Pet insurance helps cover the costs of your furry family member’s medical care—and it’s probably more in-budget than you’d think. At Lemonade, for example, a policy for a dog or a cat starts at $10/month. (Plus our affordable pet health insurance has won the approval of authorities like Money.com).
The cost of pet insurance coverage varies depending on several factors—including the coverage you choose, the breed and age of your furry family member, and where you live. It’s a small price to pay to be prepared for the unexpected.
Let’s cut through the complicated small print, and figure out once and for all how much pet insurance actually costs. But the truth is, the best way to get a sense for how much you’ll pay for pet insurance is to build a quote. Click below to get started. It’s fast, free, and dare we say it’s even kind of fun.
Here’s what we’ll discuss:
- The average cost of pet insurance
- Factors that impact your pet insurance quote
- How you can lower a pet insurance premium
- How pet insurance claims work
- Pet insurance-approved vets
- How pet insurance can reduce your vet costs
- What the cost of pet insurance doesn’t cover
What’s the average cost of pet health insurance?
The price of pet insurance plans can vary significantly, depending on a bunch of different factors, so we decided to check rates for a typical cat and a typical dog at six different insurance companies.
The average cost of cat insurance
First, we got a pet insurance quote for a 2-year-old, short-haired cat in Brooklyn, New York. We picked the base policy offered by six different pet insurance companies, and adjusted the coverages as much as we could to include a $250 deductible, 80% co-insurance, and the maximum annual limit available, with no add-ons or discounts.
In the case of a 5-year-old, Domestic Shorthair cat in New York City, you’ll pay $17.42 each month, with 80% co-insurance, an annual limit of $20,000 and annual deductible of $250.
Please note: we built these quotes to be as identical as possible, but there are a few coverage differences to note. For example, Healthy Paws only offered 80% co-insurance without an annual limit, and Trupanion only offered a 90% co-insurance option. We standardized the offerings as much as possible.
The average cost of cat insurance turned out to be about $25/month.
The average cost of dog insurance
For example, you’ll pay $56.17 each month for a 4-year-old Golden Retriever in Chicago, with 80% co-insurance, an annual limit of $20,000 and annual deductible of $250. If you want to add the Preventative package (to include a wellness exam, vaccinations and more) you’ll pay $66.50 each month. On average, Lemonade pet parents pay around $37 a month to keep their pups covered.
The average cost of dog insurance turned out to be $66/month.
What factors impact my pet insurance costs?
Several factors impact your pet insurance quote:
Cat vs. dog
Cats are usually cheaper to insure than dogs because medical costs are generally cheaper for cats. While cats live longer than dogs, and while both will require vaccinations and exam fees throughout their lives, cats tend to have fewer health problems. Many cats stay inside, so they’re less exposed to risks that could lead to an accident or an illness than a dog is. Dogs are also more prone to hereditary conditions like hip dysplasia or issues with a cruciate ligament.
As pet owners get older, they end up needing more health care… and the same is true for their pets. When you purchase pet insurance your pet’s age will impact your monthly premium.
Certain dog breeds and cat breeds are naturally more costly to take care of than others. So if you know your cat is more likely to develop a hereditary condition like asthma because she’s a Siamese, should you assume it will be considered a pre-existing condition? Not exactly.
Your pet may not show signs of these medical conditions at birth, or in the first few years of their life. But if you wait until they develop symptoms to get insured, the condition probably won’t be covered in your policy, which is a pretty big game-changer for pet owners who’ve got vet bills that treat a chronic condition.
Your pet insurance premium price can also change depending on where you live, since vet care is more expensive in some states than others. For example, medical costs in California are higher than they are in Tennessee.
That could also mean you’re being charged more for a vet visit. While this wouldn’t affect your monthly premium, it may affect how quickly you reach your annual limit, so make sure you customize your pet health insurance policy so it’s worth it for you.
How can I lower my pet insurance premium?
You might be able to lower your monthly premium by adjusting your co-insurance, deductible, and annual limit on your pet health insurance policy. We bet you’d appreciate an explanation of what those things all are…
Co-insurance (which is not the same thing as a co-pay) is the percentage of the total cost your insurance company will pay on a claim. So if the co-insurance you chose is 80%, then the company pays for 80% of covered costs when your pet gets veterinary care, and you pay the other 20%.
Keep in mind that this is applied to every claim. With Lemonade pet health insurance, for example, you can pick either a 70%, 80%, or 90% co-insurance.
Another way you participate in the cost of your claim is your deductible. You choose this amount—at Lemonade, it’s either $100, $250, or $500—when purchasing your policy and you have the option to change it once a year at your policy renewal.
The higher your deductible, the lower your monthly premium will be. Keep in mind: If you increase your deductible, it increases the amount you are responsible to pay out-of-pocket in the future. So before choosing a deductible, ask yourself—What amount of my pet’s medical expenses could I cover myself before I need help from my insurance company?
Your pet health insurance policy has an annual deductible, which means you can exhaust it in one big claim, or use it up over multiple claims throughout the course of a year.
Most pet insurance providers have a limit to the payouts they can provide, but the good news is, you get to pick what that limit is. At Lemonade, you can choose an annual limit anywhere between $5,000 to $100,000. Your medical bills for your fur fam can add up quickly, so make sure your insurance coverage is the right fit for your budget and your pet.
You might be able to lower your premium by 10% or 15% by making one of these changes, but don’t forget that while adjusting these reimbursement levels can help lower your monthly payments, it’ll mean you’re covered for less when an expensive vet bill rolls in.
How do pet insurance claims work?
Still confused about what actually happens when you file a claim? We’ve got you. Let’s walk through an example nice and slow.
- Your dog, Mogley, needs knee surgery. Poor guy!
- The procedure costs $6,000, so you file a claim for that amount
- Your policy includes 80% co-insurance and a $250 deductible
Here’s how your claim payment would be calculated:
($6,000 x 80%) – $250 = $4,550
Since your insurance company would pay $4,550 towards this claim, you and Mogley would be responsible for the remainder—in this case, $1,450 (that amount includes the $250 deductible).
Now let’s say a few months later you have to file another claim, after Mogley swallows a mysterious object. The resulting procedure costs $1,500. Since you already paid your deductible for the year, here’s what your claim calculation would be:
($1,500 x 80%) – $0 = $1,200
You’d only need to pay $300 for the procedure (the $1,500 bill minus the $1,200 your insurance company contributes). This is how your claims would work for the rest of the year until you reach your annual limit.
What vets are accepted by pet insurance?
Since Lemonade Pet works on a reimbursement basis, you can take your pet to any vet you’d like in the U.S., as long as they’re licensed to provide veterinary care in the state they operate in.
You’d pay the bill for your pet’s care or treatment upfront, then submit those receipts to us in the Lemonade mobile app for reimbursement. Our claims team will review to make sure the situation you’re claiming is covered under your policy, and reimburse you for the amount you’re eligible for on the claim.
How does pet insurance reduce my vet costs?
If you’ve ever gotten a vet bill, you already know that unexpected veterinary care can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Having pet health insurance means you can avoid having to ask yourself whether you can afford the treatment out-of-pocket that your dog or cat needs to live their best life.
So what are you getting for your monthly premium? A standard pet health insurance policy will help cover the costs of diagnostics, procedures, and medications to treat your dog or cat’s eligible accidents and illnesses.
That means something like a broken leg or an injury from a car accident could be covered, as would a mysterious stomach bug. If your pet has an injury, vomiting, diarrhea, infections, cancer, or many other illnesses we hope they never have to experience, a basic policy will help cover the costs of:
- Diagnostics: Blood tests, x-rays, MRI’s, CT scans and lab work
- Procedures: Outpatient, specialty and emergency care, hospitalization and surgery
- Medication: Injections or prescription meds
A basic policy will cover you for a lot of your pet’s health-related expenses, but not everything. That’s why pet insurance companies will offer add-ons.
What are add-ons?
If you want to maximize your coverage, Lemonade offers optional preventative care plans: the basic Preventative, Preventative+ and Puppy/Kitten Preventative (tailored for puppies/kittens and adult pets).
Lemonade’s Preventative package covers the stuff you’re probably already paying for like: your pet’s annual wellness exam, a heartworm or FeLV/FIV test, up to 3 vaccines, a parasite or fecal test, and a blood test.
There’s also the Preventative+ package, which covers routine care, like dental cleaning and heartworm medication. Also, if your pet is under 2 years old, Lemonade offers the Puppy/Kitten Preventative, which covers things like spaying/neutering, microchipping, and heartworm and flea medication.
In addition, Lemonade Pet offers five optional add-ons that you can mix and match on your policy. Here’s what they can help cover:
- Vet visit fees. Fees vets might charge for their time and labor when you bring your pet in after an accident or illness.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy, acupuncture, and hydrotherapy to help your pooch through the recovery process.
- Dental illness. Procedures like tooth extractions and root canals, and treatments for things like gingivitis and periodontal disease.
- Behavioral conditions. Vet-recommended therapy and medications for behavioral conditions like anxiety and aggression.
- End of life and remembrance. Vet-recommended euthanasia, as well as cremation, and commemorative items to memorialize your pet.
What does the cost of pet insurance not cover?
Pet insurance can cover A LOT, but of course there are some exclusions to keep in mind. For example, your pet insurance won’t cover:
- Pre-existing conditions: Anything that shows up in your pet’s medical history from before your policy was active, or during your policy’s waiting period.
- Preventable situations and neglect: If a pet parent isn’t providing a safe environment or a reasonable standard of preventative care for the pet, it could be considered neglect. If that neglect results in a health issue, it probably won’t be covered. For the record, we’re sure you’re not neglecting your pet, and we hate thinking about this one, too!
- Certain things not related to an accident or illness: Things like grooming; other elective cosmetic procedures (like giving your cat a fancy haircut); obedience training; and boarding/travel
The truth is, pet insurance isn’t cheap, but neither is the cost of keeping your pet healthy.
If you’re not sure whether pet insurance is worth it, imagine the worst-case scenario—and whether you’d have the money put aside to cover the medical costs.
Lemonade’s pet insurance policies are customizable for a reason. If you can’t pay $60 every month for a policy with 90% co-insurance, that’s OK. We’ve made it so you can change your coverage to set a monthly price that suits your budget. We’ll still pay reimbursements and be there for you, and you can feel more comfortable with your spending on a regular basis.
In our unpredictable world, it’s even more important to protect the ones you love—so you don’t have to make a tough decision down the road.
Which states currently offer pet health insurance?
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C. (not a state… yet), and Wisconsin.