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Insurance Pet Insurance

Factors That Influence Pet Insurance Costs

The cost of any insurance policy hinges (at least to some extent) on the person or item being insured. Whether buying life insurance, homeowners insurance, or even pet insurance, certain factors determine your coverage options and the monthly premiums you’ll pay.

If you’re looking to buy a new insurance policy for your pet, factors inside and outside your control affect the cost. Here’s a look at what those factors are and the role they play in your pet insurance costs.

In this article:

What factors influence the cost of pet insurance?

Insurance is a product based on risk. The more risk your pet poses to a carrier, the more you can generally expect to pay for your pet insurance plan.

Here are some factors pet insurance carriers consider when calculating your plan’s premiums.

BreedThe type of pet you have and its breed will determine your coverage options and policy pricing.
Age of petOlder pets may be ineligible for new policies, or coverage may cost more than for younger pets.
Location/zip codeSome carriers only operate in certain states; location may also impact pricing.
Type of planPremiums are affected by the type of policy you choose, such as accident-only versus accident and illness coverage.
DeductibleHigher deductibles usually result in lower premiums, and vice versa.
ReimbursementThe more you want your carrier to reimburse you for costs, the more you can expect to pay for coverage.
Benefit limitsPolicies with higher benefit limits (or no limits) often come at a higher price.
Billing schedulePaying your premium annually may be cheaper than paying monthly.
DiscountsCertain discounts may be offered that can help lower your coverage costs.


Some pets are more costly than others. According to the ASPCA, the first-year cost for a new dog is $3,221, while getting a cat costs a mere $1,904 on average. If you have a more exotic pet, you may expect to pay even more for their care. For this reason, pet insurance carriers charge different premiums for different types of pets.

The breed of your pet also matters. Purebred dogs may be more prone to certain genetic diseases than mixed-breed dogs, for instance. Specific breeds can also have common health concerns that don’t plague other breeds as often.

The result? Your coverage costs may depend on the type of animal you have.

>> Read More: How breed impacts pet insurance costs

Age of pet

The younger your pet is when you purchase insurance coverage, the less you can typically expect to pay in premiums. This is because puppies and kittens have, on average, fewer health issues than older dogs.

Some carriers may even set maximum age limits for buying a new policy. Additionally, any pre-existing conditions that your pet may have when you buy the policy will be excluded from coverage. Buying as early as possible will not only save you money in premiums but may also prevent many of these conditions from becoming pre-existing exclusions.

Location/zip code

Your state and even your specific zip code can influence your pet insurance premiums. That’s because your location can determine your access to qualified pet care as well as the average cost of that care. The more expensive treatment is in your area, the more your pet insurance plan will likely cost.

>> Read More: How your state impacts pet insurance costs

Type of plan

There are a few different types of pet insurance plans to choose from. Some of them are accident-only, while others also cover illnesses. Your cost will depend on the plan you choose.

Many carriers will also offer add-on wellness coverage for an additional price. This supplemental plan may cover a variety of routine healthcare costs, such as annual checkups and dental cleanings. The more you add to your policy, the more you can expect to pay.


Your plan’s deductible is the out-of-pocket cost you’re expected to cover before the insurance company pays its share. Some carriers will let you choose the deductible you want on your plan: the higher the deductible (meaning, the more money you’re willing to pay out of pocket for covered care before reimbursement begins), the lower your premium costs will usually be.


Like your deductible, the reimbursement percentage you choose will affect how much you pay for coverage.

Your pet insurance plan may offer reimbursement as a percentage of care costs and allow you to choose the percentage you want to be covered. Choosing a higher reimbursement rate means more of your pet’s expenses will be paid by the policy—but it also means that you’ll probably pay more in premiums.

Benefit limits

You can expect most pet insurance policies to cover eligible costs up to a maximum limit. These benefit limits may be lifetime, annual, or even per-condition in nature. The higher the limits, the more you can expect your policy premiums to be.

Billing schedule

Some carriers may offer discounts if you pay an entire year’s worth of coverage upfront. Paying your premiums monthly, however, may cost a bit more.


Check whether your chosen carrier offers discounts on plans and coverage. Common pet insurance discounts include those for:

Some carriers may also offer cost-saving perks that kick in over time, such as diminishing deductibles if your pet stays healthy.

How do these factors affect the cost?

Your premium is what you will pay for your pet insurance plan, usually expressed as a monthly cost, though, many carriers will allow you to pay these premiums in annual installments.

Your pet insurance plan’s premiums are calculated according to the coverage options and how much risk your pet poses to the insurance company.

If you have a dog with more risk factors (such as certain breeds or advanced age), or you simply want your plan to cover a bigger share of any eligible costs, you can expect your premiums to increase. Conversely, owning a pet in a low-average-cost area or choosing a plan with modest coverage limits would typically mean lower premiums.

Factors that don’t impact the cost of pet insurance

Now that we’ve covered the biggest factors impacting pet insurance costs, let’s talk about a few that don’t. Some might surprise you.

  • Though an outdoor pet would be expected to have greater risk factors for injury or illness, carriers don’t typically factor this into premiums.
  • How much training your pet has had. Whether your pet still isn’t housebroken, has been through obedience school twice, or is a registered service pet doesn’t matter when it comes to plan pricing.
  • Whether your pet has become overweight. Obesity in pets (and humans!) is linked to an increased risk of certain health conditions. However, pet insurance carriers won’t typically use a recent weight increase against you when calculating your premiums.
  • Which (if any) health conditions or medical concerns your pet has had in the past. Since non-curable pre-existing conditions are never covered by pet insurance plans, carriers don’t usually factor them into your premiums.
  • Whether you got your pet from an animal shelter, a breeder, or on the side of the road. Pet insurance carriers don’t care how you and your pet came to be family; they’re just glad you did. Whether you bought your kitten from a premium breeder or adopted it at age three from a shelter, your premiums aren’t affected.

How to save on pet insurance costs

Some factors that influence pet insurance costs are outside of your control. These include your pet’s breed and age and where you live. However, there are some factors that you can control if you’re looking to save on pet insurance costs.

By choosing a higher deductible, smaller reimbursement percentage, or reduced benefit limit, you can decrease the price of your new plan. You can also choose more affordable plans (accident-only versus accident and illness, for example), as well as look into certain discounts that your carrier may offer.

If you’re ready to see which options are available to you and start shopping around, we suggest checking out our picks for the best pet insurance companies. You’ll find a rundown of the top carriers and what sort of coverage options they each offer to pet parents like yourself.