The cost of the best pet insurance plans may come as a surprise to many pet owners. Prospective policyholders may not be aware of the factors that determine the price of a policy, from the type of pet and breed they want to insure to their location and the deductible they choose.
This guide explains each factor and how it affects monthly premium rates. We also break down the cost of pet insurance by pet, breed, and age and offer tips on how to cut costs. Read on to learn more.
Table of Contents
- How much does pet insurance cost?
- Is pet insurance worth it?
- How to lower the cost of pet insurance
- Pet insurance cost FAQs
- Summary of Money's How Much Is Pet Insurance?
How much does pet insurance cost?
In this section, we compare the most recent pet insurance rates data to our internal survey, for which we gathered quotes for several dog and cat breeds at three different ages.
We also identify and explain the factors that influence your pet insurance rates. Finally, we offer tips to help you reduce your premiums as much as possible.
Average pet insurance cost
The North American Pet Insurance Association (NAPHIA) reports that the average monthly cost of pet insurance in 2023 is $32 for cats and $53 for dogs. You'll likely spend around $640 a year to insure your dog and $387 for a cat.
This average skyrockets if you add a wellness rider to your accident and illness plan. Pet owners reportedly paid $1,134 for dogs and $640 for cats annually for this type of coverage.
Accident-only plans that cover the costs of emergency vet visits were the most affordable. At $16 a month, dog owners paid more or less the same as they'd pay for a streaming subscription, while cat owners just paid around $9.
We gathered quotes for an accident and illness plan and found that the average cost was slightly higher than the numbers reported by NAPHIA. Insurers charged an average of $75 per month for our sample dog profiles and $47 for cats.
Average pet insurance cost by state
Pet insurance providers consider your location when determining the monthly cost of a policy. A big reason for that is the relative cost of veterinary care nationwide.
A recent study revealed that California pet parents pay an average of $1,500 a year in vet costs — while owners in North Dakota pay a little less than $800. Beyond California, rates for other populous states range from similarly high (New York) to middling (Florida and Texas.) Rates may also vary within states, say between urban areas with higher vet costs and rural ones with lower costs.
The accident risk of the specific regions also affects premiums for accident coverage. Urban dogs and cats are more likely to require emergency care for an accident — such as being hit by a car — than their rural counterparts. To mitigate these higher risks, insurance companies charge higher premiums.
How much is full coverage pet insurance?
On average, full coverage pet insurance for accidents and illnesses costs $53 a month. The same type of insurance plan for cats is significantly cheaper, averaging $32 a month. Just remember that these averages may not accurately reflect your situation, as rates vary by zip code and depend on your pet's age and breed.
In our research to find the best cheap pet insurance, we compared insurance premiums in California to those in North Dakota, a state with some of the lowest rates for pet insurance coverage. Premiums for a purebred dog in North Dakota ranged from $31 to $61 a month, while insuring the same dog in California cost between $31 to $169.
How much is dog insurance?
The average cost of pet insurance for dogs is $53 per month or $640 a year.
However, those figures are averages for all insured dogs. Premiums can cost up to sixfold depending on your dog's breed, age and location — from as little as $15 a month to upwards of $100. (They also varied more than fourfold among competing carriers, from $28 to $112 monthly.)
Breed alone can create a considerable difference in premiums. That's mainly due to breed-related hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
English bulldogs, for example, are typically born with demodectic mange, which costs an average of $350 to treat. German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Golden and Labrador Retrievers are among the breeds prone to developing hip dysplasia. The vets' bills for remedying the condition can quickly run into the four figures.
Here are the quotes we received in pricing a typical policy for a five-year-old German shepherd (a breed whose pet insurance premiums are middling) in a city where prices are close to the national median.
Sample cost of dog insurance by breed
Mixed medium breed
Cheapest pet insurance for dogs
We gathered quotes for 10 dog breeds of different ages living in Columbia, South Carolina, and found that the cheapest pet insurance for dogs averages $73 a month.
Premiums increased dramatically for older pets. The cheapest plan option for a 5-year-old dog was $98, and once the pet turned ten, the most affordable premiums averaged $170 a month or higher.
How much is cat insurance?
Cat owners spent an average of $32 per month ($387 a year) on accident and illness coverage, according to a 2022 survey by NAPHIA.
A May 2023 Money survey of premiums yielded a slightly lower average of $27 a month for such coverage. Yet monthly rates varied more than fourfold among competing carriers, from about $12 to $54.
Comparing those figures with similar data for dogs reveals that insuring a cat is more than a third cheaper than insuring a dog. In part, that's because felines need fewer vet visits than canines on average due to having a lower propensity for accidents and a lesser incidence of hereditary diseases.
Premiums are also less variable by cat breeds than is the case with dogs. The annual cost of insuring cats doesn't vary by more than $500 annually across breeds. By contrast, insuring a dog of the priciest breed we surveyed costs nearly $2,000 more a year compared to one of the least expensive breeds.
Here are the quotes we received for a 5-year-old Maine Coon cat in a city that's at or close to the national median for net insurance premiums.
Sample cost of cat insurance by breed
Cheapest pet insurance for cats
Our price survey for a one-year-old cat across 10 different breeds found that, on average, the cheapest pet insurance plan costs $32 a month. Rates for higher coverage limits ranged from $40 to $67.
Though most insurers allow you to select how much coverage you want, the most expensive policies offer one or two high reimbursement levels (unlimited payouts and 90% reimbursement, for example).
What determines pet insurance costs?
What you'll pay to insure your animal companion will depend on several factors.
- Type of pet: Policies for dogs are pricier than those for cats.
- Pet breed: Some breeds are more prone to congenital and hereditary conditions that require expensive veterinary care, and insurance premiums reflect that risk.
- Location: The rates charged by licensed veterinarians and other animal-care professionals vary widely by state, city and neighborhood.
The high cost of vet bills is also one of the main reasons pet insurance costs are rising. Premium rates have reportedly increased over 20% since 2023, a trend that has caused great dissatisfaction among policyholders.
The final variable is the type of policy and coverage level you select: the deductible, coinsurance and annual payout limit. Here, you have some control over the policy's price and can choose the terms that best suit your budget.
Additional pet insurance costs
The monthly premiums you pay for cat or dog insurance aren't the only out-of-pocket pet costs you need to worry about. Pet insurance is similar to human health insurance in this sense, with deductibles and reimbursement rates that can vary widely.
Pet insurance deductibles
Pet insurance deductibles are the amount of money you'll have to pay before your insurer begins to disburse payments — with pet insurance, this initial cost can range from $200 to as much as $1,000.
Choosing a high deductible is one of the many ways to save money on pets, as this choice will drive down your policy's monthly premium.
Pet insurance reimbursement rates
Even once you've paid that deductible, insurance generally won't cover 100% of each pet insurance claim but 70%, 80% or 90%. Those are known as reimbursement rates (or percentages); you can typically choose between three or four predetermined options.
Pet insurance limits on coverage
Pet insurance companies also limit how much they'll pay in any given year; you can choose one of several coverage limits between $5,000 and $30,000. If you cap your insurance at $5,000 annually and vet bills surpass that amount, pet insurance won't cover expenses until the following year.
Pet insurance policies generally don't cover costs upfront but instead require you to pay the bill in full before being reimbursed according to the coverage terms you selected. The reimbursement process can take one to two business days if you choose a direct deposit or one to two weeks if you receive a check by mail.
There's also a waiting period after you insure your pet — which varies by company — within which you can't make some or all claims.
Is pet insurance worth it?
Our analysis indicates that for animals with normal medical lives, the cost of coverage and what you'll likely recoup don't make pet insurance worth it.
Pet insurance can pay off if your pet eventually develops a serious condition such as cancer or cruciate ligament issues, which may cost four or five figures to treat. But you must be prepared to share that cost, even with coverage.
For some pet parents, though, pet insurance is as much an emotional decision as a financial one. If you're in that group, pet insurance may pay off in peace of mind. Should your companion suffer a costly medical crisis, you'll be as prepared as possible for the economic impact.
How to lower the cost of pet insurance
Several steps can help you reduce your monthly pet insurance payments.
- Maximize the deductible and minimize the reimbursement percentage. These changes will make the policy more affordable every month.
- Shop around. As the data on this page reflects, you can save hundreds of dollars a year by opting for an insurance company that charges less.
- Resist adding extras such as wellness coverage. These add-ons may deliver little to no return in most cases, and you'll find that paying out-of-pocket is a better money move than subscribing to a preventive care plan.
Pet Insurance Cost FAQs
How much is pet insurance for dogs?
According to our most recent price survey, dog insurance rates range from $34 to $145 a month. Rates varied by company, yet the biggest differentiator was the dog's breed.Bulldogs were the most expensive dog to insure, with premium rates starting at $80 a month for a one-year-old pup. Unsurprisingly, medium mixed breed dogs received the lowest premium rates, followed closely by small and medium breeds with a low health risk profile, such as Yorkshire Terriers and Poodles.
How much is pet insurance a month?
How much does pet insurance cover?
What is the cheapest pet insurance?
Pets Best, Metlife, ASPCA and Figo pet insurance offer some of the cheapest pet insurance plans for cats and dogs.Still, we recommend you gather quotes using a marketplace, as these providers may or may not be the cheapest for your particular pet.
Summary of Money's How Much Is Pet Insurance?
- Pet owners pay an average of $32 a month for cat pet insurance and $53 for dogs, according to the most recent data gathered by NAPHIA.
- The cost of pet insurance can be significantly higher than these averages if you own a breed prone to health issues, your dog is past a certain age or you live in an area where vet care is expensive.
- Insuring a cat is more than a third cheaper than insuring a dog. On average, felines have a lower propensity for accidents and a lesser incidence of hereditary diseases, thus needing fewer vet visits than canines.
- Pet insurance may not be worth the cost if your cat or dog leads a relatively healthy life. But it may pay off if your pet needs expensive veterinary care for severe injuries or chronic conditions like cancer and hip dysplasia.
- Pet owners can reduce the cost of pet insurance by choosing a high deductible and low reimbursement rate. Taking the time to shop around is also smart, as we found significant rate changes from one provider to the next.