2023 Pet Insurance Guide
by Brian O’Connell
After several years of reduced household budgets and low demand, the U.S. pet insurance sector is howling in 2023, growing by a 23.5% clip over the past vear, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.
The pet insurance sector grew from a record $3.51 billion in paid premiums during 2022 and rose by approximately 5.36 million pets that were insured across the U.S. – that’s a 21.7% rise in insured pets from 2021, the NAPHIA reports.
The industry is expanding after the U.S. emerged from the Covid lockdowns and as consumers simultaneously expanded their household budgets to include more pet insurance.
“2022 marked a return to pre-COVID levels of growth for our industry,” says Rick Faucher, president at Phoenix, Az-based NAPHIA. “This steady growth is significant during a period when many North Americans were also forced to make difficult decisions on their household spending “We’re pleased that pet parents continue to recognize the value pet insurance provides, both in mitigating unexpected veterinary costs, as well as providing for their pet’s ongoing healthcare and well-being.”
2023 Pet Insurance Trends to Follow
Clearly, pet owners are seeing the value good insurance can bring to the table.
“Pet insurance is a crucial safety net for pet owners, relieving the financial burden of unexpected medical expenses and treatments for their cats and dogs,” says Zabrina Thorson, chief operating officer at California-based Odie Pet Insurance.
That safety net grows even more robust if pet insurance consumers know how to land the best deals and get the best policies from providers. The more knowledge pet owners have of the industry, the better their overall insurance experience.
Understanding the big pet insurance trends and factors makes that process easier to manage. Here’s a snapshot of the issues that matter to pet insurance consumers in 2023.
Who’s Eligible for Pet Insurance?
By and large, any pet parent of a cat or dog is eligible for pet insurance, but the coverage may differ based on the selected plan, Thorson says.
For example, Odie Pet Insurance offers comprehensive coverage for all cat and dog breeds, starting at just seven weeks old and continuing throughout their lives with no upper age limits.
The company offers two insurance products for pet owners.
- An Illness & Injury Plan offers the most comprehensive coverage and is designed to reimburse for unexpected vet visits or emergency care costs. “Members can customize their annual limit, deductible and reimbursement amount, and supplemental benefits,” Thorson notes.
- An Accident Only Plan offers an affordable option for first-time pet parents, budget-conscious pet owners, and cats and dogs “with pre-existing conditions,” she adds.
Meanwhile, the biggest barrier to getting pet insurance in most cases is age.
“Animals tend to age quickly and need progressively more care as they get older, so many plans have steeply increased baseline rates if you enroll your pet at an older age, as well as age cutoffs after which they won’t provide new coverage,” says Josh Snead, chief executive officer at Rainwalk Pet Insurance in Columbia, S.C.
Beyond dogs and cats, some insurers will cover other pets, but you’ll likely need to do some digging.
“While not every company will cover every animal, it’s possible to get pet insurance for just about any species you can think of,” Snead adds.
Know What’s Not Covered by Pet Insurance
While pet insurance covers a wide range of veterinary expenses, there are certain limitations and exclusions you should know.
Common exclusions include:
- Pre-existing conditions: “Medical conditions or symptoms that existed prior to the policy’s effective date are generally not covered,” says Jeff Peakes, an insurance agent at John Peakes Insurance Agency in Monterey, Cal.
- Routine and preventive care: Routine vaccinations, flea and tick treatments, annual check-ups, spaying/neutering, and dental cleanings are typically not covered by standard pet insurance policies.
“However, some insurers offer optional wellness plans that provide coverage for these routine expenses,” Peakes says.
- Cosmetic procedures: Procedures such as tail docking, ear cropping, and dewclaw removal that are done for non-medical reasons are generally not covered.
- Behavioral issues: Treatment for behavioral problems, training, and obedience classes are typically excluded from coverage.
- Certain hereditary conditions: Some policies may exclude coverage for specific hereditary or congenital conditions that are common within certain breeds.
Certain wellness packages will cover grooming services, especially on breeds that need regular grooming to remain healthy, but there are limitations on how far insurers will go.
“Most pet insurance plans, for example, don’t cover burial, cremation, or related services, though euthanasia is often included,” Peakes says. “That’s why it’s essential to review the terms and conditions of each policy to fully understand what is covered and what is not, as well as any specific exclusions or limitations that may apply.”
Know the Expected Costs Related to Pet Insurance
In most cases, pet owners can simply buy what they need for good pet insurance, as most
pet insurance programs are extremely flexible.
“Pet parents can choose the coverage that works for them and their wallets,” Thorson says.
For instance, Odie’s illness and injury insurance plans average $25/month for cats and $45/month for dogs and rates for the firm’s accident only plan start at $6/month for cats and $9/month for dogs.
On a pet per pet basis, dogs usually cost more to insure than cats and for a good reason.
“Dogs tend to get into more mischief than other pets,” says Art Shaikh, founder and CEO at DigitalWill.com, in Chicago, Il. “Overall, expect to pay anywhere from $30-$60 monthly per pet, with cats on the lower end and dogs on the higher end of the pricing scale.”
Comprehensive plans are usually more expensive, and many providers offer lower-cost wellness plans for pets, Shaikh says.
“Some providers have add-on dental and other types of coverage as well,” he notes. “A budget-friendly plan would be a wellness plan with no add-ons.”
Household realities also factor into pet insurance costs.
“If you have an indoor-only cat, you may end up not needed coverage as they have less risk of health issues,” Shaikh adds. “If your pet is nearing the age where they wouldn’t qualify, it may make sense to opt-out, as the coverage can be limited by the insurance company.”
“More variety in coverage as pets become more specialized and veterinarians develop new treatments,” he says.
Tips For Finding an Affordable Pet Insurance Policy
Getting good value for your pet insurance policy depends on knowing what to look for in a solid insurance plan, and doing your due diligence on insurance companies.
“When looking for a wallet-friendly pet insurance policy, it’s essential to consider both the price and the coverage provided,” says Dr. Kathryn Rosalie Dench, a veterinary surgeon, adviser, and expert contributor to Gentle Dog Trainers, a canine care and treatment platform.
To get the most bang for your buck, Dench advises taking these action steps.
· Compare multiple insurance providers to find the best rates and
coverage options. Consider factors like deductibles, annual limits, and
· Evaluate your pet’s specific needs. Consider their age, breed, and any pre-existing conditions they may have. Some breeds may be more prone to certain health issues, so it’s important to find a policy that covers those potential concerns.
· Review customer reviews and ratings. “This helps you to analyze insurance providers to
gauge their reputation and customer satisfaction,” Dench says.
· Look for discounts or promotional offers. Some insurers offer multi-pet discounts, loyalty rewards, or discounts for enrolling your pet at a young age.
· Consider the deductible amount. A higher deductible often means lower monthly premiums.
“Keep in mind you’ll have to pay more out of pocket before the insurance coverage kicks in,” Dench notes.
Three Key Trends to Keep an Eye On:
The pet insurance sector is proving to be a dynamic and innovative one, especially as customer competition grows among insurers and as advanced data technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning expand into the industry.
In that regard, Thorson sees a trio of game-changing trends that are changing the way companies offer insurance and giving customers better, faster, and more efficient options and services.
Many insurance consumers are prioritizing preventative care for their pets. About half of Odie’s members have purchased a wellness plan in addition to their insurance plan (and the number continues to grow). “That way, consumers can receive reimbursement for routine care expenses necessary to maintain their pets’ health and impact their long-term well-being.
Remote access to veterinary care/flexible access to veterinarians is another trend. More insures are offering 24/7 telehealth access with the purchase of any health insurance plan.
At Odie, this this provides an opportunity for members to ask questions and share photos and videos with a licensed vet anytime, “as well as avoid unnecessary trips to the vet or late-night visits to emergency care facilities,” Thorson notes.
Technology rules. The increased use of technology for seamless claims processing is a key trend in the pet insurance sector because it streamlines the claims experience for pet owners, reducing paperwork and enhancing convenience.
“By leveraging technology such as digital claim submissions, online portals, and automated processes, pet insurance companies can expedite claims processing, improve accuracy, and provide real-time updates to policyholders,” Thorson adds. “This trend enhances customer satisfaction, reduces administrative burdens, and allows pet owners to focus more on their pet’s well-being rather than the complexities of claims management.”
The Takeaway on Pet Insurance Trends for 2023
When should you opt out of pet insurance, if ever?
“If you’re dealing with an elderly rescue pet, insurance will probably be prohibitively expensive, and any treatment they need is likely to be highly disruptive to their quality of life,” Snead says.
Past that, know it’s a good time to get the coverage you need to take care of your furry family member.
“With advancements in veterinary medicine, the cost of treatments and procedures continues to rise,” Dench says. “As a result, we may see more pet owners recognizing the importance of insurance to help manage these expenses.”
“Additionally, some insurance companies are starting to offer telemedicine services as part of their coverage, allowing pet owners to consult with veterinarians remotely for certain conditions,” Dench adds. “This trend can help increase access to veterinary care and provide more convenient options for pet owners in 2023.