Can I get pet insurance for older dogs and cats?
Yes, older pets can get insurance, but your insurance premium may be higher compared to what you'd pay with a younger pet. Additionally, some insurance companies may have a maximum age limit for enrollment. For example, if your dog is 11 years old and the insurance company has a maximum age limit of 10, then you wouldn't be able to enroll your dog in their pet insurance plan. Note that pet insurance won't cover your pet's pre-existing conditions, so the earlier in life you enroll them, the more likely they'll be covered for age-related conditions.
Is senior pet insurance different than insurance for younger animals?
Insurance for senior pets works the same way as it does for younger pets. The main difference is price. Since older dogs and cats are more likely to need medical care, it generally costs more to buy pet insurance for them. Senior pets may also be excluded from coverage if an insurer has a maximum age limit for new policies. However, Progressive Pet Insurance by Pets Best has no age limits, so you can enroll your senior pet at any age.
When is a pet considered "senior"?
There's no precise definition of a senior pet, in part because each insurance company is free to define their own maximum age limits and price ranges based on age. There's also no clear definition biologically. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, both cats and dogs are often considered senior after age seven, but it may depend on the breed.
Is it difficult to get insurance for a senior dog or cat?
The older your pet, the more difficult it may be to find insurance. Pet insurers with maximum age limits for new policies often set them at 10 years old, so if your pet is older than 10, you'll want to look for a company with a higher age limit or no limit.
Pet insurance for older dogs and cats likely will also be more expensive than a policy for a younger animal. It may also rise in cost every time you renew your policy due to the increased likelihood of filing a claim. If monthly cost is a concern, look for flexible policies that offer the ability to customize your coverage limits, deductible, and reimbursement percentage to create a policy you can afford.
Is insurance worth it for an older pet?
If you're thinking about buying pet insurance for an older dog or cat, consider the following to see if it's worth it:
- Life expectancy: Having an idea of how much longer you expect to have your pet can help you weigh the costs more effectively. Cats generally live longer than dogs (around 15 years, on average), while the life expectancy of dogs varies widely by breed. Tiny dogs like Chihuahuas can reach 15 or 20 years old, but the largest breeds, like Great Danes, have an average lifespan of only seven years.
- Covered conditions: Most policies will cover accidents and acute illnesses (such as a respiratory infection), but senior pet owners should also prioritize comprehensive plans with coverage for common illnesses that show up with age, like organ (kidney/liver/heart) disease, cancer, and arthritis.
- Quality of care/service: Make sure you'll be happy with the provider and policy you select in the long term. Switching companies later can be a problem due to coverage restrictions on pre-existing conditions. If you buy a policy tomorrow and your pet develops a covered condition next year, the policy will pay for it. However, if you switch after the condition develops, the new provider will probably see that condition as "pre-existing," and you may lose coverage.
It's best to purchase pet insurance sooner rather than later for many reasons, but for senior pet owners, there's one particularly important reason: pre-existing conditions. Pet insurance won't usually cover illnesses that exist before you buy a policy, so it's best to buy insurance before something develops, if possible.