Pet Insurance Terms Made Simple

Four Minutes
Dec 07, 2023

When it comes to caring for your beloved pets, the last thing you want is to be confused about pet insurance. At MetLife Pet, we try our best to make insurance easier to understand.

When you get a pet insurance policy, it may have a definitions section to help you understand what’s in it. But here’s a list of common pet insurance terms to help you get started.

Accident Coverage

Accident coverage is insurance that can cover expenses related to accidents and injuries — such as diagnostics, hospitalization, treatment, and medications.

Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies (or complementary treatments) are those not considered traditional therapies that can help maintain your pet’s health or support their recovery. Some of these therapies include chiropractic care, hydrotherapy, laser therapy, acupuncture, and more.

Annual Limit

The annual limit is the maximum amount of money you can be reimbursed through your insurance policy in a given policy period. This limit doesn’t include your deductible, and it will reset when a new policy period begins. It may also be called the maximum limit, policy limit, annual maximum benefit, or the payout per year. MetLife Pet offers flexible annual limits you can choose from.1


Benefits are the items, expenses, or services covered under an insurance policy.

Benefit Schedule

A benefit schedule is the part of your insurance policy that specifies what’s covered under your policy and how much is covered.

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Bilateral Condition

A bilateral condition is a medical condition that can occur on both sides of your pet’s body.

Chronic Conditions

Chronic conditions are medical conditions or diseases where the effects are long-lasting or develop over time, and require recurring medical care. They may or may not have a cure and are generally conditions that persist for more than 12 months.2


Pet insurance claims are requests you submit to your insurance company for payment of a covered benefit.

Congenital Condition

A congenital condition is a disease, disorder, or condition that occurs before or at birth.

Continuous Coverage

Continuous coverage is a period of time when a pet is insured by policies through the same insurance provider without a break in coverage.


Coverage is the specific insurance described in an insurance policy.


A deductible is the amount of money you pay for your pet’s health care before your insurance provider starts reimbursing for covered expenses. MetLife Pet offers many deductible options for policyholders to choose from — making it easier to customize coverage according to budget and a pet’s needs.3

Effective Date

The effective date is the date when a policy between an insurance provider and a policyholder becomes binding and active.


Exclusions are expenses not covered by an insurance policy.

Explanation of Benefits

An explanation of benefits is a document that explains what items are covered and not covered on a vet bill when a claim is submitted.

Illness Coverage

Illness coverage is insurance that can cover certain expenses related to illnesses and health conditions — such as diagnostics, hospitalization, treatment, and medications.


An incident is an event or occurrence — such as an injury or illness — that happens to your pet while they’re insured. Each covered incident must have its own claim to receive reimbursement for covered expenses under the Pet Insurance policy.

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Lifetime Limit

The lifetime limit is the maximum amount of money your insurance provider will reimburse you (for covered expenses) over your insured pet’s lifetime. MetLife Pet policies don’t have a lifetime limit.

Medically Necessary

Medically necessary services, care, or supplies are provided to treat a pet consistent with their diagnosis or symptoms, and are accepted as good vet practice standards, not out of convenience or ease.

Per-Incident Limit

The per-incident limit is the maximum amount of money your insurance provider will pay for an individual covered incident that you submit a claim for. It can also be called a covered incident limit. MetLife Pet policies don’t have per-incident limits.

Pet Insurance Policy

A pet insurance policy is a contract between an insurance provider and a policyholder that defines the insurance terms and conditions, as well as costs associated with the policy.


A policyholder is the individual who purchased an insurance policy. They may also be called a policy owner.

Policy Period

Also known as a policy term or policy duration, a policy period is the length of time the insurance policy is active.


Pre-certification allows you to submit an estimate for a service to your insurance provider to see if it will be covered under the insurance policy.

Pre-Existing Condition

Pre-existing conditions are health conditions that a pet develops or shows symptoms of prior to an insurance policy’s effective date or before the end of any relevant waiting periods. Most of the time, pre-existing conditions aren’t covered by pet insurance policies. However, MetLife Pet may cover some of them for group policy holders.4


A premium is the cost to hold an insurance policy. Premiums — aka rates — may be paid monthly or annually, depending on your plan and provider. Rates can vary based on your location, as well as your pet’s breed, age, gender,5 and species.

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Preventive Care Coverage

Preventive care coverage is insurance that can cover expenses related to preventing injury or illness or keeping a pet healthy when there’s been no injury or illness — such as vaccinations, teeth cleaning, or parasite prevention. MetLife Pet offers an optional preventive care plan you can add to your dog or cat insurance policy to enhance your coverage.6


A quote is an estimate of what a pet insurance policy may cost and cover when the quote is requested.


A reimbursement is the money you receive for covered expenses after submitting a claim. Typically, reimbursements are paid after you’ve met your plan’s deductible. With MetLife Pet, most claims are reimbursed in about 10 days, and you can choose how you get reimbursed — through direct payments or a paper check.

Reimbursement Percentage

Reimbursement percentage is the portion of covered expenses you can be reimbursed for after meeting your deductible. You may also see this written as “covered percentage.” MetLife Pet offers customizable plans that allow you to choose your reimbursement percentage.7


A renewal is the continuation of a pet insurance policy after the current policy period ends. Most times, a policy renewal is automatic as long as you haven’t canceled your policy and you’re in good standing with your insurance provider — i.e., up-to-date on your premium payments and haven’t violated any terms or conditions.


An underwriter is an insurance professional who specializes in risk assessment and prevention for the purpose of evaluating insurance applications and deciding on coverage. Essentially, an underwriter decides how risky it would be for an insurance provider to insure an applicant and what it may cost.

Waiting Period

The waiting period is the amount of time after your insurance policy’s effective date, before the insurance provider will begin reimbursing for covered benefits. MetLife Pet offers a 0-day waiting period on accidents and our optional preventive care plan, and a 14-day waiting period on illnesses.8

Learn More About Pet Insurance

Pet insurance can be a great option to help you financially prepare for pet health care expenses. MetLife Pet has dog insurance and cat insurance policies available. And if you have more than one pet at home, MetLife Pet is the only provider of family plans in the market, that allows you to insure up to three pets on one policy with a shared deductible.9

Don’t let finances hinder your ability to get your pet the care they need when they need it. Learn more about how pet insurance works, and see if award-winning10 MetLife Pet Insurance is worth it for you. You can also get a free quote to see your personalized rates!

Pet Insurance Can Help Cover Pet Injury & Illness Costs

**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

1 Annual limit options range from $500 - $25,000 in $1,000 increments. Unlimited benefit option subject to availability.

2Topic: Chronic Conditions,” Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality[DS1] , last accessed December 2023

3 Deductible options range include: $0 – $750 in $50 increments and $1,000, $1,250, $1,500, $2,000 and $2,500.

4 We do not cover all pre-existing conditions; just those covered by the previous provider; for group policyholders only.  This only applies when switching providers.

5 For IAIC policies, premium is also based upon pet gender. For IAIC policies only.

6 For IAIC policies, optional Preventive Care coverage is based on a Schedule of Benefits. For MetGen policies, optional Preventive Care coverage is included in the annual limit.

7 Reimbursement options include: 70%, 80% and 90% and a 50% option for MetGen policies and a 65% option for IAIC policies only. Pet age restrictions may apply.

8 Accident and optional Preventive Care coverage begins on midnight EST of the effective day of your policy compared to a wait time of 2 to 15 days for many competitors; Illness coverage begins 14 days from the effective day of your policy compared to 14 to 30 days for many competitors. Based on a March 2023 review of publicly available summary information. Competitors did not furnish copies of their policies for review. If you have questions about a particular competitor's policy or coverage, please contact them or their representative directly.

9 Based on a March 2023 review of publicly available summary information. Competitors did not furnish copies of their policies for review. If you have questions about a particular competitor's policy or coverage, please contact them or their representative directly.

10 “2023 Pet Insurance of the Year Award” Winners, Pet Independent Innovation Awards

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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