Pet insurance is great tool for pet parents who want to minimize risk and manage their budget while ensuring their furry friend’s wellbeing. But understanding how pet insurance works and the different types of coverage can be a challenge. Not to worry – it’s not so difficult after all! In this post you’ll learn about the four main kinds of pet insurance, plus what to consider when choosing a plan that works for you.

The main types of pet insurance are:

Lifetime pet insurance

(Also known as Lifelong, Renewable Benefit, Reinstatement, Cover for Life, or Repopulating policies)

Lifetime pet insurance plans are the most popular and offer the most comprehensive coverage for your pet. They typically cover both accidents (injuries) and illness, every year for as along as you renew the policy. They’re also more likely to cover pre-existing conditions. Because of their extensive coverage, lifetime pet insurance plans can be more expensive. As the name implies, you can claim anytime throughout your pet’s life, subject to the terms and limits of the plan.

What does lifetime pet insurance cover?

Lifetime pet insurance typically covers:

  • Veterinary treatment for illness and injuries
  • Lifelong or chronic conditions
  • Death, loss or theft of your pet
  • Dental injury or illness
  • Third party liability (dogs)

Who is lifetime pet insurance good for?

Lifetime pet insurance may be a good option for you if you:

  • want to get the best possible coverage for your pet
  • have a young dog or cat and want to insure them for their whole life
  • have a pet with a long term illness or condition
  • can afford to pay a higher premium

Types of lifetime pet insurance plans

Keep in mind that there are different types of lifetime pet insurance plans. Annual lifetime insurance policies have a cap on how much they’ll cover over the course of a year. Per-condition plans have a limit on how much they’ll pay for each condition, usually within a certain time frame.

Once the limit has been reached, you won’t be covered for any additional claims until the plan is renewed. At which point, you’ll be entitled to the full amount of cover again.

Keep in mind: the higher the payout limit(s), the more expensive the plan tends to be.

Overall, lifetime pet insurance policies are a great choice for pet parents who can afford it and want to enjoy fuller coverage for peace of mind.

Maximum benefit pet insurance

(Also known as Per Condition Or Money Limited policies)

With maximum benefit pet insurance, you don’t necessarily get the most coverage as the name might seem to imply. Instead maximum benefit refers to a pre-set amount of money you’ll be covered for on any injury or illness. You can make as many claims as necessary until the maximum benefit has been reached, with no time limit. The downside to this plan is that you will no longer be able to make a claim if your pet requires additional treatment after reaching the max benefit. In that case, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for your pet’s veterinary care.

What does maximum benefit pet insurance cover?

Maximum benefit pet insurance typically covers:

  • Veterinary expenses for illness and injury up to a certain limit
  • Death, loss or theft of your pet
  • Dental injury or illness
  • Third party liability (dogs)

Who is maximum benefit pet insurance good for?

Maximum benefit pet insurance is ideal for anyone who:

  • wants to cover vet expenses for an accident or short term illness and
  • can afford to pay for additional expenses out of pocket, once the maximum benefit has been reached

While they’re not as comprehensive as lifetime pet insurance, maximum benefit pet insurance policies still offer a good level of coverage.

woman lounging in a chair with a book petting dog

Time-limited pet insurance

A time limited pet insurance policy provides you with coverage up to a certain amount, within a limited amount of time, usually 12 months. After this time has been reached, it will be up to you to pay for any additional treatment out of pocket. Usually, time limited pet insurance policies are the cheapest plans available that still offer both accident and illness cover.

What does time-limited pet insurance cover?

  • Vet expenses for illness and injuries
  • Death, euthanasia
  • Loss or theft
  • Third party liability (dogs)

Who is time-limited pet insurance good for?

Time limited pet insurance policies are ideal for anyone looking for an affordable way to cover short term illness and injuries.

Accident only pet insurance

This type of pet insurance policy only covers accident-related expenses, up to a fixed amount. So, if your dog is hit by a car, or if your cat is attacked by a dog, you’d be covered. If your buddy gets poisoned after eating something toxic, that would be part of the package too. Accident-only coverage usually has lower monthly costs, but still provides coverage when you need it the most. It won’t cover illness, however. Often, this is the only type of coverage available for senior pets. 

What does accident-only pet insurance cover?

  • Accidental injuries that result from a single incident, for example a bone fracture
  • Some policies may also include an amount to help cover the cost of an emergency treatment for illness

Who is accident only pet insurance good for?

Accident only pet insurance is good for anyone who has:

  • a young, healthy pet that’s less likely to need veterinary care
  • a pet that’s more likely to be injured in an accident than become ill
  • an older pet who is not eligible for other types of coverage due to policy age limits

Some accidental only pet insurance policies are limited to for example 12 months. If coverage is time-limited, you’ll need to renew your policy to ensure your pet is covered against accidents in the next year.

couple holding a bengal cat

What to consider when choosing pet insurance

Keep the following in mind when shopping for pet insurance:

  • Your pet’s age: As your pet ages, pet insurance generally becomes more expensive. So it’s best to insure them from a young age. Some providers don’t cover pets over a certain age limit.
  • Your pet’s breed: Some providers restrict coverage for certain breeds that are more likely to develop illnesses. Pedigree pets are also usually more expensive to cover than mixed breeds.
  • Pre-existing conditions: Most plans don’t cover illnesses or injuries that your pet has previously been treated for, so it’s best to insure your pet from a young age.
  • The type and number of pets you want to insure: The cost of your plan will be affected by which kind of pet you have as well as the number of pets you insure. Dogs are generally more expensive to insure than cats. And you may be eligible for a discount if you choose a multi-pet insurance plan.
  • How much coverage you want: You can choose accident-only, accident and illness coverage, or accident, illness and wellness coverage. Wellness coverage includes things like routine flea and tick treatments, vaccinations, and other preventative care.
  • Your budget: How much can you afford to pay for your premium per month? How much could you afford to pay out of pocket for unexpected vet fees?
  • Additional benefits: Compare policies for additional benefits that may be useful for you – for example member discounts, live chat, vet video calls and more.
  • Waiting periods: Many pet insurance policies have waiting periods, or an amount of time you have to wait from the date your policy states until coverage kicks in. Keep this in mind if your pet needs urgent treatment – some incidents may not be covered in the first few days or weeks, depending on the plan.

More ways to ensure your pet’s safety

Having the right pet insurance coverage can be invaluable in helping you afford the best possible care for your pet. But most pet insurance only comes in handy once your dog or cat is already injured or sick. A proactive way to keep your furry friend safe and healthy is with the Tractive GPS Dog & Cat Tracker & Wellness Monitor. Attach the small, lightweight device to your dog or cat’s collar or harness and track their every move. See where they are at all times – plus how much activity and sleep they’ve gotten. Set up Virtual Fences, view their Location History, share your pet’s location with friends and family – and so much more.

Discover GPS Trackers

Want to learn more? Browse all pet insurance topics.