Does Pet Insurance Cover Spaying and Neutering?

Key points

  • Pet insurance won’t cover spaying and neutering because it’s considered an elective procedure. But you can often add a wellness plan that covers spaying and neutering to your pet insurance policy.
  • Wellness plans cover preventative care and routine care, which may include spaying or neutering, depending on the pet insurance company. 
  • Pet owners with young pets will get the most out of a wellness plan, with vaccinations and other available coverages.
  • Buying a pet insurance plan with a wellness add-on is usually not worth it for spaying and neutering coverage alone.

The pet insurance industry is fast growing. There are almost 5 million pets insured in the U.S. as of 2022, which is a 22.1% increase from 2021, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA). 

While pet insurance covers accidents and illnesses, most plans won’t cover any routine or preventative care. If you’re considering buying pet insurance to cover your pet’s spay or neuter surgery, it may be helpful to know whether pet insurance covers spaying and neutering, how to get coverage and if it’s worth it.

Find coverage for your dog or cat: Best pet insurance companies

Pet insurance that covers spaying and neutering

Pet insurance does not usually cover spaying and neutering, but wellness plans sold as add-ons to pet insurance often do. 

If the pet develops a condition after insurance enrollment that makes desexing medically necessary for their health, however, it may be covered, said Kari Steere, licensed insurance expert at Pawlicy Advisor.

This exception is because pet insurance covers accidents and illnesses, depending on the plan you buy. (If you buy a more affordable accident-only plan, it will only cover accidents.) 

For a medically necessary spay or neuter, you’d have to have a comprehensive accident and illness pet insurance plan in place prior to the condition developing. Reproductive organ diseases may be covered, such as pyometra in female dogs or testicular cancer in male dogs, according to Sarah Wallace, Vice President of Telehealth at Galaxy Vets.

Pet insurance vs. pet wellness plans

While comprehensive accident and illness pet insurance plans cover unexpected accidents and illnesses, pet wellness plans cover routine and preventative care. Depending on the pet insurance company, you may have the option to add a pet wellness plan to your pet insurance policy. 

Not all wellness plans cover spaying and neutering, however. If this is important to you, research this information when shopping for pet insurance. 

What does a pet wellness plan cover?

What a pet wellness plan covers — and the annual coverage limits — depends on the company and the plan type you choose. Pet wellness plans often cover:

  • Annual wellness checkup.
  • Vaccinations.
  • Heartworm testing.
  • Blood, fecal and urine testing.
  • Flea, tick and heartworm prevention.
  • Microchipping.
  • Teeth cleaning.
  • Spaying and neutering.
  • Titer testing.

“Some companies also provide wellness coverage for grooming, nail trimming, anal gland expression and obedience training,” said Steere. 

What does a pet wellness plan not cover?

A pet wellness plan will not cover accidents, injuries or illnesses, even in emergency situations. Pet insurance is the only option available for these incidents. A pet wellness plan only covers preventive and routine care.

Can I get a stand-alone pet wellness plan?

Typically, you cannot get a stand-alone pet wellness plan through a pet insurance company. There are exceptions, like with Banfield Pet Hospital’s Optimum Wellness Plans, but you can only use this stand-alone plan at Banfield locations.

Many pet insurance companies offer a pet wellness plan add-on if you buy accident-only or comprehensive pet insurance. The cost will depend on the available options, plan level and coverage limit.

For instance, Embrace offers three levels of coverage for routine care: $250, $450 or $650 per year for anything covered under the wellness plan. The cost is $18 to over $50 per month, in addition to your pet insurance plan cost.

Figo offers a basic wellness plan add-on for $5.50 per month, but it will only cover $40 per year for either spaying/neutering or teeth cleaning. The plus wellness plan is $9.50 per month, covering up to $75 for spay/neuter or teeth cleaning.

Pets Best offers two wellness plan options. Its EssentialWellness plan add-on is $14 to $21.75 per month but doesn’t cover spaying and neutering. The BestWellness plan is $26 to $32.58 per month and will cover a maximum of $150 per year for spay/neuter or teeth cleaning.

Best pet insurance plans for neutering and spaying

These companies in our best pet insurance rating offer optional wellness plans that cover spaying and neutering.

How to look for pet insurance that covers spaying and neutering

Many pet insurance companies offer spaying and neutering coverage through a wellness plan, but it’s rare to find one that covers it under a pet insurance policy. You can look for a pet insurance policy that covers elective or preventative care, but double-check to make sure spaying and neutering isn’t excluded.

Getting several pet insurance quotes from different carriers can help you compare not only the price, but coverage limits and your potential out-of-pocket costs. The more coverage you buy, the more expensive the plan will be, but the less you’ll pay out of pocket for veterinary care.

How to file a pet insurance claim for spaying or neutering

Spay and neuter pet insurance works differently depending on the company. You may be able to file online, through the mail, by fax or a mobile app. Some carriers require a claims form as part of the claims process, while others only need a copy of the itemized invoice from the vet’s office.

In general, you can take these steps to file a claim for spay and neuter coverage under a wellness plan:

  1. Pay the vet’s bill in full after your pet’s procedure.
  2. Submit the claim and invoice according to the pet insurance company’s guidelines.
  3. Once the claim is approved, receive your reimbursement based on your wellness plan coverage.

Is pet insurance worth it for spaying and neutering?

The average cost to spay or neuter your pet is between $50 and $500, according to Wallace. If you’re only buying pet insurance for spaying and neutering coverage, it may not be worth it. Depending on the wellness plan you choose, the plan may not cover the full cost of spaying or neutering your pet. 

Pet owners with puppies and kittens typically benefit the most from a wellness plan, said Steere. They may be able to take advantage of microchip and vaccination coverage on top of spaying and neutering. Testing and preventative medications are other ways owners with young pets can get the most out of their wellness plan.

To decide if pet insurance is worth it, consider comparing pet insurance quotes from different carriers to see which plan would offer the most veterinary savings at the best price. Comparing these prices to the cost of spaying and neutering can help you determine if pet insurance is worth it for you.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The average 2022 premiums for accident and illness coverage was $53.34 for dogs and $32.25 for cats, according to NAPHIA. For accident only coverage, the average cost for dogs was $16.70 and $10.18 for cats. 

How much pet insurance costs for you will depend on several variables, like your ZIP code, your pet’s species, age, breed and size. You will pay extra if you choose to add a wellness plan to your pet insurance policy.

Spaying and neutering are usually only covered by a wellness plan and not pet insurance because this type of procedure is preventative. “Spay and neutering surgery can prevent pregnancies and disease transmission in pets,” said Dr. Paola Cuevas, Hepper’s in-house veterinarian, making it a preventative procedure.

Pet insurance, on the other hand, is to help financially when a pet is unexpectedly hurt or sick, said Dr. Jamie Whittenburg (DVM), veterinarian director at Senior Tail Waggers and Kingsgate Animal Hospital, since “these expenses typically can not be planned for ahead of time.”

Besides no longer having heat cycles, there are other benefits that come with spaying a dog. It can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing mammary cancer, which is fatal in 50% to 90% of afflicted pets, said Steere. It can also prevent uterine infections, ovarian and uterine cancers.

Spaying a dog can also help reduce pet overpopulation and allow it to live a healthier and longer life.

What age a female dog should be spayed depends mostly on its adult size.

For instance, the American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) Canine Life Stage Guidelines recommends:

  • Small breed dogs under 45 pounds in adulthood be spayed prior to the first heat, which is usually 5 or 6 months old.
  • Large breed dogs be spayed between 5 and 15 months.

As there are other factors for large breeds, AAHA advises speaking with your veterinarian to determine the best time.

Pet insurance will almost never cover spaying and neutering for cats, because it is seen as preventative care. As such, it may be covered by a wellness plan that you can add to your pet insurance, but this will depend on the pet insurance company and the preventive care plans available.

Yes, there are other options besides pet insurance to pay for spaying and neutering. You could get a quote from your vet to determine the cost, then save for the procedure in advance. You may also want to check with your vet’s office to see if it has a payment plan available.

CareCredit and Scratch Pay are financing options available to pay veterinary bills. These options require a credit check and have approval criteria. Depending on the total cost, you may qualify for an interest-free payment period. “Owners should be fully aware of the interest implications if they are unable to pay off the balance in a timely manner,” said Dr. Whittenburg.

For low-income pet owners, Dr. Whittenburg suggests reaching out to local animal shelters, nonprofits or your local ASPCA, as these organizations typically offer low-cost or free spaying and neutering to prevent pet overpopulation. Pet owners of all incomes may get discounted services from animal shelters, rescues or veterinary schools, said Steers.