Should You Get Puppy Insurance? Here's What To Know

Updated Jan. 17, 2024
Happy puppy

Puppies bring joy and energy into our lives. But they can also bring concern and frustration when it comes to unforeseen health problems.

Puppy insurance can help lessen worries caused by injuries or illnesses during those puppy years. Here’s what to know about whether puppy insurance is right for you.

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What Is Puppy Insurance?

Pet insurance covers a percentage of medical care for your puppy and reduces the angst of paying significant vet costs.

With human insurance, you usually show your card at the doctor’s office, and then only pay a copay (once you’ve met any deductibles). With most pet insurance, you pay the entire bill at the vet’s office and then submit a claim to the insurance company to request to be paid back for the portion the policy covers.

Your insurance company will look at the receipt and determine which items are covered expenses. Then the company mails a check, makes a direct deposit, or holds funds for you to withdraw to pay you back for covered expenses.

However, there are some pet insurance companies that pay the vet directly, so you only have to pay the vet your portion.

Types of Puppy Insurance

Pet insurance is very similar to human insurance—you pay monthly premiums and copays and have a deductible—but there are some key differences.

With human insurance, it doesn’t matter if you need a preventive vaccine, had an accident, or have signs of a chronic condition, like allergies—it’s all covered under the same policy. You may have separate policies for vision or dental, but otherwise, it’s one main policy.

With pets, there are three main types of policies. One covers only accidents, one covers accidents and illness, and another covers preventive care like vaccines and checkups.

Accident and Illness Puppy Insurance

This is the most common type of pet insurance. Accident and illness plans cover unexpected surgery, imaging testing such as abdominal ultrasounds and X-rays, hospitalization, infectious disease therapy, cancer therapy, and emergency care.

This coverage can help with issues like:

Accident and illness coverage often includes:

  • Initial exam and follow-up exams

  • Diagnostic testing such as X-rays, ultrasounds, blood work, and urine testing

  • Treatments and surgical procedures administered in the hospital (such as injections, fluid therapy, wound care, laceration repairs, fracture repair, or bandage application) 

  • Hospitalization

  • Medications to go home with the puppy

Accident-Only Puppy Insurance

Accident-only puppy insurance plans are less expensive than plans that also cover illnesses. These plans cover unexpected treatments and surgeries for accidents such as a gastrointestinal blockage or a broken bone, but will not cover illnesses such as infections, cancer, and immune-mediated diseases.

Accident-only coverage often includes the following, but only if they pertain to an accident:

  • Initial exam and follow-up exams

  • Diagnostic testing such as X-rays, ultrasounds, and blood work

  • Treatments and surgical procedures administered in the hospital (such as injections, fluid therapy, wound care, laceration repairs, fracture repair, or bandage application)

  • Hospitalization

  • Medications to go home with the puppy

Wellness Plans for Puppies

These plans include annual wellness coverage based on age and breed. They typically cover:

  • Examinations

  • Wellness blood and urine testing

  • Vaccinations

  • Fecal testing

  • Heartworm and tick-borne illness testing

  • Parasite preventatives

Some wellness plans cover elective procedures such as spaying and neutering, but they may have limitations on the age of the pet and when the surgery is performed. Most cosmetic or elective procedures, such as tail docking and ear cropping, are typically not covered.

Dental Insurance

Dental coverage is often part of the other plans. Most accident and illness pet insurance plans do not cover dental prophylaxis (dental assessment, dental X-rays, and dental cleanings) or extraction of retained deciduous (baby) teeth.

Some companies may cover routine cleanings as part of a wellness plan. However, accidents or injuries, such as a broken/fractured tooth or a tooth root abscess, may be covered under a traditional accident-only or accident and illness plan.

Do Puppies Need Insurance?

Yes, it’s a good idea to get puppy insurance to cover unanticipated costs that are bound to pop up during the puppy years. It’s important to get a policy as soon as you bring a new puppy into your home.

Although most puppies are born healthy (aside from those with congenital issues) and have a low risk of being diagnosed with a chronic disease early in life, here are several good reasons to consider puppy insurance for your new family members.

First, puppies are prone to certain accidents and illnesses:

  • Eating things they’re not supposed to, which could be toxic or cause a blockage in their intestines

  • Sprains and fractures from accidents and falls

  • Snake or insect bites from being too curious

  • Gastroenteritis (an upset stomach with diarrhea and/or vomiting)

  • Infections

All of these issues need veterinary attention, which can be expensive. An insurance policy can help reduce the cost of providing medical care.

Having an insurance policy in place when your puppy is still young and healthy also means they won’t have pre-existing conditions when they get older, assuming you keep the policy intact.

Once a dog is diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as hip dysplasia in Labrador Retrievers or brachycephalic syndrome in Bulldogs, that is considered a pre-existing condition. Many insurance companies will not cover a pre-existing condition. However, if you had an insurance policy in place before the diagnosis, that illness may be covered.

Having an insurance policy in place when your puppy is still young and healthy means they won’t have pre-existing conditions when they get older, assuming you keep the policy intact.

How Much Does Puppy Insurance Cost?

The cost of puppy insurance varies depending on factors like:

  • The type of policy you’re interested in

  • Deductible and copay (reimbursement) amounts

  • Your pup’s breed

  • Where you live

In general, pet insurance becomes more expensive as a pup gets older. For example, the average monthly premiums (quoted from several pet insurance companies) for a policy for healthy Labrador Retriever enrolled at various ages were:

  • 8 weeks of age: $57/month

  • 1 year of age: $ 66/month

  • 5 years of age: $89/month

  • 10 years of age: $160/month

According to the Synchrony Lifetime of Care study, the yearly cost of health-related expenses for dogs ranges between $534 and $1,285.

How To Get Puppy Insurance

The type of insurance you choose for your puppy depends on your budget, tolerance for risk, and your puppy’s health needs.

The first step is to research the options and figure out which type of policy meets your needs. It’s always a good idea to compare insurance company rates for similar plans. If you have questions, talk directly to the insurance providers.

Next, decide how to balance the premium (monthly fee), deductible, and reimbursement rate in your policy to fit your budget. There are some things that you can’t control about the premium cost, as it’s partially based on your type of pet, their age and breed, and where you live. But you can choose a higher deductible to lower your premium.

Many puppy parents choose higher-deductible plans with a lower monthly payment, because puppies are less likely to be diagnosed with a serious disease. However, you may not want to do that if your puppy gets into a lot of things and is very accident-prone. Some companies allow you to change your deductible each year.

There’s no wrong approach—getting insurance for your puppy is a good way to ensure that they will receive the medical care they need.

Featured Image:

Katie Grzyb, DVM


Katie Grzyb, DVM


Dr. Katie Grzyb received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Ross University in 2009. She continued her clinical training at...

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