As pet parents, we want the best care for our furry companions. So when faced with the tough decision of pet insurance vs. wellness plan, which will you choose?

While they may sound similar, there are significant differences between pet insurance vs. wellness plan coverage, as one focuses on the routine, and the other addresses the unexpected. To ensure your pet's well-being, it's essential to understand the options available.

In this guide, we'll delve into the differences between pet wellness plans and pet insurance policies, so you know what veterinary costs each covers throughout your pet's life.

Key Takeaways:

  • Evaluating your pet's needs, budget, and priorities can help determine whether to choose pet insurance, a wellness plan, or a combination.
  • Consulting with your veterinarian is recommended to gain valuable insights and recommendations based on your pet's specific requirements.

Before exploring the differences, it’s essential to understand what pet insurance and wellness plans entail.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is a type of coverage that helps with the cost of healthcare and emergency treatment for unexpected accidents and illnesses.  It’s very similar to a human health insurance policy. As a pet parent, you receive financial assistance for specific treatments for your pet. This includes routine veterinary care, emergency veterinary care, surgeries, medications, and diagnostics.

A pet health insurance policy typically reimburses all or a portion of eligible expenses incurred above a certain threshold. Some pay the veterinarian directly, but most pet insurance companies reimburse you for your expenditure. Each policy has its own details, including upper limits on payments and payment duration for an ongoing condition.

You may find a pet insurance plan with a wellness plan included, but those are usually separate.

What is a Pet Wellness Plan?

Pet wellness coverage provides routine preventative care for your pets. These plans aim to promote wellness and address preventive health needs. They offer a structured approach to managing everyday veterinary expenses.

Pet wellness plans often include vaccinations, annual exams, teeth cleanings, flea/tick preventatives, and other procedures. As with pet insurance, wellness plans generally involve a fixed monthly or annual fee, but unlike pet insurance, they usually don't cover emergencies.

Differences Between Pet Insurance Policies & Pet Wellness Plans

Now that we clearly understand pet insurance policies and wellness plans, let's examine the key differences between the plans and pet insurance.

1. Coverage

Pet Insurance: What does pet insurance cover?  Pet health insurance primarily serves as a financial safety net for unexpected accidents and illnesses. For example, if your pet breaks their leg, gets an infection, or develops a skin condition, insurance helps with the costs associated with their veterinary care, surgeries, medications, and diagnostics.

Wellness Plans: A pet wellness plan covers routine preventative care, offering savings for services such as vaccinations, annual exams, and flea/tick preventatives.

2. Costs

Pet Insurance: Pet insurance involves monthly premiums and deductibles, similar to human health insurance. The amount covered by pet insurance companies depends on factors such as the pet's age, breed, and the chosen plan. For example, a senior pet policy or a policy that includes dental cleaning is likely to incur higher premiums.

Deductibles are the predetermined amount that pet owners must pay before the insurance coverage applies.

Wellness Plans: Pet wellness plans typically have a fixed monthly or annual fee. This helps pet owners budget predictable healthcare expenses throughout the year.

The cost of these plans depends on the included services and the provider. Some include discounts on telemedicine and veterinary telehealth options for your furry companions.

3. Claim process

Pet Insurance: With pet insurance, pet owners usually pay the veterinarian directly and submit a claim to the insurance company for reimbursement. Pet insurance providers review the claim and reimburse the eligible expenses based on the chosen coverage plan.

Wellness Plans: Most pet wellness plans work on a system of free products and services or a discount system for other services. This means there is no need to submit a claim. Pet parents simply collect their preventatives or pay the discounted fee directly at the time of service.

4. Applicability

Pet Insurance: Pet health insurance is especially beneficial for pet owners who want financial protection and peace of mind in case of unexpected accidents or illnesses. It provides coverage for emergency situations that require immediate and often costly veterinary care.

Wellness Plans: Pet wellness plans are suitable for pet parents who prioritize preventative care and want to budget for routine veterinary services throughout the year. 


The decision between pet wellness plans vs. pet insurance is important. Pet insurance provides coverage for unexpected accidents and illnesses, offering financial protection during emergencies. On the other hand, wellness plans focus on routine preventative care, ensuring pets receive essential vaccinations, exams, and preventatives.

By evaluating your pet's needs and your budget and priorities, you can decide whether to opt for a pet insurance policy, a pet wellness plan, or a combination of both. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian, who can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on your pet's specific requirements.

Ultimately, by selecting the appropriate option or combination of options, you demonstrate your commitment to providing the best care for your beloved pet throughout their life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which should I choose: pet insurance or a wellness plan?

Many factors influence this decision, but having both is likely to save you money over the course of your pet's life. Wellness plans typically provide cost savings on routine vet bills, while insurance helps pay for emergency care.

Are there different levels of pet insurance?

Pet insurance companies offer a range of options, including a degree of wellness care as part of the monthly premium. Check policy details carefully.

What is the best option for complete protection?

For complete care, most pet owners opt for pet insurance to cover emergency treatment and a wellness plan for routine care.

If I get pet insurance and a pet wellness plan, will I still have to pay out of pocket?

Out-of-pocket payments depend on your policies, particularly the details from your pet insurance company. While wellness plans may cover all your routine costs, pet insurance policies typically have deductibles and a co-pay, which will be your responsibility.