What is Pet Insurance? Do I Need It? 

It’s an old age question. Are you a dog person or a cat person? Spoiler alert- there is no wrong answer. Whether your pet has fur, scales or feathers, we all understand the love for a pet. Many times, our pets become family members, and we want to care for them as best we can. You take them to the vet, ensure they have food and water, a nice shelter, and lots of love. What happens when you need something outside of routine care? Your pet might need an operation, physical therapy or additional treatment that can get expensive. Did you know that pet insurance could help cover some of those costs? Nearly 4 million pets were covered under pet insurance the United States in 2021. Today we are going to discuss the basics of pet insurance to help you decide if it’s something you need.  

Pet Insurance 

Much like your health insurance, pet insurance includes annual/monthly premiums, co-pays, deductibles and annual maximums. You can obtain coverage for dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, exotic birds, reptiles, and various other animals. The cost of coverage often depends on the type of animal, age of animal, and the level of care chosen. These policies can have exclusions for pre-existing conditions or certain hereditary conditions. Most insurances offer the following types of coverage: accident only, accident and illness, routine/preventative, and comprehensive.  

*Reminder, all policies, coverages, and reimbursements vary. This is strictly a guide, not a guarantee of payment. It is important to research companies and ask questions to help select the best coverage. *  

Accident Only Coverage 

Accident only coverage is exactly what it sounds like. This type of policy will cover your pet if there is a physical injury such as broken bones or swallowing a foreign object. Typically, emergency services, diagnostics, and treatment are covered under this policy.  

 Accident and Illness Coverage 

Accident and Illness coverage is the next level of coverage. This policy includes the accident components mentioned above, but also includes illnesses such as cancer, ACL injuries, infections, and some hereditary conditions. 

Routine Wellness or Preventative Coverage 

Routine wellness or preventative coverage allows you to be reimbursed for normal pet care. Things like immunizations, flea & tick treatment, heartworm medications, and spay/neuter are covered under this plan. This is usually an add on to one of the policies already discussed. 


A comprehensive plan or “nose to tail” as it referred to is a premium policy that encompasses all three previous policies. While these plans are the most expensive, they also cover lab fees, x-rays, office visits, and most other pet visits to a veterinarian.  

How Does Pet Insurance Work? 

Pet insurance is primarily reimbursement based. This means after you pay your bill at the vet office, you will submit the bill, diagnosis codes, documentation of treatment, and any other necessary pieces of information to your insurance company. Your insurance company will review all the information and will then reimburse you for part of all the visit based on the type of coverage you have.  

Where Can I Use Pet Insurance? 

Pet insurance is accepted at veterinary offices, emergency clinics, and specialists. Since it is a reimbursement-based policy, there are no in- network or out-of-network providers like human insurance. It is important to check with your insurance company to see if there are specific limitations or requirements. 

How Much is Pet Insurance? 

According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), annual premiums in 2021 ranged from $19-$48 monthly for dogs and $10-$28 monthly for cats. Again, the range depends on the type of policy you choose. It is also important to remember additional costs associated with these policies like deductibles, the reimbursement percentage, and annual maximums.   


A deductible is an amount that you must pay for health services before your insurance will start to pay. These usually range anywhere from $100-$500. 

Reimbursement Percentage 

The reimbursement percentage is the percentage of covered costs you will receive after you have met your deductible. The percentages range from 70%-90%. 

Annual Maximum 

The annual maximum is the maximum dollar amount an insurance company will pay out per year. This can be a wide range starting at $2500- unlimited payout depending on the company. 

Pet Insurance Exclusions and Limitations 

While pet insurance can help offset the costs of veterinary expenses, it is important to understand there are limitations and exclusions to these policies. The following are a sampling of what might not be covered: 

  • Breeding 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Cosmetic Procedures (tail docking, claw removal or ear cropping) 
  • Elective Procedures 
  • Experimental Treatments 
  • DNA Testing
  • Accidents or illness caused by fighting, cruelty, etc.  
  • Senior pets 
  • Pre-existing conditions (anything your pet was diagnosed with prior to insurance binding) 
  • Hereditary conditions (Hip dysplasia, inherited cancers, allergies, diabetes, bowel diseases) 

Do I Need Pet Insurance? 

When comparing premiums and what you spend at the vet annually, you might find that pet insurance is a logical financial decision. If you don’t know much about your pet’s history or have a breed that is susceptible to certain health conditions, pet insurance is probably a worthwhile investment. Pet insurance can give you peace-of-mind by helping you provide your furry friend with excellent veterinary care and mitigating the risk of an overwhelming expense if an accident or illness should arise.  While we think it’s a good idea to protect all the members of your family, we will leave the final decision up to you.    

Inter-Agency Insurance & Your Pet 

At Inter-Agency Insurance, we know how important a pet can be to your family.  That said, just like your other insurances, there are questions and details to discuss with your agent. Inter-Agency Insurance has been serving the East Tennessee area for over fifty years. Our trusted agents are happy to discuss the benefits of pet insurance and if it is right for you. Even better, you can request quote here. If you would like to speak directly to one of our agents, we can be reached at 865-637-4519.