Pet Insurance or a Veterinarian – Which Should You Pick First?


Whether your pet needs a routine check-up or emergency surgery, the expenses do not always come at a convenient time for your budget. Should you buy pet insurance and then choose a veterinary clinic based on what it covers? Or, would it be better to select a veterinarian first and then get insurance? Here’s what you should consider.

What is Pet Insurance?

Insurance for pets is similar to health insurance you buy for yourself. Most policies have deductibles, co-pays, and a list of excluded services, so be sure to shop around and compare policies. You cannot predict the future and know what kind of services your pet could need. But, you can consider their past medical history to make your best estimate. The policy you choose should at least cover those services.

How Much Does It Cost?

According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NHPHIA), the average annual cost of pet insurance in 2019 was $585.40 for dogs and $343.93 for cats. Insurance companies consider the following factors when determining your rates:

  • Age: Older pets cost more to insure than younger pets since they are prone to many of the same age-related health conditions as humans.
  • Breed: Certain breeds of dogs and cats have known health issues and thus will cost more to insure.
  • Gender: Pet parents tend to submit more claims for male animals, which drives up rates for male pets.
  • Location: You can expect to pay more if you live in a major metropolitan area than you would if you lived in the suburbs or a rural area.
  • Species: Pet insurance premiums for dogs are typically higher than premiums for cats because their owners submit more claims. Some providers will only provide coverage for dogs and cats, so be sure to check before trying to insure a different type of animal.

Is this insurance worth it? Only you can answer that question. One way to evaluate whether you should get insurance for your pet is to look at your veterinary bills from last year and decide if you could afford the same or greater expenses this year.

Should You Choose Your Veterinarian or Insurance Company First?

Maybe you already have an established relationship with a veterinary clinic and would like to stay with it. In this case, it is worth asking your veterinarian for recommendations on specific pet insurance plans. You may also want to hold off on any major procedures if your pet is not in pain until you know if an insurance plan covers it. Just be aware that some insurance companies impose a waiting period before paying any benefits.

The benefit of selecting the pet insurance policy first is that you can choose your veterinarian based on what the insurance provider covers. The only potential issue is there may not be an available veterinarian in your area, especially if you live in a rural community. If you do get insurance for your pet first, the company should be able to provide you with a few referrals.

Owning a pet is a big responsibility, and planning for expenses can be challenging as a gig worker. Pet insurance can help in the right circumstances.

About the Author: Lisa Kroulik has worked as a freelance content marketing writer for 10 years. She loves the work and the lifestyle it affords. Learn more about Lisa’s work and availability through Writer Access.