How does pet insurance work?

March 11, 2021 - 6 min read

Maggie recently brought her little one, Tommy, to a routine wellness exam. And much to Maggie’s alarm, Tommy was diagnosed with a serious medical condition. But after thousands of dollars worth of treatments, Tommy was the picture of health.

Tommy, incidentally, was a French Bulldog. And fortunately, Maggie had pet insurance.

Why pet insurance matters

For humans, health insurance is just the standard way to pay for healthcare. have long relied on insurance to pay for their own healthcare costs. Yet, out of more than 100 million pet dogs and cats in the US, only 5.7 million (about 3.7%) had pet insurance as of the end of 2023. This means that cat and dog parents constantly face the painful choice that Maggie managed to avoid: Drain a bank account or let a four-legged friend go untreated.

Many pet parents don’t know whether pet insurance is worth the expense, or how to choose the right company. But all pet parents do know this: Pets are near and dear to us, and they deserve long, frisky lives. Insurance isn’t just about protecting your wallet; it’s about helping you choose the treatment they need, when they need it, without letting costs hold you back.

This guide will walk you through the basics of pet health insurance and explain what separates ManyPets from the pack.

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Nose-to-tail pet insurance

Coverage for every wag and whisker

Get great coverage for all your furry family members and enjoy peace of mind with no annual payout limits or pesky hidden fees.

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How does pet insurance insurance work?

If you live in the US (and you’re a human), the American healthcare system has probably given you heartburn. But we learned from it, and ManyPets insurance is a different animal.

Like human health insurance, pet health insurance offers reimbursement for medical care.But when you go to the doctor, you can only go to certain in-network providers. ManyPets is more flexible.

When you insure your dog or cat, you’re free to take your pet to any licensed vet, specialist, or emergency clinic. Just submit your claim straight to ManyPets afterward, and we’ll reimburse you directly.

ManyPets makes this process as easy as possible. Some pet insurance companies require you to submit your pet’s medical records each time you submit a claim, but we’ll only ask for them once (unless there's a very specific reason we require new documentation).

What does pet insurance cover?

Some insurance companies only offer accident insurance. At ManyPets, we provide nose-to-tail coverage for both accidents and illnesses. We want to keep your pet healthy and safe for as long as possible, no matter what ails them.

Here are some of the items your Accident and Illness may cover:

  • Sick exams
    Veterinary exams and consultations required to diagnose or treat an illness or injury

  • Diagnostics
    Lab work, x-rays, MRIs, blood work, and other necessary tests

  • Medication
    Vet-prescribed meds approved by the FDA

  • Alternative treatments administered by a vet
    Things like rehab, acupuncture, chiropractic, or hydrotherapy (as long as they're administered by a vey to treat an injury or illness)

  • Surgeries
    Procedures needed to treat illnesses or injuries

  • Supplies
    Medically necessary items, as determined by your veterinarian

  • Hospitalization
    Boarding at a veterinary clinic as required by your veterinarian

  • Euthanasia and cremation
    ...But for now, let’s just think about keeping your pet healthy as long as possible

By the way, unlike some other pet health insurance companies, ManyPets offers a Wellness Plan covering routine and preventative care. (More on that later.)

Read this pet insurance comparison to see how ManyPets stacks up to other companies.

How much does pet insurance cost?

There’s a broad spectrum of pricing across the pet insurance industry. So by all means, get pet insurance quotes from multiple companies, but be aware: Price isn't everything. The best pet insurance isn't always the most expensive, and cheap pet insurance isn't necessarily better either. Always read the policy details carefully to find a plan that balances your budget with your coverage needs.

The ManyPets Accident and Illness policy is competitive with other plans on the market. Generally speaking, ManyPets plans often cost between between $20-$30 per month for adult cats, and $30-$50 per month for adult dogs.

But the cost of pet insurance often changes as your pet gets older, and it can vary widely based on a number of other factors, including location, breed, species, and your coverage selections (deductible and reimbursement percentage).

Pet parents can also choose to purchase a Wellness Plan that covers routine treatments like preventative exams, dental cleanings, and parasite protection. These optional plans (which are not technically insurance) add an additional expense, but they may pay for themselves if you're planning to spend a substantial amount on preventive care.

If you want to know exactly how much it’ll cost to insure your cat or dog–with or without an optional Wellness Plan–you can get a pet insurance quote here.

Is pet insurance worth it?

Dr. Jenny Brown, a former emergency veterinarian from Seattle who now works as a relief veterinarian in private practice, told ManyPets that pet health insurance removes the “financial limit” of veterinary care. She's not wrong.

Here's the thing: Veterinary care is expensive. And as more and more vets branch out into speciality fields like dermatology, oncology, cardiology, and more, care is only getting pricer. Every day, pet parents put down pets with costly but treatable conditions–a practice known as "economic euthanasia." With pet insurance, that heartbreaking choice might never be necessary.

So if you ask us if pet insurance is worth it, of course we'll say yes–but with good reason. With pet insurance in your pet parenting arsenal, you may never have to choose between your pet's health and your financial health.

What does pet insurance not cover?

No pet insurance provider covers everything, and we want to make sure you’re never surprised.

All companies tend to exclude pre-existing conditions, routine and preventative care, and care for conditions that arise during your initial waiting period.

Here’s the good news: We offer some exceptions and ways to shore up coverage.

Routine care and the ManyPets Wellness Plan

Pet health insurance policies don’t usually cover preventive care – but it's extremely important.

Fortunately, ManyPets offers an optional (non-insurance) Wellness Plan that provides up to $600 in annual reimbursement for routine care.

Here’s what it covers:

  • Routine wellness visits and vaccinations: Up to $150 a year for wellness exams and vaccinations

  • Parasite prevention and testing: Up to $150 a year for flea and heartworm prevention and testing

  • Dental cleanings and at-home dental care: Up to $150 for professional dental cleanings and at-home dental products (e.g., brushes and chews)

  • Vitamins, supplements, and more: Up to $150 for vitamins and supplements (for both cats and dogs) and more


ManyPets Wellness Plan for Cats and Dogs

Save on preventative care for your furry friends

The non-insurance ManyPets Wellness Plan can help reimburse you for the cost of routine and preventative care, including routine vet visits and certain over-the-counter products.


Pre-existing conditions/waiting periods

Most insurance plans don’t cover any illnesses or health conditions that a cat or dog developed before the policy went into effect (or during the policy's initial waiting period). However, ManyPets will no longer consider a condition to be pre-existing if your pet has been free of symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment for 18 months (except for hip dysplasia, cruciate ligament conditions, and–in some states–IVDD).


Pre-existing conditions and insurance - how does it work?

ManyPets has exclusions for pre-existing conditions, but past conditions don’t always prevent future coverage. Get the details.


Breed and age

At ManyPets, all dog and cat breeds are eligible for coverage. We couldn’t exactly call ourselves ManyPets if we didn’t love all pets equally! Just be aware, some breeds are more susceptible to health problems than others; all other things being equal, these pets might command higher-than-average monthly premiums.

As for age: You can also purchase a new policy up until your pet is 14 (plus one day). And pets enrolled before 14 can maintain their coverage. As for puppies and kittens, they have to be 8 weeks old before they're eligible for coverage. One other thing to keep in mind: Whether we're talking about pet insurance for dogs or pet insurance for cats, premiums do tend to rise each year as pets age, which reflects their increased medical risk.

Want to know what your pet’s premiums will cost? There’s only one way to find out:

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Nose-to-tail pet insurance

Get coverage for all your woofs and meows.

Get great coverage for all your furry family members and enjoy peace of mind with no annual payout limits or pesky hidden fees.

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Can I personalize my ManyPets policy?

You sure can. Many pet parents choose a policy that only covers accidents and illnesses, while others opt for a Wellness Plan.

You may also be able to customize your deductible and reimbursement level, which can affect your premium. A couple quick definitions:

  • Your deductible is the initial out-of-pocket amount you have to pay before you start receiving reimbursements. ManyPets’ deductible is only applied once per policy period.

  • Your reimbursement level is the percentage of each approved claim you'll be paid back (after any remaining deductible).

Just be aware: Adjusting deductibles and reimbursement levels may sound like a great way to make your plan cheaper. But anytime you change your up-front costs, you risk reducing your reimbursements, paying too much out-of-pocket, or both. Make the selections that work best for your needs and budget.

When and where can I buy my ManyPets policy?

It's wise to insure your pet while they're still young. That way it's far less likely you'll ever have to worry about pre-existing conditions. If you get your policy while your pet is still young, you'll never have to worry about pre-existing conditions.

As for where? If you're ready to get started now, click here to get your quote. It's free and it'll only take a minute – we promise.

David Teich
Lead Editor

David oversees content strategy and development at ManyPets. As Lead Editor, he focuses on delivering accurate information related to pet care and insurance. David’s editorial background spans more than a decade, including a pivotal role at Digiday, where he wrote content and managed relationships with media and tech companies. As an Associate Editor at Cynopsis Media, David wrote the Cynopsis Digital newsletter and interviewed executives and digital marketing experts in the TV industry. His background also includes film journalism. His diverse experiences in journalism and marketing underpins his role in shaping content within the pet care industry.