With a market that is expected to reach $11.25 billion by 2026 after growing to $6.05 billion in 2018, pet insurance is the hottest financial product right now.
Consumers have become more than willing to insure the emotional bonds they form with their pets, even if it requires a considerable financial commitment.
But, is pet insurance really worth the monthly cost? Moreover, how does that cost vary by species, breed, and the state you call home?
And if something were to happen to your pet, how would your pet insurance claim payout change by species and breed?
LendEDU was given the exclusive opportunity to analyze internal data from SPOT Pet Insurance to answer those questions and more.
Data & Analysis
All data found in this report derives from internal data from SPOT Pet Insurance that was provided exclusively to LendEDU for analysis. The data includes thousands of unique pet insurance policies and claims paid by SPOT Pet Insurance.
Monthly Pet Insurance Premiums By Species
First things first, let’s take a look at what a monthly pet insurance premium will cost depending on whether you’re a cat or dog owner and the policy you select.
In all instances, pet insurance premiums for dogs are more expensive than pet insurance premiums for cats. The difference in monthly premium pricing for dogs and cats is the smallest for an accident only pet insurance plan, as the monthly premium for dogs is 38% more expensive than it is for cats.
For an accident and illness pet insurance policy that will cover things from car accidents involving your pet to infections, the average monthly premium for dogs is 77% more expensive than it is for cats.
And when combining all pet insurance premiums to find an overall average cost for both dogs and cats, the average monthly premium for canines is still 73% costlier.
Since dogs are usually bigger than cats and thus require more veterinary care (heavier dosage of sedation, medication, etc.), it makes sense that dog pet insurance premiums are considerably more than premiums for felines.
Additionally, statistics show dogs have more vet visits than cats do, which also helps explain the difference in premium pricing.
Either way, you’re looking at an annual pet insurance premium cost between $256 and $406 for cats or between $353 and $716 for dogs, so be sure to confirm you can fit those numbers into your budget.
Monthly Pet Insurance Premiums By Breed
If you thought the differences in pet insurance premiums between dogs and cats were substantial, check out how the costs vary by breed.
Out of 114 cat and dog breeds, the 85 most expensive average pet insurance premiums belong to dogs; the Russian Blue owns the costliest premium for felines ($45.42), yet it is just the 86th most expensive when accounting for canine premiums.
Larger dog breeds are more prone to serious health issues like hip dysplasia, which can cost between $3,000 and $5,000 per hip to properly fix, so it’s no surprise to see breeds like the Newfoundland ($100.79), Dogue de Bordeaux ($94.19), Alaskan Malamute ($87.38), Greyhound ($76.75), and Bernese Mountain Dog ($75.08) towards the top of the rankings for the most expensive average premiums.
On the other hand, smaller breeds that typically have long, healthy lives like the English Springer Spaniel ($33.56), Miniature Yorkshire Terrier ($37.24), Miniature Australian Shepherd ($40.62), Affenpinscher ($42.04), and Papillion ($43.24) have much more affordable monthly premiums.
On that note, the decision to get pet insurance is a much more consequential choice for large dog owners versus owners of smaller breeds. For example, a Newfoundland owner is looking at an annual pet insurance cost of $1,209 on premiums alone while someone who owns an English Springer Spaniel would have just a $403 annual commitment.
Monthly Pet Insurance Premiums By State
The last part of our analysis of pet insurance premiums involved breaking down average premium costs by state to see if there was any noticeable trend.
While it’s tough to pinpoint exact reasons as to why certain states have more expensive average pet insurance premiums, it appears that regions where the cost of living is higher, like the Northeast and West, have higher average premiums likely because vet bills in these areas are steeper.
For example, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Connecticut all ranked in the top ten for the highest average monthly pet insurance premiums.
On the contrary, Midwest and Rocky Mountain states (where the cost of living is cheaper) like Kansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Idaho, and Indiana all ranked in the bottom ten for having cheaper average premiums.
Most Common Reasons Dog & Cat Owners Submit Pet Insurance Claims
Time to talk about claims. First, let’s see what the most common claims are for dog and cat owners and what the average claim payout is for each.
As evident from the table above, you can see that dog owners are submitting pet insurance claims at a far higher rate than cat owners are. Specifically, dog owners have submitted 302,895 total claims while cat owners have submitted just 39,437.
This helps further explain why dog insurance premiums are so much higher than cat insurance premiums. It is because dogs are much more prone to run into health issues which means their premiums must be higher to mitigate potential losses incurred by a pet insurance company when the claims start rolling in.
For both dog and cat owners, an annual exam is the most likely reason they are submitting a claim, while gastro-intestinal issues also make up a solid chunk of claims. It’s worth noting that not all pet insurance companies cover annual exams, which makes SPOT’s coverage unique and also explains the large number of claims paid out for this reason.
It was interesting to see that dog owners are far more likely to submit a claim related to a growth or cancer and the subsequent therapy than are cat owners. For the latter, this was the least common claim filed while it was the eighth most common claim for the former.
It also appears that dog owners are dealing with ear issues at a far higher frequency compared to cat owners, while cat owners also don’t usually file claims for allergies despite this being the fifth most common claim for canine owners.
Average Claim Payout By Species
Just as there was a difference between dog and cat premiums, there was also a sizable difference in the average claim payout between the two species.
Interestingly, the average claim payout for a cat was 16% higher than the average claim payout for its canine counterpart. This actually falls in line with the table found above, which showed that feline claim payouts were usually higher than dog claim payouts for the same medical issue.
It’s worth noting this could be due to SPOT Pet Insurance having far more internal claims data for dogs than it does for cats, which might cause the average claim figure for cats to fluctuate more wildly based on just a few outliers.
Reinforcing the above, the overall average claim payout of $176.21, which combined claim data for both dogs and cats, is nearly the same as the average dog claim payout.
Average Claim Payout by Breed
Now, let’s see how the average claim payout differs according to the breed of dog or cat.
Ranging from $38 on the low end to $707 on the high end, pet insurance claim payouts are vastly different depending on the breed.
Perhaps the most interesting takeaway from the table located above is Newfoundlands having the very lowest average claim payout regardless of species, $38.48. Earlier in the report, we found this breed of dog has the very highest average monthly premium regardless of species, $100.79
It was also noteworthy to see various cat breeds near the top of the rankings for having the highest average claim payouts, despite these breeds having very cheap monthly premiums.
Ultimately, the average claim payout by breed data should be paired with the average monthly premium by breed data if you are a pet owner that is pondering the worth of pet insurance for a specific breed.
If you have a Border Collie, for example, and you look at the above averages, your annual premium might be $623 while an average claim payout is $434 for the breed. Considering that you could have a year where you submit no claims, or you could have a year where you submit three claims, these numbers help to give you an idea of the financial landscape, not an assured net “gain” or “loss.”
And depending on your breed of canine or even feline, monthly pet insurance premiums can quickly pile on and create a significant annual expense. Will that yearly expense be worth it if your average claim payouts don’t make up much of the difference?
It may depend on what breed you go with because pet insurance could also prove to be a useful financial safety net if you opt for a breed with a history of serious and expensive health issues that may very well come to fruition during your time as a pet owner.
Because ultimately, while cost analysis is beneficial, the whole point of pet insurance is preparing yourself for what you can’t predict as explained by SPOT’s President, Scott Taylor:
You really don’t know if you will be the average or the outlier. Most of our customers buy pet insurance hoping to never have to use it, of course. But that’s just not always within our control as pet parents.
A good example is my 5-year-old lab, Stone. He got into the trash and ate something he shouldn’t have that he couldn’t pass. $3,000 worth of surgery later, we sure were thankful that we had pet insurance with a 90% reimbursement.Scott Taylor, President of SPOT Pet Insurance
All data found in this report derives from internal data from SPOT Pet Insurance that was provided exclusively to LendEDU for analysis. The data from SPOT Pet Insurance included thousands of unique pet insurance policies held by pet insurance customers. Each unique policy included information like breed, location, monthly premium cost, and claim payouts.
When doing breed-by-breed analysis, LendEDU filtered out all “mix” breeds and breeds that had an insufficient number of claims or premium data.
SPOT Pet Insurance is a pet insurance company based in Florida and is “committed to helping pets lead longer, healthier lives by providing health insurance with first-class service and high-quality coverage.”
See more of LendEDU’s Research.