Pet Insurance

Is Cat Insurance Worth It? What Does It Cover?

Is cat insurance worth it and how does it work? Our comprehensive guide explains how cat health insurance works, why you would need it, what it covers, costs, best providers, and more. This content was reviewed by our licensed insurance agent, Michelle Schenker.

Kimberly Alt

Last Updated: September 24, 2022 | 6 min read

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You may not think pet insurance is necessary when your cat is healthy, but if you invest in advance, you could save thousands of dollars on future vet bills. And most importantly, you can get the best medical care for your cat without worrying about how you’ll pay for the cost of treatment.

Pet insurance helps cover the cost of unexpected accidents and illnesses that your cat may endure. It reimburses you for the coverage you’ve selected and allows you to more easily seek out medical care for your cat when they need it most.

Pet insurance also reduces the number of “economic euthanasia” cases. This is when an owner cannot afford medical treatment for their pet and asks the vet to euthanize the pet instead of treating them due to financial restrictions. It’s a heartbreaking situation to be in and one you can likely prevent by enrolling your cat in an insurance policy today.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Maine Coon at the vet

Pet insurance is similar to human health insurance. There are three types of pet insurance plans that you can choose: accident-only, accident and illness, and wellness.

Accident-Only Coverage

Illness-related emergencies are excluded from coverage in accident-only policies. But accident-related items are included in coverage, such as poisoning, foreign body ingestion, fractured teeth, eye trauma, and more. Concerns associated with sudden physical injury is typically included in an accident-only pet insurance policy.

Accident-only insurance plans are typically more affordable than those that also include illness coverage. These plans are helpful options for cats with pre-existing illnesses that are excluded from coverage or for households with tighter budgets.

Accident And Illness Coverage

Accident and illness pet insurance plans include coverage for items listed in the accident-only policies as well as illnesses, such as cancer, heart conditions, skin infections, diabetes, and more.

Some pet insurance providers restrict their illness coverage once a pet reaches a certain age, making it important to sign your cat up for insurance while they’re young and healthier. Signing them up when they’re a kitten reduces pre-existing condition exemptions and your monthly premium cost.

Wellness Coverage

Wellness coverage isn’t technically pet insurance, but we include it here because it’s an optional add-on for many pet insurance providers during enrollment. Wellness plans are essentially a savings plan that provides coverage for preventive and general health-related expenses. These plans can vary by provider, but generally, they include annual exams, spay/neuter procedures, vaccinations, dental cleanings, and more.

Wellness plans are often overlooked, but according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), an annual vet exam costs $178 for cats on average. That cost can fluctuate depending on your vet, where you live, and the routine procedures your cat requires. Purchasing a wellness plan can help you budget for these expenses if you are not good at saving it on your own to pay your annual vet bill.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It For An Indoor Cat?

It doesn’t matter if you have an indoor or outdoor cat. All cats are vulnerable to accidents and illnesses. Indoor cats are just as prone to ingesting a toxic substance, breaking a bone, enduring a soft tissue injury, suffering from parasites, and more.

Pet parents with insurance are more prone to taking their cats to the vet if they suspect something is wrong because they are less worried about the vet bill. This allows your vet the opportunity to diagnose and treat a health condition early. As a result, any pain or symptoms your cat is experiencing can be alleviated sooner, thanks to receiving proactive vet care. Additionally, discovering an accident or illness early can mean less expensive treatment and an improved prognosis.

What’s The Average Cost Of Vet Care For Cats?

Depending on your cat’s health, you’ll encounter various costs related to your cat’s needs. Some of those costs may be routine expenses, while others are emergency-related and require trips to the vet’s office. According to the 2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, basic annual expenses for cat owners include:

  • Surgical Vet Visits: $201
  • Routine Vet: $178      
  • Food: $254       
  • Treats: $72
  • Boarding: $78 
  • Vitamins: $47
  • Grooming Aids/Brushes: $31
  • Toys: $41 

If your cat is unfortunate and receives a poor health diagnosis, that will most likely lead to higher financial responsibilities for you. Healthy Paws states these as the top ten cat health conditions and the related vet costs. (The charges are based on the highest covered pet insurance claims for the issue filed in 2019.)

  1. Stomach Issues: up to $24,402
  2. Urinary Tract Conditions: up to $12,587
  3. Cancer: up to $11,643
  4. Heart Conditions: up to $7,606
  5. Skin Conditions: up to $1,695
  6. Eye Conditions: up to $4,080
  7. Pain: up to $5,815
  8. Kidney Conditions: up to $14,737
  9. Diabetes: up to $9,610
  10. Ear Infections: up to $3,094

Vet bills can add up quickly, depending on the severity of a cat’s health condition. Pet insurance could help you prepare for these unexpected costs.

According to NAPHIA (North American Pet Health Insurance Association), the average monthly premium for an accident and illness insurance policy in the U.S. in 2021 was $28.57 for cats. This cost can vary based on your cat’s breed, age, geographical location, pre-existing conditions, and other variables. To get an idea of how much pet insurance costs, we recommend obtaining quotes from multiple pet insurance companies. Take a look at our recommended companies offering the best cat insurance.

How Does Cat Insurance Work?

Orange and white tabby cat standing by sign with Pet Insurance? painted on the canvas

Cat insurance plans reimburse you for the cost of veterinary care. After you pay for your cat’s vet visit, you’ll send a duplicate itemized receipt to the insurance company along with a completed claim form. Once the claim is approved, you’ll receive a reimbursement check or direct deposit.

Reimbursement timelines can vary, and some companies can process claims within minutes, while others may take a month. The amount of money the insurance company reimburses depends on your policy details, including coverage, exclusions, reimbursement percentage, deductible, and annual payout.

An Example Of How Pet Insurance Works

Let’s say you sign your cat up for pet insurance covering accidents and illnesses, which costs $25 per month (aka “the premium”). Your plan details include a $100 deductible, 90% reimbursement, and a $5,000 annual payout. You’ve had the policy for a couple of months, all waiting periods have passed, and your cat has no pre-existing conditions.

You notice your cat is vomiting, lethargic, and in pain. You visit the vet, and after an evaluation and testing, it’s discovered that your cat has ingested a foreign object. After diagnostic testing, bloodwork, and surgery to remove the item, you’re looking at a hefty vet bill of $2,955. Thankfully you signed up for pet insurance, so you will receive help paying that expensive bill.

Your insurance company uses a “copay then deductible” reimbursement method, which is calculated the following way:

  • ($ Eligible vet expenses x Reimbursement %) – Remaining annual deductible $ = $ Reimbursement amount

So in the example above, your reimbursement is calculated the following way:

  • ($2,955 x 90%) – $100 = $2,559.50

Instead of paying thousands of dollars, all you would pay is your 10% copay ($295.50) and $100 deductible for a total of $395.50 plus your $25 monthly premium price to keep your policy in force.

What Are The Benefits Of Cat Insurance?

Below are just a few of the benefits of cat insurance and why you are wise to consider it.

Peace Of Mind

Knowing that you have insurance for your cat allows you to take a deep breath and relax a little more. If faced with a medical emergency, you shouldn’t have to choose between your pet or your wallet.

Sign Up Your Kitten Or Senior Cat

While some companies have age restrictions, many pet insurance providers offer coverage starting when a kitten is a couple of months old. And even if your cat is older, many companies provide enrollment for older pets. We recommend signing your feline up for insurance as soon as possible to reduce the possibility of pre-existing conditions and to get the lowest monthly rate possible.

Extends Your Cat’s Life

Pets with insurance policies often live longer than those without because their parents are more likely to take them to the vet when something is wrong. This allows vets to diagnose and treat a health condition early before the ailment is more advanced.

Additionally, pet parents are more likely to authorize medical treatment for a more expensive condition because they know insurance will help cover the cost. Promptly agreeing to an expensive procedure can help extend your cat’s life and improve their prognosis.

How To Compare Cat Insurance Plans

Before you choose an insurance plan for your cat, we recommend making a list of your coverage “must-haves.” If you know your cat’s breed(s), consider their predisposed health conditions and ensure the pet insurance provider covers them. You can also speak with your vet about what conditions they recommend having coverage for in an insurance policy. Once you’ve come up with a list of what you’d like your ideal pet insurance policy to include, you’re ready to narrow down your choices.

  1. Contact at least three companies and obtain quotes for them with your cat’s details.
  2. Compare the monthly premiums against one another as well as the coverage offered.
  3. Adjust the deductible, reimbursement percentage, and payout option to fit your budget and needs.
  4. Consider how the claim reimbursement process works and how long it takes. Can the insurance company pay your vet directly? If not, is your claim reimbursed within a comfortable amount of time for you?

What Are the Top Pet Insurance Companies In 2022?

We’ve reviewed the best pet insurance for cats to help you compare your options. We know your cat’s health is of utmost importance to you, which is why you’re considering pet insurance.

Insurance is our passion, and we prioritize conducting unbiased research to present as much information as possible without confusing you with industry jargon. If you find that you’re overwhelmed during your hunt for the best pet insurance, reach out to us, and we can help you find the optimal choice for your cat.

Disclaimer: Information regarding insurance company offerings, pricing, availability, and other contract details are subject to change by the insurance company at any time and are not under the control of this website. Information published on this website is intended for reference use only. Please review your policy carefully before signing up for a new insurance contract or any other contract as your unique circumstances will differ from those of others who may be used for example purposes in this article.

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