Skip to main content

Do all vets take pet insurance? What you need to know

Our fur babies are our best friends and constant companions. Whether they yap playfully during a walk or let out mournful mews when you take a few seconds too long to feed them, it often seems like our pets are talking to us. Unfortunately, our pets can’t tell us when they feel under the weather, which can happen without warning. Pet insurance gives you a financial safety net should your fur baby fall ill. But do all vets take pet insurance? Let’s look closer at how pet insurance works, which vets insurance covers, and when vets will — and won’t — take insurance.

Do you need pet insurance?

According to a poll conducted by Bankrate, fewer than four out of every 10 Americans have enough money in savings to pay for an unplanned $1,000 expense. With the average emergency vet bill costing more than $1,000, many pet parents could be faced with a heartrending decision regarding their pet’s medical expenses. Given the unexpected nature of most visits to the veterinarian, pet insurance provides you with the financial help you need when you need it most.

A corgi wearing a stethoscope against a white background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How pet insurance works

Technically speaking, pet insurance is considered a type of property and casualty insurance and doesn’t fall under the category of health insurance. However, it is health insurance for your pets. While it sounds confusing, pet insurance follows a simple, effective model. When you take your pet to the veterinarian for treatment, you pay the bill at the time of service, submit a claim, and get reimbursed for the cost of the visit — but not for the policy deductible and copay. Unlike with your health insurance, you don’t have to worry about remaining in-network. This reimbursement-based model lets you visit any veterinarian you choose.

What does pet insurance cover?

Most companies offer several types of coverage, including wellness plans, accident-only plans, and accident and illness plans. Accident-only plans cover injuries like bone fractures and lacerations, but they don’t cover costs associated with illnesses.

While all insurers differ, the vast majority of accident and illness insurance plans cover the following:

  • Surgical procedures
  • Hospitalization
  • Accidents
  • Illnesses
  • Diagnostic tests such as X-rays
A veterinarian listening to a gray and white cat with a stethoscope.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Some insurance plans, though not all of them, also cover:

  • Prescription costs
  • Alternative therapies
  • Recurring ailments such as arthritis
  • Breed-specific conditions

When selecting a new pet insurance policy, contact the agency and ask for a detailed list of what each plan covers. Like other forms of property insurance, most pet insurance plans have waiting periods before your plan begins, a deductible, an annual or per-visit (also called per-incident) maximum, and a copay.

What doesn’t pet insurance cover?

In addition to things like elective procedures and prescription food, the vast majority of pet insurance plans won’t cover preexisting conditions. However, there is a caveat with some insurers. If you can prove (through documentation from your veterinarian) that your pet’s preexisting condition is considered cured, some plans will cover it. Fortunately, there are ways you can help offset the cost of your pet’s veterinary expenses even if your dog or cat doesn’t qualify for accident and illness plans due to a preexisting condition.

What you should know about costs

According to ValuePenguin by LendingTree, the average monthly cost of pet insurance plans for dogs is around $25–$70. For cats, the monthly average is roughly half the cost of a dog’s plan, around $10–$40. To get the most for your money, you should insure your pet as soon as possible. Because your fur baby is more likely to develop a chronic illness when she’s older, pet insurance premiums increase as pets age. You can save yourself a sizable chunk of change by choosing a policy while your pet is young and healthy. With most insurers, the cost of your pet’s premium will continue to increase. However, most companies allow you to customize your coverage to help keep costs low.

A veterinarian listening to a brown and white Husky with a stethoscope.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you can afford to cover your pet’s veterinary expenses regardless of the amount, then you probably don’t need pet insurance. Thinking of pet insurance as an investment will only lead to disappointment since it doesn’t cover many of the routine costs of pet care. Most fur babies in need of emergency assistance are injured or fall ill suddenly. When it comes to pet insurance plans, the real value is having peace of mind that you won’t have to choose between covering your pet’s expenses and paying your rent.

Editors' Recommendations

Mary Johnson
Mary Johnson is a writer and photographer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her work has been published in PawTracks and…
Why do you often find your dog with their tongue out? Here’s what vets say about the ‘blep’
A dog with their tongue out may be cute, but what does it really mean?
A German shepherd puppy sticks out their tongue

There's nothing cuter than a "blep" but what does it mean? Whether you first heard the term blep on the internet (it is meme-worthy, after all), or are learning of it for the first time, you're in for a treat. Bleps are positively adorable! The term started gaining online traction in the late 2010s, though it's no less popular today. The common canine behavior it's based on, however, is a habit as old as time: sticking out a tongue. Yep, a dog with its tongue out is enough to break the internet!
It's pretty dang cute, after all, but it's not always easy to figure out why a dog's tongue is sticking out. Don't worry though, pet parents — this is a great place to start! This is everything you need to know about bleps and what they mean.

What is a blep? How about a mlem?
Besides being one of the most popular terms used in pet-related social media, a blep refers to when an animal sticks their tongue out of its mouth only slightly. Braxton's Animal Works describes the action as "leaving the tongue, usually the tip, outside the mouth unconsciously." Many pet owners will notice it while their buddy is sleeping, or even after!

Read more
Can cats have autism? Here’s what to know about unusual behavior in cats
Learn about special needs and autism in cats
Cat with blue eyes staring into the distance

Can cats have autism? This is a question that might have crossed your mind as you try to decipher your cat's behavior patterns. Even though the diagnosis is centered on human behavior, many pet lovers and experts have discovered similarities between special-needs cats and people with autism. Still, cats are typically only labeled as special needs if they have a diagnosed physical or mental disability.

There are several behaviors in cats that are similar to those found in humans on the autism spectrum. These include:

Read more
Best reptile pets: These are the 5 most affectionate reptiles you can welcome into your home
These friendly reptiles will make great additions to your family
Basking Chinese water dragon

When you picture an adorable pet, you probably don't visualize an iguana. Reptiles aren't generally considered the cutest of animals, but that doesn't mean you can't find a cuddly one. Whether you're looking for a new buddy for yourself or for your lizard-obsessed kid, there's a reptilian beast out there that will work great in your home. With proper socialization, these guys can learn to be handled daily, some even by children. If you want a new pet that enjoys human company, consider one of these most affectionate slitherers — they're the best reptile pets for handling.
Are reptiles high maintenance?
Not necessarily. One of the things that makes reptiles tricky is how foreign some of their needs are. Parrots, dogs, and humans often have similar requirements for food, exercise, warmth, and water. Since we're all warm-blooded omnivores (for the most part), it feels natural to care for many of the animals we welcome into our homes.

Reptiles are totally different. You'll have to think carefully about heating lamps, cool spots, gut loading, moisture levels, and skin shedding. So you only want to go down this path if you feel ready. That being said, with the right mindset, many lizards, snakes, and turtles make solid beginner pets (a few species don't and we suggest holding off on those until you turn pro).

Read more