does pet insurance cover death?

Does Pet Insurance Cover Death? | veterinarian with sick dog and sad owners by his side
Posted by Jennifer Maniet, DVM on Jun 09 2020

It’s important to financially plan for a pet’s unexpected illness or injury, including the possibility of losing them. This difficult process is one that all pet parents will eventually face and some may not be aware of the financial stress that comes with end-of-life care. If you have a pet insurance policy in place early in your pet's life, it will help lessen some of the stress.

What do you do if your pet is ill or dying?

If you suspect that your pet is ill or nearing the end of their life, your first step is to book a visit with a veterinarian. It’s always wise to know of clinics in your area in case your pet requires emergency care.

Pets diagnosed with terminal illnesses and injuries cannot be cured and may not fully recover. Euthanasia may be recommended by your veterinarian either at the time of the diagnosis or later when it becomes clear your pet is suffering.

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While the euthanasia procedure is painless to pets, it is a difficult decision to make.

How does pet insurance help with a pet’s death?

The best way to prepare financially for your pet’s passing is to enroll them early in pet insurance. While death coverage varies from provider to provider, some policies will reimburse you for end-of-life care.

That’s why it’s essential you carefully read all the terms and conditions for each pet insurance policy. If coverage is provided, there may be a limit to how much is reimbursed or the age your pet must be at the time of death to qualify. The costs may also be subject to copays and deductibles.

How do you financially prepare for your pet’s death?

Pets are family so it’s natural for you to explore options for helping them through the end of life process. After death, families need to decide on handling the care of the body and ways to memorialize the pet. These costs may vary based on the weight of your pet and where your pet lives.

Costs related to end-of-life care are typically included under pet insurance policies:

  1. Hospice and Palliative Care focuses on helping families give their pet a full and comfortable life while also preparing families for the death of their pet. An initial consultation with this veterinary specialist will cost around $300.
  2. Euthanasia. The average cost is $50 to $300. This includes the sick exam fee and the euthanasia procedure performed by your veterinarian.

Costs after death (including care of the body) may not be covered by pet insurance:

  1. Cremation options and services. Cremation is performed by a licensed crematory and there are typically two options for handling the remains.
    1. Private cremation is when your pet is cremated alone and their ashes are returned to you. This service costs anywhere from $100 to $400.
    2. Communal cremation is when your pet is cremated with other pets and ashes are scattered together by the crematory. This service will cost anywhere from $50 to $150.
  2. Burial options and services. For burial options either at your home or at a pet cemetery, make sure to consult the local regulations in your area. The approximate cost of burial preparations at a pet cemetery is $700. Funeral services.
  3. Funeral services or cremations that you can attend can cost upwards of $1,000.

For more information on after death pet services near you, visit the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories (IAOPCC) or ask your veterinarian for a recommendation as they work directly with local funeral homes and crematories.

How do you prepare mentally and emotionally for the death of a pet?

There is no surefire way to fully prepare yourself for the grief (and all the other emotions) before, during or after the loss of your pet. However, there are a few ways to help comfort and support your family members through the process.

Here are a few helpful suggestions:

  • Don't hesitate to reach out to others.
    • Your veterinarian or Animal Hospice and Palliative Care veterinarian
    • Local support groups
    • Pet Loss Support Hotlines through Veterinary Teaching Hospitals, veterinary schools, and specialty hospitals. 
  • Memorialize the life and love of your pet.
    • Cards containing locks of fur
    • Pawprints and other keepsakes
    • Hold your own funeral service
  • Give yourself time to grieve in your own way.
  • Try to maintain your regular schedule, paying close attention to your living pets’ needs.

The death of a pet is an emotional process that all pet parents will experience whether through a natural loss or veterinary-recommended euthanasia. Preparing for end-of-life care by enrolling in pet insurance may lessen the fear and make the grief more bearable.

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