"Birthday pricing" and the lifelong cost of pet insurance

Picking the right medical insurance policy for your pets can be difficult. Some providers give you different coverage options for different prices, offer additional coverage riders, or allow you to select your own deductible.

At the end of the day though, it usually comes down to the monthly payment. What can you really afford? Pet insurance companies understand this, so they give you multiple ways to cut down your monthly payment. At first, pet insurance companies may give your young pet a low monthly price. However, every year your pet gets older, the pet insurance companies would automatically raise your pet’s rate. What started out as a low cost that enticed you into a policy would grow substantially by the time your pet is older.

In the industry, this annual rate increase over the lifetime of your pet is called “birthday pricing.”

Your rates are guaranteed to increase with birthday pricing

When you get a quote from a pet insurance company, it is a snapshot in time of what it will cost to insure your pet for the next policy year. Typically, pet insurance companies price based on these five factors:

  1. Pet type (dog or cat)
  2. Pet gender (male or female)
  3. Breed
  4. Zip code
  5. Pet age

Every time one of these factors change (like when your pet gets older), you get a new quote and a new monthly rate.

Because it costs more to insure older pets, it is guaranteed that your monthly payment will increase as your pet ages. Based on a review of competitor filings, your monthly cost could spike 2-4 times higher as your pet ages from a puppy to a senior dog. So that inexpensive rate you pay when your kitten is 1-year-old will not be the rate you pay when your cat is 11 years old.

Here is an example of how most pet insurance companies price pets:

10 YEAR PRICING CHANGES
YOUR 2018 PRICING CRITERIA
Pet type: Cat
Pet gender: Female
Breed: Domestic shorthair
Zip code 98108
Pet age 1 year old

MONTHLY COST: $23


YOUR 2028 PRICING CRITERIA
Pet type: Cat
Pet gender: Female
Breed: Domestic shorthair
Zip code 98108
Pet age 11 years old

MONTHLY COST: $97
plus adjustments based on how much
their members are using insurance

10 YEAR PRICING CHANGES

YOUR 2018 PRICING CRITERIA
Pet type: Cat
Pet gender: Female
Breed: Domestic shorthair
Zip code 98108
Pet age 1 year old

MONTHLY COST: $23


YOUR 2028 PRICING CRITERIA
Pet type: Cat
Pet gender: Female
Breed: Domestic shorthair
Zip code 98108
Pet age 11 years old

MONTHLY COST: $97
plus adjustments based on how much
their members are using insurance

This is just an estimate meant to show how monthly costs change as cats and dogs age.

Senior pets rely more on insurance as they grow older and face unexpected medical complications, so even though you may not be happy with your rate increases, you may not want to leave a pet insurance company out of fear that your older pet will soon need financial assistance.

Further complicating rising pet insurance costs is the fact that pet insurance companies do not cover pre-existing conditions. If your pet insurance company increases rates an extraordinary amount as your pet ages, and you look to switch providers, anything that was previously covered by your pet insurance company will no longer be covered by any other company. This means that you are likely to remain with your current pet insurance company, even if they continue to raise your price year after year.

We think it’s unfair to punish pets with rate increases just because they celebrate a birthday. So, we price pets differently.

We don’t automatically increase rates just because your pet gets older 

With medical insurance for pets, you should rest assured that your pet is protected at all ages and stages of their life. As cats and dogs enters old age, their medical insurance should solely focus on providing coverage for unexpected injuries and illnesses.

To help you afford lifetime pet health insurance coverage, a Trupanion policy calculates rates a little differently than most pet insurance companies.

A Trupanion pet’s price is based on five factors:

  1. Pet type (dog or cat)
  2. Pet gender (male or female)
  3. Pet breed
  4. Zip code
  5. Pet age at enrollment

At first glance, it seems that Trupanion is similar to other pet insurance companies. However, our pricing structure has one key differentiator that could save pet owners substantially over their pet’s lifetime.


Whatever your pet’s age is when they enroll, this is the age we will always use to price for them.



Whatever your pet’s age is when they enroll, this is the age we will always use to price for them.


In fact, your rate will only change based on the cost and use of veterinary care in your area.

Here is a snapshot of how a Trupanion policy aims to reasonably price cats and dogs:

10 YEAR PRICING CHANGES
YOUR 2018 PRICING CRITERIA
Pet type: Cat
Pet gender: Female
Breed: Domestic shorthair
Zip code 98108
Pet age at enrollment 1 year old

MONTHLY COST: $29


YOUR 2028 PRICING CRITERIA
Pet type: Cat
Pet gender: Female
Breed: Domestic shorthair
Zip code 98108
Pet age at enrollment 1 year old

MONTHLY COST: $29
plus the cost and use of advanced veterinary care in your area

10 YEAR PRICING CHANGES

YOUR 2018 PRICING CRITERIA
Pet type: Cat
Pet gender: Female
Breed: Domestic shorthair
Zip code 98108
Pet age at enrollment 1 year old

MONTHLY COST: $29


YOUR 2028 PRICING CRITERIA
Pet type: Cat
Pet gender: Female
Breed: Domestic shorthair
Zip code 98108
Pet age at enrollment 1 year old

MONTHLY COST: $29
plus the cost and use of advanced veterinary care in your area

This is just an estimate meant to show how monthly costs change as cats and dogs age.

We will never change your rate solely because your pet is getting older. The age pricing factor at the time of enrollment stays consistent for as long as your pet is enrolled with Trupanion. This unique pricing structure benefits pets who enroll at a young age and makes it realistic for you to afford a lifetime of medical insurance coverage.

NOTE: Just because we do not engage in birthday pricing does not mean that your monthly rate will always stay the same. In fact, you can expect your rate to change every 12 months. Rates will increase due to the cost and use of advanced veterinary care in your area.

See the birthday pricing difference for yourself

When compared to the birthday pricing structure most pet insurance companies use, our pricing structure can save you money when you enroll young pets for a lifetime of protection.

Here is an example of how our pricing structure compares to VPI/Nationwide’s birthday pricing structure:

Chart showing the monthly rate of a pet over a 14 year period if enrolled in a Nationwide policy or a Trupanion policy. The Nationwide policy starts at $60 a month, but as the pet ages the monthly rate increases to over $700 a month.

In this chart, we are looking at a pet that is enrolled at less than a year old and stays insured over the next 13 years. We compare the guaranteed rates when using VPI/Nationwide’s filed age rating factors and what those rates could be with the addition of a potential 10% per year inflation. In reality, inflation may not change at this 10% rate, this is just for illustrative purposes.

Both monthly rates were similar to start, but VPI/Nationwide’s price increased dramatically as the pet got older. This shows that on average, Trupanion saves pet owners the most money once a pet who enrolled when young reach their senior years.

Just remember, our unique pricing structure doesn’t mean that your monthly rate will never change. It’s possible for your rates to go down on a Trupanion policy, but mostly members should anticipate their rate to go up. As advanced medical procedures become available in your area and Trupanion pets use our insurance, we adjust rates to ensure we can give every pet top quality care. However, we will never change your rate just because your pet celebrates a birthday or because your specific pet files “too many claims.”

We think medical insurance should be for the lifetime of your cats and dogs. Increasing your pet’s monthly rate because they get older just doesn’t seem fair to us.

Get your pet's quote