Is pet insurance only for sick pets?


Adam Cecil

Adam Cecil

Former Staff Writer

Adam Cecil is a former staff writer for Policygenius, a digital insurance brokerage trying to make sense of insurance for consumers. He is a podcast producer, writer, and video maker based in Brooklyn, NY.

Published May 20, 2016|2 min read

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For many pet owners, the only time you hear about pet insurance is at the vet’s office. Our editor Chris Walters’ once brought his elderly cat to the vet for oral surgery, only to receive a brochure for pet insurance along with the bill. Just this past weekend, I saw a poster in my vet’s office that read "Could pet insurance have helped you today?" That’s a strange message because it suggests that pet insurance is something that you should buy after your pet has gotten sick or been in an accident. This is, in fact, not true at all.

Pet insurance can’t retroactively cover your pet. Simply put, that’s just not how insurance works. Insurance is all about risk management — you pay a little bit every month in case something bad happens that requires a big bill. In the case of pet insurance, this usually works out. Pet insurance can be as cheap as $10 per month, but an advanced veterinary procedure often costs an upwards of $5,000.

There are a lot of people who feel that pet insurance isn’t worth it because they think they’ll never use it or that they’ll end up putting more into the plan than they’ll end up getting out of it. This is the wrong way to think about pet insurance. Pet insurance isn’t about saving money, it’s about creating a safety net that you hope you never have to use.

Pets can end up getting just as sick as human beings, too — dogs have a 25% chance of developing a tumor at one point in their life, while 10% of cats develop a Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. While both can be costly to treat, they don’t have to be fatal.

What happens if you wait until your pet gets sick or injured before you buy pet insurance? You end up paying a lot more money, and usually, the policy won’t cover pre-existing conditions.

The best time to buy pet insurance is when your pet is young — kitten, puppy, or around one to two years old. Pet insurance will get gradually more expensive as your pet gets older. If you’re worried about the cost of pet insurance, consider this: vet bills are getting more expensive every year, and can cost you thousands of dollars per visit. When you buy young, pet insurance is just a small monthly payment, which makes it a lot easier to budget for than unexpected vet bills.

Image: Ivan Rojas Urrea