Pet insurance can help you pay the vet if your cat or dog gets injured or sick. The premiums for pet insurance — sometimes referred to as health insurance for pets — are relatively inexpensive, which can make buying a policy worthwhile in case of a medical emergency. Pet insurance premiums for dogs cost under $50 a month and less than $30 for cats.  It can be a small price for pet parents to pay if their furry loved one is hit by a car, gets cancer or even a stomach bug, since surgeries and treatments can cost in the thousands.
Average cost of pet insurance
In order for the insurance company to cover the cost of veterinary care, you first have to first pay a premium to opt into the plan.
Here's the average annual cost for a pet insurance policy according to 2020 data collected by the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.
Type of plan
Accident and illness
Average monthly cost of pet insurance:
Type of plan
Accident and illness
As you can see, adding illness coverage will increase your pet insurance rates — but it is the only way to have the insurance company pay for the vet when your pet contracts a disease or gets cancer. Accident and illness coverage is the most popular type of insurance among pet owners who had a policy in 2020 according to the same study.
Pet insurance can also cost more if you get additional coverage, like a wellness plan that covers vaccinations and screenings. Routine care isn't typically covered by standard pet policy, but be sure to check the details of your plan.
Learn more about what pet insurance covers.
What affects your pet insurance premiums?
The following factors can increase the premium for your plan, as well as the amount of money you could end up spending on vet-related pet expenses.
Your pet’s species
Dog insurance costs more than cat insurance, and larger pets are typically more costly to insure than smaller ones. If you have a bird or reptile, you’ll actually have to get a different type of insurance called exotic animal insurance
Your pet's breed
Certain dog and cat breeds are more susceptible to genetic conditions or diseases, and since they are statistically more likely to need care you’ll find that the insurance premiums may be higher. For example, certain types of dogs may be more likely to have hip dysplasia, and certain cats may be more susceptible to asthma, necessitating more vet visits and care.
Your pet's age
Pet insurance gets more expensive as your pet gets older and a policy may even become unattainable if your pet is too old. It's not uncommon for insurers to decline coverage for older pets, which are more likely to require medical attention. That's why it's best to get a policy while your pet is young and healthy.
Learn more about when is the best time to buy pet insurance.
Medical care (not to mention everything else) may be more costly in bigger cities. As such, you can expect the average premium charged by pet insurance companies to be higher in urban areas. As a pet owner you won't have much control over this factor, but it’s something to keep in mind when you’re shopping for insurance or buying a pet.
What doesn't affect premiums
Where you got your pet and whether they're declawed or trained typically doesn't affect the cost of your pet insurance. As far as training your dog, some pet insurance policies may include behavior issues in their coverage already.
How to save on pet insurance
Here are a few ways to lower the cost of pet insurance:
Pay the premium up front
The insurance company may give you a discount for choosing to pay a year’s worth of premiums up front instead of on a monthly basis.
Choose a lower reimbursement rate
Pet insurance doesn't cover the vet bill 100%; the pet insurance provider usually pays you back for a percentage of your cost, called the reimbursement rate. A pet plan that covers 70% of vet costs instead of 90% will have a lower monthly premium, but keep in mind that you'll have to pay more of your own money for your pet’s care.
Choose a higher deductible
Before the insurance company will reimburse you, you'll have to pay a certain amount on your own first, like say $100. Your plan premium will go down if you choose a higher deductible amount.
When you lower your monthly costs on pet insurance, the overall amount that you spend on your pet’s health could potentially end up more because you're choosing less coverage. All of this depends of course on what sort of veterinary care your pet ultimately ends up needing.
Read more to find out if pet insurance is worth it.