By Zara M.

If you are a new pet owner then you may want to know – is pet insurance the same as health insurance for humans?

The answer is not as simple as the question. Pet insurance is the same idea as health insurance for humans. However, there are several things about pet insurance that make it different from health insurance for humans.

In this article we will explain what both pet insurance and health insurance is, what the main differences are, and whether you should get pet insurance for your new pet. We will also take a look at some alternatives to pet insurance.

In this article we discuss the following:

  • What is health insurance?
  • What is pet insurance?
  • The difference between pet insurance and pet healthcare plans?
  • Do you need pet insurance?
  • What are the alternatives to pet insurance?

What Is Health Insurance for Humans?

In a nutshell, health insurance for humans is the financial coverage of medical and surgical expenses incurred by the insured. Health insurance in the US is essential due to the extremely high fees involved in even a single doctor’s visit, which can result in a bill of several hundred dollars, and an average three-day hospital stay reaching potentially tens of thousands of dollars.

Health insurance for humans helps to reduce large bills into more affordable payments, giving people peace of mind so that they know that if they become unwell or have an accident they can still afford to be treated.

Healthcare in the US works by the consumer paying the health insurance company an upfront premium. This in turn allows you to share the “risk” with all of the other people paying into the health insurance company. Most people will not need to claim for health care, which means that the money can be used for the minority who do need it, with everybody being protected and having peace of mind.

The variety of health care plans are vast and so it is important to do thorough research and make sure that you are paying into a health insurance that will provide you with the cover that you want.

What Is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is similar to health insurance for humans in that it provides financial cover for certain medical treatments and surgery, among other things. A monthly fee is charged to the consumer to cover their pet in the case of a variety of medical emergencies, so that in the right scenario, an excessive vet bill won’t mean that a pet owner has to make the very difficult decision to have their pet put down due to not being able to afford the fees for treatment.

Pet insurance is very useful as it covers a wide variety of scenarios. It’s common for pet insurance to cover surgeries or emergency visits. Some companies even offer financial contributions or full coverage on expenses incurred after a pet has died or in the case of a pet being lost or stolen. There are many different ways that pet insurance can help… if you have the right pet insurance coverage.

However, pet insurance doesn’t cover many basic veterinary expenses, such as routine flea treatments, consultation fees, or annual vaccinations. If your pet has a chronic condition or injury that occurred prior to you applying for pet insurance you won’t be able to receive any pay-outs for them either.

The Difference Between Pet Insurance & Pet Healthcare Plans

It is easy to get confused between pet insurance and pet healthcare plans, but they are very different. When you register a new pet with a veterinary clinic you will usually be offered their unique healthcare plan. This is like a subscription fee that you pay annually which covers a variety of regular routine treatments and expenses that you pet is likely to need.

This single payment will provide you with a discount or benefits and it will mean that you won’t have to worry about your pet insurance not covering things like annual vaccinations, flea and worming treatments that your pet needs and can be a regular expense on top of your pet insurance. Alternatively many plans offer the option to break the fee into monthly payments.

One big distinction between health insurance for humans and pet insurance, is the difference in billing. Where with humans, medical bills are often sent directly to the insurance provider, then later on, the remainder of the bill is sent to the person to pay off.

Pet insurance typically doesn’t work the same way. With pet insurance, the pet owner usually pays the medical costs up front, then files a claim for reimbursement.

Here are some of the things that a pet healthcare plan may cover. Different veterinary clinics will offer a slightly different package:

  • Annual Vaccinations
  • 6 Month Health Check-up
  • Flea, Tick & Worming Treatments
  • Nail Clipping/Anal Gland Expressing
  • Microchipping
  • Spaying/Neutering
  • Pet food discounts/Vouchers

Do You Need Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is separate from pet healthcare plans, and so if you have signed up for a pet healthcare plan when registering your pet with a vet you will still need to look into pet insurance separately.

Pet insurance is there to make sure that you are protected from unexpected high vet bills in the case that your pet becomes injured or ill and needs expensive treatment or surgery. Pet healthcare plans would not provide any cover for these.

What Are The Alternatives To Pet Insurance?

Some people may resent paying into a pet insurance policy, especially if they have never needed to make a claim for their pet. If you are worried about paying money regularly into a program that you might not benefit from you may like to look into some alternatives to pet insurance.

The most common alternative to paying for pet insurance is to just take the risk and not pay anything at all. This means that you are not protected and will not be prepared if anything does happen to your pet and you are faced with the decision to pay an extremely high bill that you may not be able to afford, or alternatively have your pet put down. If you have a lot of money out aside in savings, or have access to large amount of money, then taking the risk and only paying for a vet bill when one arises may be viable for you.

Another option is to self-insure, which involves you putting money away on a regular basis into a savings account and letting it build up so that it is there if you need to use it for your pet’s treatment.

Credit financing could be another way for you to cover unexpected vet bills if you do not pay regularly for pet insurance. A pet credit card would enable you to spread the cost over a long period of time. You would also be able to get approved for financing before your pet actually incurs a bill. No-interest repayments are available too if you are able to repay the full amount within the required amount of time, and interest rates will apply thereafter.

There are in fact some vets that even offer their own payment plans, and these are often with a lower interest rate than a credit card service.


Pet insurance is not for everyone, but for the majority of people it can be a low cost way, and not to mention a more predictable way to give you peace of mind and make sure that you and your pet are protected in the event of an accident or serious illness. This can take a lot of the stress of owning a pet away, so that you can simply enjoy your time with them, allowing your pets to enjoy and live their life to the full. The great thing about pet insurance is that there are plenty of options to choose from so you can go for a pet insurance plan that suits you and your pet.

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