Pet insurance doesn’t cover spaying and neutering, but an add-on wellness plan might

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Pet insurance plans generally cover unexpected accidents and illnesses, like broken bones and infections. But spaying and neutering surgeries are planned procedures — meaning you could be on the hook for the entire cost, even if you have pet insurance.

However, many pet insurance companies sell wellness plans as add-ons to their standard insurance policies. Some even allow pet owners to purchase them separately. These plans provide some reimbursement for routine and preventive care, including dental cleanings, heartworm screening, and spay or neuter surgery.

Does pet insurance cover spaying and neutering?

Standard pet insurance policies — known as comprehensive plans — don’t cover spaying and neutering because they’re considered elective procedures. However, a wellness plan generally provides some reimbursement for your furry friend. 

Wellness plans aren’t technically pet insurance. Instead, they’re usually sold as policy add-ons or standalone policies to cover routine and preventive care.

How does pet insurance work?

Pet insurance is a healthcare policy for your furry and feathered companions. Policies can cover cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets, exotic birds, reptiles, potbelly pigs, and various rodents. Like health insurance for people, pet policies have monthly premiums, deductibles, copayments, and limits. And plans are usually reimbursement-based — meaning you pay your vet bill, submit a claim to your insurance provider, and get cash back.

Pet insurance covers things like broken bones, knee injuries, foreign object ingestion, urinary tract obstructions, infections, surgeries, lab tests, and X-rays, says Edwin Plotts, director of marketing at Pawlicy Advisor.

Plotts says that many people get a big vet bill and try to enroll in pet insurance to help with treatment costs, but it usually doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions, such as arthritis, allergies, or torn ligaments. Nor does it cover routine or preventive care, including checkups, vaccinations, and flea, tick, and heartworm medications.

Enrollment timing is crucial, as many policies require your pet to be at least eight weeks old and under 14 years old to qualify for coverage.

What pet insurance covers spaying and neutering?

You can get coverage for these procedures through a pet wellness plan, which covers routine and preventive care. 

Most wellness plans don’t have a deductible, and coverage limits often apply to certain services. While the specifics vary by insurer and your pet’s needs, a wellness plan might cover costs associated with:

Here are a few pet insurance companies offering add-on wellness plans that cover spaying and neutering:

Is a pet wellness plan worth it?

Pet insurance can help you save thousands of dollars in vet bills if your companion animal gets sick or injured. But wellness plan benefits typically max out at about $400 per year. 

While a wellness plan probably won’t save you a ton of money, it can help you budget for your fur baby’s routine vet visits. And those visits can help your vet detect and treat problems like diabetes and hyperthyroidism before they become serious.

According to Spruce Pets, pet wellness plans cost an average of $27 per month. Meanwhile, spay/neuter surgery typically runs anywhere from $200 to $400 for a cat, according to Daily Paws. For dogs, the cost depends on the procedure. Spaying typically costs upwards of $400 at a privately owned veterinarian office, while neutering runs from $35 to $250, depending on your dog’s breed, age, and where you live.

It may not be worth buying a wellness plan just for the spaying/neutering benefits. But if you plan to use the other benefits — like dental cleanings and vaccinations — it’s worth considering.

“Puppies and kittens, in particular, will benefit the most from a wellness plan, as they’ll take advantage of all the vaccinations on top of any spaying or neutering,” Plotts says.

Remember that many nonprofits and local animal shelters offer discounted or free spay/neuter services to those who qualify. The ASPCA has a list of low-cost programs nationwide, including its own free services for qualified residents.


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