Cat Health Insurance: A Closer Look

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As pet parents, we want to provide our pets with the best possible care. When you buy a new cat, you must take into account the cost of veterinary care during your cat’s lifetime. During the average lifespan of a pet, a pet parent spends between $9,106 and $13,391 for veterinary care and medicines.¹ During this period, the median expenditures for medicines are $5,325 for a cat.¹ Treatment for each problem can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars, so you must ask yourself, “What would I do if my cat needed veterinary care and I couldn’t afford it?”

To find out more about your cat’s specific healthcare costs, see our Breed Calculator.

In many cases, this would result in economic euthanasia where you would have to put the cat down because you cannot afford to pay for medical care. Nobody wants this to happen, and cat insurance is a good way to make sure that it never does.

What Is Cat Insurance?

Cat insurance is an insurance policy for your cat that will help reduce the cost of regular care as well as unexpected expensive veterinary bills. It is similar to health insurance for humans, and like human health insurance plans, all cat insurance plans are different. You will likely incur a deductible, which must be paid before the cat insurance plan will pay its percentage of the covered veterinary procedures. And because every cat insurance plan is different, the cost of the insurance and the specific coverage will vary based on the particular plan.

Cat insurance is a great way to help with your cat’s veterinary bills and unexpected veterinary emergencies. It can give you peace of mind knowing you can always give your cat the best possible care.

How Does Cat Insurance Work?

With cat insurance, you pay a monthly cost for coverage known as a "premium," just like you do with a human health care policy. The cost of your cat’s premium will depend on a number of factors including your cat’s breed, age, your geographic location, and other variables.

Cat insurance will not cover the full cost of any medical treatment. Instead, it pays a percentage of the cost. All policies are different. The average coverage is 80%, but in North America you can find policies that will cover up to 90% or more. The higher the coverage, the more you will pay for the premium.

With any cat insurance plan, you must pay for the costs up front and the cat insurance company will reimburse you for their percentage of the covered costs. Pet insurance is very simple: go to the vet, submit the invoice for the services to your insurance company, and receive your reimbursement according to your plan of coverage.

What Does Cat Insurance Cover and What’s Not Covered?

Most providers will cover necessary veterinary surgeries, medication, diagnostic tests, dental care, prescription foods and supplements, and hospitalizations. Some cat insurance policies will cover wellness exams and vaccinations – others will not. That’s why it’s so important to understand the coverage terms and conditions of a cat insurance plan before you purchase it.

According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), there are three main types of cat insurance coverage:

  1. Accident & Illness (sometimes with embedded Wellness coverage) – This is more comprehensive coverage for veterinary treatment for unexpected injuries, sickness, disease and any changes to your cat’s normal healthy state.

  2. Accident Only – This is coverage for accident-related medical care.

  3. Wellness – This coverage is often offered as an endorsement add-on to your accident & illness or accident only plan. Some providers offer this coverage as a non-insurance subscription package. Wellness generally provides coverage for vaccinations, tests and dental cleanings. This type of protection is also sometimes called “Routine” or “Preventative” care. Some Accident & Illness plans may incorporate some form of Wellness coverage, such as dental benefits.

Many plans will not cover pre-existing conditions. So if your cat develops a medical condition during a time when he is uninsured, the treatment costs for that condition would not be covered under a new pet insurance policy.

To see a sample cat insurance policy, click here.

When Should I Get Insurance for My Cat?

Since pre-existing conditions are not covered in so many plans, it is best to purchase cat insurance while your cat is young and healthy. As your cat gets older, the cost of your premiums will go up, but your cat’s coverage will remain intact. Some cat insurance companies will not offer new coverage after your cat reaches a certain age.

You never know when an emergency or a new medical problem will arise, so it’s best to be prepared and to get cat insurance early on.

Is Cat Insurance Worth It?

Cat insurance provides plenty of peace of mind for cat lovers. During your cat’s first year of life, veterinary costs can really add up. Those costs are for a healthy cat, so imagine if your cat had a veterinary emergency or developed a chronic medical condition.

On average, routine annual veterinary care for cats might cost between $90 to $200,2 but unplanned events such as accidents, injuries or unanticipated ailments can cost much more.

It makes good financial sense to purchase a cat insurance policy, and you can’t put a price tag on the peace of mind that comes from knowing you can give your cat the veterinary care he needs.

You may think that your cat is healthy and that a cat insurance policy is not really worth it. But if your cat develops a medical condition or needs emergency care, it will be too late to get cat insurance – and those veterinary costs can add up fast.

You might wonder if cat insurance is worth it for an indoor cat and the answer is “yes”. While indoor cats are less prone to accidental injuries than their outdoor counterparts, cat insurance can help pay for costly treatments of cat illnesses or at-home injuries. Being indoors doesn’t protect your cat against common cat health problems like cancer, diabetes, cystitis, thyroid disease, leukemia, kidney failure, heart disease, digestive problems and more.

 

The Average Initial and Lifetime Cost of Cat Care

The chart below shows the average initial and lifetime costs of owning a cat.3 This information will give you a better understanding of the financial commitments of cat ownership, and it will help demonstrate how pet insurance can be of value over the course of your cat’s lifetime.

This is a summary of the average cost of cat ownership, based on the average lifespan of a cat at 15 years.

 

Initial

Lifetime

Adoption

$0 - $200

N/A

Veterinary Care

$50 - $400

$750 - $6,000

Vaccinations

$60 - $150

$900 - $2,500

Spaying/
Neutering

$0 - $200

N/A

Dental Care

$0 - $500

$0 - $7,500

Medications

$0 - $500

$0 - $7,500

Grooming

$0 - $300

$0 - $4,500

Why Should I Choose Toto Pet Insurance?

Toto pet insurance is a plan that makes sense for your cat and you. Most cat insurance plans require you to add on examination coverage at an additional cost, but Toto plans offer nose-to-tail coverage for a complete price that covers routine exams as well as non-routine care (accidents and illnesses). We also cover hereditary conditions and even alternative therapies, which means you’ll receive some reimbursement for the majority of vet bills. This isn’t the case with many other cat insurance companies.

Toto cat insurance lets you find the plan that is right for you and your budget. We offer three simple plan options that provide nose-to-tail coverage no matter your budget. Our plan’s annual limits are based on real-world claims not insurance standards, so you can pick the best plan option for your pet and your wallet. Plans start at just $1 a day.

Thinking about cat insurance? See how affordable it can be.

Sources:

1. AHI Animal Health Industry Report February 2018, retrieved from The Economic and Social Contributions of the Animal Health Industry, 2018 (http://healthyanimals.org/wp-content/uploads/AnimalHealthIndustryReport_AHI.pdf).

2. Wellness Pet Food. Retrieved from Average Cost of Taking Your Pet To A Vet ((https://www.wellnesspetfood.com/our-community/wellness-blog/health-nutrition/general-care/average-cost-taking-your-pet-veterinarian))

3. The Simple Dollar. Retrieved from Pet Ownership Cost Guide 2020 (https://www.thesimpledollar.com/save-money/pet-cost-calculator/)