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Insurance Pet Insurance

Pet Wellness Plans vs. Pet Insurance

Updated May 16, 2023   |   5-min read

Most pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family. They cook for them, buy them birthday presents, and of course, provide them with health insurance.

Investing in a pet insurance policy or a pet wellness plan can help ensure your pet’s health and longevity, as well as reduce veterinary costs and give you financial peace of mind.

Choosing between a pet insurance policy or a wellness plan depends on your personal situation. In some cases, it might make sense to have both.

On this page:

Pet insurance vs. wellness plans overview

While both pet insurance and pet wellness plans help leverage the expenses of caring for your furry friends, they each offer two completely different types of coverage. 

Pet insurance

Much like human health insurance, pet insurance provides coverage for when something goes wrong, and there’s a chance it might. It’s estimated that one in three pets needs emergency medical attention each year.

Unplanned trips to the veterinarian for accidents, injury, and illness can get expensive fast. You’d likely be reimbursed for a percentage—if not all—of the cost if you had pet insurance. 

Typically, if you have pet insurance, you’re required to pay a monthly or annual premium, and when/if something happens, you pay your vet bills out-of-pocket and then file a claim for reimbursement with the insurance company. 

Pet wellness plan

A pet wellness plan covers your pet’s preventative and routine care, such as annual checkups, shots, spaying or neutering, grooming, and teeth cleanings. Routine physicals and vaccines are the most common services administered at a veterinarian’s office.

If you have a pet wellness plan, the monthly premium covers all wellness-related costs up to a maximum annual amount. You can choose between varying levels of coverage to best suit your pet’s needs. 

Coverage comparison

The following table compares pet wellness care plans to pet insurance so you can more easily identify the differences in coverage.

Type of CarePet InsuranceWellness Plan
Illness (cancer, disease)YesNo
Annual feesNoYes
Nail trimmingNoYes
Flea treatmentNoYes
Behavioral tests/trainingNoYes
Hip dysplasiaYesNo
Dental careNoYes

>> Read More: What does pet insurance cover?

Cost comparison

Unlike pet health insurance, wellness coverage often comes with a one-time enrollment or membership fee. If you combine that with the monthly premium and end up not using all of the included services, then there’s a chance that you might actually overpay instead of saving money in the long run. It may be cheaper to pay for routine care on an as-needed basis.

Another aspect to consider is that many pet insurance companies offer pet wellness plans as an add-on to their policies. It may make more sense to combine the two rather than paying for them separately.

Here’s a quick comparison of the types of coverage, policies, and wellness plans some pet insurance providers offer:

CompanyPet InsurancePet Wellness
Spot– Covers accidents, illnesses, behavioral issues, dental disease, and hereditary conditions.
– Reimbursement up to 90%
– Deductibles from $100 – $500
– Annual policy limits from $5,000+
– Preventative coverages from $9.95 to $24.95
– Includes dental cleaning, wellness exam, deworming, rabies vaccine
ASPCA– Covers accidents, illness, behavioral issues, hereditary and congenital conditions
– Reimbursement up to 90%
– Annual policy limits from $5,000+
$100 to $500 annual deductible
– Offered as an add on to pet insurance policy starting at $9.95/month
– Covers vaccines, dental cleanings, wellness screenings
Embrace– Accident and illness policy with coverage for hereditary and genetic conditions
– Reimbursements up to 90%
– Annual limits between $5,000 and $30,000
– Dental care up to $1,000
$250 to $650 annual allowance 
– Includes vaccinations, microchipping, wellness exams, nail trimming, grooming, training, prescription food, teeth cleaning
Pets Best– Accident and illness policy with coverage for hereditary and genetic conditions
– Unlimited coverage option
– Reimbursements up to 90%
– 24/7 unlimited veterinary call support
$16 to $26 monthly premiums
– Includes vaccinations, microchipping, spaying/neutering, deworming, dental care, bloodwork

Deciding whether pet insurance, a wellness plan, or both is best for you

Which option is best for you depends on a variety of factors like your pet’s age, breed, lifestyle, and your budget. Here are some scenarios that may help you choose between pet wellness plans and pet insurance.

When you should choose pet insurance

  • If you want a financial safety net in the event of a pet accident, injury or illness
  • If you want to prevent choosing between the life and death of your pet based on finances
  • If you have an aging pet that may require increased medical care in the future
  • If you have a breed prone to chronic or hereditary conditions
  • If you live somewhere with increased risk of accident or injury to your pet

If pet insurance meets your needs, you can use our guide to compare the best pet insurance companies.

When you should choose a wellness plan

  • If you can commit to your pet’s routine healthcare
  • If your pet needs regular grooming and teeth cleaning
  • If you want to spread the cost of routine care out into monthly payments
  • If your pet is relatively young or old and will need regular veterinary visits 
  • If you can’t afford pet insurance but want some preventative care

When you should use both

  • If you have a senior pet
  • If you can afford both options
  • If you have a breed prone to health issues
  • If you have pet insurance and a pet wellness plan add-on is available

Other pet insurance resources

It’s estimated that fewer than 1% of pets are insured, and the cost of vet care is projected to reach over $30 billion in 2020. Now might be the time to invest in coverage.

If you want to learn more about pet insurance, here’s a list of resources that can help: