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What Impacts Your Pet Insurance Premium? (And What Doesn’t)


We’re all pretty clear on what can impact your car insurance premiums (speeding, causing an accident, or driving under the influence) or health insurance premiums (smoking, obesity, and age). But, when it comes to your cat or dog’s Embrace premium, a lot of factors are considered to determine the cost. What you pay for your Lab likely won’t be the same as what your neighbor pays for her Pomeranian, or even what your in-laws pay for their Labrador in another state. Some of the factors are things you can control. Some aren’t.

Pet Insurance PremiumFirstly, I’d like to rule out a few common assumptions about things that some people think affect their premium. Contrary to popular belief, these items do not directly impact premium:

  • Prior medical history or chronic conditions
  • Whether your pet lives indoors or outdoors
  • Where you got your pet from and whether or not he or she has “papers.”
  • Declawed status
  • Weight of the animal
  • Your pet’s level of training
  • Your pet’s “extracurriculars,” such as agility games or therapy visits

Now, let’s take a look at some things that do affect your rate.


Dogs are often more costly than cats to insure. There are two simple reasons for that. 1. Dogs are generally bigger than cats, requiring more cost to sedate, medicate, hospitalize, and care for. 2. Dogs are generally more accident (and illness) prone than cats. When was the last time your cat swallowed a corn cob, costing $1,400 in vet bills?


Some of the “bigger is more expensive” logic still applies here. A 130 Lb Newfoundland is more costly to medicate, sedate, and care for than a 4 Lb Yorkie. But, there’s another component of size that affects cost: predisposition to genetic issues. Rottweilers and Shepherds are much more likely than Shi-Tzus and Cocker Spaniels to need costly surgery for things like cruciate injuries and hip dysplasia.

But it’s not all about size. Even the small breeds have their share of genetic issues. (I’m looking at you, Pugs.) When it comes right down to it, increased risk of genetic illnesses or a predisposition to certain injuries can put any dog into a higher risk (read: higher premium) category. That’s why we have risk levels for the most common breeds and the most common mixed breeds. So, it’s possible my Pit Bull mix is a bit more “risky” because of his predisposition to cancers and knee problems than your small, relatively healthy purebreed. It's also possible that your Heinz 57 mutt is likely to be less expensive than most purebreeds.

* When determining breed, we use your vet’s decision. We don’t ask for a photo or papers. Whatever it says on your vet’s records works for us.


A pricing factor for gender didn’t come about until just a few years ago, but our claims data shows that males are a bit more likely to be seen by a vet than their female counterpart. Why? Could it be personality types? Hormonal? Size differential? Chances are it’s a combination of all of these things.

Spay or Neuter Status

On that note, we have noticed decreases in risk for spayed or neutered pets. While we’re fully aware that plenty of responsible pet owners opt not to alter their pets, it’s fact that a spayed female can’t get a uterine infection, just as a neutered male can’t get testicular cancer. While there may be some behavioral components to the risk associated with in-tact pets, we can all agree that having a pet “fixed” means just one less thing to insure.


It’s a tough pill to swallow for city-slickers, but it comes as no shock that the cost of veterinary care is higher in major metropolitan areas than in suburban or rural regions. Not only are you likely to find more advanced care in the big cities, in the form of alternative care clinics and medical centers, but the vets make a little more to account for the cost of living differential.


The good news: your pet’s coverage won’t decrease as he or she gets older. Your 13 year old Shepherd still has the same coverage and payouts that he did when he was a 6 year old or a puppy.

The bad news: your rates do go up. While my old man was totally healthy almost all of his 13 years, he had quite a few bills in the last year or two. With that increased cost came an increased risk that most senior pet owners are familiar with. Your premium will likely reflect that risk. (Eventually, we stop increasing rates for age--in our books a 17 year old dog isn’t much more risky than he was at 14.)

* Keep in mind, there are age limits for how much coverage you might be eligible for when you enroll but, once your pet is enrolled, the coverage renews as is. And, as with breed, we use your vet records to determine your pet’s age.

Now, for a final fun bit of premium talk--discounts!! Embrace offers discounts for multiple pets in the same home, military personnel (thank you for your service), and those who pay annually instead of monthly.

Did any of these premium factors surprise you? What have you noticed about the differences in pricing between your multiple pets?

While you can't predict when your pet is going to get sick or injured, you can protect yourself from expensive veterinary bills. Embrace Pet Insurance gives you the freedom to do what’s best for your pet without stressing over the cost. Easily personalize your coverage to fit your budget and your pet’s needs, then visit any vet for nose-to-tail coverage. Check out what the Embrace plan covers or compare pet insurance providers to learn more.

Mind if we pay your vet bills?

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Copyright 2005-2019

Pet health insurance is administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency, LLC and underwritten by one of the licensed insurers of American Modern Insurance Group, Inc., including American Modern Home Insurance Company d/b/a in CA as American Modern Insurance Company (Lic. No 2222-8), and American Southern Home Insurance Company. Coverage is subject to policy terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, underwriting review, and approval, and may not be available for all risks or in all states. Rates and discounts vary, are determined by many factors, and are subject to change. Wellness Rewards is offered as a supplementary, non-insurance benefit administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency in the United States. © 2016 American Modern Insurance Group, Inc.