Pet Insurance for Dogs & Cats - Is It Worth It?

Close up of a dog in front of a search bar that says "pet insurance" to represent pet insurance for dogs and cats

As cherished members of our families, our dogs and cats bring immense joy, companionship, and a sense of fulfillment to our lives. We strive to provide them with the best care possible, including regular vet visits, nutritious meals, and a safe environment. 

As any pet owner knows, unexpected health issues can arise at any moment and sudden expenses can cause some financial strain. This is where pet insurance can prove to be advantageous.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the world of pet insurance for dogs and cats, exploring its advantages, coverage options, and other factors to consider — in order to ultimately help answer the question: Is pet insurance for dogs and cats really worth it?

What’s in This Guide?

A woman looking at pet insurance for dogs while sitting next to her dog

What is Pet Insurance for Dogs & Cats?

Pet insurance for cats and dogs helps to cover a portion of the medical expenses that pets incur, depending on the insurance’s coverage. In this way, pet insurance for dogs and cats acts like a financial safety net, which can be even more advantageous during cases of sudden illness or accidents. However, it’s important to note that not all pet insurance for cats and dogs has the same coverage. 

Pet Insurance for Cats & Dogs: What’s Covered?

Each pet insurance provider offers different terms, inclusions, exclusions, deductibles, and so on. Choosing the best possible option can be overwhelming. Even pet insurance plans that seem to be similar — such as if both of them give “accident & illness coverage” — may still have finer differences in terms of what they offer. 

However, being familiar with broad coverage points is a place to start. Here are aspects of a dog’s or cat’s healthcare that may or MAY NOT be covered in a pet insurance plan: 

1. Preventive Care Coverage (vs. Pet Wellness Plans)

Preventive care for pets encompasses procedures that help prevent diseases or aid in the early detection of diseases. Routine wellness exams, pet dental exams and teeth cleaning, vaccinations, and spaying/neutering all fall under preventive care. 

a. Preventive Care Coverage

Though preventive care is one of the most important aspects of pet healthcare, not all pet insurance for dogs and cats covers preventive care. Unless a pet insurance plan explicitly states that it offers preventive care coverage, it won’t include this type of coverage. In many cases, preventive care coverage is an added coverage that pet parents can obtain — but not all pet insurance providers offer this optional added coverage. 

b. Pet Wellness Plans

Pet wellness plans are very similar to preventive care coverage, in the sense that they are for preventive care services too. The only difference is that getting pet wellness plans is like prepaying for preventive care services, albeit at a bundled, discounted rate. Furthermore, pet wellness plans tend to have more restrictions regarding which clinic/s pet parents can go to.

Whether or not pet parents choose preventive care coverage, a pet wellness plan, or neither is a personal decision. In any case, it is always best to clarify with insurance providers if any preventive care services are included (or can be included as an add-on  in the future). 

2. Accidents Coverage

Pets are curious and may themselves in unexpected situations. Accidents such as cuts, bites,  fractures, and ingestions of foreign objects can happen. Treatment for such accidents is generally included in most pet insurance plans, whether it’s an accident-only pet insurance or an accident-and-illness pet insurance plan (aka comprehensive pet insurance).

Even though a pet insurance plan states that accidents are covered, it is helpful to obtain a list of specific types of accidents that the plan covers. This way, pet parents know exactly what types of accidents they can receive reimbursement for. 

3. Illness Coverage (Sudden vs. Chronic vs. Illnesses with a Corresponding Vaccine)

Just like humans, pets can develop illnesses and medical conditions throughout their lifetime. Illnesses are typically covered in plans that are classified as an ‘accident-and-illness’ or ‘comprehensive’ pet insurance for dogs and cats. However, this does not mean that any and all illnesses are covered in most pet insurance policies. 

a. Sudden Illness

Sudden illnesses encompass conditions such as ear infections, mange, vomiting, and diarrhea. These illnesses are usually associated with straightforward treatment. They are typically included in most pet insurance that covers illness.   

b. Chronic Illness

On the other hand, coverage for chronic illnesses and medical conditions is a bit more nuanced. Most pet insurance plans will exclude pre-existing conditions (i.e. those that are already present or diagnosed before obtaining the insurance plan.) On the other hand, if the pet develops a chronic illness after the insurance plan is obtained, treatments can be covered.  

c. Preventable Illness (via Vaccines or Routine Medication)

Last but not least, pet insurance for dogs and cats also typically excludes serious infections and diseases that could have been prevented by a vaccine or routine medication. Therefore, illnesses like parvovirus infection (which has a canine vaccine) or heartworm infestation (which has preventive medication) are excluded.  

If possible, it’s best to obtain a list of diseases covered by a pet insurance plan. This helps in making an informed decision and getting a pet insurance plan that’s really worth every penny!

 Close-up of a man feeding his dog a heartworm preventive, in order to avoid heartworm infection which is typically not covered in pet insurance for cats and dogs

4. Dental Coverage

Typically, dental coverage is NOT a part of standard pet insurance for cats and dogs. Similar to preventive care coverage, insurance plans must explicitly say that they cover dental care — otherwise, they generally won’t.

Furthermore, there are two aspects of dental care to take into consideration: preventive dental care and dental services for dental illness or accidents.

a. Preventive Dental Care

Preventive dental care (e.g. dental exams, dental cleaning) is rarely covered in pet insurance for dogs and cats. If it is to be included, it will fall under preventive care coverage (which is also not a commonly available add-on for pet insurance). 

It is important to note that not all preventive care coverage will automatically include preventive dental care — so when in doubt, ask the insurance provider. 

b. Dental Accidents & Illness 

In the world of pet insurance, dental accidents are typically classified as damage caused by external trauma or if a pet accidentally bites a hard object. Meanwhile, dental illnesses are those that result from other pathogenic factors.

Dental accidents can be covered in accident-only insurance plans. Meanwhile, coverage for dental illnesses is under comprehensive (aka accident-and-illness) pet insurance plans

As mentioned earlier, not all pet insurance plans will have dental coverage at all, so it’s always a good practice to clarify this with the insurance provider. In addition, dental coverage may be granted conditionally, meaning that insurance providers may require proof that dental damage is not caused by negligence.

 A dog owner brushing their dog’s teeth in order to prevent cavities due to neglect, which isn’t covered in pet insurance for dogs and cats

Other Factors to Consider When Getting Pet Insurance for Dogs & Cats

Coverage is the first thing that pet parents look at when considering whether or not pet insurance for dogs or cats is worth it. The more that a pet insurance for dogs or cats covers, the more it is deemed a worthy investment. 

However, coverage is only the beginning as there are also other factors to consider that may (or may not) make pet insurance worth it. These include the following: 

1. A Pet’s Breed

Certain breeds may be prone to specific health issues. It is recommended for pet parents to research these predispositions to get a sense of whether or not pet insurance for cats or dogs may be worth it in the long run.  

2. A Pet’s Age

A senior pet is generally more susceptible to health conditions such as those involving the heart, liver, kidney, and joints. Considering that a pet would one day become a senior, pet insurance could be worth getting before any chronic conditions set in. 

3. Pet Insurance Exclusions

All insurance plans have exclusions, which are detailed in the insurance documents. Alongside examining a plan’s coverage, looking closely at exclusions will help pet parents decide whether or not an insurance plan is worth it. 

Some of the most common exclusions in pet insurance for dogs and cats include: 

  • Pre-existing conditions - as touched on in an earlier section, health conditions that have been present before the start of the insurance policy are generally excluded.
  • Diseases with a known vaccine or routine medication - as also mentioned in an earlier section, diseases that are preventable (through a vaccine or routine medication) are usually excluded from pet insurance for cats and dogs. 
  • Malicious acts or negligence - any illness or accident stemming from abuse or lack of care for the dog or cat will typically be excluded.
  • Breeding - some pet insurance for cats and dogs will exclude medical care associated with pregnancy. This is because most pet insurance plans are designed for pet owners, not pet breeders.

4. Pet Insurance Deductibles

Different pet insurance providers offer different amounts as deductibles. A pet insurance deductible is a set amount of money that a pet parent will pay out of pocket for covered veterinary services — within a certain period of time (e.g. within a year). After the deductible amount is reached, the pet insurance plan takes over and reimburses the rest of the expenses. 

Deductibles are important to consider because they affect how much a pet parent will need to spend for veterinary care. The advantage of higher deductibles, however, is that they can also reduce the insurance premium. In general, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium. 

5. Pet Insurance Payout Limits

Typically, pet insurance plans will have a payout limit, which is the maximum amount that the insurance provider can reimburse within a specific amount of time (e.g. within a year). 

Similar to deductibles, payout limits can affect how much a pet parent would need to spend out of pocket. Lower payout limits also equate to lower pet insurance premiums. This is why payout limits are another important factor to look at when making an informed decision on whether or not a pet insurance plan is worth it. 

A woman sitting with her cat looking at options for pet insurance for cats

Final Thoughts on Pet Insurance for Dogs & Cats

At the end of the day, whether or not pet insurance for dogs and cats is worth it depends on individual needs. We’ve covered various factors to consider when thinking about getting pet insurance. We advise pet parents to do extensive research and compare policy options, taking into account the different coverage options and factors we’ve talked about in this guide.

Are you thinking of getting pet insurance for dogs or cats? Some providers of pet insurance for cats and dogs require an immunization record and microchipping. If you need these sorted, we'd be happy to help! And in case you already have pet insurance and you need to file a claim after getting veterinary care and services from Sploot, our team will help you get the information you need to process your claim. 

Sploot Veterinary Care is a primary & urgent care clinic with daily appointment availability for extended hours and multiple convenient locations in Denver and Chicago! You can easily book your appointment online. 

Till next time, we’re with you every pounce of the way!