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What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Bryant Ndianefo
Bryant Ndianefo
Bryant is an experienced writer with a focus on the financial sector, especially banking and personal finance.

DollarGeek's goal is to help you make the best financial decisions. To help us do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations or ratings.

Close up of a orange tabby cat
Table of Contents

This article explains pet insurance, its available types, and what they cover. It also highlights the importance and exceptions to pet insurance plans.

Takeaway Points

  • Pet insurance saves you from the financial burden associated with unexpected veterinary bills.
  • Pet insurance includes accident and illness coverage, accident-only coverage, and wellness coverage.
  • There are some expenses that pet insurance does not cover.
  • Pet insurance is worth it, especially when you shop for one that suits your pet’s needs.

If you own a pet, you most likely want the best for it. So, you would give it tasty treats, a comfortable bed, warmth, and anything that adds to its well-being. However, the challenge is that your pet’s routine veterinary visits and treatments could be expensive. Along with these, your pet’s health is also of utmost concern.

Pet insurance is one way to make healthcare for your pet more affordable. According to ASPCA, routine medical costs (vaccines, wellness, and visits) costs $225 for dogs and $160 for cats. Some medical treatments for conditions like diabetes or cancer can cost as high as thousands of dollars.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is a policy purchased by pet owners to reduce the cost of expensive veterinary bills. It works similarly to human health insurance policies and helps you afford large medical bills that can come up later for your pets.

Types of Pet Insurance Plans

There are different types of pet insurance plans you can purchase. They include:

Accident and illness Coverage

Accident and illness coverage is the most common pet insurance plan, and it covers for:

  • Chronic conditions like allergies and ear infections
  • Hereditary conditions like hip dysplasia or eye disorders
  • Diagnostics such as lab tests, CT scans, and X-rays
  • Severe illnesses such as heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and diabetes
  • Digestive issues
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Ingesting foreign objects
  • Hospitalizations
  • Prescription medications
  • Broken bones
  • Surgeries
  • Emergency care

Accident and illness coverage doesn’t cater to pre-existing health conditions.

Accident-only Coverage

Accident-only plans cover mishaps that befall your furry companion, not illnesses or breed-specific issues. They include:

  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations
  • Torn cruciate ligaments
  • Bite wounds
  • Sprains
  • Accidental poisoning and other toxic ingestion
  • Eye injuries
  • Ingestion of foreign substances

An accident-only plan is designed for sudden injuries, and as such, it is less expensive than accident and illness coverage.

Wellness Coverage

  • Pet insurers provide this optional plan to cover wellness-related expenses like:
  • Routine wellness exams
  • Spay/neuter procedures
  • Dental cleanings
  • Heartworm prevention
  • Vaccinations
  • Flea and tick prevention

This plan can be added to an accident-and-illness coverage, but not an accident-only policy.

Short coated brown dog on seashore

What’s Covered by Pet Insurance?

This depends on your insurance plan, but pet insurance generally covers the following:

  • Unexpected accidents/injuries (like broken bones and foreign object ingestion)
  • Unexpected illnesses (like glaucoma, cancer, parvovirus, and hip dysplasia)
  • Emergency exam fees
  • Surgery (for example, cataracts and ligament tears)
  • Medication
  • Tests/diagnostics (like blood tests, x-rays, and MRIs)

Depending on your plan, other services that can be covered include:

  • Hospital Boarding
  • Lost pet advertising/reward
  • Behavioral modification
  • Alternative therapies
  • Nursing/whelping
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • Hydrotherapy

When shopping for a Pet insurance plan, make sure to look for providers with plans that cover the specific need of your pet breed.

What’s not Covered by Pet Insurance?

The following are specific exclusions to pet insurance coverage:

Pre-Existing Conditions

Pet insurance doesn’t cover illnesses or injuries that your pet had before you applied for the policy. However, they can still ensure pets with pre-existing conditions. Still, the coverage would not cater to the previous situation.

In addition, most pet insurance companies have a waiting period after purchasing a policy. The waiting period makes it impossible for pet owners to use insurance payout for pre-existing conditions.


Pet insurance doesn’t cater to grooming services like baths, shampoos, dips, or nail trims

Experimental Treatment

Experimental treatment refers to treatments and diagnoses considered investigational, experimental, or beyond the care available by your state’s veterinary medical association.

Non-Veterinary Expenses

Non-veterinary expenses are unrelated to veterinary services like taxes, waste disposal services, and administrative fees requested by the vet.

Food, Dietary and Nutrition Supplements

Pet insurance doesn’t cover your pet’s nutritional expenses, although some policies cover prescription, food, and supplements.

Intentional injuries or illnesses

Pet insurance doesn’t cover injuries or sicknesses caused by racing, fighting, animal cruelty, or neglect.

Cosmetic Procedures

Pet insurance does not cater to procedures such as tail docking, ear cropping, and removing dew claws.


This refers to medical services or conditions not covered by a specific pet insurance plan. For example, accident-only coverage does not cater to illness or pre-existing conditions. Knowing what is covered and what isn’t by a pet insurance plan is essential to make the best choice for your pet.

Exam Fees

This is the amount a vet charges to see your pet. Some insurance policies do not cover exam fees, even if you’re visiting the vet for an accident or illness-related purpose.

Others include:

  • Breeding costs
  • Pregnancy costs
  • Hereditary conditions
  • DNA testing

What can be added to Plans for a Premium?

Pet wellness coverages are available at an extra cost as additions to your plan to cover things that insurance won’t. They are also called preventative plans because they provide preventive care for your pets.

Although the services covered depends on the provider, they generally cover dental cleanings, vaccinations, prescriptions, surgical procedures, annual checkups, routine blood work, urinalysis, etc

Is Pet Insurance Worth it?

Yes. Pet insurance can be worth it, especially if you have a new pet with no prior health condition.

Insurance generally protects against what could otherwise have been a financial disaster. For example, your pet can get hurt or sick unexpectedly, with bills amounting to thousands of dollars.

Without insurance, the costs could be difficult to foot, thus requiring you to take up a loan or take out some of your savings.

Pet insurance is advisable as it gives you peace of mind that you can take care of your pet when the need arises without a financial strain.

It can help you detect early and solve issues that could become serious health complications, costing more money. Applying a preventative pet care plan to your insurance is also a good investment.

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