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Pet Insurance Costs in 2024: Coverage for Dogs, Cats, and Exotics

Pet insurance is one of the best ways to be prepared to cover your pet’s medical bills in case of accidents or illness. But how much is pet insurance? Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to insurance pricing. Some pet owners will find plans for as low as $15 a month, while others can top $100. It depends on several factors. Let’s explore pet insurance costs for 2024, the key factors influencing these costs, and how much the average pet owner can expect to pay.

Why would you need insurance for your pet?

Approximately 1 in 3 pets will require emergency care annually, and many pet owners are unprepared to cover the cost. One trip to the emergency vet can cost pet owners thousands of dollars, from broken legs and swallowed toys to respiratory infections and bladder stones. Pet insurance is one of the best ways to help cover these costs. Pet insurance can help cover 50% to 100% of your vet bills, depending on your chosen plan.

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How much does pet insurance cost in 2024?

Like the cost of many things in 2024, pet insurance premiums are expected to rise. According to statistics from the most recent North American Pet Health Insurance Association State of the Industry Report, average pet insurance premiums have risen between 2.4% and 4.7% since 2022 (for standard accident and illness plans).

Exactly how much pet insurance may rise in 2024 will depend on several factors, but overall, the cost of living, veterinary care, and operating costs are rising due to inflation. All of which may impact pet insurance costs.

Here’s a look at some average costs of pet insurance and a breakdown of what factors influence your monthly premiums.

Average cost of dog insurance

Dog insurance costs can range from as low as $20 a month to as high as over $100. While several factors will determine your dog’s individual cost, here’s a look at some average monthly premiums for popular dog breeds at different life stages:

BreedPuppy (6 months)Adult (5 years)Senior (8 years)
Labrador retriever$45$60$110
French bulldog
$60$76$140
German shepherd
$50$60$105
American pitbull terrier
$40$60$78
Beagle
$30$50$72
Dachshund
$35$65$90
Yorkshire terrier
$30$50$70
Boxer
$45$65$110
Siberian husky
$50$66$100
Pug
$45$65$80

Compiled using figures from Pawlicy Advisor. Numbers based on average policies with a $500 deductible, 80% reimbursement rate, and $10,000 or unlimited annual coverage.

Average cost of cat insurance

Cat insurance costs can range from as low as $15 a month to as high as over $70. While several factors will determine your cat’s individual cost, here’s a look at some average monthly premiums for popular cat breeds at different life stages:

BreedKitten (6 months)
Adult (5 years)
Senior (10 years)
Domestic shorthair
$18$22$55
Abyssinian
$24$30$62
Bengal
$25$35$65
Himalayan
$25$32$55
Persian
$30$46$72
Siamese
$24$35$55
Maine Coon
$30$45$71
Ragdoll
$24$40$64

Compiled using figures from Pawlicy Advisor. Numbers based on average policies with a $500 deductible, 80% reimbursement rate, and $10,000 or unlimited annual coverage.

Average cost of exotic pet insurance

While most people think of pet insurance as just being for dogs and cats, you can also get pet insurance for exotic animals. Currently, options for exotic pet insurance coverage are limited. Nationwide is the only traditional pet insurance company which offers exotic pet insurance, and pricing is highly customized so averages are not calculable. According to Nationwide’s website — exotic pet insurance plans start at less than $21 monthly.

The following species are eligible for exotic pet insurance through Nationwide:

  • Birds
  • Lizards
  • Frogs
  • Snakes
  • Rabbits
  • Guinea pigs
  • Hamsters
  • Ferrets
  • Chinchillas
  • Hedgehogs
  • Sugar gliders
  • Mini pigs
  • Goats

Alternative options for exotic pets include Pet Assure, which doesn't provide traditional pet insurance but does offer discount plans for exotic animal species.

Factors that determine pet insurance pricing

There are several factors that play a role in determining your pet’s eligibility for coverage and how much you’ll spend on pet insurance.

Species

Pet species and, by default, the average cost of their healthcare determine your monthly premiums. Outside of horses, dogs are typically the most expensive animals to insure, followed by cats, then other species such as birds and exotic animals.

Breed

Your pet’s breed is a key factor in how much it will cost to insure them. Certain breeds are considered at higher risk for developing health conditions. Examples include French Bulldogs, prone to breathing problems (BOAS) due to their shorter airways, and Dachshunds, prone to back problems (IVDD) due to their longer spines.

Age

Your pet’s age significantly contributes to how much it will cost to insure them. Younger pets generally carry a lower cost, as they have lower health risks. Some plans may increase monthly premiums as pets age and even place age limits on coverage, which usually caps around age 14. Others may "lock in" your pet's premium for the length of their life, meaning the premium won't increase as your pet ages as long as you stay with the same insurance company.

Health

Any health conditions your pet has had in the past or currently has will determine your monthly premiums. Insurers calculate premiums based on risk factors. Pets with a history of health problems will not only have those items excluded from coverage as pre-existing conditions, but they may also incur higher premiums.

Location

Your geographic location plays a significant role in what plans are available to you and how much you’ll pay for them. Due to differing insurance laws and operating costs, not all pet insurance plans are available in every state. You’ll also find different pricing based on cost-of-living factors with some regions being higher than others.

Type of plan

The type of plan you select, your chosen level of coverage, and whether you choose any add-ons, like wellness coverage, will also factor into the final costs. Some insurers offer multiple plans that can range from basic to premium coverage. You may also customize your plan by choosing your deductible, reimbursement rate, and annual limit. Typically, plans with lower deductibles, higher reimbursement rates, and higher annual limits cost more monthly.

Costs of common veterinary medical treatments for dogs and cats

Here are some of the most common veterinary medical treatments and their average cost ranges:

Veterinary medical treatmentAverage costs
Exam$50 to $100
Blood work$100 to $250
IV fluids$50 to $150
X-rays $150 to $450
Ultrasound$300 to $600
MRI$2,000 to $6,000
Hospitalization/critical care$250 to $2,500 (per day)
Laceration repair/wound care$250 to $1,500
Emergency surgery$1,000 to $5,000
Cancer treatment$500 to $10,000

Compiled using data from Pawlicy Advisor, Care Credit, Preventative Vet, and insider industry knowledge.

What is covered by pet insurance?

Pet insurance will typically cover any treatment as long as your veterinarian deems it medically necessary to treat a covered medical condition. Covered medical conditions are outlined in your policy but commonly include:

  • Emergencies. Trauma, broken bones, respiratory distress, etc.
  • Injuries. Sprains, strains, wounds, etc.
  • Illnesses. Vomiting, diarrhea, urinary problems, etc.
  • Chronic conditions. Arthritis, diabetes, cancer, etc.
  • Infections. Ear infections, urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, etc.

Services and conditions not covered by pet insurance

Every pet insurance policy has exclusions and any treatment related to an exclusion will not be covered. The most common exclusions are:

  • Pre-existing conditions.
  • Preventative care. Vaccines, routine check-ups, dental cleanings, etc. (unless covered under a separate wellness plan).
  • Alternative medicine. Acupuncture, herbal therapy, etc.
  • Hereditary conditions. May be excluded for certain breeds.
  • Congenital defects.
  • Experimental treatments.
  • Cosmetic procedures. Tail docking, ear cropping, etc.
  • Breeding. DNA testing, pregnancy check-ups, C-sections, etc.

Getting pet insurance: where to start?

Ready to find the perfect plan for your pet? Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Research available plans

The first step in starting your search for pet insurance is to see what’s available in your area. Insurance plans and pricing can vary by state and even zip code. An online comparison tool such as Pawlicy Advisor or Pet Insurer can help you narrow this down.

Get customized quotes

Once you’ve narrowed your search, getting customized quotes from the insurance providers you are interested in is essential. This will involve filling out some information about your pet online, including age, breed, and health history. It’s important to be forthcoming during this step to avoid extra fees later. Once you have your quotes, take some time to review them carefully and choose the best one.

Choose your coverage

Depending on what provider you’ve picked, you may have different plans to choose from. Some insurers offer standard coverage, while others offer a menu of plans or multi-tiered coverage levels. You may also have the option to boost your pet’s coverage with a wellness plan or other add-ons. Lastly, you may customize your plan by choosing your deductible, reimbursement percentage, and annual limit. With customizable plans, you may be able to tailor your plan to your budget.

Review your policy

Once you have your final policy, be sure to review it carefully to ensure it has everything you intended. Look for extended waiting periods, breed-specific exclusions, and caps on coverage for specific conditions. If you find anything questionable, don’t hesitate to contact the provider to clarify.

Start the enrollment process

Every pet insurance provider may have a different enrollment process, so follow their instructions when you are ready to move forward. Most enrollments are easy and can be done online. You’ll likely need to provide some more information about your pet, including their medical records. Your provider will let you know how long the enrollment process will take and when your coverage will start.

Once your coverage period begins, you can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing your pet is covered should they need medical care.

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