The Difference Between Pet Insurance and Preventive Care

Written By
7 min read
7 min read

Updated - Aug 25th, 2022

Researching different options to help you plan ahead for your pet’s care can be confusing. You may be wondering, “Should I get a pet insurance plan, preventive care coverage, or both?” If this question is on your mind, you’ve come to the right place!

We’re breaking down the differences between pet insurance and preventive care coverage to help you choose the solution that’s right for you and your pet. Let’s start learning!

So, what’s the difference between pet insurance and preventive care coverage?

Pet insurance plans and preventive care packages or plans make it easier for you to cover your pet‘s eligible vet care costs. Both pet insurance and preventive care coverage are important, and together they can help your pet live a longer, healthier life.

Though both could technically be considered a form of pet wellness care, the main difference between the two is that pet insurance plans are designed to help you pay for unexpected accidents and illnesses that happen in the future, while preventive care packages or plans help you pay for the expected, routine medical care your pet will need year-round throughout their life (like vaccinations or fees for annual vet checkups). In both cases, veterinary care can cost a significant amount of money, which is why enrolling in a pet insurance plan and adding on a preventive care package can give you the best of both worlds.

What is a preventive care package or plan and how does it work?

From life-saving vaccines to parasite screening tests, routine care is an essential part of keeping your pet healthy and detecting health issues early on. A preventive care package is designed to help you cover routine care you know your pet will need throughout the year. 

Let’s take a look at Pumpkin’s wellness package as an example. Pumpkin’s wellness package is called Preventive Essentials, and includes a 100% refund for three crucial preventive care services: the fee for your pet’s annual wellness exam, key vaccine(s), and parasite screening test(s). While not insurance, it’s an optional benefit that can be added to a Pumpkin plan. It’s a great way to help you stay up to date on your pet’s wellness care every year, which in turn, can help prevent disease and stop illnesses in their tracks.

Some providers call their wellness offering a wellness plan. Usually, with a pet wellness plan, you pay a monthly fee (this varies) which goes towards covering the cost of preventive veterinary care based on a benefits schedule, where a certain dollar amount is allotted to a range of preventive care services – for example, your plan may allow $75 worth of spending on dental cleaning per year. You can think of it as an annual payment plan where the costs are spread out over the year. A plan like this can be helpful if you take full advantage of the services offered, but not every service available is a typical annual expense.

Remember that some wellness plans are not insurance products, while other wellness plans may be filed insurance products. Some pet insurance providers do offer them as add-ons for an extra fee to their pet insurance plans.

What does preventive care cover?

Wellness benefits and the services covered vary between the different types of wellness plans that providers offer. For a full comparison of providers and their wellness coverage, our handy compare page can help.

For example, different preventive care plans or packages may cover a combination of these services:

It’s important to remember that with preventive care plans that work on a benefit schedule, you get the best value when you use every single service offered in a given year. That can be tricky though, because some of the services offered are not typical annual expenses, such as a spay/neuter procedure.

Let’s put that into perspective: imagine that over the course of a year your monthly payments for a wellness plan add up to $1000, but that year you only claim reimbursement for $600 worth of preventive care services as your pet didn’t need every service. That’s $400 you paid out but didn’t receive any benefits for. Plus, many preventive care plans work on a use-it-or-lose-it basis, so any benefits you don’t use in a year wouldn’t roll over.

What is pet insurance?

A pet insurance policy helps pet parents prepare for their pet’s future health needs by reimbursing them for eligible vet bills for their pet’s unexpected accidents or illnesses. You may be thinking, I’m not sure if pet insurance is right for me because I’m not sure if it’s likely that an accident or illness will happen to my pet in the future. The truth is that even young healthy pets can get up to mischief, and as many as 1 in 3 pets will need emergency vet care each year!20 It’s not nice to think about, but all the more reason to future-proof your pet’s health care.

Pet parents usually pay a monthly or annual premium for their pet insurance policy. The coverage that comes with their policy helps give them peace of mind that if unexpected accidents & illnesses do pop up in the future, they have help affording the eligible care their pet may need to recover. After all, there have been life-saving advancements in veterinary medicine – a good pet insurance plan may help you say ‘yes’ to the best of the best if covered accidents and illnesses arise.

For more in-depth info on how a pet insurance plan actually works and how you get reimbursed for eligible vet care, read our full pet insurance plan breakdown here.

What does pet insurance cover?

Like all pet parents, we want surprise accidents & illnesses to stay well away from our pets. However, they do have a habit popping up when we least expect it! Here are some types of coverage a pet insurance plan with extensive accident & illness coverage, like a Pumpkin plan, can offer:

Accidents and injuries: 

  • Swallowed objects, toxins, and poisons
  • Orthopedic injuries like sprains or fractures
  • Bites and wounds


Care options to treat accidents & illnesses:

  • Emergencies & hospitalization
  • In-clinic or virtual exam fees for accidents or illnesses
  • Surgeries & specialized care
  • Poison control hotline fees
  • Eligible prescription medication and supplements for covered conditions
  • Eligible diagnostic testing such as blood tests, urinalysis, fecal tests, x-rays, or ultrasounds

Pumpkin Pet Insurance plans also cover microchip implantation – an optional procedure where a vet implants a small microchip under your pet’s skin that allows you to track their whereabouts and look out for their safety.

Always use your pet insurance policy documents to see exactly what your plan can cover.

What does pet insurance not cover?

We know that most standard pet insurance plans can’t cover preventive care costs like annual wellness exams, teeth cleanings, preventive vaccines, and other care not related to unexpected accidents or illnesses.

These are also some common exclusions for most pet insurance plans like:

  • Grooming services
  • Boarding and travel costs
  • Cosmetic or elective procedures
  • Spay/neuter procedures
  • Pre-existing conditions

Most pet insurance plans don’t cover pre-existing conditions, which are conditions that occur or show symptoms before coverage starts or during a waiting period. If your pet has already been diagnosed with a health issue that will require future medication or surgery, most pet insurance plans are unlikely to cover these costs since this was a condition that was present before your coverage started.

Which option is right for my pet?

If you decide to opt for both a pet insurance plan and a preventive care package, the benefits are twofold. You have help providing your pet with key routine care services as well as the future eligible vet care your pet may need to recover from an unexpected accident or illness. 

One isn’t really any better than the other, because they’re designed for different purposes. Our philosophy is that it’s a great idea to get ahead of possible health issues with preventive care as well as be prepared for future accidents & illnesses that may come up in your pet’s life.

Pumpkin offers pet insurance plans for dogs and cats with super-extensive coverage that give pet parents 90% cash back on eligible vet bills. Plus, you can easily add a Preventive Essentials package to your Pumpkin plan, giving yourself the added peace of mind knowing your annual wellness exam fee and key vaccine(s) are covered. Fetch a free quote today!

*Horch, AJ, “Most Americans own a pet, but not the insurance 1 in 3 faithful companions will need.” cnbc.com, last updated June 2019.


Pumpkin Pet Insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For full terms, visit pumpkin.care/insurancepolicy. Products, discounts, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. (Pumpkin) (NPN#19084749) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance is underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company (NAIC #21113. Morristown, NJ), a Crum & Forster Company and produced by Pumpkin. Pumpkin receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells. For more details visit pumpkin.care/underwriting-information and pumpkin.care/insurance-licenses.

Pumpkin Team

Pumpkin Team

Passionate Pet Experts & Parents
We are a team of writers, designers & product developers who all double as passionate (ok, obsessive) nerds of the pet world.
Back to Top Back to Top