When to Buy Pet Insurance

Insurance Ranked - Updated February 16, 2023
When to Buy Pet Insurance

As a pet parent, there's nothing you want more than for your furbaby to have a long, healthy, and happy life. There's nothing we wouldn't do to keep our furry family members safe and loved: we give them the best food, the comfiest bed, and repurchase their favorite toys once it's chewed up.

Still, according to Naphia.org, only around 2.5 million cats and dogs are currently insured (although this trend is on the rise).

Unfortunately, accidents, emergencies, illnesses can always happen, so you should be financially prepared.

Why To Get Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is essential for a number of reasons, but is mainly important as a means of helping you cover your pet's bill.

In addition, you don't know what the future holds for your pet: along with wellness check-ups and vaccines, they could need vet visit or treatments for a serious illness or injury at any time, and these costs can get incredibly high.

Unexpected veterinary visits have costs that can run anywhere from several hundred to over several thousand, depending on the severity of the condition and the procedures that follow; unfortunately, the average American family usually doesn't have that much they can quickly pay out of pocket and emergencies such as these can lead to long term payment plans.

Pet insurance helps you (and your vet) focus on their care and worry less about the expenses, giving you peace of mind. It also prevents pet parents from having to make the difficult decision to euthanize or give up a pet for adoption due to financial strain.

The cost of pet care also depends on the type of pet and breed. In general, dogs are more likely to be insured than cats (4% of dog owners as opposed to 1% to cat owners), due to the misconception that dogs tend to be more accident-prone than cats. However, while cats have fewer veterinary visits than dogs, they can still have costly medical bills; they are also known for hiding any pain or illnesses, which makes it hard to diagnose a serious medical condition early. Both kittens and puppies are prone to accidents and diseases, but they will usually develop some immunity as they grow and receive their vaccinations.

Larger dogs tend to develop medical conditions (such as arthritis and heart conditions) that don't affect smaller dogs.

Veterinary costs also vary by breed, since certain breeds may be more likely to be at risk for certain types of heredity conditions. For example: purebred dogs usually have more issues due to inbreeding, such as 66% of French bulldogs suffering from respiratory issues due to their short muzzles, according to the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. These deformities may require X-rays and surgery and can run up a bill in the thousands.

Pet insurance works like health insurance, except that you will have to pay your vet costs upfront before your insurance reimburses you directly after you submit a claim.

Pet insurance can keep you from paying all of these costs out of pocket. Even though you can't know 100% what the future holds, it doesn't hurt to be safe.

Finding Pet Insurance


When you're shopping around for pet insurance, you should compare your needs (and your pet's needs) with what each plan offers.

Ask yourself what you need from a plan and take the pricing, coverage, benefits, and company reviews into account. Many pet plans don't cover pre-existing conditions, although there are specific and curable conditions you could be eligible for after a waiting period with no symptoms.

If you know you can afford minor expenses out of pocket, then look for a plan that covers potential future events such as emergencies, broken bones, major surgeries, and hospitalization. Plan providers differ on what constitutes an emergency, so read up on their terms and services thoroughly before you agree to it.

It's also a good idea to ask your vet what they recommend for your pet.

You can easily receive quotes from multiple providers before you decide on the plan that's right for you.

There are three types of pet insurance plans:

  • Accident-only plans, which only cover injuries due to an accident.
  • Accident/illness plans, which cover both injuries and illnesses.
  • Wellness plans, which allow you to add this option to cover the costs of routine vet visits, and also covers procedures such as booster shots, vaccinations, dental care, and spaying/neutering.

When To Get Pet Insurance

Short answer: if you're planning on getting pet insurance, now is the time.

Don't wait to insure your pets after you bring them home. The longer you wait, the higher the premiums and overall expenses will be when you finally get it.

Additionally, most pet insurance providers don't cover pre-existing conditions, so the sooner you get it the more your pet will be covered in the future. However, pet insurance coverage from Pumpkin covers curable pre-existing conditions that are treated and symptom-free for 180 days.

This ensures your new furry family member will be covered and protected as soon as possible, especially if they are young -- puppies and kittens are more prone to accidents and typically have a weaker immune system than their older counterparts. Getting pet insurance now for preventative care is easier than signing up for it and having to wait when your pet is already ill.

Whatever you ultimately choose, research all of your options and know you are doing what is best for you and your pet.

Not sure where to start? See our top providers here.

Is pet insurance worth it?

If your pet unexpectedly falls ill, pet insurance can cover some or all of the costs, potentially saving you thousands. Having that coverage can help out your pet and give you peace of mind.

Should I consider pet insurance?

You should always consider pet insurance to help you cover veterinary costs, since it could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in the long run. If you have multiple pets, this could save you an immense amount over their lifetime.

When should I get pet insurance?

Typically, the best time to insure your pet is when you first get them, especially if they are young and healthy. As they age, premiums will increase.

The sooner you get it, the better, since you can keep yourself from incurring any unexpected vet costs.

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