Is Dog Insurance Worth It?

Filed in Dog Insurance on January 8, 2020

black and brown dog being checked by a veterinarianYou may be wondering: Is dog insurance worth it?

You will read a lot of different opinions on this topic.

Just to be clear, this article focuses on dog health insurance, not liability insurance.

Some people believe that dog insurance is worth the peace of mind in case of large unexpected costs in the future.

Others believe that dog insurance is not worth it since it is likely that your lifetime total premiums will exceed the benefits received.

Just so you know, I may collect a small commission from the links below, but I only recommend products I find trustworthy.

Purpose of Dog Insurance

Dog insurance provides a form of protection against the unplanned health needs of your dog.

For example, one of the most common injuries to a dog is a cruciate ligament tear, which is the same as a human tearing their ACL.

To repair this condition, it can cost about $2,000 to $3,000 per knee using the best treatments of TPLO or TTO.

And, to top it all off, surgery must be performed right away since this injury can quickly lead to arthritis (source). 

Another example of a high cost is cancer treatment for dogs, which can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000.

Dog insurance provides a safety net for these unexpected costs, especially if you cannot afford these large bills at once.

Pet insurance is like homeowners insurance where hopefully you will never make a large claim, but you are paying for the peace of mind in case something does happen.

dog insurance paperwork

How Does Dog Insurance Work and How Much Does It Cost?

You need to really compare the dog insurance policies you are interested in to determine their value. Generally speaking, this is how dog insurance works:

Choosing a Veterinarian

Under most plans, you are allowed to choose the licensed veterinarian of your choice. The plans do not have in-network or out-of-network veterinarians.

Coverage

You select a plan from a small number of policies. One plan may only cover accidents, another may cover accidents and illness, and there may be a wellness option as well.

Premiums and Deductibles

The premium is the monthly or annual payment you make to a dog insurance company.

Many owners buy insurance policies when their dogs are young resulting in lower monthly premiums, in addition to having less pre-existing conditions to exclude from their policy.

This premium amount can be as low as $14/month, but can go as high as $125/month. The cost depends on a number of variables such as breed, age, and location.

However, many owners do not consider that premiums start to drastically rise after 3-4 years mainly due to the rising age of their dog. As a result, owners cancel their policies since they cannot afford the cost.

According to market research, Trupanion claims that the industry average length of a pet insurance policy is only 3 years. Trupanion claims that its average policy length is 6 years due to their pricing model.

In fact, Trupanion and Healthy Paws had the lowest lifetime premium cost mainly because they don’t raise their premiums based on age, according to Consumers’ Checkbook, a non-profit service ratings company.

Keep in mind that their premiums still increase based on other factors, just not age.

You also need to factor in the deductible and co-pay of the plan into your total costs.

Deductibles are the amount of money, on an annual basis, that you will be responsible to pay before the policy kicks in. 

Annual deductibles can vary. For example, Embrace Pet Insurance offers deductibles of $200, $300, $500, $750 or $1,000.

Co-pays are normally 10%- 30% of the total vet bill depending on your chosen plan.

By considering all of these costs, you can get a better idea if a particular plan is worth it. You may choose to simply set aside money in a savings costs over time, in case you face a large unexpected cost.

How Bills Are Paid

One disadvantage of dog insurance is that traditionally the dog’s owner must pay the vet bills first – not the insurance company (with exceptions- see note below). Once the owner pays the bill, they will need to file a claim with their dog insurance to receive reimbursement for the covered percentage.

Recently, there are a few insurers who will pay a vet directly depending on the circumstances. For example, Healthy Paws will pay your vet in times of emergency. Trupanion also has technology to pay your vet directly.

What Does Dog Insurance Cover?

This really depends on the type of plan and coverage chosen.

While companies use different terminology, there is accident coverage, illness coverage and/or wellness coverage. Comprehensive plans contain a combination of these three.

Whether dog insurance is worth it also depends on what is covered.

Most plans exclude pre-existing conditions. Additionally, certain conditions may never be covered such as cancer or hip dysplasia, although you can pay extra to add a rider to your policy, according to Dogster.com.

What Is Accident Coverage?

These plans cover unexpected emergency accidents and injuries such as a broken leg or cut.

They are the most budget-friendly plans, but also are limited in coverage.

What Is Illness Coverage?

These plans cover illnesses and hereditary/congenital conditions.

They cover such things like hypothyroidism, cancer, allergies, urinary tract infections and digestive issues.

For an extra fee, you can often get illness coverage added to your accident-only plan.

It is worth noting that dog insurance companies may limit their illness coverage as dogs age.

This is why it’s important to get insurance while a dog is young – to reduce pre-existing condition exemptions.

What Is Wellness Coverage?

Wellness coverage is meant to cover expected costs for preventative healthcare such as check-ups and vaccines for your dog.

Some people claim that wellness coverage is not worth it because the yearly cost equals approximately what you pay out of pocket anyway.

These plans cost around $20-$25 per month.

They also function on a reimbursement model that provides money back toward common procedures throughout a dog’s life.

In addition to check-ups and vaccinations, other items normally covered by wellness plans are spay and neutering, microchipping, and flea control.

Some veterinary clinics and hospitals offer their own dog wellness plans, while some insurance companies offer wellness plans as an upgrade to their accident and injury plans. 

Which Dog Insurance Is Best?

There isn’t one universal answer to this question. Just like with human insurance, the answer is “it depends.” However, below are some things to consider when analyzing policies:

  • the enrollment rules
  • incident types covered
  • treatment types covered
  • policy payout limits
  • deductible amounts
  • pre-existing conditions
  • waiting period before coverage begins
  • reimbursement levels and timeline
  • exclusions
  • premium

Here are some insurance companies with high marks:

Embrace Pet Insurance

This company gets high ratings with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. They offer an accident-only plan, accident & illness plan, and add-on wellness policy.

Some of their notable benefits are:

  • a large number of choices for your deductible, reimbursement percentage, and plan maximums
  • 30 day trial period
  • quick processing of claims
  • very upfront on coverage and exclusions
  • your annual deductible goes down by $50/year when there isn’t a claim made

Get A Quote Here on Embrace

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

This company rates high during annual reviews. They offer plans that cover accidents, illnesses, cancer, emergency care, genetic conditions, and alternative care.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance receives high marks for:

  • Excellent customer service.
  • An annual deductible (versus a per incident deductible).
  • No maximum annual or lifetime payout caps.
  • Claims are processed and reimbursed within 2 days (99% of cases).

Get Healthy Paws Pet Insurance Information Here

Allstate Pet Insurance

Like the prior company, Allstate receives high marks for its coverage.

Allstate offers a comprehensive pet health policy with “nose-to-tail” protection. It covers accidental, emergency, illness, and disease-related health coverage.

Allstate’s policy also covers hospitalization, surgery, diagnostic testing, lab work, medicines, as well as certain alternative therapies, including homeopathic medicine, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and holistic medicine treatments.

A big plus is that they offer coverage for chronic conditions like hyperthyroidism, allergies, and diabetes.

Get Allstate Pet Insurance Information Here

Is Dog Insurance Worth It?

As with many things, it depends.

If you are looking for peace of mind in case of a large unexpected cost, then yes it is worth it.

However, if this large unexpected cost never arises, just know that you may pay more in premiums than what you receive in benefits.

You also want to consider what is covered by the plan, in addition to the amount of the premium, deductible, and co-pay.

Ideally, it is best to obtain insurance while your dog is young for a lower premium and less pre-existing conditions, but don’t rule out a plan later on.  

You should also consider that the premium will rise over time, so take this into account when determining whether to keep the plan.

You may want to speak to your veterinarian to get their opinion and to determine the costs of treatment over time. Also, you’ll want to discuss dental insurance too.

 Feel free to comment below.  Thanks!

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