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When buying an insurance policy of any kind, the premiums for that coverage are typically related to the level of risk you pose to the insurance company. Pet insurance is no exception; most carriers account for factors such as your pet’s breed, health, and especially their age when calculating a price. As those risk factors increase, you can generally expect that your premiums will, too.
Pet insurance policies are typically issued as one-year, automatically renewed contracts. While this renewal process can be beneficial in some ways—saving pet owners from annual comparison shopping—it can also leave many wondering why their pet’s insurance premiums continue to creep upward year after year, especially if their pet’s age is the only thing that’s changed.
Here’s a look at why most pet insurance policies raise premiums along with a pet’s age, how to avoid this price increase, and whether anything can be done to offset the added expense.
In this guide:
- Why do pet insurance premiums increase each year?
- Is there pet insurance that doesn’t increase with age?
- Can I adjust my policy to offset the increased premium?
- Should I consider another pet insurance company?
Why do pet insurance premiums increase each year?
The older your pet becomes, the more likely he or she is to encounter health issues, some of which may be age-related (or exacerbated by age), resulting in higher veterinary costs that, in turn, may increase your likelihood of filing a pet insurance claim. For this reason, your pet’s premiums tend to increase with age.
This may also happen if you switch carriers. For example, if you buy a policy and then your pet is diagnosed with a health condition, this may be considered a pre-existing condition if you later switch or change their policy. Pre-existing conditions are typically not covered by pet insurance but can still result in higher premiums down the line.
Other reasons may include:
- Loss of an existing discount. If you have a discount on your policy that lowers your premiums, and that discount is later removed, subsequent policy renewals may be at an increased price. For example, if you have a bundle discount for multiple policies or a multiple-pet discount, and the other pet(s) or policies are removed, you can expect your premiums to increase.
- General inflation, increased operating and veterinary costs, etc. Along with the rest of the economy, the base cost of pet insurance may increase due to factors like inflation or increased operating costs. According to recent data from the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), pet insurance premiums rose an average of 24.2% year-over-year from 2016 to 2020.
>> Read More: How does pet insurance work?
Is there pet insurance that doesn’t increase with age?
While most pet insurance companies do indeed raise premiums along with the pet’s age, there is one that doesn’t: Trupanion. All the rest that we looked at—including Embrace, Nationwide, and even ASPCA—increase premiums with age.
|Company||Premiums that don’t increase with age|
Premiums don’t increase due to age
- Trupanion can pay the vet directly so you don’t have to pay large bills out of pocket
- All covered conditions are reimbursed at 90%
- No annual limits on how much you can be reimbursed
The first option for pet insurance that doesn’t increase with age is Trupanion. Coverage through Trupanion is available for dogs or cats up to 14 years of age throughout the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Benefits are unlimited, with a reimbursement rate of 90% on all eligible care. Routine care and pre-existing conditions are not covered, however.
Trupanion has a lifetime, per condition deductible. This means that you’ll only pay your deductible once for the same condition, even if your pet requires multiple treatments in the future. Trupanion can also pay veterinarians directly, rather than requiring you to file for reimbursement and wait. This allows you to close claims in as few as five minutes.
How do they determine premiums each year?
Premiums may increase from one year to the next, but it won’t be simply because your pet had a birthday. Instead, Trupanion’s premiums will rise across the board based on your pet’s subclasses. That means that as veterinary costs in your region increase—overall and on average for your pet’s breed, gender, and age—so will all policyholder premiums.
While pre-existing conditions and routine veterinary care are not included in Trupanion policies, many other expenses are covered. For example, Trupanion policies include hereditary and congenital conditions, even if your pet’s breed is prone to developing them. They also cover unidentified issues, emergency care, and unexpected injuries or illnesses.
What terms are available?
Trupanion offers 90% reimbursement with deductibles ranging from $0 to $1,000 and no caps or limits on coverage. There is a five-day waiting period for injuries and a 30-day waiting period for illnesses (waivers may be available), and you can choose to visit any veterinarian in the U.S., Canada, or Puerto Rico for your pet’s care.
If you want to get a free quote from Trupanion, click here.
Note: As of 2021, Healthy Paws does now increase premiums each year as your pet gets older.
Healthy Paws simplifies pet insurance by offering one plan option for dogs and cats with up to 90% reimbursement. Coverage includes emergency care, surgery, diagnostic exams, hereditary or congenital conditions, chronic conditions, prescription medications, and even cancer treatment with no maximum limits (per incident, annual, or lifetime).
Policyholders can take their pet to any veterinarian for care, then file for reimbursement afterward. Most claims are processed within two days and can be filed online or through their mobile app. Healthy Paws does not cover pre-existing conditions, routine exams, or preventative care.
How do they determine premiums each year?
Annual premiums may change, but those increases will affect all policyholders. These changes are determined by each state’s regulatory department, which considers increases in veterinary medicine costs as well as average costs for pets according to their location, breed, age, or gender.
Healthy Paws plans cover emergency care for illness or injury, hereditary or congenital conditions (as long as they weren’t previously diagnosed), diagnostic treatment, surgery and hospitalizations, prescriptions, specialty care, and even alternative treatments.
What terms are available?
Healthy Paws offers one pet insurance plan option with up to 90% reimbursement and an annual deductible regardless of the treatment received. There’s a 15-day waiting period before coverage for illnesses and injuries kicks in and a 12-month waiting period for claims related to hip dysplasia.
If you want to get a free quote from Healthy Paws, click here.
Can I adjust my policy to offset the increased premium?
It’s true that you can generally expect your pet’s insurance coverage cost to increase each year, along with their ever-increasing age. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you could—and sometimes should—consider changing about that coverage as time goes on. Many of these adjustments could help offset the cost of rising premiums, too.
Reevalue their coverage as they grow
Puppies and kittens tend to spend a lot of time at the vet’s office. You’ll be getting them their scheduled shots, electing to get them spayed/neutered, tracking their growth, and getting them on a regime of flea and tick preventatives. These appointments can add up, making a pet wellness plan beneficial.
However, as they age and reach a more maintenance-based phase of life, they may only need to see the vet once or twice a year. Keeping emergency care insurance can be wise, but you may decide that wellness/routine care coverage isn’t worth the cost when they’re older.
Adjust their coverage options and limits
If you want to reduce your pet’s insurance premiums, you can consider lowering their policy’s limits and coverage options, as well as raising your cost-share (deductible). Making one or more of these changes can result in notable annual savings while keeping their insurance protection active.
Think about how you want the rest of their life to look
As your pet gets older, it can be important (though hard!) to honestly consider how you want their future days to play out.
If your five-year-old pup was to get cancer, for instance, you would probably want to treat it in every way possible. If your 15-year-old dog got cancer instead, though, would you put them through the same lengthy treatments—or consider a comfortable and loving end-of-life plan instead?
As your pet ages, think about whether you would use the coverage your pet insurance offers. If not, it may be time to adjust the terms.
Consider what you can afford out-of-pocket
Pet insurance can help you avoid unexpected costs for medical procedures or emergency surgery. According to Emergency Vets USA, emergency surgery for a large dog can run as much as $5,000 on average, plus overnight stays, medications, and future visits that may be required.
If this level of expense would be difficult (or even impossible) for you to cover without notice, think twice before canceling or reducing your pet insurance coverage.
Put the difference in a savings account instead
If your pet has pre-existing conditions that are not covered or is approaching the season of life where his or her needs are no longer covered by typical pet insurance, consider reducing your policy. Then, put the difference (money you would have paid into premiums) into a dedicated savings account instead.
This ensures that you have emergency funds available when your pet needs care but aren’t paying for a policy you can’t (or won’t) use. And if your pet never ends up using the money? Well, you can put it toward something fun instead!
Should I consider another pet insurance company if my premium is increasing?
Your pet insurance policy is about to renew, and you just received notice of increased premiums. You can continue with the same policy at the now-higher rate, but should you perhaps consider shopping around for a new carrier instead?
Pet owners can certainly choose to do this, but it’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of such a move:
- You might save money. Shopping around for new pet insurance can be a great way to compare prices and find the cheapest premiums. By looking at different carriers, you could very well find coverage at a reduced rate. If you’d like to do this, consider our picks of the best pet insurance companies.
- You could, however, turn a previous treatment into a pre-existing condition. It’s important to note that if your pet received treatment for a new condition with your current policy, it’ll be deemed a pre-existing condition if you switched to another carrier. While future treatments for the same condition might have been covered under the current policy, they likely won’t be with a new policy.
- Your new policy premiums could (and might) rise to the same level. Just because a new pet insurance policy offers a lower rate today doesn’t mean it’ll still be lower in a year. Different carriers raise rates at different paces, so you might find that you’re in the same boat come renewal time.
- You might get new benefits or better coverage. Now that you’ve had some time to use your pet’s insurance policy, you may have discovered what you do—and don’t—like about the current plan. Switching to a new carrier or policy might allow you to build coverage that better suits you and your pet.
- There could be a waiting period. Most pet insurance policies have waiting periods, a specific period that must pass before you can use the policy benefits. These may vary by condition (acute illnesses might have a 14-day wait, for example, while orthopedic conditions have a six-month wait), though waivers may be able to shorten these. If you’ve already had coverage for a while, you’ve likely already passed any applicable waiting periods. Buying a new policy, though, would restart these for your pet.
Insurance for your pet can provide them with necessary care today and for the rest of their life, but buying early doesn’t mean that your premiums won’t rise over time. Choosing pet insurance that doesn’t increase with age can help ensure that your pet insurance costs stay as low as possible while your furry family members remain protected.
Author: Stephanie Colestock