Should You Insure Your Elderly Feline? The Pros and Cons of Insuring Senior Cats

Is insuring an older cat worth the cost?

As a cat owner, you want to make sure your furry friend is well taken care of, even in their older years. But veterinary care can be expensive, especially for senior cats who are more prone to health issues like kidney disease, thyroid disease, and cancer. So is pet insurance worth paying for if your cat is already up there in age?

This is an important question many cat owners face. On one hand, premiums may be higher for older pets and pre-existing conditions often aren’t covered. But on the other hand, insurance can provide peace of mind and help cover large unexpected medical bills. When your cat is elderly and more accident/illness prone, the costs of care really add up. We’ll look at the key pros and cons of insuring an aging cat to help you decide if it’s the right choice.

Pros of Insuring an Older Cat

One of the biggest pros of insuring an older cat is that it covers vet bills that may be high due to age-related conditions. As cats get older, they are more prone to diseases like kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, arthritis, cancer and other chronic illnesses that require expensive medications, treatments and procedures. Pet insurance helps take the financial burden off owners who want to provide their senior cats the best care possible.

Insuring an older cat also provides peace of mind knowing finances are covered. Older cats often have unexpected health issues arise, and their care can quickly become very costly. With pet insurance, owners don’t have to make difficult decisions about care based on financial constraints. Rather, they can focus on their cat’s health and wellbeing knowing insurance will handle a significant portion of the bills. This provides comfort and reduces stress during an already challenging time.

According to one source, some pet insurance companies like Pets Best, Pets First and ASPCA offer policies without age caps that can cover accident and illness expenses for senior cats This allows owners to get coverage even for cats in their senior years when it is often needed most.

Cons of Insuring an Older Cat

There are some potential drawbacks to insuring an older cat that are worth considering before purchasing a policy:

Premiums may be higher than for a younger cat. Insurance companies often charge higher premiums as pets get older, since older pets are more likely to develop health issues that require treatment. According to one source, rates can go up significantly with a pet’s age and health (Is Pet Insurance Worth It?).

May not cover pre-existing conditions. Most pet insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions, which are any illnesses or injuries that occurred before the policy effective date. So any conditions your older cat already has likely would not be covered (5 Pros and Cons of Pet Insurance).

Types of Pet Insurance

There are three main types of pet insurance according to Investopedia (

Accident-only – This covers only injuries from accidents like broken bones, bites, or getting hit by a car. It does not cover illnesses.

Accident and illness – This comprehensive coverage includes accident and non-accident injuries as well as illnesses, cancer, and other conditions. According to ASPCA Pet Insurance (, this is the most popular type of pet insurance.

Wellness plans – This covers routine preventative care like vaccines, dental cleaning, flea/heartworm medication, and annual exams. It may also cover spay/neuter surgery.

When choosing a plan, pet owners should consider their pet’s age, breed, and overall health. Accident-only plans make more sense for younger, healthy pets while older pets benefit more from accident/illness policies.

Comparing Pet Insurance Providers

When considering pet insurance for an older cat, it’s important to compare providers on key factors like monthly premiums, deductibles, reimbursement rates, and coverage limits. Some top providers to consider include:

Nationwide – Offers a basic accident-only plan starting at $10/month with a $250 deductible and 90% reimbursement. More comprehensive plans are available covering illness, cancer, hereditary conditions, and more.

ASPCA – Plans start at $20/month with a $100 deductible and 70-90% reimbursement depending on the plan. No upper age limit makes it a good option for older pets.

Healthy Paws – Starts at $15/month with a $100 deductible and 90% reimbursement. No limits on claim payouts is beneficial for costly care.

When comparing, consider your cat’s age and likely healthcare needs. Older cats may benefit from plans with more inclusive coverage and no upper age limits. Younger cats may only need accident coverage. Review deductibles, limits, and reimbursement rates closely.

Getting Accurate Quotes

When getting a pet insurance quote for an older cat, it’s important to provide the insurance company with accurate information about your cat’s age, breed, and location to get the most precise quote. Pet insurance rates can vary significantly based on these factors.

According to GEICO, pet insurance rates are partly determined by your pet’s breed, since some breeds are prone to hereditary conditions and may cost more to insure. Providing the exact age of your older cat is also crucial, as most pet insurers increase premiums as pets get older due to the higher likelihood of illness and injury. Your location is also a factor in pricing pet insurance.

Additionally, be sure to read the fine print on any pet insurance quote for details on coverage exclusions. Most plans do not cover pre-existing conditions, and some have breed-specific exclusions as well as caps on coverage for certain conditions. Understanding the policy details is key to determining if the quote will provide the coverage you need for your aging feline companion.

Paying Out-of-Pocket vs Insurance

When deciding whether to get pet insurance or pay out-of-pocket, it’s important to weigh the monthly premiums against potential vet costs. Pet insurance can provide peace of mind against large unexpected bills, but may not make financial sense for healthy pets or those with pre-existing conditions.

Paying out-of-pocket costs upfront allows you to take advantage of vet discounts for cash payments, which are typically 20-30%. However, this requires having savings set aside or being able to pay off credit cards quickly. Emergency costs like surgeries or hospital stays can easily run into the thousands.

To determine if pet insurance is worthwhile, calculate your pet’s estimated annual medical costs and compare to policy premiums and deductibles. Review covered services and reimbursement rates. While younger, healthy pets may benefit more from self-insuring, older pets with chronic conditions can make insurance a smarter choice.

According to NerdWallet, the average premium is $594 per year for dogs and $342 for cats1. Compare this to your typical annual medical expenses. For already sick pets, existing conditions may not be covered.

While pet insurance protects against unpredictable expenses, self-insuring with an emergency fund allows greater flexibility. Consider your pet’s health history and finances when deciding.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Most pet insurance plans do not cover pre-existing conditions. According to MarketWatch, “In most cases, pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions.” This means that any illness or injury your cat had prior to enrollment would not be covered after you sign up for insurance.

Some pet owners consider not doing a wellness exam prior to purchasing insurance in order to avoid detection of any pre-existing conditions. However, this is not recommended, as it could be considered insurance fraud if discovered. The best approach is to be transparent with your pet insurance provider about any prior health issues.

While pre-existing conditions are usually excluded, some pet insurance plans will still cover new illnesses or injuries unrelated to any pre-existing conditions after you enroll. So pet insurance can still provide value for cats with prior health problems.

Making a Claim

The process for making a pet insurance claim will depend on your specific provider, but there are some general steps to follow:

First, pay the veterinarian bill in full at the time of your visit. Most pet insurance companies do not pay veterinarians directly.

Next, complete your insurance provider’s claim form, either online or by mail. You’ll need to provide information like your policy number, pet’s name, dates of treatment, diagnosis codes, and the itemized invoice.

Attach the itemized invoice from your vet, which should include details like the treatment dates, procedures performed, diagnosis codes, and cost breakdown.1

Submit the completed claim form and invoice to your provider by mail, email, fax, or through their online portal if available. Nationwide, for example, allows online claim submission via their portal 2.

You’ll generally receive reimbursement via check or direct deposit within 2-4 weeks from claim submission. However, mailed claims can take over a month to process.3 Following up with your provider can help expedite payment.


Insuring an older cat comes with pros and cons to weigh. On the pro side, insurance can provide peace of mind by covering expensive medical bills if your cat becomes ill or injured. It allows you to seek the care your cat needs without worrying about the financial burden. On the con side, premiums are higher for older cats and pre-existing conditions may not be covered. There are also waiting periods, deductibles, and reimbursement limits to consider.

Overall, the decision depends on your financial situation and your cat’s health history. For a generally healthy older cat, pet insurance may not be worth the cost. But for a cat with chronic illness or one at higher risk of injury or disease, insurance can be a lifesaver. Compare plans and read the fine print to ensure coverage aligns with your cat’s needs.

If the premiums are reasonable for your budget, insuring an older cat can provide financial protection against unpredictable vet bills. But if the costs are too high, self-insuring through an emergency fund may be wiser. Work with your vet to determine if insurance makes sense based on your cat’s health outlook.

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