What’s the difference between care plans and pet insurance?

27 July 2023 5 min read


In a study from The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), 94% of pet parents around the world consider their pets part of their family.¹ With such a close bond, it is not a surprise that 85% of pet owners globally would pay whatever it takes if their pet needed extensive veterinary care.¹

That means these owners might be open to a more affordable payment plan option when it comes to caring for their pets. Knowing how to best explain the difference between care plans (also known as wellness plans) and pet insurance might help you persuade them to buy both options.

Care plans
The purpose of a care plan is to help prevent health problems in your pet through regularly scheduled checkups. Pets will also proactively receive annual services and screening diagnostics to help ensure a long and healthy life. 

Most care plans are set up with a monthly payment plan, allowing pet owners to budget for their pet’s preventive care. Some care plans also offer optional services, which allow the plan to meet specific needs of each pet or different geographical recommendations. Because a care plan is proactive, it helps ensure that if an issue does arise, it is caught early, resulting in a better outcome, and often saving the pet owner from more expensive treatments.

Pet insurance
Pet insurance is designed to help cover the costs of a pet’s illness or injury. Insurance is a good way to make sure your pet is covered in case he or she needs immediate or emergency healthcare. In short, the goal of pet insurance is to remove personal finances from the decision-making process when it comes to care and treatment options when your pet is sick or injured.

Differences in care plans and pet insurance
Pre-existing conditions may be covered by care plans but are often excluded from pet insurance. For example, if your dog has epilepsy or a heart condition, she might not be covered by insurance. Most pet insurance also has a deductible that must be met before reimbursement begins. Not having a deductible would usually require a high monthly premium. Pet insurance usually has a waiting period whereas once you enroll in a care plan, it can start immediately. Another caveat with pet insurance is that you must pay the expense upfront (which can be an unpredictable cost) and then you submit for reimbursement. Most expenses are a known expense with a care plan.

Care plans and pet insurance should work together and complement one another as a total pet health solution. The goal of the care plan is to ensure your pet is getting the proactive care needed to stay healthy and help identify any health issues early. The pet insurance can provide the pet owner peace of mind and the needed coverage to care for their pet if a more serious condition occurs.

Pet parents should never have to make healthcare decisions based on their wallet and should be able to have the means to pursue optimal care in all situations. If your veterinary practice doesn’t already offer care plans, pet insurance, or both, now is the time to find a provider.

As a partner, Covetrus® provides a complete pet wellness solution that combines software and professional services to make managing a complete care plan program easy.

Covetrus® Care Plans is a flexible program designed to help your practice provide affordable, personalized pet healthcare, resulting in improved treatment compliance, efficiency, and profitably.

Visit cvet.co/careplans to learn more.


1 International survey of pet owners & veterinarians. Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI). https://habri.org/international-hab-survey/; Accessed July 24, 2023.