Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Written by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

Dr Pippa Elliott BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years experience in companion animal practice. In 1987 she graduated from the University of Glasgow, with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. A love of the sea meant accepting her first job in the port town of Portsmouth, England. A fter working in private practice for two years, her next position was as a vet at the People’...

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Reviewed by Dr. Pippa Elliott BVMS, MRCVS
Veterinarian Dr. Pippa Elliott BVMS, MRCVS

UPDATED: Jun 10, 2021

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Pet owners always want the best for their pets. But having a dog or cat can get expensive with all the food, toys and care needed. And what about pet insurance?

While pet insurance is yet another expense, it can become valuable if your dog or cat has a serious injury or illness.

Need Pet Insurance?

FACT: Pet insurance pays up to 90% of vet bills when your pet is sick or injured!

Is Pet Insurance Worth The Price Tag?

what is the cost of pet insurance

If you have a dog or cat, particularly, of a certain breed that is predisposed to an illness or injury, pet insurance can save you money in the long run.

The treatment for most conditions or injuries can run from $10,000 to $20,000.

And those pet owners who have purchased pet insurance prior to their pet getting sick or injured are really relieved to have it.

On the other hand, if you are lucky enough to have a dog or cat that is healthy, paying a monthly premium can feel like a waste of money.

Most vet visits for healthy pets are easily payable out of pocket. Therefore, it depends on the cat or dog you have and if you want to take a chance that your pet remains healthy throughout his life.

Related: 10 Things You Must Know Before You Buy Pet Insurance

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How Much Is Pet Insurance, On Average?

The average cost of most pet insurance plans ranges anywhere from $20 to $110 a month.

  • Dog insurance policies average $30 to $80 a month.
  • Cat insurance policies average $15 to $40 a month.

Dogs are typically more expensive to insure than cats because they are outside and more prone to injuries.

How Does Pet Insurance Pricing Work?

There are numerous factors that affect the price of a pet insurance policy, but the age of your pet is probably most critical. For example, a 4 year old dog would cost about 10% more to cover than a 3 year old, but a 3 year old costs about 25% more than pet insurance for a 2 year old dog.

Other important factors include:

  • The type and breed of cat or dog
  • The city and state in which you live
  • The coverage plan you choose affects the price
  • The reimbursement level and deductible

Real Cost Savings from PetFirst Clients


PetFirst saved his parents


A happy energetic Luna one morning couldn’t hold her food down. After months of multiple costly vet visits to specialists and an endoscopy, the problem was discovered and fixed. Luna put 22 pounds back on in no time and her parents were grateful for having PetFirst by their side to pay the bills.

Deductibles of Pet Insurance, Explained

A deductible is your first payment that is required before the pet insurance company starts to reimburse you.

The average deductible is anywhere from $200 to $300.

When you receive your first bill, you would pay the deductible and your portion of the reimbursement level that you choose.

You typically only pay the deductible once a year and it is called an annual deductible.

For Example:

If you choose an annual deductible of $900, you pay $900 of expenses throughout the year. If at the end of the year, you had $4,000 in medical costs, you would pay $900.

Your insurance company would then reimburse you $3,100 (minus the reimbursement owed depending on your chosen level).

If you chose a $100 deductible, you pay $100 for the same expenses and your insurer will pay $3,900 but your monthly premium will be higher.

To help lower your monthly premium, it is always best to choose a higher deductible.

But, the choice is yours if you want to pay more upfront or be reimbursed for more.

Some pet insurance companies allow you to pay a per-incident deductible annually.  This means that you pay a deductible per condition or illness that your pet might encounter.

This could be helpful for a dog that has diabetes, but any other condition will cost you another deductible.

If you want the best price, look for an annual deductible. There are no surprises and you know exactly what you are paying.

If you opt for a higher deductible, this will help reduce your monthly premium.

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How Reimbursement Levels Also Affect Price

The reimbursement percentage is the amount your pet insurance will reimburse you after your deductible is paid.

The reimbursement level you choose will also affect your monthly premium.

Reimbursement levels typically range from 70% to 90%.

Figo actually offers a 100% reimbursement choice which is the highest we’ve encountered.

Look for a policy that pays on the actual cost of the vet bill.  This type of plan is most common in pet insurance policies that allow you to choose the percentage.

If you choose a lower reimbursement percentage, the monthly premium will be lower. If you are looking to minimize your monthly premium and then be paid less back in the event your pet needs care, than choose the 70% level.

Benefit reimbursement schedules are not the best choice because they put a maximum amount of reimbursement that your dog or cat received.

The company pre-determines the cost and it can add up if our dog or cat has one or more illness a year.

Some pet insurance companies have a ‘usual and customary’ where they determine the price which again is not preferable, particularly if you live in a city where prices tend to be higher.

Pet Insurance Benefit Limits

Benefit limits are the maximum amount that an insurance company will pay of your vet’s medical bill either annually or per-lifetime.

Annual Limits

The amount a company will pay for the policy each year.

Annual limits – the amount a pet insurance company pays back for the entire year whatever the illness or condition.

Plans with annual limits have lower monthly premiums but once that limit is reached, you pay the rest out of pocket.

Healthy Paws has unlimited benefits in all their coverage plans which means more bang for the buck!

Lifetime Limits

A policy with lifetime limits put a price or cap on the most the company will reimburse you over the lifetime of your dog or cat.

Pet insurance companies allow you to choose which limit you prefer and this can also affect the cost of your premium.

Look for a policy that offers unlimited benefits without any lifetime limits.

While your monthly premium might be slightly higher, you have the potential of saving more in the event you have a big medical bill for your pet.

Other Factors Which Influence The Price Of Pet Insurance:

#1 – Dogs have higher monthly premiums than cats:

Since dogs spend a lot of time outdoors, they are more likely than cats to get hurt or pick up an illness.

#2 – The older your pet is, the more expensive they are to insure:

A young dog or cat is less expensive to insure because they are at their healthiest.

This is the best time to purchase pet insurance before any pre-existing condition presents itself

#3 – Some breeds are more expensive due to common illnesses for that breed:

Boxers and bulldogs tend to have issues with their breathing and therefore will be more expensive to insure.

#4 – The city where you live will also affect your premium rate:

Just as housing costs differ from state to state, pet insurance premiums are also affected by where you live.

A hip replacement surgery for a dog in New York could cost twice as much as the same surgery performed in Milwaukee.

Since most companies reimburse on the actual vet bill, the monthly premium rate will be reflected in those higher costs if you live in New York and at a less rate if you live in Milwaukee.

#5 – The coverage you choose will affect your monthly premium:

There are different coverage choices available which can also affect the price.

Read each policy carefully to find out what is actually covered that is important to you for your pet.

Real Cost Savings from PetFirst Clients


PetFirst saved his parents


Artemis was a beautiful and friendly cat to all who were willing to pet him. Unfortunately, he developed feline diabetes which required regular vet visits and medications that his Mother could not otherwise afford on her fixed income. Having PetFirst insurance, she called and discussed the problem with a friendly PetFirst agent. To her surprise, she found out that Artemis’ ongoing required vet visits and medication would be covered by his PetFirst insurance. Artemis was able to live out the rest of his life with proper medical care and medicines thanks to PetFirst insurance.

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Pet Insurance Comprehensive Coverage

The best and highest priced option.

These plans tend to cover all illness, accidents, and testing including emergency care and specialist treatment.

Even though comprehensive plans are more expensive, your pet will be covered for the most care possible.

Pet Insurance Accident Only Coverage

While this is the least expensive plan, it only covers injuries and accidents.

If your dog or cat gets ill, they won’t be covered.

Preventative Care Coverage

Wellness pet insurance comes at an additional cost and only as a supplement to the pet insurance plan.

Wellness Plans covers preventative care procedures that are not that expensive for you to pay.

If you want to save money, there is no need for wellness coverage.

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Pet Insurance, In Closing

Every dog or cat is different so make sure to call and get quotes from at least a few pet insurance providers.

Ask a lot of questions, find out if they have any discounts, and look for the most comprehensive coverage at the best price!

If you want to learn more about how pet insurance works, take a look at our list of other great companies to help you with any questions you might have.


Other articles you may find helpful: 


Is Exotic Pet Insurance Necessary? 

The Best Pet Insurance By State 

What Is Pet Insurance?

Fun Facts, Dog FAQ, And Unsolicited Dog Advice

5 Training Commands to Save Your Dog’s Life

The Ultimate Guide to Safe Foods for Dogs

Dog Health Problems

Dog Breeds


Cat Health Problems

Cat Breeds


Pet insurance is similar to other insurances but does have some major differences as compared to your health insurance. Below you will find a definitive list of frequently asked pet insurance questions to help in your decision.


What is Pet Insurance

Types of Pet Insurance Coverage

Comprehensive Pet Insurance Explained

Accident Only Pet Insurance

Pet Wellness Plans

Insurance vs. Wellness Pet Insurance Plans

Is Pet Dental Insurance Worth the Extra Cost

How does Pet Insurance work

Best Pet Insurance Plans with Shortest Waiting Periods

Pet Insurance Deductibles

Pet Insurance Coverage Exclusions and Limits

Pet Insurance Reimbursements

Pet Insurance Benefit Limits Explained

How to Make a Claim on your Pet Insurance

Is my Pet too Old for Pet Insurance Coverage

Top Reasons to Purchase Pet Insurance

How much does Pet Insurance Cost

Is Pet Insurance Worth It

Compare Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance for Multiple Pets

Pet Insurance that Covers Spaying and Neutering

Does Pet Insurance Cover Shots

Pet Insurance with Pre-Existing Conditions