Owning a pet can be an incredibly rewarding experience and gives your family a loving companion for many years to come. Keeping that pet healthy, though, means providing them with preventative care throughout their lifetime.
Preventative care pet insurance policies help cover many of the routine and regular expenses that you probably schedule for your pet anyway. For an affordable monthly premium, these policies can ensure that your furry friends stay as healthy and happy as ever and that you’re able to catch potential concerns early. Here’s everything to know about this coverage and how to decide if your pet needs it.
What is preventative care?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the old saying goes. And when it comes to your pet, this saying rings true.
As you may have guessed, preventative pet care is designed to help you prevent health issues that could arise in your dog, cat, or other animal. This care is routine and regularly scheduled, ensuring that your pet has the best chance to stay healthy and that you (and their doctor) are able to identify concerns as soon as they appear. This way, you can make the appropriate changes quickly.
Preventative care for pets can include:
Annual checkups and wellness exams
Regular blood work
Flea and tick prevention
Some plans may even allow for advertising and reward expenses if your pet is lost or stolen.
Pet insurance vs. pet wellness
When shopping around for pet coverage, you may run into two different types of products: pet insurance policies and pet wellness plans. While both can help you pay for a portion of your pet’s veterinary expenses each year, there are some important differences to note between each coverage type.
What pet insurance plans cover
Pet insurance policies are designed to help pay for care related to injuries and illnesses that your pet may experience. These policies generally reimburse you for a percentage of your veterinary expenses once you’ve met your deductible (either for the year or per condition), up to an annual maximum benefit.
Pet insurance plans can cover things like:
Vet visits for illnesses or injuries
Diagnostic exams (scans, X-rays, CTs, blood work, etc.)
Medical-related boarding and animal hospital stays
Broken teeth and dental abscesses
However, pet insurance plans don’t cover expenses related to routine care. They also exclude pre-existing conditions that your pet has been diagnosed with (or received care for) in the past, and some policies also exclude common breed-specific conditions.
Keep in Mind: Most pet insurance policies require you to pay covered expenses up front and submit a claim for reimbursement. Some plans, however, will pay the vet directly.
What pet wellness plans cover
Pet wellness plans, also known as preventative care policies, are designed to pay for expenses related to your pet’s regularly scheduled wellness care. Depending on the policy, this usually means paying for things like annual vet visits, recommended immunizations, flea and tick treatments, heartworm preventatives, and even dental cleanings and groomings.
With pet wellness policies, you’ll usually be given an allotment for eligible care each year, which is either paid directly to your licensed veterinarian’s office or as a reimbursement after you pay the bill. Rather than a percentage reimbursement, you may be offered a certain number of visits or procedures, such as four scheduled vaccinations each year and one annual vet visit.
Certain care expenses may have an annual benefit attached to them, like up to $100 toward grooming each year.
Pet wellness plans are only intended for routine care that keeps your pet well. These plans do not cover sick care, such as emergency vet visits or surgery.
Here’s a look at pet insurance plans versus pet wellness plans and how their coverages compare.
|Pet Insurance Plan||Pet Wellness Plan|
|Routine annual exams||✅||✅|
|Urgent care visits||✅||❌|
|Dental exams and cleanings||❌||✅|
|Emergency dental care||✅||❌|
|Heartworm, flea, and tick prevention||❌||✅|
|Routine blood work||❌||✅|
|Diagnostic care related to an illness or injury||✅||❌|
See More: How Much Is a Vet Visit for a Cat Without Insurance?
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How much does a pet wellness plan cost?
Depending on the company you choose, you may be able to purchase a pet wellness plan as an add-on to an existing pet insurance policy, or you can even purchase stand-alone pet wellness coverage.
Buying this coverage as an add-on to a pet insurance plan is usually more affordable than purchasing wellness coverage on its own. Your cost for coverage, though, will be determined by factors like your location, your pet’s age and breed, and how many pets you have.
How much does pet insurance cost vs. pet wellness?
Here’s a look at how much you can expect to pay per month for a pet insurance policy and how much it may cost to add pet wellness coverage to that plan.
To obtain these quotes, we used a 2-year-old male mixed-breed dog weighing 21–50 pounds in the Hartford, CT, area (60101). We shopped around for a pet insurance policy that offered $15,000 or more in annual benefits with a $500 deductible and 80% reimbursement coverage. We then looked at the most basic wellness plan coverage that offered at least $150 in annual benefits.
Keep Reading: How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
Companies that offer preventative care plans
Before buying any sort of insurance or wellness plan, it’s important to do your research. By shopping around first, you can find not only the most affordable coverage but also the policy that best fits your pet’s care needs.
Here are some companies that offer pet wellness plans as an add-on to a new or existing pet insurance policy:
The following companies offer stand-alone pet wellness plans:
Is preventative care pet insurance worth it?
Depending on how much you spend each year on pet wellness care, this coverage may or may not be worth it to your family.
Pet insurance policies are usually more worthwhile, as they can protect you against thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars in unexpected care expenses if your pet is injured, gets sick, or is diagnosed with a medical condition. Even a single surgery could cost you thousands, so paying $30 to $50 per month for a policy can easily be recouped with a single incident.
Routine wellness care, on the other hand, is a bit more affordable, so it might not be worth the price to some pet parents. If you only spend $150 each year for an annual checkup, vaccines, and blood work, paying $25 per month for wellness coverage might not be worthwhile. That said, wellness coverage could help prevent your pet from developing serious illnesses by helping you pay for preventative treatments.
The best course of action is probably to find a pet insurance policy that offers wellness coverage as an add-on. This could cost less than $10 a month in some cases and allows you to reap the benefits from both types of plans.
Read More: 29 Holiday Pet Safety Tips for Dogs and Cats
Preventative pet care insurance FAQs
Preventative care for your pet is routine veterinary care intended to keep them healthy, prevent disease, and identify problems before they grow. This care can include annual checkups, dental exams and cleanings, grooming, routine diagnostics, and lab work.
One type is accident and injury policies, which protect against any sort of acute or unexpected condition that your pet could encounter. The second is accident-only coverage, which — as the name implies — only covers eligible care expenses related to an unexpected pet injury. Sicknesses, diseases, and cancer are excluded. Lastly, you have pet wellness coverage, which helps pay for routine care, such as annual exams, vaccinations, dental cleanings, and even spay/neuter surgery.
Many companies offer preventative pet insurance coverage, either as an add-on to a pet insurance policy or as stand-alone coverage. Some of the most popular wellness plans are offered by companies like Embrace, Nationwide, ASPCA, Spot, Lemonade, and Figo.