How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

Updated Aug. 15, 2023
Dog with vet

Roughly 90.5 million households in the United States have at least one pet in the family. And as much as we love our dogs and cats, many pet parents aren’t totally prepared for the expense of a furry family member—especially if there’s an accident or your pet is diagnosed with a long-term illness. To make it worse, veterinarian expenses continue to rise.

If you’re looking for a way to control vet expenses, pet insurance can help cover unforeseen veterinary costs that would normally cause a financial burden on many households. You can find plans that will help cover your pet in everything from accidents and diseases to routine vet visits and even dental care. But how much does pet insurance cost?

But before you buy, it's a good idea to thoroughly research a pet insurance plan so you can understand how much it costs and what it covers. Here’s what you need to know about the costs of pet insurance.

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Average Costs of Pet Insurance

The average cost for pet insurance is $10–$53 per month, or $122–$640 annually. There are several elements of cost when it comes to pet insurance:

  • Premiums: These are the monthly or annual costs you pay to keep the policy active.

  • Deductible: This is the amount you must pay the vet before the insurance policy kicks in.

  • Reimbursement percentage or copay: This is the percentage you pay for covered expenses even after the deductible is met.  

The cost for each of these depends on the type of policy, your budget, and your pet’s needs.

The right choice, however, isn’t purely a financial decision. Older pets may benefit from more comprehensive coverage, as they are more likely to require treatment for a disease. Younger pets may be healthier but also prone to more accidents.

How Much Is Pet Insurance for Dogs?

Here are the average premiums for accident-only and accident and illness plans, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA):

Insurance for Dogs: 2022 Average Premiums (U.S.)

A&I – Accident and Illness

  • Annual: $640

  • Monthly: $53.33

AO – Accident Only

  • Annual: $201

  • Monthly: $16.75

How Much Is Pet Insurance for Cats?

Overall, insurance for cats tends to be less expensive than insurance for dogs.

Insurance for Cats: Insurance for Dogs: 2022 Average Premiums (U.S.)

A&I – Accident and Illness

  • Annual: $387

  • Monthly: $32.25

AO – Accident Only

  • Annual: $122

  • Monthly: $10.17

In terms of pet wellness plans, there are usually two options: a basic and a premium. Some insurance for pets offer three options. Here are the average monthly price points:

  • Standard: $15

  • Mid-range: $28

  • Advanced care: $31

Factors That Affect the Cost of Pet Insurance Premiums

Premiums can range in cost for a variety of factors, including: 

  • Pet age: The younger the pet, the less likely they will be diagnosed with a chronic medical condition. Older pets that are at higher risk of diseases, such as diabetes, kidney disease, joint disease, or heart disease, may have higher premiums.

  • Breed: Certain breeds are prone to certain medical conditions. For example, French Bulldogs and English Bulldogs tend to experience chronic skin and eye conditions, which can become costly to treat over time. Some policies will exclude certain breed-specific issues or charge more to cover your pet.

  • Being spayed or neutered: Your pet’s neuter or spay status may affect the premium.

  • Pre-existing medical conditions: Most pet insurance policies will not cover any pre-existing conditions (issues related to diagnosed medical conditions). The premium will also likely be higher to cover the pet. This is another good reason to consider pet insurance at a young age.

  • Choice of deductible: Depending on the plan, you can select the level of deductible. In general, a higher deductible means a lower monthly premium.

  • Add-ons: Your cost can go up if you add wellness or dental plans.

  • Location: Pets that live in more populated cities may have higher premiums due to access to advanced medical care.

  • Type of plan: Accident-only plans generally have lower premiums than plans that cover accidents and illness and/or wellness.

As an example of premium costs changing over a pet’s lifetime, here’s the average monthly premium of a Labrador Retriever enrolled at various ages with a $500 deductible and no known medical conditions*:

  • 8 weeks of age: $57/month

  • 1 year of age: $ 66/month

  • 5 years of age: $89/month

  • 10 years of age: $160/month

*Average of premiums quoted from several pet insurance companies.

Cost of Pet Insurance Deductibles

A deductible is the amount you must pay to the vet before the insurance company will start reimbursing you for eligible veterinary expenses. There are two types of deductibles:

  • Annual deductibles are applied yearly before any veterinary treatment costs are reimbursed. Usually, any covered issues can be applied to your deductible.

  • Per-incident deductibles are applied to each new diagnosed condition. For example, if your pet breaks a leg, becomes sick, or ingests a foreign object in one calendar year, each incident will have its own deductible. This type of policy is often recommended for older pets that need coverage over many years to treat a chronic condition.

Most policies allow you to choose the deductible level, usually up to $1,000. In general, the higher your deductible, the lower your premium. While it is important to choose a deductible that fits within your budget, choosing a lower deductible may save you money over the lifetime of your pet.

While it is important to choose a deductible that fits within your budget, choosing a lower deductible may save you money over the lifetime of your pet.

Copays (Reimbursement Percentage)

This is the amount you will be responsible for paying even after the deductible is met. Copays are usually given as a percentage of the bill. They often range between 10–20%. So that means the “reimbursement percentage” paid by the insurance company would be 80%–90%.

For example, let’s say your dog needed a $3,000 surgery and your deductible is $200:

  • You pay the bill at the vet (usually) and send the receipt (claim) to your insurance company.

  • The pet insurance company will subtract the $200 deductible, so remaining amount is now $2,800.

  • If your copay was 10%, that’s another $280. That leaves $2,520 for the insurance company to pay.

  • If everything on the bill was a covered item, then that’s the amount you would be reimbursed. Your total out-of-pocket expenses in this scenario would be $480.

  • You would have also met your deductible, so any additional eligible expenses would be covered at 90% for the rest of the year.  

If your insurance company is set up to pay the vet directly (only a few currently do this), then you would pay your vet $480 and the insurance would pay the vet the rest. You would not need to submit a claim.

Depending on the policy, you might be able to select a higher or lower copay to help lower or raise your premium and/or deductible.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Fur babies are beloved members of the family. But unexpected emergencies or illnesses can occur that results in significant financial strain, which can lead to heartbreaking decision-making. 

Pet insurance can be an excellent way to help offset these unexpected costs while getting your pet the care they need. In most instances, pet insurance will pay for itself over the life of the pet and even help you pay for the care in monthly insurance premiums versus a large lump sum ER visit.  

Tips for Saving Money on Pet Insurance Costs

We are all looking for a good bargain, and finding a good deal on pet insurance should be no different.

  • Ask your insurance provider if they offer discounts for things like signing up multiple pets, military discounts, or even bundling with your homeowner’s insurance.
  • You can also save money by signing your pet up for insurance as early as possible. Younger pets tend to have much lower vet bills, so getting a plan in place early will help keep the costs down later.
  • You may also save by signing your pet up for multiple policies, like adding a wellness plan to your accident and illness plan.
  • Most insurance companies allow pet owners to customize their plans to fit their pet’s specific needs. Selecting a higher deductible or lower reimbursement percentage can lower your monthly premium.

Featured Image:


Insurance Information Institute. Facts + Statistics: Pet Ownership and Insurance

Jones, S. Canine Journal. Pet Wellness Plans: Manage Your Preventative Vet Bills. July 8, 2016.

North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA). Find Pet Insurance.

North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA). Section #3: Average Premiums.


Amber Souza, LVT


Amber Souza, LVT


Amber became a licensed veterinary technician in 2007 while earning her Bachelor’s degree in Science at the University of Nevada Las...

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