Is pet health insurance worth it?

March 11, 2021 - 7 min read

The Cost of Veterinary Care

Pets are family. That’s why most pet parents will spend whatever it takes to give their four-legged friends the best veterinary care possible. But there may come a time when your pet unexpectedly develops a severe illness or injury. To treat them, you might need to seek extensive or complex veterinary care.

But serious health conditions that require a lot of treatment — or even ones that require a single complicated surgery — can come with a hefty price tag. One reason for this (and to be clear, this is a good thing!) is that veterinary health care is advancing by leaps and bounds every day. Veterinary specialty practices are now exceedingly common.

That means your pet has a great chance of recovery even if they’re fighting serious illness or injury. Veterinary specialists can do amazing things, from advanced cardiac procedures to highly specialized surgeries. But first you need to be able to afford specialized treatment.

Dr. Daniel R. Fonza, a veterinarian based at the Scottsdale Veterinary Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, told ManyPets that cancer treatments for pets can easily run over $5,000, while major orthopedic surgery to fix a fractured leg can run $7,000 or more, and advanced intensive care with multiple days of hospitalization to stabilize a pet can run well over $7,000.

A serious illness or injury can take a substantial financial toll on a pet owner. In fact, many pet parents may not be prepared for such serious conditions, because they may not be able to afford the treatments at all.

So is pet insurance worth it? Many pet parents say that it is. Not only can it save money and grant peace of mind — in some situations it may be the only thing that enables a pet parent to pursue the care their furry friend needs.

Cat being pet and looking up at its owner

Why Should You Get Pet Health Insurance?

Pet health insurance isn’t just a matter of saving dollars and cents. Sure, pet insurance can protect your savings account. But it’s more important than that: It empowers you to seek treatment whenever your four-legged friend needs it. By helping cover the cost of some of your pet’s veterinary bills, insurance gives pet parents the peace of mind that they’ll never have to consider euthanasia due to financial constraints. That’s a tragic situation that no pet parent ever wants to face, but many do.

In these situations, pet insurance can be your savior. And even if a pet’s been leading a happy, frisky life free of serious health conditions, many pet parents find it comforting to know that they’ll be covered if anything does go wrong.

How do pet insurance plans work?

First, you should know that your own health insurance isn’t the best reference point for how pet health insurance works. Unlike human health care, most pet health insurance plans — including ManyPets — don't require you to go to an "in-network" provider. You simply take your cat or dog to any vet of your choice, pay the bill, then submit it to your pet insurance company.

Then your pet health insurance provider will reimburse you directly for covered treatments.

Bottom line: Pet health insurance plans are simpler and less restrictive to use than what we’ve come to expect from our own insurance.

Now, you might be wondering whether your pet’s breed or species will affect how they’re covered. The answer:  yes and no. While some pet insurance policies won’t cover breeds that are particularly susceptible to health conditions, other companies make no such restrictions. (ManyPets, incidentally, doesn’t have any breed restrictions.)

For most pet insurance companies, reimbursement levels are the same across all breeds. In other words, if the company offers 90 percent reimbursement on claims, you’ll get 90 percent of your bill covered, whether you have a sheepdog or a Siamese cat.

But factors such as breed, species, age and even zip code will be used to determine your monthly rate. Pet insurance providers need this information to determine the pricing structure that will best help them cover your pet’s treatment. It’s important to make sure you submit that information accurately so you can be sure all your claims will be covered.

Instead of trying to puzzle things out on your own, you’d be well-advised to just get a quote for your specific pet. You can do that here.

How Much of My Bill Will Be Covered?

First, let’s just clarify that pet health insurance covers claims relating to an accident or illness. (Actually, some companies only cover accidents, but ManyPets covers both.) Standard insurance policies also won’t reimburse you for preventive care — though some add-on plans, like the ManyPets wellness package, will fill in that gap. It’s also worth noting that every insurance company includes certain exclusions, including those relating to pre-existing conditions.


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.


For a complete overview of what a ManyPets insurance policy does cover, visit this page. (You can also visit this page to learn what isn’t covered, but you should really learn what is covered first.)

With all that out of the way: The highest-quality plans tend to reimburse pet parents for the vast majority of accident- and illness-related vet bills. ManyPets will reimburse you for 90 percent of your claims. (You can also customize your deductible and copay when you purchase your policy, just FYI.)

By the way, some companies, including ManyPets, allow you to submit an unlimited number of claims without ever seeing your monthly bill rise. Your premiums will never go up just because your pet is sick — that would kind of defeat the purpose.

So how does getting reimbursed actually work, and how much money will you get back? Let’s break this down with an example.

Leo the Beagle develops a tumor between his front legs. Yikes.

His pet parent, Lisa, brings him in for an examination, and Leo’s vet winds up performing a biopsy and blood work. All told, the vet visit costs $600.

Fortunately, Lisa has insured her pup, and submits the bill to her insurance provider. Here’s what happens then:

  • Reimbursement: 90%, or $540

  • Deductible: $100, which Lisa pays out of pocket.

Ultimately, Lisa is reimbursed $440 on a $600 bill.

But it doesn’t end there.

A few days later, the biopsy result comes back, and the tumor is benign (phew!). Nonetheless, the tumor is making it difficult for poor Leo to walk. His vet recommends a $2,000 surgery to remove the tumor, and Lisa schedules the procedure without a moment’s hesitation. The surgery goes off without a hitch, and little Leo bounds out of the clinic with a spring in his step.

Lisa submits her new claim, and here’s what happens then:

  • Reimbursement: Still 90 percent!

  • Deductible: None this time — Lisa already paid it with her previous claim.

Lisa is reimbursed $1,800 on a $2,000 bill. Couple that with the first claim she submitted, and Lisa has spent only $360 out-of-pocket on $2,600 worth of veterinary bills.

Lisa and Leo were fortunate. For some pet parents, $2,600 is just too much to spend on a single illness or injury. In fact, for Lisa, having pet health insurance may not have been a simple matter of saving money. If Leo had been uninsured, Lisa might have spent nothing, and watched helplessly as a treatable condition wreaked havoc on her poor pup’s life.

When a pet health insurance policy, like ManyPets’, reimburses you for 90% of your bill, that coverage might be the only thing enabling treatment for your four-legged friend in the first place.

So Are Pet Insurance Plans Worth It?

The average pet health insurance plan covering both accidents and illnesses cost about $49 per month (or $585 per year) for dogs, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. For cats, the averages are $29 and $350, respectively. Some pet parents look at these numbers, worry that insurance is too costly, and choose to make the gamble that their pet will stay healthy, or that they’ll be able to afford whatever treatments their pet may need.  But this mindset may be the single biggest factor keeping more people from insuring their four-legged friends.

It’s easy enough to understand the logic: Why insure your pet if they’re healthy? But when pets develop costly conditions, pet health insurance might be the only way to get your furry friend back on the road to health.

It’s true that your pet might never develop an unexpected condition that demands thousands of dollars worth of veterinary treatment. But then again, they might. And if your pet is on the right pet health insurance policy, there’s less of a chance you’ll be hit with veterinary costs you can’t afford.

It bears mentioning that all pet health insurance providers always make pre-existing exclusions. If an uninsured pet gets sick or injured, it’ll likely be too late to cover them for that particular condition in the future. That’s why it’s important to buy coverage while they’re still young and healthy.

If your cat or dog isn’t insured, you may be forced to make an unbearable decision. When our four-legged friends are suffering and we can’t afford the appropriate veterinary treatments or procedures, humane euthanasia is often the only remaining option.

When your pet is insured, it’s far less likely that you’ll ever have to consider end-of-life care for a treatable condition. Yes, pet parents should always hope for the best. But insurance is about preparing for the worst — knowing that your pet will be safer and more protected even if the worst comes.

You can learn more about the ManyPets pet health insurance policy here.

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.