How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

Quick Answer

Pet insurance costs an average of $675 annually for dogs and $383 annually for cats. However, your pet insurance premiums may be higher or lower depending on factors including your pet’s age, health and breed; your location; and the level of coverage you choose.

Happy and relaxed mature woman enjoying her beautiful garden with her handsome Great Dane.

Between kibble, toys and grooming, pet ownership can be expensive, especially when you factor in the price of veterinary care. Purchasing pet insurance can help offset your pet's medical expenses, but how much will that protection cost you?

On average, pet insurance costs $675 annually for dogs and $383 annually for cats. However, your premiums can vary based on factors such as your pet's age, your location and the type and amount of coverage you buy.

How Much Is Pet Insurance for Dogs?

On average, accident and illness coverage for dogs costs $56.30 per month or $675.61 per year, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA). Accident-only coverage costs an average of $17.01 per month; accident, illness and wellness insurance costs an average of $105.28 per month.

Average Cost of Pet Insurance for Dogs
Accident, Illness and Wellness Coverage Accident and Illness Coverage Accident-Only Coverage
Annual: $1,263.39
Monthly: $105.28
Annual: $675.61
Monthly: $56.30
Annual: $204.16
Monthly: $17.01

Source: NAPHIA

Here's how much you can expect to pay per month for pet insurance for popular dog breeds.

Average Cost of Pet Insurance by Dog Breed
Dog Breed Accident & Illness Coverage (Monthly) Accident, Illness & Wellness Coverage (Monthly)
French bulldog $103.04 $119.04
Labrador retriever $61.98 $77.98
Golden retriever $62.97 $78.97
German shepherd $61.00 $77.00
Standard poodle $53.72 $69.72
Dachshund $46.57 $62.57
Rottweiler $104.69 $120.69
English bulldog $106.37 $122.37
Beagle $57.25 $73.25
Mixed breed (10-20 lbs.) $25.06 $41.06

Note: Quotes are for a 2-year-old male dog with no pre-existing conditions and a policy with a $5,000 annual limit, $250 deductible and 80% reimbursement rate.

How Much Is Pet Insurance for Cats?

Pet insurance for cats typically costs a bit less than insurance for dogs, averaging $31.94 per month or $383.30 per year for accident and illness coverage. Pricing varies widely depending on coverage: You can purchase cat accident-only coverage for an average of $9.68 per month or get accident, illness and wellness coverage for $52.17 per month on average.

Average Cost of Pet Insurance for Cats
Accident, Illness and Wellness Coverage Accident and Illness Coverage Accident-Only Coverage
Annual: $625.99
Monthly: $52.17
Annual: $383.30
Monthly: $31.94
Annual: $116.11
Monthly: $9.68

Source: NAPHIA

Here's an idea of how much you can expect insurance for popular cat breeds to cost.

Average Cost of Pet Insurance by Cat Breed
Cat Breed Accident & Illness Coverage (Monthly) Accident, Illness & Wellness Coverage (Monthly)
Ragdoll $27.13 $43.13
Maine coon $31.30 $47.30
Persian $30.32 $46.32
Exotic shorthair $28.01 $44.01
Devon rex $29.85 $45.85
British shorthair $27.13 $43.13
Abyssinian $29.85 $45.85
Scottish fold $27.13 $43.13
Sphynx $31.30 $47.30
Mixed breed $24.28 $30.28

Note: Quotes are for a 2-year-old male cat with no pre-existing conditions and a policy with a $5,000 annual limit, $250 deductible and 80% reimbursement rate.

How Is the Cost of Pet Insurance Determined?

Several factors affect the price of pet insurance, including:

  • The type of coverage: Most insurers sell three basic types of pet insurance. Pet accident and illness insurance covers accidents and injuries, as well as illnesses such as cancer and ear infections. You can save money by purchasing accident-only insurance, which doesn't cover illnesses. Neither type of insurance covers preventive care. However, you can typically add a wellness plan that helps pay for routine care such as vaccinations, dental cleanings or annual check-ups.
  • The amount of coverage: Some pet insurance plans provide unlimited payouts, but most set annual limits, such as $5,000 or $10,000. You'll also need to consider reimbursement rates, or the amount of covered vet bills that the insurance will pay. Reimbursement rates typically range from 60% to 90%. The higher your plan limit and reimbursement rate, the more you can expect to pay for pet insurance.
  • Your plan's deductible: The deductible is the amount you must pay toward your pet's veterinary care before your pet insurance kicks in. Some plans have annual deductibles; others have per-incident deductibles. Deductibles can range from $0 to $1,000; raising your deductible generally lowers your premiums.
  • Your pet's species and breed: Cats usually cost less to insure than dogs. In addition, certain breeds may cost more to insure because they're more prone to breed-specific health issues. For instance, short-nosed dogs such as French bulldogs, English bulldogs and pugs often have respiratory or heart problems, while dachshunds are more likely to suffer musculoskeletal issues.
  • Your pet's age: Like humans, pets tend to have more health problems as they get older, so you'll typically pay more to insure an older pet. Some pet insurance providers don't issue policies for pets over a certain age.
  • Your pet's gender: Insurance for male pets usually costs more than for females. Male animals are prone to costlier health issues than females and are more likely to be injured due to risky or aggressive activities such as fighting other dogs.
  • Your location: The cost of veterinary care can vary from one area to another. The going rate for veterinary treatment where you live will affect your pet insurance premiums.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Paying a few hundred dollars a year for pet insurance can be worth the cost if it helps you handle a high vet bill. Consider whether you could cover the cost of these common vet visits on your own:

Average Costs for Typical Vet Visits
Reason for Visit Average Cost
Ear infection $50-$100
Hospitalization $600-$3,000
Emergency surgery $1,500-$7,000
Chemotherapy $3,500+
Dental cleaning with anesthesia $450-$1,000
X-rays $75-$500

Source: Yelp

Suppose your pet is hit by a car and needs surgery costing $5,000. If you have pet insurance with an 80% reimbursement rate and have already met your deductible for the year, insurance would cover $4,000 of the cost; you'd pay $1,000. Without pet insurance, you might have to make the painful decision to have your pet euthanized.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • You can buy pet insurance for older pets, but premiums are typically much higher than those for younger pets. In general, dogs are considered seniors around age 6 or 7, and cats around age 7 or 8. However, larger dogs usually have shorter lifespans than smaller ones, so a Great Dane may be considered "old" earlier than a Chihuahua would, for instance.

    Some pet insurance providers have upper age limits and won't insure pets beyond those limits. Also keep in mind that older pets are more likely to have pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes or heart problems, that are typically excluded from coverage. However, if a pet is symptom-free without treatment for a certain amount of time, some insurers consider the condition cured and will cover it.

  • Generally, pet insurance only covers cats and dogs. Any other type of pet is considered "exotic." Nationwide sells insurance for exotic pets, including birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets and other small mammals, lizards, reptiles, frogs, mini pigs and goats. Premiums vary based on the type of pet and coverage, but generally start at about $21 per month.

    While PetAssure doesn't technically sell pet insurance, they offer a wellness plan that reimburses you a set amount for routine pet care from any veterinarian you choose. PetAssure also has a discount plan that provides discounts on routine and emergency care from participating veterinarians. PetAssure's plans cover all types of pets, including exotic pets, and also cover pre-existing conditions.

  • Pet insurance usually covers limited types of dental work. Dental problems due to accidents, such as breaking a tooth by eating rocks, are typically covered by pet accident insurance. Pet illness insurance generally covers dental illnesses, such as periodontal disease. Neither covers preventive dental care; for that, you'll need a pet wellness plan. Wellness plans usually pay a limited amount toward annual dental exams and cleanings.

    In most cases, neither pet insurance nor pet wellness plans cover orthodontic, endodontic or cosmetic dental issues. There may also be limits on which teeth are covered for accidents and disease.

The Bottom Line

Pet insurance can help cover the cost of essential veterinary care, making it a wise investment in your pet's health. But even with pet insurance, you're still responsible for part of your pet's medical expenses. You must generally pay the vet upfront, submit a claim to the insurance company and wait to be reimbursed. Setting a pet care budget that includes pet insurance premiums and building up your emergency fund can equip you to handle unexpected veterinary costs.