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How much does pet insurance cost?

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by Danni White ConsumerAffairs Research Team
vet holding stethoscope against dogs chest

Most pet owners who choose to purchase pet insurance pay between $10 and $50 per month, or $240 to $600 per year. Policies start as low as $10 a month and run as high as $100 a month, depending on the coverage. Your cost really comes down to a few factors: the type of pet you’re insuring, the pet's age, its breed, your location and the details of the policy.

In general, pet insurance is more expensive for dogs than for cats. Also, the older your pet is, the higher the cost to insure it. And if you have a policy with comprehensive coverage, a low deductible, a high reimbursement percentage or a high maximum payout, you can expect to pay more in premiums.

The most affordable pet insurance policies only cover care after accidents. Policies that also cover care for illnesses, genetic conditions, cancer and chronic conditions are higher in price. Certain companies offer optional, add-on coverage for routine vet visits and preventive care.

Factors that affect pet insurance

Several factors go into calculating the cost of pet insurance. When you request a quote, the provider asks questions about the type of animal you have, the pet's age and its breed. Certain breeds of pets, like English bulldogs and Bernese mountain dogs, are more likely to have health problems, so they are more expensive to insure. Similarly, older pets are more prone to illness, so premiums get higher as your pet ages. Your location can also affect your insurance rates.

On average, pet insurance costs between $20 and $50 per month but costs depend on coverage options.

Once the basics are covered, the next price factor is the type of policy. Accident-only coverage is the most affordable, covering treatment for things like broken bones, torn ligaments, swallowed objects and poisoning. A comprehensive policy is the most expensive option, covering care for accidents, illnesses, genetic conditions, congenital conditions and breed-specific conditions. Many companies cover behavioral therapy, alternative therapy and dental problems. They may also offer add-on coverage for preventive care, including routine checkups.

Your pet insurance cost also depends on the policy deductible, reimbursement rate and annual maximum benefit. A deductible is the cost you pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage begins; a lower deductible translates to a higher premium. The reimbursement rate is the percentage that the insurance company will reimburse you for a covered service; choosing a higher rate will increase the monthly cost. Some companies also offer options for annual maximum payouts, or the amount they'll spend yearly on benefits; if you select a higher annual benefit, the price goes up.

Pet insurance deductible

Pet insurance policies include a deductible that you have to meet before your plan's coverage begins. Plans have either an annual deductible or a per-incident deductible.

Pet insurance deductibles are very customizable. You can find policies with deductibles from $0 to $1,000. Choosing a higher deductible will reduce your monthly cost, but you'll have to pay more out of pocket before coverage applies. On the other hand, picking a lower deductible amount means you’ll pay more in premiums, but you’ll get reimbursed faster for your pet’s health care costs.

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    Pet insurance reimbursement

    Pet insurance works a little differently from other insurance products you may use. You can visit any licensed provider, and you pay for the services upfront. You then submit a claim to the insurance company for reimbursement. Most providers issue reimbursements fairly quickly — typically within one week to 30 days.

    The reimbursement rate is customizable at the time you purchase your policy. Reimbursement rates can range from 70% to 100% of eligible costs. Policies with a higher reimbursement rate are more expensive. Keep in mind that this reimbursement rate only applies after you meet your deductible and until you meet your plan's maximum benefit.

    Is pet insurance tax deductible?

    In most cases, the costs of caring for your pets are not tax deductible, even if they're medical costs. There are exceptions for service animals. According to the IRS at the time of publishing, you can deduct medical expenses for “maintaining” a guide dog or other service animal that assists someone with a visual or hearing impairment or who has a physical disability.

    Pet insurance discounts

    Many pet insurance providers offer discounts for qualifying customers. The most common type of discount is for insuring multiple pets. You may also save if you are an active or former service member. Ask each insurance provider what discounts it offers, and make sure any discount you qualify for is applied to your pet insurance quote.

    Bottom line: Is pet insurance expensive?

    Pet insurance costs are largely customizable to your needs, with plans available for most household budgets. Most pet owners pay somewhere between $20 and $50 per month to insure a pet. Get quotes from several top insurance providers, then compare the coverage options among them. With a little research, you can find a pet insurance policy that’s affordable and covers your pet's veterinary care needs.

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    Profile picture of Danni White
    by Danni White ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Danni White is committed to providing valuable resources designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions. Danni specializes in content strategy and development, with over a decade of professional writing and research experience.