The difference between pet insurance and wellness plans can be confusing for some pet owners. While pet wellness plans cover or reimburse planned costs, such as spaying or neutering and vaccines, pet insurance covers the unexpected, big-ticket trips to the vet for accidents, injuries and illnesses like swallowing a sock or developing cancer that can cost you thousands of dollars.

Wellness plans vs. pet insurance

pet insurance vs. pet wellness infographic from Petplan

What does a pet wellness plan cover?

Wellness plans cover your pet’s routine care such as annual checkups, teeth cleaning, behavior training and parasite preventatives.

While vaccinating a cat will set you back $60 to $90 on average, grooming a dog can cost anywhere from $40 to $100 each time you go. Many owners view a wellness plan as a budgeting tool for these everyday expenses.

What does pet insurance cover?

Unlike wellness plans, pet insurance picks up the tab when your pet becomes suddenly sick or gets into an accident.

The cost for treating hip dysplasia in dogs ranges from $1,700 to $4,700. For cats who suffer from urinary tract disease, you could spend $400 or more for treatment. Thankfully, you won’t have to pay out of pocket for care or specialists if your pet has comprehensive dog insurance coverage.

Does pet insurance cover wellness?

No pet insurance plans include wellness in their core coverage, as these predictable expenses can be saved for in advance. Instead, most pet insurance providers concentrate on freeing you from the financial stress of vet bills when emergencies strike.

Some insurance providers will offer you wellness coverage add-ons, but there are often restrictions around enrollment periods and additional cost.

Does pet insurance cover spaying?

Spaying or neutering are not typically covered by pet insurance because they are viewed as preventive measures to prevent pregnancy and other issues. The exception would be in cases where a spay or neuter was recommended by a licensed veterinarian to treat a covered injury or illness. 

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How much do pet wellness plans cost?

After an initial sign-up fee, basic wellness plans typically cost around $20 to $25 per month depending on certain factors such as the type of pet, its age and the state of residence. Some wellness plans offer multiple levels to choose from, which could increase your overall cost. Coverage often begins as soon as you enroll and there are usually no deductibles.

Where can I get a pet wellness plan?

Many veterinary clinics and pet hospitals offer wellness plans onsite for their patients, either through the practice or through a third-party provider. While you will have to use a veterinarian from their network, their packages often include annual exams, vaccines, early screening diagnostics, parasite prevention and professional dental care in one plan.

Which pet insurance offers wellness?

Because they are two separate things, no pet insurance plan offers wellness coverage. However, some pet insurance providers offer a separate wellness coverage package for purchase in addition to their insurance. These wellness packages typically offer the same types of coverage as veterinary clinic packages or third party providers, such as shots, flea and tick treatments and annual exams. 

Are pet wellness plans worth it?

Depending on the recommended care for your pet, the frequency of treatment and how much you spend annually on preventative measures, a wellness plan could save you money. With different tiers of coverage available, choosing the best plan for your pet’s needs is easy. Some wellness plans also include discounts for additional veterinary services.

However, if your plan’s coverage is not comparable or your pet’s annual wellness needs would exceed the benefits, a wellness plan might not be for you. Keep in mind that most veterinarians offer preventative care at relatively inexpensive fees compared to the costs of treating an unexpected accident. Your pet might also not require a full suite of wellness services every year, which could limit the value.

It’s important you know exactly what is and is not covered before making your decision. You should compare wellness programs to see which works best for you and your pet.

Should I get pet insurance or a pet wellness plan?

There are pros and cons to both, but because life is unpredictable, pets at any age can benefit from pet insurance. It only takes one unfortunate incident to realize how valuable injury and illness protection can be. You also shouldn’t have to worry about the expense of your best friend’s care when they are unwell.

When it comes to wellness coverage, kittens and puppies may have the most to gain. From vaccinations and microchipping to spaying and neutering, it’s often the most expensive time when you welcome a new, young pet into your home. 

Does it pay to have both pet insurance and a pet wellness plan?

Wellness plans encourage owners to be more proactive about caring for their furry loved one. It is far less expensive to prevent a problem than it is to treat it. Wellness plans work to catch conditions early, before complications develop, so treatment can be more successful and your pet has a longer, happier life.

Even with diligent, preventative care, 1 in 3 pets will require a sudden visit to the vet each year.* Pet insurance helps protect you from these unexpected costs; by paying affordable monthly premiums, you’ll be covered if any serious health issues do occur.

* According to Datamonitor. 

Jun 24, 2019
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