Pet Insurance: What Is It and Is It Worth It?

Team Marble
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January 11, 2021

Ahh, animals. They are one of life’s greatest gifts. Sixty-seven percent of Americans say they have a pet.¹ The COVID-19 pandemic has made getting a furry friend even more popular, with over a third of Americans considering getting a pet during the pandemic. Once you decide to get a pet, there’s a lot to plan for, and keeping your pet healthy definitely should be on top of the list.

The Cost of Pet Vet Bills

What does it cost? While we would do anything to make sure our pets have a healthy and happy life, it’s true that veterinary bills can be very expensive. The average preventative veterinary visit costs around $50-$100, and an average emergency vet visit could set you back up to $8,000! If you want a complete breakdown of all the pet health expenses you can expect, Pawp created a handy list of the average vet costs.

How to make it more manageable? These numbers can seem scary on the surface, but there are ways to make caring for your pet more manageable. Just like we humans get health insurance to help with the cost of doctor visits, pet insurance can help you manage the costs associated with keeping Fluffy² healthy.

To see just how much pet insurance can save you, take a look at this data: the average monthly cost for pet insurance that covers both accidents and illnesses is $48.78 for dogs and $29.16 for cats. For accident-only coverage, costs dip to $16.17 for dogs and $10.51 for cats.

What to Look for in Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is a relatively new phenomenon for many pet parents. Only about 1 percent of pet owners currently have pet insurance. Yet about 30 percent of pet parents say they would seek financing options to cover a $5,000 vet bill, and nearly 50 percent say they would not be able to cover a $5,000 vet expense at all. To put it in perspective, just one emergency vet visit could lead to a hefty bill over $5,000. 

Because of these rising costs, pet insurance can be a good investment for both your pet and your wallet. There are three major types of pet insurance:

  1. Basic coverage - This coverage is the least expensive, but only covers injuries from accidents, poisonings, and illnesses. When evaluating a “Basic” plan, you'll want to take a close look at the coverages and deductibles. There can be a lot of differences from carrier to carrier, and you'll want to make sure you have the big emergency treatments covered (aka the really expensive ones).

  2. Comprehensive coverage - Comprehensive pet insurance covers everything that basic does, plus office visits, prescriptions, diagnostic tests, and lab fees.

  3. Wellness coverage - A wellness plan covers preventative care, vaccines, and checkups. However, it doesn't cover accidents or emergency treatments, which often are the most expensive vet bills.

One thing to note is that pet insurance does not cover preexisting conditions. When considering which plan to choose, you should take into account your pet’s general health, their breed’s common health issues, and the amount of emergency savings you can realistically spend if something were to happen.

And things do happen!

Marble’s founder Stuart became a pet owner during COVID, with a brand new ragdoll kitten joining the family, and he was quick to purchase pet insurance via Healthy Paws

Murray, in a bowl

A few months after coming home though, Murray got sick. Stuart, as a first-time cat parent, panicked and rushed him to the vet. While they were never able to figure out what exactly was wrong, Murray did have to stay at the vet overnight while they brought his temperature down. 

Fortunately, Murray was a-ok and is now much larger (and honestly kind of rude), but that overnight stay at the vet was not cheap! Thankfully his pet insurance kicked in and Healthy Paws covered nearly $3,000 (yes, three zeroes!) worth of vet bills.

How to Save Money on Pet Insurance
Shop around
  • Like any big purchase you are considering, you should aim to receive at least three quotes. 
  • Once you've decided what kind of coverage you want to purchase, be sure you're shopping for that same coverage across carriers. This allows you to do a true apples-to-apples comparison on the plans and costs. 
  • Remember to look beyond the monthly cost and be sure to factor in deductibles and maximum payout limits.
Bundle with other insurance products
  • You’re probably familiar with bundling your auto and renters/home insurance. Now, some carriers even allow you to bundle pet and renters insurance. Lemonade recently launched pet insurance and could be a good option for this.


¹ 100% of toddlers say they want a pet. (Source: unconfirmed) 

² Don’t expect to meet too many Fluffy’s at the dog park.