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It may happen that pets become ill or injured, and veterinary treatments or surgeries can become expensive. Pet health insurance offers financial protection against this – but is it really worth it? 

Please note: the following text is only valid under German law!

Summary of Key Points:

  • Pet health insurance can protect against high costs. 
  • However, there are many exclusions and limitations, so careful comparison is important. 
  • Even with insurance coverage, considerable costs may still be incurred due to exclusions or deductibles. 
  • Surgery cost insurance is cheaper than comprehensive insurance but only covers surgeries. 

Is Pet Health Insurance Worth It for My Animal? – Key Factors

Some insurance companies offer specialized insurance for dogs, cats, and horses. But their benefit is often limited: The policies are expensive, and not all treatments are reimbursed. Moreover, typically only healthy animals are insured. So the question remains, whether and in which cases pet insurance is worthwhile at all. 

According to a study by Stiftung Warentest in 2021, pet health insurances for dogs in the form of surgery cost and comprehensive health insurances are offered in Germany. 

According to Finanztest, a dog owner pays annually for a young, small dog between around 160 and almost 550 euros as part of surgery insurance, depending on the scope of insurance. The premium for larger dogs is higher. 

Not only the size but also factors such as breed and age of the dog at the time of insurance signing are decisive for the premium amount. Even the place of residence can play a role with an insurer. 

If one wants to conclude more comprehensive health insurance for their dog, they must reckon with approximately three times higher premiums than for surgery insurance. 

The price differences and the covered risks are thus considerable. Therefore, it is all the more important to carefully compare the tariffs and conditions and select the suitable offer. 

Veterinarian examines a dog's teeth
image: Tima Miroshnichenko –

Who can take out insurance and when does it apply?

Basically, only healthy animals are insured. There is often a minimum and maximum age limit within which the animal must be insured. Animals to be insured must usually not be younger than two months. For older animals or pre-existing conditions, a veterinary report on the health condition may be required. From a certain age, you will no longer receive insurance from most insurance companies – for example, the offer is limited for dogs older than seven years. 

As a rule of thumb: The older the animal at the time of contract conclusion, the higher the contribution. 

In the case of illnesses, there is usually a waiting period of three months from the start of the contract. If the animal becomes ill shortly after application, the costs are not covered. This waiting period is waived for accidents, so immediate insurance coverage exists. 

As already mentioned, the premiums usually depend on the (dog) breed, size, weight, age of the animal, and the type of keeping. 

When Does My Pet Health Insurance Take Effect?  

Insurance coverage is valid in Germany, and during a temporary stay abroad with dogs, usually up to 12 months across Europe or even worldwide. If you want to travel with the pet, you should pay attention to the specific regulations! 

Both the policyholder and the insurance company can terminate the insurance contract. In doing so, you must pay attention to the agreed notice period. Termination is also possible after a premium increase and after the occurrence of the insured event. 

A contract expires if the insured animal is sold or dies. This should be reported to the insurance company promptly. 

What Services Does the Insurance Offer?

Pet health insurance reimburses veterinary and surgical costs for outpatient, inpatient, and surgical treatments, medication, accommodation, and diagnostics. 

Only medically necessary treatments are covered. Many insurers, for example, do not reimburse neutering or spaying without a medical indication. Tattooing or marking with a microchip may not be covered by all insurers either. 

Veterinary practices usually charge three times the rate of the fee schedule for veterinarians. Insurance typically only pays double the rate. In justified cases (e.g., for emergency services), the triple rate may also be reimbursed. It is also common for only 80 percent of the reimbursable costs to be covered. Therefore, you generally bear a deductible of 20 percent. Some insurers only cover veterinary costs up to a certain annual limit, for example, 2,500 euros. 

The fee schedule, the deductible, and the annual cost limit mean that you may have to pay a significant portion yourself for examinations and treatments, despite insurance. 

You can freely choose the veterinarian or animal clinic. However, you may have to visit the veterinarian you chose at the time the contract was signed. 

Blonde woman strokes tabby cat
Image: Parker Coffman –


You only pay low premiums if you insure your healthy pet as early as possible. However, you pay premiums for many years, so you should carefully consider whether the insurance is worth it. Standard services like vaccinations or neutering are often not covered by insurance. 

It may be sensible to take out surgery cost insurance only, to get at least part of the high operation costs reimbursed. Such tariffs are usually cheaper than more comprehensive policies. 

You can also completely forgo pet health insurance and instead set aside an emergency fund and keep money on hand for unforeseen events. 

The differences in contributions and benefits between providers of health insurance are enormous. When in doubt, you should consult with independent experts. 

Please note that the legal information provided does not guarantee and is valid exclusively for Germany. For more detailed and current information, we recommend contacting a veterinarian or your health insurance company. 



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