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Is Accident-Only Pet Insurance Right for Your Pet? Making the Choice

Pet owners have several options for pet insurance, and accident-only plans can be one of the most affordable types. An accident-only plan can come in handy if your cat injures itself by jumping off something or your dog decides to have an all-you-can-eat buffet in the trash can, but coverage has its limitations. Let’s explore what accident-only pet insurance covers, some pros and cons, and how to decide if it’s the right choice for your pet.

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What is accident-only pet insurance?

Accident-only pet insurance covers your pet’s veterinary care for accidental injuries, such as your dog spraining a paw while playing or your cat getting into a toxic plant. Coverage includes things like broken bones, wounds, toxin ingestions, and other types of accidental injuries that can occur in pets. Accident-only plans are typically the most affordable type of pet insurance (as opposed to other types of coverage like accident and illness or wellness plans).

How much does accident-only pet insurance cost?

Monthly premiums for accident-only pet insurance plans can range from $10 to $20 a month depending on your pet, location, and insurance provider. For instance, according to statistics from the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), average premiums are around $9.68 a month for cats, and $17.01 for dogs.

What does accident-only pet insurance cover?

Specific covered items can vary among pet insurance providers, but most accident-only plans cover the following categories:

  • Injuries and trauma. This covers injuries from running and playing, broken bones, sprains, cuts, scratches, or eye injuries, as well as traumatic injuries sustained from falls, fights, or hit-by-car accidents. Some plans also cover dental injuries like broken or fractured teeth and oral injuries from chewing on objects or fights.
  • Foreign body ingestions. This covers items like swallowed bones, socks, toys, strings, or any other foreign objects that may cause an obstruction and need medical intervention to remove.
  • Toxin ingestions or poisonings. This covers accidental ingestions of toxins or poisons like pesticides, rodenticides, antifreeze, household cleaners, human medications, toxic plants, and human foods that are toxic to pets, like onions and chocolate.
  • Encounters with wildlife. This covers things like animal bite wounds, bee stings, snakebite envenomations, porcupine quills, bufo toad toxicity, or any encounters a pet may have with wildlife that cause an injury.
  • Burns or smoke inhalation. This covers fire-related injuries, treatment for smoke inhalation, or burn wounds from accidental contact with grills, stoves, irons, hot foods, or other heat sources.
  • Other conditions. Some plans cover other emergencies such as heat stroke and gastric dilation and volvulus (known as GDV or bloat — a condition when a dog’s stomach becomes extended with gas or food and becomes twisted). Both of these conditions require emergency veterinary treatment.
Disclaimer
While these are examples of some commonly covered items in accident-only plans, not every plan will cover every item on this list. Be sure to read your individual policy for coverage details and exclusions.

What’s not covered by accident-only pet insurance?

Accident-only pet insurance does not cover any illnesses, diseases, hereditary conditions, or congenital defects. This includes conditions such as allergies, infections, cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, and other medical problems that are outside of the category of an accidental injury.

For instance — if your dog ends up in a scuffle with a raccoon in your backyard, treatment for any bites or scratches would be covered; however, if your dog contracted leptospirosis (an infectious disease that raccoons can carry), treatment for that might not be covered. For full coverage of all accidental injuries as well as illnesses, consider an accident and illness plan.

As with all pet insurance, accident-only plans will also not cover any pre-existing conditions such as injuries that occurred prior to enrollment or during the waiting period.

Is accident-only pet insurance worth it?

Accident-only pet insurance can be a worthwhile option for pet owners looking for the most affordable coverage or those with older pets with many pre-existing conditions. But as with all insurance, there are pros and cons of accident-only pet insurance plans.

Is accident-only pet insurance right for my pet?

Like all insurance, pet insurance is never one-size-fits-all. There are different types of plans to choose from, and pet owners have varying needs and budgets. Pets also each have their own set of potential health risks, so there are many things to consider when deciding if an accident-only plan is right for your pet.

For many pet owners, accident-only plans become the top choice for two major reasons, cost and coverage eligibility. Accident-only plans are typically the most affordable type of pet insurance, so if full coverage doesn’t fit your budget, accident-only coverage is the next best thing. Owners of pets that are older and/or have several pre-existing conditions may also find accident-only pet insurance to be a good option if full coverage is too costly and limited.

Overall, an accident-only plan can be a great way to still have some coverage for your pet when traditional coverage is not an option. This can be especially helpful for young, rambunctious pets that can injure themselves playing, senior pets with vision and mobility impairments prone to slips and falls, or pets with a penchant for eating foreign objects that can lead to blockages or poisonings.

Are there any other alternatives to accident-only pet insurance?

While accident-only plans are often considered the “last line of defense” in pet insurance, there are other ways to help fund or finance your pet’s care that are not through traditional insurance.

  • Veterinary discount programs. A veterinary discount plan like Pet Assure or United Pet Care can help you save 25–50% on your pet’s medical bills, including emergency vet visits. You’ll have to visit a provider in your plan’s network, so it’s important to check availability for your location.
  • Veterinary financing options. There are several financing options including Care Credit, Scratchpay, VetBilling, Wells Fargo Health Advantage, and others. You can typically apply for these online or in your vet’s office and if approved, utilize the financing right away. These can be helpful in emergencies when you need financing fast.
  • Emergency fund. If you’re able to plan ahead, creating a pet emergency savings fund or keeping a line of credit open for emergencies can be another way to be prepared in case of any pet emergencies.

Final considerations on accident-only pet insurance

Accident-only pet insurance can be a great option for some pet owners, while others may find they’d be better off with a full coverage plan. When making your decision, consider your pet’s risk factors for injury or illness. Your veterinarian can help you determine this based on your pet’s age, breed, lifestyle, and current health status. And lastly, be sure to research and compare several plans; coverage and costs can vary greatly among providers. It can take a little time, but it’s worth it to find the best fit for your pet’s needs and your budget.

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