Pet Insurance Cost | The Motley Fool

What does pet insurance cost?

Pet insurance costs vary significantly based on several factors. It’s possible to get coverage for less than $10 per month in some cases while other policies can easily exceed $100 per month. On average, though, most people pay anywhere from $20 to $50 per month, with dog owners paying more than cat owners.

There are three basic costs associated with pet insurance:

  • Premiums: These are the monthly costs the pet owner pays the insurance company to keep the policy in force.
  • Deductible: This is the amount the owner must pay when filing a pet insurance claim before the insurance company will pay anything for the pet’s care.
  • Copay: The copay is the percentage of the pet’s care the owner must cover, even after the deductible has been met. For pet insurance, it’s typically 10% to 30%, depending on the policy.

What determines the price of pet insurance?

Several factors influence the cost of pet insurance premiums, including:

  • Age of the pet: Older pets are typically more expensive to insure as they’re more prone to health issues.
  • Gender of the pet: Male pets are often more expensive to insure.
  • Species: Cats are usually cheaper to insure than dogs.
  • Bread: Breeds that are more prone to health issues will be more costly to insure.
  • Location: Those who live in an area where veterinary care is more expensive can expect to pay more for a pet insurance plan.
  • Pet’s working status: Some pet insurance companies charge more to insure working pets.
  • Coverage options: Plans that cover more health conditions will cost more than a plan with limited protection.
  • Annual maximum: Most pet insurance plans have an annual maximum that limits how much the company will pay for a pet’s care. Choosing a higher annual maximum will increase the cost of the policy.
  • Reimbursement percentage: Most pet insurance policies reimburse policyholders for anywhere from 70% to 90% of covered treatments. Choosing a higher reimbursement percentage increases the premiums.
  • Deductible: Going with a lower deductible will raise a pet insurance policy’s premiums.

Contrary to popular belief, the following factors don’t have any effect on pet insurance premiums:

  • A pet’s medical history
  • Where the owner purchased the pet
  • Whether the pet stays indoors or outdoors
  • Prior pet insurance claims
  • The pet’s weight
  • Declawed status

Pet insurance cost for dogs

The average cost of a dog insurance policy is about $18 per month for accident-only coverage or about $50 per month for accident and illness coverage, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA). This is quite a bit higher than the cost of pet insurance for cats. That’s because data shows dog owners are more likely to file pet insurance claims, and when dogs visit the vet, their treatments often cost more.

Larger dogs are often more expensive to insure than smaller dogs as they’re more prone to health issues. It might only cost around $30 per month to purchase accident and illness coverage for a Chihuahua, but the owner of a Doberman could expect to pay $70 or more per month for the same coverage.

Some of the most expensive dog breeds to insure, according to an AdvisorSmith survey, are:

  • Rottweilers
  • English bulldogs
  • Doberman pinschers
  • French bulldogs
  • Boxers

Pet insurance cost for cats

Cats are typically cheaper to insure than dogs, with average premiums costing around $11 per month for accident-only coverage and $28 a month for accident and illness coverage, according to NAPHIA. But again, this varies by breed. Cat breeds that are more prone to health issues are more expensive to insure.

Some of the most expensive cat breeds to insure, according to AdvisorSmith, are:

  • Exotic cats
  • Devon rexes
  • Abyssinians
  • Maine coons
  • Sphinxes

Discounts for pet insurance

Discounts aren’t as common with pet insurance as they are with auto and home insurance. But the best pet insurance companies offer at least a few of the discounts listed below:

  • Multi-pet: Insuring more than one pet gives the owner a discount on their premiums.
  • Paid in full: Paying for annual coverage upfront typically saves the owner money compared to paying for pet insurance monthly.
  • Multi-policy: If the company offers other types of insurance besides pet insurance, the owner might get a discount for purchasing several insurance policies.
  • Service animal: Some companies give discounts to licensed service animals.
  • Employee discount: If the owner is an employee of a certain company, they may be eligible for a discount on their pet insurance cost.
  • Military discount: If the owner is a military member or a veteran, some pet insurance companies will give them a discount on their premiums.

But as with any type of insurance, pet insurance discounts vary by company and sometimes by state. The only way to know which discounts are available is to get a quote from each pet insurance company in consideration.

How to lower the cost of pet insurance

Pet owners looking to keep their pet insurance costs down should try some of the following tips:

  • Shop around: Each insurer weighs risk differently, which is why they all give different quotes. The only way to know which one offers the most affordable rate for a given pet is to set aside some time to get quotes and compare them.
  • Take advantage of discounts: Pet owners who believe they qualify for any of the discounts listed above should look for pet insurance companies that offer them.
  • Choose a lower reimbursement percentage: Choosing a lower reimbursement percentage will reduce the cost of premiums but will raise the owner’s out-of-pocket costs in the event of a claim.
  • Choose a higher deductible: Raising the deductible will also lower the monthly premium, but again, the owner must be prepared for higher out-of-pocket costs if their pet has a problem.

Lastly, keep in mind a low cost isn’t always the most important thing when shopping for pet insurance. Focus on finding the best value instead. If a cheap policy doesn’t provide the coverage a pet needs, it’s not going to be much good in the long run. Owners should focus first on finding policies that cover all the care they believe their pet could need and then choosing the one that offers the best price.

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