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Traveling with your pet can be so rewarding; but it can also be a huge hassle. Between ever-changing airline policies regarding emotional support animals, to needing to shell out a few hundred dollars for a round-trip flight for your furry friend, traveling can get complicated (and costly) fast.
And that’s if everything goes according to plan. If your pet gets sick or injured while traveling, things can get really hairy. So it pays to make sure your pet is covered with insurance.
Here's what to know about pet travel insurance.
Pet travel insurance vs. pet health insurance
First things first, is pet travel insurance different from pet health insurance? In short, yes. Pet health insurance covers your furry companion’s healthcare needs, whereas pet travel insurance is offered by businesses hired to relocate your pet and only applies to what happens between the beginning and end of a trip.
Pet health insurance covers needs like vet visits, surgery, injuries and dental work. Like your own health insurance, you will pay a monthly or annual premium and can expect deductibles of varying amounts depending on your level of coverage.
Pet travel insurance, on the other hand, only covers your pet during a set period of time. This is usually from point to point and when your pet is traveling unaccompanied, like when you are hiring a service to relocate your pet. The most important distinction is only businesses can buy pet travel insurance, not the pet owner.
“Pet flight insurance” doesn’t exist.
Fortunately, many pet health insurance policies may cover some travel cancellation and health care costs for your pet if your trip gets interrupted because your pet gets sick or injured. To find out if that’s the case, be sure to read your individual policy for details.
» Learn more: How to make traveling with your pet affordable
Pets aren’t covered under most normal travel insurance and trip cancellation policies
Travel insurance and trip cancellation insurance is a handy thing to have when the unexpected happens, as it can help reimburse travel costs if you have to cancel a trip or call it short due to an emergency. Unfortunately, travel insurance and trip cancellation coverage don’t typically cover pets, only human travelers.
In fact, trip cancellation insurance rarely considers pet emergencies, deaths or overbooked pet reservations on an airline as valid reasons for cancellation — though there may be exceptions made in the case of registered service animals.
That said, if you still want the option to cancel travel plans and get reimbursed for your investment in the case of a pet emergency, there may be a way: You can select a travel insurance policy with “Cancel For Any Reason” coverage, which would include pet emergencies.
» Learn more: The most pet-friendly airlines
Some pet insurance only covers your pet in the U.S.
While there are some pet health insurance companies that offer cat and dog travel insurance coverage in the form of health care treatment when you’re away from home, not all provide coverage in all places. Some may only cover health issues and care within the U.S. and Canada, while others may reimburse you for services abroad, too (though they may be limited to certain countries).
So before you pick a plan, make sure to read the fine print to know if your pet is covered wherever you plan on traveling together, especially if you’re headed overseas.
» Learn more: How to fly with a dog
Pets may require additional info to fly
Do pets need insurance to fly? Generally no, though depending on the airline, you may be required to bring other information and documentation with you when you travel with an animal. Check with your specific airline before booking to ensure you’re following protocol and you don’t miss your flight for lack of appropriate paperwork.
If you’re traveling internationally with your pet and your destination country allows four-legged visitors (not all do), you’ll need an international health certificate and will be required to adhere to any specific requirements set forth by that country.
You can check the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service site from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for regulations by country.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
Pet travel insurance considerations, recapped
Traveling with a pet can be complicated and costly, but pet insurance can bring peace of mind whether you’re road tripping across the country or flying around the world.
Just make sure before you head off on your adventure to check and make sure that your pet’s health insurance policy covers veterinary treatment where you’re headed, find out whether your travel insurance offers coverage for trip cancellation or interruptions insurance because of sick pets, and consider getting a “Cancel For Any Reason” policy so you can change your plans for any and all pet-related reasons.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card