Pet owners

Pros and cons of getting cat insurance

    Cats are wonderful companions that can bring so much joy to their owners. But unexpected veterinary bills for cat owners are inevitable.

    Unplanned health care expenses can put a dent in your budget or even make it impossible for you to pay for the care your cat needs. That’s why many cat owners choose to insure their furry companions.

    But how does cat insurance work, and is it the best option for all cat owners? 

    Let’s explore everything you need to know about cat insurance so you can make the best decision for you and your beloved pet. 

    What is cat insurance? 

    Cat insurance is a type of private insurance that pays — fully or in part — for veterinary fees when your cat becomes ill or injured. Instead of being stuck with a hefty bill to pay when your cat needs to urgently see a vet, cat insurance helps you make emergencies more affordable.

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    Although many cat owners choose to opt into this type of plan, it’s not mandatory if you want to own a cat. 

    Another way to look at cat insurance is to compare it to health insurance for humans. When you have health insurance, you’re not stuck footing the entire bill when you need to see a doctor or buy medications.

    How cat insurance works for pet owners

    Each cat insurance provider has slightly different rules and regulations. But in most cases, here’s how you can expect an insurance claim to be paid:

    Visit a licensed veterinarian with your cat. Once you’ve paid the bill in full, you can take a photo of the bill and submit your claim to your cat insurance provider.

    Once the company has approved your claim, you’ll receive a reimbursement for the amount you’re entitled to.

    All insurance providers have different maximums and eligibility requirements. While some will require a copay, others may reimburse you fully for some of your cat’s health expenses.

    You can repeat the same process when you need to purchase medications for your cat. As with a veterinary bill, you’ll need to pay first, submit a claim, and get reimbursed later.

    Is cat insurance effective immediately?

    Not all cat insurance comes into effect immediately. Make sure to read your contract carefully to understand when you can start getting reimbursed for your cat’s health expenses.

    Some providers have a waiting period of a few weeks after you’ve signed up for the insurance. And waiting periods can be longer if your cat has certain health considerations, such as hip dysplasia.

    How much does a typical cat insurance policy cost?

    The average monthly premium for cat insurance is $28.48. The amount you’ll pay depends on a number of factors, including your location and your cat’s breed and age.  

    What does cat health insurance cover?

    Cat health insurance isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. You’ll find several providers that offer different pet insurance plan options. 

    You can purchase different plans to cover fewer or more conditions, depending on you and your cat’s needs. 

    Each insurance provider will have their own terms and conditions, as well as pricing structure. 

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    Some examples of expenses cat insurance can cover include (but aren’t limited to) the following:

    • Accidents
    • Illnesses
    • Hereditary conditions
    • Behavioral issues
    • Alternative therapies, such as chiropractic care or acupuncture

    As a rule of thumb, you can expect your insurance plan to be more expensive if it covers more diseases and conditions. 

    Does my cat need to be vaccinated to be insured?

    Most pet insurance companies won’t refuse coverage if your cat isn’t vaccinated. 

    However, non-vaccinated cats may have a higher insurance premium because they are more likely to get sick from diseases that are preventable by vaccines.

    Does a cat affect home insurance?

    Paying for insurance for your cat won’t have any effect on your home insurance or renter’s insurance. However, owning a cat may raise your premiums for home or renter’s insurance.

    This will depend on your home or renter’s insurance provider. While cats aren’t as likely to cause damage to your home as dogs, cat urine can be destructive to carpeting and other types of floors.

    Getting cat insurance won’t change the likelihood of your cat damaging your home. As a result, home insurance or renter’s insurance providers won’t typically change your premiums if you also have cat insurance.

    Keep in mind that your landlord may also charge a pet fee or pet rent if you own a cat, unless your cat is a certified ESA (emotional support animal).

    Why do I need cat insurance?

    You’re already spending a lot on your own insurance policies. So why do you also need cat insurance for your pet?

    Owning a cat is expensive. You need to account for:

    • Upfront costs, including first vet visits and necessary items to have in your home
    • Constant essentials, such as food and toys
    • Regular checkups at the vet

    And you’ll have to spend even more when your cat gets sick or injured.

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    Surprise vet visits and new medications aren’t cheap. For example, emergency vet bills can cost $1,500 or more per year for cat owners.

    Cat insurance can help you mitigate the risk of high vet bills and medications. While it won’t pay for home essentials, such as food or toys, you can rest assured knowing you can afford annual checkups or emergency care.

    Over the long run, paying for cat insurance can be cheaper than paying for everything out of pocket — especially if your cat develops a disease later in its life. 

    Is it worth getting insurance for a cat?

    Now you know the reasons people pay for cat insurance. But is the expense truly worth what you get?

    The answer isn’t the same for every cat owner. But it’s important to look at this issue from all angles.

    What if your cat eats something toxic, like lilies, painkillers, human medications, rodent poison, gardening chemicals, or antifreeze? This one event can cost several thousand dollars.

    Cats are climbers, and they usually land properly, but what if your acrobat doesn’t quite stick the landing? Back injuries and broken limbs are common among cats. Even giving birth can be costly.

    Cat insurance can help you pay your vet bills even if you have no money set aside for such events. This means you can keep your pet cat healthy without breaking the bank or maxing out your credit cards.

    Over the course of their life, your cat can also develop additional diseases that are expensive to treat, such as:

    • Dental diseases
    • Diabetes
    • Kidney disease
    • Hyperthyroidism
    • Tumors and cancer
    • Respiratory infections

    And when your beloved cat gets a treatable, yet costly, disease, it would be unfortunate to put them down due to a lack of funds. Cat insurance helps you keep your companion around for longer.

    Is it better to get pet insurance or put money aside?

    Should you set money aside each month instead of spending it on cat insurance? There is risk involved with both options.

    Let’s look at the money-saving solution first. Putting money aside ensures you have access to that money no matter what. 

    If your cat gets injured or becomes sick, you can withdraw from your savings account without having to ask anyone for permission. And you can’t get a claim refused if it’s your own money.

    But you can get bills with extremely high costs that your savings can’t cover, or that you are unwilling to cover. Vet bills can run in the several thousands of dollars. If you’ve only had your cat for a few months, what’s the likelihood that you’ll have had time to set enough money aside for such a steep bill?

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    You’ll also need to set more money aside than what the insurance costs to cover rising vet costs as your cat ages.

    However, there’s always a chance your cat is healthy and not accident prone. If this happens, you’ll retain all that money you’ve saved. With insurance, you never get the money you paid for premiums back, even if you never make any claims.

    You can weigh the pros and cons of both options to see what makes the most sense for you and your family. 

    How much does it cost to get your cat insured? 

    According to Rover’s survey discussed above, the cost of pet insurance — including cat insurance — ranges between $300 and $540 per year, on average.

    If you break this down per month, you can expect to spend between $25 and $45 monthly.

    You should also account for the costs of copays and other minimums. However, the exact amounts will depend on your plan and the insurance provider you choose. 

    Is it cheaper to insure an indoor cat? 

    Many pet owners mistakenly believe that they can reduce the cost of their cat insurance by keeping their cats indoors.

    However, indoor cats can still get sick or hurt. This likelihood increases as they get older. There is no 100% safe place for a cat.

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    While studies show that you can significantly reduce the risk of your cat getting sick or injured by keeping them indoors, there’s still risk. That’s why most insurance providers won’t reduce premiums for indoor cats.

    Is cat insurance tax deductible?

    If you decide to get insurance for your cat, don’t expect to get a tax break.

    Expenses toward your cat’s health aren't tax deductible, according to accounting professionals. The only deductible expenses are those used for service animals.

    Disadvantages of cat insurance

    Now that you know the benefits of getting cat insurance, let’s explore some of its disadvantages.

    First, not all cat insurance providers cover routine visits. That means you’ll still have to cover checkup fees to make sure your cat is still in good health. 

    Several insurance providers have out-of-pocket expenses, even for eligible claims. That means you’ll have to factor in additional expenses, even if you pay your premiums each month.

    You’ll also have a lower chance of getting accepted for coverage if your cat has a pre-existing condition. So if you were hoping to reduce your bills after your pet’s diagnosis, you might have to evaluate several insurance providers — and you’re still not guaranteed to get coverage.

    Another disadvantage of cat insurance is that you can’t get your premiums back. You might pay all your premiums and almost never use the insurance. 

    If you were to save money instead, you could use that money for other purposes. But what you pay in premiums is gone forever.

    Additionally, you still have to pay the vet upfront when you have cat insurance — the reimbursement comes later. This means you’ll either need to have the cash to pay upfront or put the expense on credit.

    When making this decision, be practical and be kind to yourself.  You’re not a bad pet owner if you don’t get cat insurance. And if you’re unsure whether it’s the best solution for you and your family, don’t feel guilty if you decide against it. 

    When should I insure my cat? 

    If you have a feline friend and decide a pet insurance plan is best, you should get coverage as soon as possible — while your cat is still young and healthy.

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    Younger cats are less likely to have pre-existing conditions than older cats. The longer you wait before you get coverage, the more likely your cat will develop some sort of condition. 

    Likewise, premiums will be lower for a young, healthy cat than for an older one. If this young cat develops a condition later, you’ll already have coverage, and you won’t need to worry about finding an insurance company that will cover your cat for this pre-existing condition. 

    How to choose an insurance provider for your cat 

    Have you decided to get cat insurance for your beloved pet? Here’s everything to consider before you choose a provider for your cat’s insurance policy.

    1. Research the provider’s track record

    Not all insurance providers are created equal. Some will provide better customer service than others. Some providers may also put up a fight every time you file a claim.

    So how can you make sure to choose a provider that’ll treat you and your cat the right way? 

    Conduct research on each cat insurance provider you’re considering. For example, you could read reviews on third-party sites that the provider doesn’t own.

    You can also ask your vet about the insurance providers you’re considering, as your vet may be familiar with several of them from past conversations with other cat owners.

    If you know people with cats who have opted into cat insurance plans, ask them what their experience was like. Try to find out how easy or difficult it is to file a claim and receive reimbursement. 

    2. Look through everything that’s covered

    There’s no such thing as reading too much into it when it comes to insurance — cat insurance included.

    Read everything the insurance provider sends you. If you have questions about the details of what’s covered, make sure to ask for clarification. Find out what’s included and what’s not, and ask how much you can receive per claim.

    You should also make sure you check the fine print. If something feels ambiguous to you, don’t hesitate to ask your representative for more details. 

    If a provider tries to pressure you into a contract without clarifying details or giving you enough time to read through the policy, you should move on to the next option.

    3. Find out about your cat’s family history

    If you know where your cat came from, look into their family health history.

    Is diabetes common in your cat’s family? Is there a rare genetic disorder that runs in his or her bloodline or breed? Are there any other issues you’d like to get coverage for?

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    When you have an accurate picture of your cat’s family or breed history, you’ll know what type of plan to get and what you’ll need to get covered for. Make sure your plan of choice includes coverage for these hereditary conditions. 

    If you don’t know your cat’s family history, the best you can do is get a vet’s opinion. By visiting a vet first, you may get some insights into your cat’s health before you lock into an insurance plan. 

    4. Ask about copays

    Most insurance providers require copays when you make a claim.

    Compare copays for each insurance provider before you make a decision. But you should also weigh this information with the coverage details.

    For example, some insurance providers may require a smaller copay but also cover fewer conditions or have higher premiums.

    Once you know the copay information, you can plan ahead by starting to save money in addition to your monthly premiums. 

    Keep all your cat’s information in one place

    Cat insurance is a great resource, although it’s not the best option for all pet owners. Regardless of whether you get insurance for your cat, keeping your cat’s profile up to date for vet and boarding facility visits can be challenging!

    Manage all of your cat’s information easily using PetScreening. If your property manager uses PetScreening, you can even use the app to request accommodations for your cat. Sign up as a resident to get started!