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Pet Insurance Guide — Worth the Cost & What Coverage to Choose?

Pet Insurance Guide — Worth the Cost & What Coverage to Choose? - Unexpected illnesses

By Merriman Wealth Management, Wealth Advisor
Published On 02/28/2023


For many people, pets represent an unlimited source of comfort, companionship, and joy that they simply couldn’t imagine life without. Almost 70 million US households are proud dog owners, and over 45 million families share their living space with a feline friend. In fact, overall pet ownership across the states accounts for around 70% of the entire US population.

Protecting our beloved pets, however, isn’t always simple. Unexpected illnesses, broken bones, and unforeseen medical conditions can unfortunately arise out of nowhere; and given that veterinary care prices have risen by 10% in the last year alone, many pet owners may struggle to provide the care that their furry friends need.

Taking this into account, does it make sense to get pet insurance? And if so, how do you determine which one to get? Below we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the most common forms of pet insurance in the US, including the coverage you can expect and ultimately whether insurance is worth it for the average family.

Uninsured treatment costs

Before we look at the expected costs of pet insurance itself, let’s go over the price of some common veterinary procedures performed out-of-pocket with no coverage at all. Most procedures will increase in price relating to the size of your pet, meaning canine procedures often cost more than those performed on a feline, and any services that require a specialist will come with their own premium.

Procedure Cost for Dogs Cost for Cats
Broken bone $2700 $2000
Cancer $4000 $3800
Ingested objects $3500 $3400
Heart murmur $1200 $1400
Diabetes $2600 $2000
Arthritis $700 $500
Bladder infection $400 $1100


Animal-specific conditions such as feline kidney disease and hereditary conditions like hip dysplasia in larger dogs should also be considered when weighing up your pet care options. Treatments for these issues can drastically increase your expenses over the course of your pet’s life, so it’s worth gaining a clear understanding of how likely these conditions are to appear somewhere down the line.

Treatments covered by pet insurance

Now that we know a little about the costs of common veterinary treatments, let’s take a look at the procedures you can expect your pet insurance to cover.

Pet insurance plans often come in two forms: accident-only coverage and accident and illness coverage. As expected, accident-only plans just cover expenses related to an accident (broken bones, ingested objects, etc.), whilst accident and illness plans also provide added protection against the costs of ongoing treatments for issues like cancer, ear infections, and other long-term illnesses.

Accident and illness plans are, of course, generally more expensive, but for pets with a higher predisposition toward long-term illness, they can end up saving a lot of money in the long run.

You can expect the average accident and illness policy to cover:

  • Dental illnesses
  • Chronic conditions
  • Toxic ingestion
  • Surgery
  • Hospitalization
  • Broken bones
  • Breed-specific conditions
  • Prescription medications
  • Emergency care

Some accident and illness pet insurance policies also offer routine care coverage as part of your plan. Opting for this additional coverage will take care of recurring wellness procedures like microchipping, routine check-ups, and vaccinations throughout the duration of your pet’s life.

Treatments not covered by pet insurance

There are some common exclusions to pet insurance policies that are worth looking out for.

These often include procedures not accepted by your state’s medical board (experimental treatments) and any treatments for pre-existing conditions that your pet had before the start of your policy. However, this does vary across providers, with some accepting coverage for curable conditions or for conditions that your pet seemed to be free from for an extended period before the start of your policy.

Other common pet insurance exclusions include:

  • Food
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Grooming
  • Licenses and certifications
  • Waste disposal services

Pet insurance deductibles

As part of your pet insurance policy, you’ll need to decide on a deductible amount. This describes the amount that you’ll pay for any procedures before your pet insurance will begin to pay out. This value can range between $50 to upwards of $1000 and will depend upon your level of coverage.

Pet insurance deductibles generally come in two varieties:

Annual – You pay the deductible each policy term. Once this value is met, you pay nothing further until the next year.

Per-condition – You pay your deductible amount for each individual condition or incident as and when they occur.

You’ll also need to choose a reimbursement level. This is the amount your insurer is expected to pay after your deductible is met. Reimbursement levels are generally between 70–90%, though there are a few select providers that will reimburse policyholders by a full 100%.

Average pet insurance costs

Now that we have a clear understanding of the finer details, let’s see how much pet insurance costs for the average consumer.

Pet insurance prices for dogs come in at around $20–$44 a month for dogs and $12–$46 a month for cats. That’s about $35 a month for dogs and $28 a month for cats on average to make up $5,000 in coverage for the year.

The price you pay will vary to some extent depending on a few important factors. Your pet’s breed, for example, needs to be considered as some breeds are more susceptible to long-term conditions. Age, gender, and location are a few other factors that will affect the overall cost of your insurance policy.

Is pet insurance worth it?

Whilst pet insurance providers (like any business) are certainly looking to turn a profit, that doesn’t mean their services won’t be worthwhile to you and your pet. The average pet owner visits their vet 2.5 times a year, and with 42% of pet owners claiming that they’re unable to cover an unexpected vet bill, a decent pet insurance policy could be a lifesaver in more ways than one.

If your pet carries an increased risk of developing a long-term health condition, pet insurance can become even more of a necessity, but in the end your choice will depend on the unique circumstances that you and your pet find yourselves in.

Weighing up all the facts and considering the rising costs of veterinary visits, we believe it’s at least worth looking into a pet insurance policy for most pet owners out there.



Written Exclusively for by Madison Smith



Disclosure: All opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes and constitute the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of the report. These opinions are subject to change without notice and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or on any specific security. The material has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however Merriman cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source.  Merriman does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such.

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By Merriman Wealth Management, Wealth Advisor

At Merriman, we manage your wealth so you can lead your best life. We take care of the financial planning and investment management, so you can deal in more possibilities and have the space you need to dream big.

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