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Cats and dogs: should you insure your pet?

If your four-legged friend gets sick or injured, pet insurance can help cover medical expenses. Pet insurance is no longer an obscure insurance product, but rather a smart way to protect your pet and your finances. And the concept of insuring one’s pet has been gaining steam: according to the latest “State of the Industry” report, there are more than 4 million cats and dogs in the U.S. that have been insured by their owner. That’s more than twice as many insured pets than have been insured only five years ago. 

Is Pet Insurance Worth the Money?

Like human health insurance, the main point of insuring your pet is not having to offset major unexpected medical bills by yourself. Vet bills for broken bones or cancer treatment can quickly go up to thousands of dollars you would have to pay out of pocket without insurance.

However, it is up to you to decide if the advantages of knowing potential vet expenses will be covered outweigh the monthly costs of insuring your cat or dog. You need to decide if you would be able to swing the full treatment cost in an emergency, that – depending on the animal and the condition – can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars:

Average cost of treatment for dogs:

  • Cancer: $4,100
  • Diabetes: $2,700
  • Arthritis: $700
  • Dental disease: $600
  • Eye conditions: $300
  • Ingested foreign objects: $3,500
  • Broken bone: $2,700
  • Heart murmur: $1,200
  • Bladder infection/UTI: $400

Average cost of treatment for cats:

  • Cancer: $3,800
  • Diabetes: $1,900
  • Arthritis: $500
  • Dental disease: $800
  • Eye conditions: $260
  • Ingested foreign objects: $3,400
  • Broken bone: $2,300
  • Heart murmur: $1,400
  • Bladder infection/UTI: $1,100
  • Feline kidney disease: $1,300

Pet insurance can help you offset these expenses, but it is important to remember that many policies have coverage exclusions, annual limits and waiting periods. Therefore, it is important to compare different pet insurances, if you decide to insure your pet.

What does a pet insurance cost?

In the U.S. the average insurance cost for a dog is around 60 dollars per month, while the insurance for a cat usually costs a little less (around 35 dollars per month). The actual cost depends on:

  • average vet costs in your living area
  • breed and age of your pet
  • customizable add-ons and extras you might choose

Since pets are seen as property by law, pet insurance does not work like human health insurance but rather as a type of property insurance. That means it only covers new damages (meaning health issues) that are not related to pre-existing health conditions.

Pros and Cons of pet insurance

Pet insurance can be a true lifesaver that comes with many advantages:


  • Depending on your policy, pet insurance can reimburse 70% to 100% of unexpected veterinary costs.
  • Most insurance plans can be used at all licensed veterinary practices.
  • Knowing that a large chunk of the costs will be covered makes it easier to say "yes" to the medical care your pet might need.

However, before deciding on insuring your pet, you should also consider some of the cons:


  • Most insurance models work on a reimbursement model, so you still need to pay the bill upfront.
  • Pet insurance cover won’t cover preventive care or treatment costs related to pre-existing conditions.
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