Can You Get Life Insurance for a Pet?

Did you know that you can purchase a pet life insurance policy for your dog? Pet life insurance has a different purpose than pet health insurance. Before you decide to buy a policy, its important to understand if pet life insurance is worth the money.
By Matthew T
Updated Mar 19, 2021
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When you think about pet insurance, you probably imagine pet health insurance policies that help control the costs of medical procedures. Did you know that you can also purchase pet life insurance policies for your dog?

Pet life insurance serves a very different purpose from pet health insurance. Is it the right way for you to protect your family's companion animal? Before you decide to buy a policy for your furry one, take a few minutes to learn about your options, what life insurance covers, and how you can get the best price on a reliable policy.

Differences Between Life Insurance for Dogs and Humans

Humans typically buy life insurance policies because they want to make sure their families have financial stability after they're gone. If you passed away unexpectedly, your life insurance policy could help cover expenses like:

  • Repaying your mortgage.

  • College tuition.

  • Funeral costs.

Ideally, the policy would let your family continue its lifestyle. They would grieve your loss, but financial stress wouldn't rob them of opportunities.

Pet life insurance for dogs works completely differently. Unless you have a very handsome dog with a career in advertising or acting, you don't earn any income from your pet. Instead, you only spend money on your pet. Because of this situation, an insurance policy doesn't need to cover lost wages.

It may sound callous, but life insurance for your pet essentially treats your dog like any other object that you own. More often than not, the policy covers the cost of replacing your dog.

Many pet life insurance policies will also pay for your dog's replacement when someone steals the animal.

What Pet Life Insurance Doesn't Cover

Pet life insurance policies almost always have exclusions that limit what they will and will not cover. Most commonly, life insurance will not cover to replace your dog that dies from:

  • Old age.

  • A hereditary disease.

  • A pre-existing condition.

If your dog has been diagnosed with a heart murmur, the policy probably will not cover the cost of replacement when your dog passes from heart disease or cardiac arrest.

Talk to Your Dog's Veterinarian

Before you buy life insurance policies for your pets, meet with your veterinarian to talk about conditions the insurance probably will not cover. The insurance company already has lists of hereditary conditions commonly found in specific breeds. For example, Lhasa Apso dogs have high rates of hereditary kidney disease. The insurance company probably will not pay to replace your Lhasa Apso after it passes away from kidney disease.

Similarly, the insurance company probably will not pay for a Yorkshire terrier that dies from liver toxicity, an Irish setter that has bone cancer, or a cocker spaniel with heart disease.

Your veterinarian can help you learn more about hereditary diseases most likely to occur with your dog's breed. If you know anything about your dog's parents, you might also want to talk to their owners to learn about their health histories.

You also need to talk to your veterinarian to get a list of your dog's previous and current ailments that could disqualify payments from the insurance company. Gather as much information as possible. You should know the odds of getting reimbursed after losing your dog.

Pet Life Insurance for High-Value Dogs

At this point, you might wonder why anyone would buy pet life insurance for a dog. Before you dismiss life insurance for pets, think about how much money many people spend on their companion animals.

If you adopt an older dog from a rescue, you probably shouldn't buy a life insurance policy for the animal. No matter how much joy and love the dog brings to your life, it simply isn't worth much money. That's difficult for many people to hear. Keep in mind that some people don't see dogs as beloved members of the family. They see them as prized possessions or even investments.

Now, consider that some owners spend a lot of money buying purebred puppies. The prices can seem outrageous to adopters. When you buy from a breeder, you could expect to spend up to:

  • $3,500 on a Bernese mountain dog.

  • $3,000 on a rottweiler.

  • $3,500 on a Staffordshire bull terrier.

  • $3,000 on a golden retriever.

  • $5,000 on a Black Russian terrier.

  • $4,000 on a French bulldog.

At these prices, you can probably appreciate why owners would want to buy life insurance policies that cover replacement costs.

It's also worth considering that some dogs earn income, making them high-value dogs. People who own dogs that appear in commercials, for instance, might want to get insurance policies. Today, that standard also applies to pets that have large followings on social media pages.

Of course, some people make money breeding their dogs. If you can charge someone $1,000 to mate their dog with yours, you have a high-value animal that earns quite a bit of money. It makes sense for you to get a life insurance policy that would pay the replacement cost of an animal that impresses so many people they're willing to pay for breeding.

Basically, any animal that helps you generate a revenue stream probably deserves a life insurance policy, at least until the animal's career has ended. When that happens, you might not need the policy anymore.

Pet Life Insurance for Young Dogs

Many dog owners also find that it makes sense for them to buy life insurance policies for young dogs that don't have pre-existing conditions. Young dogs have a lot of energy that can get them into trouble. Unfortunately, "trouble" could mean having accidents that cost them their lives. Perhaps your new puppy runs into the street and gets hit by a car. Maybe your one-year-old dog eats a bag of chocolates that cause cardiac arrest.

Even if you only spent a few hundred dollars on the dog, that could set your family back quite a bit. Not everyone has enough money to buy a new dog immediately. Some families have to save for several months before they can afford a new companion animal.

Pet life insurance for young dogs also makes sense because insurance companies typically charge lower prices for their policies. Puppies might get into trouble, but they rarely develop life-ended health problems. Insurance companies take this into consideration, so you might find that you get a reasonable price policy that would save you a lot of money if something happened to your dog.

Find a Dog Life Insurance Policy for Your Pet and Budget

Whether you decide to buy a pet life insurance policy might depend on how much the policy costs. You might be surprised to find out how affordable many policies are. Like most pet insurance policies, the premiums depend on the type of animal you have, the dog's age, how much you paid for the pet, and whether it has any pre-existing conditions that could make it a liability for the underwriter.

For the most part, dog life insurance policies only pay to replace your dog after a theft or death. It's not something you want to think about, but it's something you should prepare for. The importance of planning ahead for theft or death becomes even more pressing when you choose to spend a lot of money on a purebred dog.