Is Pet Insurance Even Worth It? 5 Reasons Veterinarians Say Yes!

Last Updated April 2024

Pets are a lot of things. They’re loving, they’re loyal, they’re fun, they’re family. But pets can also be pricey: The average cost of a hip replacement for a dog is between $3,500 and $7,000; cataract surgery could run you anywhere from $2,600 to $4,000; and if your dog needs ACL surgery, you could end up paying as much as $3,000 per knee. Cat owners don’t have it any better—they can spend anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 on intestinal blockage surgery if their furry friend ingests a foreign object and it gets stuck.

Pet insurance can help offset the cost of unexpected medical treatments and procedures like these. But how, exactly, does it work? And is pet insurance worth it? We’ll cover all of that and more in this comprehensive guide.

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How it Works

Pet insurance works a little differently than human health insurance. With most pet insurance plans, when your pet needs medical care, you pay out of pocket for the service. Then you submit a claim form and an itemized receipt to your insurance provider. Your provider will then review your claim and reimburse you for all covered expenses via check or direct deposit. The reimbursement amount and timeframe depends upon the provider and the plan you select. Some pet insurance companies like Fetch guarantee a reimbursement turnaround (Fetch’s is 15 days), which is a great benefit to consider when shopping for a pet insurance plan.

5 Benefits of Pet Insurance

There are lots of good reasons to consider investing in pet insurance. Here are just a few of them:

1. Protection from Unexpected Costs

If your pet becomes ill or suffers an injury, you could find yourself suddenly facing very large, very unexpected medical bills. And, unless you have an emergency fund for these types of expenses, this could mean digging into your savings, going into debt, or having to make the devastating decision to pass on care simply because you can’t afford it.

Pet insurance protects you from the financial burden that comes with unexpected treatments and procedures. You regularly pay into your plan and as long as it’s covered, you’ll receive full or partial reimbursement for the diagnosis, treatment and management of your pet’s condition. The fee and reimbursement percentage varies from provider to provider, but companies like Fetch charge as little as $35 per month and will cover up to 90 percent of medical expenses.

2. Plan Options to Suit Your Needs

There are two primary types of pet insurance plans, “Accident-Only” and “Accident and Illness.” Accident-only plans typically cover anything associated with a sudden physical injury—think broken bones, torn ligaments and poisoning. In addition to the items covered by an Accident-Only Plan, Accident and Illness Insurance Plans cover things like cancer, arthritis, skin infections and allergies. Some providers also offer plan add-ons for pet owners who want specific services covered, and many also offer wellness plans, which cover routine care like annual exams, vaccinations, spaying/neutering and dental cleanings—although these are not considered true insurance plans.

3. Choice of Veterinarians 

Every pet parent knows the importance of finding a veterinarian they like. Your pets are your family. And just as you’d be discerning when choosing a family doctor, you want to be deliberate in selecting your family veterinarian. In addition to having hours and a location that work for you, you want your vet to have a philosophy and approach that aligns closely with your own.

Many pet insurance companies like Lemonade and Fetch let subscribers choose their own healthcare provider. They don’t require you to choose from a pre-approved list, or deny you coverage if you use the “wrong” provider. You simply select the vet that works for you and submit your veterinary bill to your insurance company for full or partial reimbursement.

4. Flexible Payment Options

Many pet insurance companies allow subscribers to choose from a few different payment plans. Many offer the option to pay monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. Whichever you choose, budgeting is easy because you know you’ll pay the same amount at whatever cadence you select.

5. Ultimate Peace of Mind

Pet insurance can help you extend—and even save—the life of your pet. It enables you to make treatment decisions based strictly on what your pet needs as opposed to what you can afford. Pet insurance companies like one of our personal favorites, Fetch, reimburse a sizable chunk of medical expenses, so owners can rest easy knowing they can help their pet without breaking the bank.