How Pet Insurance Works

Insurance can be confusing. That's why try to make ours simple to use and easy to understand.

We know that your pets are family. When they get sick or injured, it can be a stressful time. MetLife Pet Insurance1 can help by covering some of the costs for your pet’s vet bills.3,6

We also know that insurance can be confusing. That’s why we’ve made our product as simple as possible so you can understand how pet insurance works.


How Does Pet Insurance Work? The Basics

What Is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is a lot like your own health insurance. For a low monthly fee, your policy may help cover some of the cost of your pet’s healthcare, including:

●      Unexpected accidents, such as a broken bone or ingested foreign object

●      Unexpected illnesses, including viral infections, parasites, and dental diseases

●      Medication

●      Surgery

●      Lab work, including blood tests, x-rays, and more

●      Emergency exams

●      Hospital boarding

●      Alternative therapies

That way, you can give your furry family members the care they need without worrying about the expense.

How Does Pet Insurance Work? The Details

Now that you know the basics about what pet insurance is and how it works, let’s get into the details so you can fully understand your dog insurance or cat insurance policy.

Getting payments from MetLife Pet Insurance1

We’ve made it quick and easy to submit a claim and receive payment for covered expenses. Send us your vet documents via our online portal or the MetLife Pet app, fax number, email or mailing address. We’ll process your claim, usually within 10 days2, and send your payment via direct deposit or paper check. You may be reimbursed for up to 100% of the cost of covered expenses, depending on your deductible, reimbursement rate, and reimbursement limits.3

What does “deductible” mean?

The deductible is the amount of money on your vet bill that you’re responsible for before you can be reimbursed. A $3,000 vet bill under a plan with a $500 deductible means you pay the first $500. The insurance provider covers the rest of the bill up to your reimbursement rate.

A higher deductible means you’ll need to pay more out of pocket before you can be reimbursed. The trade-off is that high-deductible plans usually have a lower premium.

The size of your deductible depends on the policy plan you choose. MetLife Pet Insurance offers a wide range of plans to fit your budget and your pet’s unique needs.

What does “premium” mean?

A premium or rate is the amount of money you pay for your pet insurance policy — think of it like a subscription. Premiums can be paid on a monthly basis or annually. Making smaller monthly payments is more manageable for most people, but paying for the entire year at one time can save you money on transaction fees in the long run.

A policy’s premium depends on the deductible, reimbursement rate, and annual limits you choose. It can also be influenced by your pet’s breed, age, and location.4 MetLife Pet Insurance lets you find the most affordable premium by customizing your policy.   

What does “reimbursement rate” mean?

The reimbursement rate is the amount of money, as a percentage, that your policy will send you to cover your pet’s medical expenses. Let’s  continue the example we used above with a vet bill totalling $3,000. After the $500 deductible is met, you are left with a $2,500 vet bill. A policy with an 80% reimbursement rate would cover $2,000 of the remaining $2,500 vet bill.

With MetLife Pet Insurance,5 you can get reimbursed for up to 100% of the cost of covered expenses, depending on the policy you choose.

What do “limits” mean?

There are two types of limits you should be aware of when choosing your policy:6

●      Annual limits cap your reimbursement within a 12-month period. Each policy has a maximum amount of money that you can be reimbursed for per year. Once you’ve hit your annual reimbursement cap, you will be responsible for the full cost of your vet bills until your annual limit resets. Some providers offer plans with an unlimited annual maximum, meaning you never have to worry about hitting your pet’s annual limit too soon.

●      Per-incident limits determine how much you can be reimbursed for a single illness or accident. For example, if your dog ate something he shouldn’t and needed an emergency exam, lab work, and surgery, those fees would be covered by your policy as a single “incident.” Once you hit the maximum payout for that incident, your policy would not cover any additional related expenses. However, if your dog then broke a bone in an unrelated accident, that would be a separate incident. You would submit a new claim for the new incident, and the per-incident limit would reset.

Annual and per-incident limits vary depending on the plan you choose. Be sure to consider all of your pet’s healthcare needs when choosing. For example, a younger dog might not need too many vet visits, so you may want to start with a policy that has lower limits. An older dog, on the other hand, is likely to require frequent check-ups as they age, making a policy with higher limits potentially a better option.

Why Should You Buy Pet Insurance?

It can be easy to feel like pet insurance is an unnecessary expense, especially if you have young pets. But, just like health insurance, many pet owners find it’s better to have pet insurance and not need it than to need it and not have it.

One in three pets goes to the vet for an emergency every year, but unfortunately, nearly 60% of pet owners have experienced not being able to afford the emergency care their fur babies need.7 Insurance is a simple and affordable way to help you take care of your pets. A small monthly premium payment can save you thousands of dollars on vet bills and help you keep your pets happy and healthy.

How much does pet insurance cost?

A pet insurance policy for a single cat or dog can be as low as $9 per month for cats and $15 per month for dogs. With MetLife Pet Insurance, you can also cover multiple pets under a single family policy and customize your plan to fit your budget. Comparatively, the average cost of an emergency vet visit for a dog can range from $150 to $1,200.8

 Want a detailed breakdown of the monthly cost of pet insurance? Read more about pet insurance costs here.

How to Get Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is an excellent way to keep your pets healthy and your wallet full. MetLife Pet Insurance plans are designed to be affordable, customizable, and comprehensive. Curious what your pet’s policy looks like? Get a free quote today. If you’re looking to purchase a policy through your employer, get a quote here.

Need Pet Insurance?

Coverage in 3 Easy Steps

What are you looking for?

Resources if you are purchasing a pet plan on your own.

Resources for individual policy holders, employees, and members who receive coverage through their employer.

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 Approximately 80% of claims are processed within 10 days or less.

3 Reimbursement options include: 70%, 80%, 90% and 100%. In addition, there is also a 50% option for MetGen underwritten policies only and a 65% for IAIC underwritten policies only.

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

5 For IAIC underwritten policies only, premium will also be based upon the pet’s gender.

6 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.

 7American Pet Products Association “National Pet Owners Survey”, 2017-2018

8Access to Veterinary Care Coalition, Access to Veterinary Care: Barriers, Current Practices, and Public Policy”, 2018-2020

9 Rover, “The Cost of Dog Parenthood in 2022”, 2022.