The Hidden Costs Behind Sky-High Cat Insurance Rates


The cost of caring for our furry feline friends seems to be going up every year. Cat owners looking to protect their budgets are often shocked when they get their first quote for cat insurance and see premiums of $500 or more per year. With veterinary costs rising nearly 11% over the past year according to Forbes, it’s no wonder cat insurance rates are climbing too. Pet insurance can provide valuable protection against unpredictable vet bills for accidents and illnesses, but the sticker shock of high premiums leaves many wondering – why is cat insurance so expensive, and is it really worth the cost?

What is Cat Insurance?

Cat insurance is a type of pet insurance that covers a portion of your cat’s veterinary costs in case of illnesses, injuries, or accidents. It works similarly to health insurance for humans – you pay a monthly premium, and when you have a vet expense, you submit a claim and get reimbursed a percentage of the costs.

A cat insurance policy typically covers emergency vet visits, hospitalization, surgeries, prescription medications, diagnostic tests, and even some preventive care like annual exams and vaccinations. However, pre-existing conditions are often excluded. There is usually an annual coverage limit and deductible that you pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in.

Getting pet insurance can reduce the financial burden of unexpected vet bills, which can easily run thousands of dollars for conditions like broken bones, cancer, ingestion of foreign objects, urinary tract infections, and more. It provides peace of mind knowing you have help covering the costs of vet care to keep your cat happy and healthy.

Average Cost of Cat Insurance

According to ValuePenguin, the average cost of cat insurance ranges from $20 to $50 per month for accident and illness coverage On the lower end, basic accident-only policies can cost as little as $6 per month through providers like Progressive On the higher end, a comprehensive policy with a low deductible can cost over $100 per month.

Compared to dog insurance, cat insurance tends to be slightly cheaper on average. According to MarketWatch, cat owners pay around $27 per month for adult cats and $25 per month for kittens. Meanwhile, dog owners pay around $35-55 per month depending on the dog’s breed and age The lower average cost for cats reflects their generally better health compared to some dog breeds.

Factors Affecting Premiums

There are several key factors that influence the cost of cat insurance premiums, including:


Younger cats tend to have lower premiums, while older cats have higher premiums. Insurance companies view younger cats as lower risk. According to Progressive, premiums may increase around 10% per year as a cat ages.


Certain breeds that are prone to health issues like Maine Coons and Persians often have higher premiums than mixed breed cats. Flat-faced breeds like Persians are at higher risk for respiratory problems which increases costs.


Where you live factors into premium costs too. Vet care prices vary greatly by region. Large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and New York City tend to have higher premiums.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Any pre-existing conditions will be excluded from coverage which limits the benefits. Cats with chronic health problems will have higher premiums if those conditions are covered.

Level of Coverage

Plans with lower annual limits, deductibles and reimbursement levels (60-70%) tend to have lower monthly premiums. More robust plans with 90% reimbursement and higher limits cost more per month.

Compare Policies and Providers

When choosing a pet insurance provider, it’s important to compare costs and coverage across the top providers. Some of the most popular pet insurance companies include:

  • ASPCA – Offers a range of coverage options from accident-only to comprehensive care. Premiums start at $12/month. (Source)
  • Figo – Provides an easy to use mobile app and flexible coverage options. Premiums start at $10/month. (Source)
  • Embrace – Known for superior coverage and benefits like dental illness. Premiums start at $15/month. (Source)

When comparing providers, look at aspects like annual limits, reimbursement rates, exclusions, deductibles, and customer satisfaction. Choosing the right pet insurance plan requires weighing factors like premium costs against the level of coverage provided.

Ways to Reduce Costs

There are several strategies pet owners can use to reduce the cost of cat insurance without sacrificing coverage for major expenses:

Choose a plan with a higher deductible – Plans with deductibles of $200 or more have lower premiums. Paying a higher deductible means you pay more out-of-pocket for routine vet visits before insurance kicks in.

Get accident-only coverage – This covers emergencies like injuries from accidents, but not illnesses. It has lower premiums, but less coverage. Accident plans start around $10/month.

Skip preventative care add-ons – Wellness plans cover vaccines, exams, dental cleanings, etc. While convenient, premiums are higher. Pay these smaller costs yourself to save.

Compare options during open enrollment periods when insurers are competing for new clients. Being a new client often comes with promotional pricing for the first year.

Is Pet Insurance Worth it?

Pet insurance can provide valuable peace of mind and financial protection against unexpected vet bills. However, the cost of premiums, deductibles, and coverage limits require careful evaluation of whether it is worthwhile for your specific situation and budget.

According to a NerdWallet analysis, pet insurance is often worth the cost if you have a young pet, live in an area with higher-than-average vet costs, or want maximum protection. For older pets, more selective accident or illness coverage may make more financial sense. Comparing pet insurance providers and policies to find the optimal balance of premiums and coverage is key.

The emotional benefits of being prepared for medical emergencies and reducing financial stress may offset higher premium costs over a pet’s lifetime. However, pet owners need to evaluate if they can comfortably afford premiums, deductibles, and any uncovered costs. Alternatives like pet savings accounts can provide a buffer without monthly costs.

Overall, pet insurance can provide vital security against unpredictable accidents and illnesses. Carefully weighing the costs against your budget and specific needs can help determine if it is a worthwhile investment.

Alternatives to Insurance

While pet insurance is a popular option to cover vet costs, some pet owners may prefer alternatives that avoid paying monthly premiums. Here are a few options to consider in lieu of traditional pet insurance:

Pet Savings Account: A dedicated savings account for pet medical expenses allows you to set aside funds and earn interest over time. This DIY approach requires discipline to make regular contributions, but gives you full control over your savings. You can withdraw funds anytime for vet bills. Some banks like Lendedu even offer pet savings accounts with higher interest rates.

Credit Card Financing: Many vet clinics allow clients to put expenses on a credit card and pay over time. Cards like CareCredit offer deferred interest promotions to pay off treatment costs over 6-12 months. This can ease the financial burden rather than paying in full upfront. Just be sure to pay off the balance before promotional periods expire to avoid back interest.

Care Credit: Offered by Synchrony Bank, CareCredit is a credit card specifically for healthcare and veterinary expenses. It has flexible promotional financing options from 6-24 months depending on your purchase amount. CareCredit also has a rewards program to earn money back on veterinary services. Just remember deferred interest periods are limited.

Tips for Affording Cat Insurance

There are several things cat owners can do to keep their pet insurance premiums lower without sacrificing coverage. According to a WagWalking article, one of the best ways to save on pet insurance is to shop around and compare rates from multiple providers. Each company uses different factors to calculate premiums, so quotes can vary widely. Pet owners should get quotes from 3-5 reputable pet insurers to find the most affordable rate.

Another money-saving tip is to choose a lower tier plan with higher deductibles or lower reimbursement percentages. Though you pay more out-of-pocket per claim, lower premiums result in overall savings. Many providers offer plans with $200, $500 or even $1,000 deductibles to reduce monthly costs. Just make sure the deductible level still leaves veterinary care reasonably affordable.

Finally, some pet insurance companies provide discounts for employees of certain companies and organizations. Always inquire about possible group rates or employer partnerships that could reduce your premium. According to an Experian article, these discounts can lower premiums by 5-10%.


To recap, cat insurance premiums can be quite high due to factors like the cat’s age, breed, location, and medical history. Purebred cats often cost more to insure because they are prone to genetic conditions. Older cats also have higher premiums since health issues become more common with age. Geographical location plays a role too, with rates being higher in some states than others.

While expensive, pet insurance can provide peace of mind against large veterinary bills for accidents, illnesses and emergencies. There are ways to reduce costs, such as choosing a higher deductible, lower reimbursement rate or lower annual limit. Comparing multiple providers is important to find the best rate. For some pet owners, alternatives like self-insuring or accessing care credit may be more affordable options.

The bottom line is that quality medical care for pets comes at a price. Cat parents need to look closely at their budget and priorities when deciding if pet insurance is worth the cost for their feline companion.

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