs is before you need it. That's because dog insurance is designed to help cover the cost of future health problems. Pre-existing illnesses and injuries won't be covered by any provider. So the sooner you enroll in coverage the more likely future illnesses and injuries will be covered.
What Does Dog Insurance Cover?
What's included with your dog insurance coverage can vary based on the type of plan. Some costs may be reimbursed 100%, while other covered expenses may be reimbursed at 20–90% of the cost. Plus, all plans list exclusions for what isn't covered, so it's important to make a careful comparison of dog insurance coverage before making your choice.
The three main types of plans are:
- Accident and illness
While specific coverage will differ between companies, here's what you can expect from each type.
Accident-Only Plan Coverage
Most accident-only plans cover injury treatments, such as emergency care, hospitalization and surgery, for a dog that suffers a cut, wound, fracture, poisoning, snake bite or other injury. Accident coverage can be a beneficial low-cost choice if your dog is accident-prone. However, accident-only plans don't cover costly treatments for cancer, diabetes, allergies, or digestive issues that are covered by the accident and illness plans.
Accident and Illness Plan Coverage
Most pet owners opt for more comprehensive accident and illness dog insurance coverage in case a dog becomes sick unexpectedly or gets into an accident. Accident and illness plans also frequently cover X-rays, diagnostics, prescription medications, specialty care, alternative therapies, chronic conditions, hereditary conditions and congenital conditions, as long as these aren't pre-existing conditions.
: any congenital, hereditary or chronic conditions that have been documented by your vet before you bought insurance or during the plan's waiting period after sign-up will most likely be considered a pre-existing condition and won't be covered.
Wellness Plan Coverage
Wellness plan coverage can be added to most accident and illness plans to help you cover planned vet expenses, such as annual checkups, preventative care, vaccinations and dental cleaning.
Dog Insurance Coverage Exclusions
When you're shopping for insurance, make sure to take into account what's not covered by a plan so that you're prepared. While some plans may cover accidents involving the teeth, most plans don't include dog dental insurance and won't cover preventative care like dental cleanings. Pre-existing or hereditary conditions, dental disease, behavior issues, and hip dysplasia are other common exclusions.
Also note that pet health insurance is different than pet business insurance, so your plan won't include dog trainer insurance, dog grooming insurance, dog walkers and sitters insurance, or dog daycare and boarding insurance.
Are There Any Interesting Statistics on Dog Insurance?
Yes! Here are 10 interesting statistics about dog and puppy insurance:
- More and more pets are getting covered, with policy numbers up 17.1% since last year.
- The number of insured pets jumped from 680,000 in 2008 to 1.8 million in 2018.
- 4 out of 5 pet insurance customers is a dog or puppy parent.
- 9 out of 10 policy purchases is a comprehensive accident and illness coverage plan.
- Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, and small mixed breeds are some of the cheapest to insure.
- Great Danes are the most expensive breed to insure, at about 60% more than average.
- English Bulldogs, Doberman Pinschers, and Boxers can also have higher rates.
- 1 in 30 pet owners will face a bill of $1,000 or more this year.
- The average cost of an emergency vet bill in the US is $1,500.
- Almost every pet owner will face a vet bill of $2,000 to $4,000 for their pet at least once.
What Should I Pay Attention to When Buying Pet Insurance?
When you do comparisons of pet insurance plans, you'll quickly see there are only a few important variables that you have to pay attention to:
- Direct pay or reimbursement percentage model
- Plan deductible
- Reimbursement percentage
- Annual policy limit
- Vet exam fees coverage
- Waiting period
By comparing these options, you'll be able to find the perfect match of the coverage your pet needs for the best price. Here's what to know about each option:
Direct Pay or Reimbursement Percentage Model
There are two ways you can access your dog insurance coverage. The standard model is by reimbursement, where you will pay your vet for care, submit your itemized bill to your insurer, and be reimbursed by check or direct deposit. Processing time is usually 2–7 days.
Direct pay is a newer alternative for accessing coverage, offered by Trupanion and Pets Best. Direct pay dog insurance pays the reimbursable portion of your bill directly to your vet so that you don't have to pay the full bill up front and wait to be reimbursed.
All plans have a deductible that you will pay towards your pet's vet bill before your coverage kicks in. Deductibles can be either per year or per incident and range from $0 to $1,000. Choosing a higher deductible plan will lower your monthly premium.
All plans will specify a reimbursement percentage, a percentage of the bill that will be reimbursed by the insurer for covered care, less the deductible. This percentage is usually between 50% and 100%. Choosing a higher percentage provides more insurance coverage, so expect the premium to be higher if that's your pick.
Annual Policy Limits
Pet insurance plans offer a choice of coverage limits that the insurer will pay in medical bills each year. Once you reach the plan's limit, you'll have to pay the remainder out of pocket. Common limits you can choose include $2,500, $5,000, $10,000 per year in benefits, as well as plans with unlimited payouts. Choosing a lower annual policy limit will give you a lower monthly premium, but may result in higher out-of-pocket costs.
Vet Exam Fees Coverage
Vet exam fees can range from $25 to as much as $250. Some plans will cover them, but many do not. In order not to be disappointed by the bill, you should make sure you know your own vet's fees and whether your choice of plan will cover them. PetFirst is one pet insurer that offers exam fee coverage for regular vet visits, specialist care and emergency vet fees.
All pet insurance plans have waiting periods, meaning that immediate coverage isn't available in most cases. Typical waiting periods include:
- Accident Coverage: Varies from 0 days (no waiting period) up to 14 days.
- Illness Coverage: Typically 14 days after signing up.
- Cruciate Ligaments Coverage: Varies from 14 days up to 12 months.
- Hip Dysplasia Coverage: Varies from 14 days up to 12 months.
Like all things, there are pros and cons to having or not having pet insurance:
Dogs Insurance Pros
Dogs Insurance Cons
- It's easy to shop and compare. Dog insurance is less complex than people insurance, with simple policies, easy comparison, free quotes, and fast, secure online purchasing.
- Starting premiums are very affordable. If you've got a healthy puppy and choose a simple plan with light coverage, you can easily protect your pet for less than $1 a day.
- Deductibles are affordable. Most plan deductibles are very reasonably priced, so you don't have to pay thousands out of pocket before your coverage kicks in.
- Your can choose any vet. You don't have to worry about "out of network" providers with pet insurance or whether the vet you choose will "accept" your plan.
- Your dog can get the best care. With insurance, you don't have to choose between your savings and your pet's life. You know you can give your pet the best care possible.
- Premiums can be higher for older pets. While puppy coverage is cheap, senior dog coverage can get expensive, so you'll have to decide if coverage makes sense for you.
- Getting reimbursed takes time. Unless you purchase a direct pay pet insurance policy, you'll have to pay your vet up front and then wait to get your covered portion reimbursed.
- Most insurance doesn't cover everything. You can still expect to pay about 20% of your pet's medical expenses out of pocket.
- Most coverage has limitations. Annual policy limits are generally high for most plans, but if your pet does get seriously injured or sick, you could max out your coverage.
- You may not save on costs if your pet is healthy. Healthy pets are happy pets, but they don't use their insurance very often. That said, the main benefit of pet insurance is the peace of mind you'll get knowing your dog will be taken care of in an emergency.
How Do Dog Insurance Claims Work?
In most cases, the dog insurance claims process works the same way no matter which plan you have.
- When your dog is ill or injured, the first step is getting your pet the medical care he needs.
- Make an appointment with your vet or go to the nearest animal hospital if it's an emergency.
- If it's not an emergency and you want to know for sure how much insurance will reimburse, you can contact your insurer about claims pre-authorization beforehand.
- If your plan is a reimbursement percentage model, pay your veterinarian and get a copy of your itemized bill.
- Then fill out your insurer's claim form and submit it along with your itemized bill. Most insurers accept claims on their website, or via email, fax or postal mail.
- Your insurer will review the claim and send you reimbursement with check or direct deposit. Most claims are processed in 2–7 days.
- If more information is needed to process the claim, your insurer will contact you or your vet.
- The only difference for direct pay insurance will be that your insurer will be reimbursed directly after you submit the claim.
How Much Does Dog Insurance Cost Per Month?
The average cost of dog insurance in the USA is $22 per month. But costs can vary. Some companies offer specials for your first month or for insuring your puppy when he's young. Other factors may affect the price you pay, including your dog's age, breed, location, and type of coverage.
Puppies of any breed get the best rates, often under $35 a month. However, rates increase with age, just like with people. The same dog may cost $80 or more to insure as a less healthy senior pet.
Breed can also affect cost, because some breeds are more likely to develop certain health problems. For example, it may cost a few dollars more to insure your Bulldog or Golden Retriever, compared to your Beagle or German Shepherd.
Your location could affect your pet insurance rate. If you live in a high-cost area where vet care is more expensive, it could mean your monthly premium will be higher.
The type of coverage also affects how much you pay. Accident-only plan coverage is the cheapest, at an average of about $16 per month. The more comprehensive accident and illness plans cost about $45 a month on average because they offer a lot more coverage.
The best way to find out what it will cost to insure your four-legged family member is to request your quote on PetInsuranceFinder. You'll be able to find out exactly what the level of coverage you need to protect your dog will cost.
Is Pet Insurance Easy to Buy?
Yes! It's easy to buy medical insurance for dog and puppy members of your family with PetInsuranceFinder. Just enter your ZIP code to begin your search!
Here on PetInsuranceFinder you can get instant customized quotes from multiple recommended providers, read the reviews, and buy your policy safely and securely online. It's important to protect your online security while shopping for cheap quotes, so PetInsuranceFinder only shows you rates from the best-recommended companies.
As a pet owner, you hope your dog won't ever get seriously sick or injured, but it's something you can't predict. Knowing your pet is protected with insurance can help. By buying insurance, you can help ensure your dog enjoys a long and healthy life right by your side.