How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

4 min read Jun 11, 2022

Life is full of the unexpected. When it comes to our pets, we can never plan for every accident and injury. Luckily, having pet insurance may be able to provide pet owners with financial coverage for approved expenses covered by their policy.2

How Much Is Pet Insurance?

The premium (the amount of money a policyholder pays) for pet insurance correlates to your pet’s risk. “Risk” refers to the likelihood of your pet needing medical care. It can be determined by things like the species, breed and age of your pet, as well as where you live . Because of this, the cost of pet insurance can vary quite a bit. The average accident and illness dog insurance cost has also been steadily increasing since 2016. Premiums for cat accident and illness insurance, meanwhile, have dipped slightly since 2019.

How Species Affects the Cost

The dogs versus cats debate may never be settled. But, when it comes to pet insurance, the numbers are clear: Dog insurance is on average 74% more expensive than cat insurance. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, accident and illness coverage for dogs averages out at $50 per month, whereas the average cost for cats is $28.3

How Breed Affects the Cost

All pets are created equal, except when it comes to risk. Some breeds of cats and dogs come with a higher premium than others. In general, pet insurance for a mixed breed animal may cost less than a purebred.4

Average premium - Dog Breeds

Average premium - Cat Breeds





Golden Retriever


Maine Coon






  *Data sourced from valuepenguin

The reason? Mixed breeds tend to be hardier than purebreds and require less healthcare.5 They can come from a diverse gene pool and be less susceptible to genetic conditions. Purebred lines are carefully controlled via inbreeding. This is how the desirable traits of purebreds are developed, but it also means they’re more likely to suffer from health issues passed down through the generations. Thus, a purebred is at greater risk, and so the pet insurance premium can be higher.

How Your Pet’s Age Affects the Cost

Our pets are like us — the older they get, the more likely they are to encounter health issues. So if you’re getting a quote for a senior dog, your premium will likely be higher than it would be for a puppy. This also means your premium may increase year to year.

How Your Location Affects the Cost

Where you and your pet live can also influence the cost of pet insurance. Vets in a metropolitan area, like New York, may charge more for services than rural vets.6 Your pet insurance premium will increase accordingly to offset this. Environmental factors are also considered when determining risk. A suburban house cat isn’t likely to encounter too many hazards, but an outdoor cat in the big city is living life on the edge. There’s a greater chance of injury and illness in their future, which means your premium will likely be higher to account for their daredevil lifestyle!

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Pet insurance plans can cover a range of injuries, conditions, and illnesses. Be sure to read your policy carefully, and ensure you understand coverage details.  MetLife Pet Insurance1 plans may provide comprehensive cat or dog health insurance coverage on the following:

●      Accidents

●      Illnesses (including hereditary, congenital & chronic conditions)

●      Hospitalizations

●      Surgeries

●      Diagnostic Tests

●      Exam Fees

●      Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

●      Cruciate Ligaments

●      Anterior Cruciate Ligament 

●      X-rays

●      Ultrasounds

●      Medications

●      Holistic Care & Alternative Therapies

●      Emergency Care

●      Medial Cruciate Ligament (MCL)

●      Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)

●      Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL)

●      Routine wellness & preventive care7

It’s important to remember that most pet insurance companies will not cover any accidents or injuries deemed to be pre-existing. Pre-existing conditions are conditions, illnesses, injuries, or symptoms that manifested and/or showed any symptoms prior to the start date of your pet insurance policy coverage.

Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?

Pets can be expensive, and it’s not always the expected costs that add up. According to a MetLife and CivicScience survey, two-thirds of pet owners in the U.S. primarily pay out of pocket or with cash for vet expenses, compared to just 3% who use pet insurance.8 Meanwhile, according to Rover, 81% of pet parents spend up to $500 on vet visits in the first year of having a puppy.9

So, is pet insurance worth it? If you look at the numbers, the value of pet insurance quickly becomes clear. The average emergency vet bill for a cat can range from $600 to $3,00010 with the cost of emergency care for dogs even higher, up to $5000 just for surgery. If you’re paying the average pet insurance monthly premium for your cat ($28) or dog ($50), your policy can pay for itself after even just one emergency vet bill.

How to Get Lower Pet Insurance Rates

Now that you know what factors influence the cost of pet insurance, you should be able to find a policy that fits your budget. There are a few things you could do to potentially lower your premium:

●      If you’re a first-time pet owner, consider adopting a mixed breed cat or dog. Remember, premiums may go up for purebreds.

●      If you’re not picky about your furry family, consider adopting a cat instead of a dog. On average, cat insurance costs less than dog insurance.

●      Choosing a larger deductible means you’ll need to pay more for your vet bills out of pocket, but it will also lower your monthly premium.

●      Think carefully about the care your pet might need. If you have a young cat or dog, you might not need accident and illness coverage until they get older.

MetLife Pet Insurance offers flexible pet insurance policies that make it easy to customize your coverage and get the best rates for you and your pet. Get started today with a free quote.

Need Pet Insurance?

Coverage in 3 Easy Steps

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1  Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3(2020), “Section #3: Average Premiums”, NAPHIA

4Croll, M., (2022), “Average Cost of Pet Insurance: 2022 Facts and Figures”, ValuePenguin

5Colestock, S., (2022), “How Breed Impacts Pet Insurance Costs”, LendEDU

6Colestock, S., (2022), “How Your State Impacts Pet Insurance Costs”, LendEDU

7For policies issued by IAIC, coverage for these conditions is subject to a 6-month wait period. Please review your policy for complete details. 

8(2022), “The Cost of Dog Parenthood in 2022”, Rover

9(2020), “Average Cost of Emergency Vet Visits”, Emergency Vets USA