What does pet health insurance cover?

Last updated: October 2021

Pet health insurance can help make sure your pet gets necessary care without an unexpected expense, such as in an emergency.

Pet health insurance may include coverage for the following:

  • Accidental injuries
  • Illnesses
  • Breed-specific conditions

In addition, some plans may allow you to purchase additional coverage, including:

  • Wellness care tiered plans, which may help pay for routine care and preventive surgeries, such as spaying or neutering at the basic level. Higher tiers may help pay for dental care, prescription diet food and hip exams.
  • Prescription drug coverage if your pet is on maintenance medication

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How does pet insurance work?

The Insurance Information Institute states that the cost of a pet insurance policy is typically determined by the animal's age, overall health and the type of coverage you choose to purchase. Like human health insurance, you'll likely pay annual premiums and deductibles with your pet insurance plan. Your plan may require that you pay for veterinarian services up front, and the insurer will reimburse you for covered expenses. Like most insurance policies, coverage limits may apply.

What doesn't pet insurance cover?

Certain expenses are typically not covered by a pet insurance policy. These are some common exclusions:

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Food and vitamins
  • Costs related to pregnancy or breeding
  • Behavioral treatments

Read your policy or talk with your insurance provider to learn what types of expenses your pet insurance plan does and does not help cover.

Choosing a pet insurance plan

The American Veterinary Medical Association provides guidelines on choosing a pet insurance plan for you and your furry family members. The association says the plan should:

  1. Allow you to work with a licensed veterinarian of your choosing
  2. Be approved by your state's insurance regulatory agency
  3. Be clear about policy limits, pricing and optional coverages

If you'd like to plan ahead for your pet's expected check-ups or an occasional illness, pet insurance might be worth considering. Talk to your veterinarian about their experiences with pet insurance, and ask if your pet may be at risk for any specific conditions or illnesses. If you know your dog's breed is prone to certain ailments or your cat doesn't always land her daring leaps, dog or cat insurance may help you pay for extra trips to the vet.

If you're interested in learning more about pet health insurance, talk to your insurance provider today.