What is the Best Pet Insurance in 2020? | moneyfacts.co.uk

nigel woollsey

Nigel Woollsey

Online Writer
Published: 05/11/2019

At a glance

  • Pet insurance protects you from the high cost of vet’s bills if your pet falls ill or has an accident.
  • Dog insurance can include public liability insurance – in case your dog injures someone or causes damage to their property (including another animal or livestock).
  • When taking out pet insurance cover make sure you understand what treatments are covered and if there are any limits or excesses to pay.
  • Nearly all domestic pets can be insured but be aware that the older they are the higher the premium you are likely to be charged.

How do we decide which pet insurance policies get the best rating?

Moneyfacts’ expert team have spent the last 30 years providing 100% impartial and accurate information regarding a host of retail financial products. We take a whole of market look at the pet insurance policies, collecting over 70 fields of information for each individual product before analysing and comparing them to produce our ratings. As part of this process, we split cat and dog insurance policies so you can be assured that our Four and Five Star Ratings represent the best in market choice for your beloved pet.

How does a star rating help me find the best pet insurance?

Moneyfacts is recognised by both customers and providers as the go-to place for accurate insight and impartial evaluation of pet insurance policies. The straight-forward five-star ratings system is a simple and effective way for consumers to compare products and providers.

Only those pet insurance policies that deliver the best in terms of both features and benefits can expect to receive our Four and Five Star Ratings. Customers choosing from products that are awarded one of these ratings can be sure they are buying the best cover on the market.

Featured pet insurance providers

Featured provider

Key features

Find out more

Bought By Many Pet Insurance

 

  • Voted the UK's Most Trusted pet insurance provider by thousands of customers at the Moneywise awards 2019.
  • Rated 5* by over 10,000 customers on Feefo.
  • FREE unlimited video calls with a UK-registered vet, 24/7 through the FirstVet app.
  • Lifetime cover for cats and dogs with up to £15,000 of vet fee cover each year.
  • No cancellation fee, no additional cost of paying month, no penalty for claiming.

 

EveryPaw Pet Insurance

  • Free dog activity tracker when you take out a dog insurance policy.
  • Insure two or more pets to unlock our multi-pet bonus discount.
  • Lifetime, Time Limited or Maximum Benefit policies available.
  • Petcall 24/7 free with every policy.
  • Policies for Dog and Cat.
  • We can make claims payments directly to your vet.

 

 

PDSA Pet Insurance



  • Every pet insurance policy sold contributes to life-saving work
  • Are the UK's leading veterinary charity
  • A range of policies to suit all budgets and needs
  • Free 24/7 veterinary advice helpline exclusive to policy holders
  • Payment direct to vet
  • 97% claims settled

 

 

4paws Pet Insurance

 

  • Different levels of cover to suit every budget.
  • 97% of our customers rates us good – excellent 4.6/5 From FEEFO customer review site.
  • Cover from 6 weeks old
  • UK based contact centre
  • 24/7 emergency claims line
  • 97% of all claims are paid 5 days on average

 

M&S Pet Insurance

  • 24 hour access to qualified nurses via vetfoneTM
  • Protect your dog or cat from just eight weeks old
  • 5% discount on additional pets
  • Pay by monthly instalments - at no extra cost

 

 

Animal Friends Pet Insurance

  • Over 20 years experience as pet insurance experts
  • Free 24/7 vet video consultations for dogs and cats
  • Every policy you buy helps us support animal charities
  • Your vet can claim online on your behalf.

 

 

Pet Guard Pet Insurance

  • Over 37 years protecting the UK’s pets with specialist insurance
  • Vets bills can be paid directly to your vet
  • 3 levels of annual vet cover up to £12,000
  • Cover for pets over 2 months old
  • 10% multi pet discount
  • Cover for new long-term and chronic conditions
  • 0% monthly payment option

 

Scratch and Patch Pet Insurance

  • 24/7/365 Scratch & Patch Careline as standard
  • Cover your pet from 5 weeks old, no upper age limit for new policies
  • 10% discount if you choose to insure 2 or more pets
  • Vet’s fees insured in the UK and within the EU Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) area on all policies
  • UK based administration and claims handling
  • No waiting period for illness cover if you switch from another provider and have continuous insurance (otherwise 14 days)
  • Under our Champ products we may be able to cover certain pre-existing conditions.

 

LV Pet Insurance

  • Our pet insurance gives you a choice of 5 levels of cover to meet your needs, with a mixture of Lifetime and Time Limited policies available.
  • We can pay your vet directly
  • We’ll cover your puppy or kitten from eight weeks old
  • Pay monthly at no extra cost
  • Variable excesses to suit your pocket
  • Lifetime options: Vets fee cover of £3k, £5k or £10k – every year your pet is insured with us
  • Time Limited options: Vets fee cover of £1.5k or £2.5k for up to 12 months for each condition

 

John Lewis Pet Insurance
 

  • Offers three levels of cover to suit a pet’s needs and customer’s budget 
  • Only offer Long Term Cover for complete peace of mind
  • There are no upper ages limits  and we can accept cats or dogs from eight weeks old
  • Provide up to £1,000 for advertising if the pet is lost or stolen
  • Premier Cover pets are entitled to up to £12,000 for vet fees
  • For dogs, third party liability cover is offered if a dog causes an accident

 

Agria Pet Insurance

  • Lifetime Pet Insurance for dogs and cats with up to £12,500 vet fees cover
  • 97% Claims are paid, direct to your vet if you prefer
  • Rated Excellent on Trustpilot
  • Winner of Moneyfacts Consumer Award 2018 & 2019: Pet Insurance Provider of the Year
  • Winner of Moneyfacts Consumer Award 2018 & 2019: Best Claims Service

 

 

Argos Pet Insurance

  • 97% of claims paid within 5 working days.
  • Life Time, Time Limited and Maximum Benefit policies available.
  • Our 24/7 Argos Vet Assistance helpline that provides you with access to veterinary nurses, over the phone or online
  • An easy-to-use online portal to manage your pet insurance policy at Argos Pet Portal
  • Cover for advertisement or reward if your pet goes missing.
  • Insurance options to cover your pets while you’re on holiday.

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer

The list of pet insurance providers on this page is a selection of services available and gives you an idea of the kind of options available. You can find out more about the individual products by visiting any of the providers listed. Moneyfacts.co.uk will receive a small payment if you use their services after you click through to their site. All information is subject to change without notice. Please check all terms before making any decisions.

What elements of the pet insurance policy do we look at?

  • Maximum veterinary fees insured
  • Claims time limit
  • Total excess
  • Fees and charges
  • Discounts
  • Boarding fees cover
  • Death by accident and illness cover
  • Lost or stolen cover
  • Advertising and reward cover
  • Alternative treatments cover
  • Dental treatments cover
  • Euthanasia cover
  • Hereditary conditions cover
  • Congenital conditions cover
  • Overseas vet fees
  • Quarantine costs
  • Special diet cover
  • Behavioural disorders cover
  • Accidental damage to third parties cover
  • Pet funeral / cremation cover
  • Third-party legal liability cover
  • Maximum age limits.

 

Cat Insurance - Five Star

Cat Insurance - Five Star

  • 4Paws Pet Insurance - Life Plus
  • 4Paws Pet Insurance - Life Premium
  • Admiral - Premier Plus
  • Ageas - Extra
  • Ageas - Ultra
  • Agria Pet Insurance - Agria Lifetime
  • Agria Pet Insurance - Agria Lifetime Plus
  • Animal Friends - Prestige
  • Argos - Lifetime £7,000
  • ASDA Money - 12 Month £5,000
  • ASDA Money - Lifetime £10,000
  • ASDA Money - Lifetime £2,000
  • ASDA Money - Lifetime £4,000
  • Aviva - Platinum
  • Bought By Many - Complete
  • Bought By Many - Fixed for Life
  • Bought By Many - MoneyBack
  • Bought By Many - Pre-Existing
  • Bought By Many - Regular
  • Buddies - Premier Plus
  • Club Care Insurance - Life Plus
  • Club Care Insurance - Life Premium
  • Computer Quote - Ultimate Cover
  • Confidas - Pet Lux
  • Confidas - Pet Max
  • Debenhams - Elite
  • Direct Line - Advanced Cover
  • Direct Line - Select Premier Pet Insurance
  • Emerald Life - Emerald Level 3
  • Emerald Life - Emerald Level 4
  • Everypaw - Lifetime Everypaw £10k
  • Everypaw - Lifetime Everypaw £6k
  • Everypaw - Maximum Benefit Everypaw £5k
  • Geoffrey Insurance Services - Enhanced Lifetime
  • Geoffrey Insurance Services - Standard Lifetime
  • Healthy Pets Insurance - Gold
  • Healthy Pets Insurance - Premier
  • Helpucover - Premier
  • Insureyourpaws.co.uk - Lifetime
  • Insureyourpaws.co.uk - Maximum Benefit
  • John Lewis Insurance - Essential
  • John Lewis Insurance - Plus
  • John Lewis Insurance - Premier
  • Legal & General - 12 Month £5,000
  • Legal & General - Lifetime £10,000
  • Legal & General - Lifetime £2,000
  • Legal & General - Lifetime £4,000
  • LV= - Lifetime £10,000
  • LV= - Lifetime £3,000
  • LV= - Lifetime £5,000
  • LV= - Time Limited £1,500
  • LV= - Time Limited £2,500
  • M&S Bank - Premier
  • MiPet Cover - LifetimeFlex £10,000
  • MiPet Cover - LifetimeFlex £12,000
  • MiPet Cover - LifetimeFlex £4,000
  • MiPet Cover - LifetimeFlex £6,000
  • MiPet Cover - LifetimeFlex £8,000
  • MORE TH>N - Basic £3,000
  • MORE TH>N - Classic £4,000
  • MORE TH>N - Classic £8,000
  • MORE TH>N - Premier £12,000
  • MORE TH>N - Premier £4,000
  • NatWest - Premier Pet Insurance
  • NCI Pet Insurance - Life Plus
  • NCI Pet Insurance - Life Premium
  • PDSA - Ultimate
  • PDSA - Ultimate Plus
  • Petguard - Accident & Illness £12,000
  • Petguard - Accident & Illness £3,000
  • Petguard - Accident & Illness £6,000
  • Petplan - Classic
  • Petplan - Classic +
  • Petplan - Ultimate
  • Pets in a Pickle - Standard Lifetime
  • Pets in a Pickle - Ultimate Lifetime
  • PETtrac - Accident & Illness £12,000
  • PETtrac - Accident & Illness £3,000
  • PETtrac - Accident & Illness £6,000
  • Petwise - Gold
  • Petwise - Platinum
  • Petwise - Silver
  • Post Office Money - Premium Plus
  • Purely Pets - Lifetime Bronze
  • Purely Pets - Lifetime Gold
  • Purely Pets - Lifetime Silver
  • Royal Bank of Scotland - Premier Pet Insurance
  • RSPCA Pet Insurance - Gold
  • RSPCA Pet Insurance - Platinum
  • RSPCA Pet Insurance - Silver
  • Saga - Super
  • Sainsbury's Bank - Lifetime £2,500
  • Sainsbury's Bank - Lifetime £5,000
  • Sainsbury's Bank - Lifetime £7,500
  • Scratch & Patch - Premier Plus
  • Sterling Pet Solutions - Pet Insurance
  • Tesco Bank - Extra £4,000
  • Tesco Bank - Extra £7,500
  • Tesco Bank - Premier £10,000
  • Tesco Bank - Premier £4,000
  • Tesco Bank - Premier £7,500
  • Tesco Bank - Standard
  • The Insurance Emporium - Lifetime Bronze Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Lifetime Gold Annual
  • The Insurance Emporium - Lifetime Gold Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Lifetime Silver Annual
  • The Insurance Emporium - Lifetime Silver Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Maximum Benefit Bronze Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Maximum Benefit Gold Annual
  • The Insurance Emporium - Maximum Benefit Gold Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Maximum Benefit Silver Annual
  • The Insurance Emporium - Maximum Benefit Silver Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Time Limited Bronze Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Time Limited Gold Annual
  • The Insurance Emporium - Time Limited Gold Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Time Limited Silver Annual
  • The Insurance Emporium - Time Limited Silver Monthly
  • Vetsure - Premier
  • Vetsure - Premier Plus

Cat Insurance - Four Star

Cat Insurance - Four Star

  • 4Paws Pet Insurance - Maximum Benefit £7,000
  • AA - Gold
  • AA - Gold Plus
  • Admiral - Premier
  • Ageas - Classic
  • Animal Friends - Superior Plus
  • Argos - Lifetime £3,500
  • Argos - Time Limited £4,000
  • Aviva - Gold
  • Buddies - Premier
  • Club Care Insurance - Maximum Benefit £7,000
  • Computer Quote - Classic Cover
  • Co-op Insurance - Select Plus
  • Direct Line - Essential Cover
  • E&L - Diamond Lunar Monthly
  • Emerald Life - Emerald Level 2
  • Everypaw - Lifetime Everypaw £4k
  • Everypaw - Maximum Benefit Everypaw £3k
  • Healthy Pets Insurance - Silver
  • Leisure Guard - Lifetime Lunar Monthly
  • Leisure Guard - Lifetime Yearly
  • Leisure Guard - Standard Lunar Monthly
  • MiPet Cover - 365Flex £5,000
  • MiPet Cover - LifetimeFlex £2,000
  • MORE TH>N - Basic £1,500
  • NCI Pet Insurance - Maximum Benefit £7,000
  • PDSA - Advance Plus
  • Pet ID - Select Plus
  • Pet-insurance.co.uk - Lifetime Lunar Monthly
  • Pet-insurance.co.uk - Standard Lunar Monthly
  • Petplan - Essential
  • Pets in a Pickle - Essential Lifetime
  • Sainsbury's Bank - Time Limited £3,000
  • Scratch & Patch - Premier
  • The Insurance Emporium - Lifetime Bronze Annual
  • The Insurance Emporium - Maximum Benefit Bronze Annual
  • VetsMediCover - Diamond

Best dog insurance - Five Star

Dog Insurance - Five Star

  • 4Paws Pet Insurance - Life Plus
  • 4Paws Pet Insurance - Life Premium
  • 4Paws Pet Insurance - Maximum Benefit £7,000
  • Admiral - Premier Plus
  • Ageas - Extra
  • Ageas - Ultra
  • Agria Pet Insurance - Agria Lifetime
  • Agria Pet Insurance - Agria Lifetime Plus
  • Animal Friends - Prestige
  • Argos - Lifetime £7,000
  • ASDA Money - 12 Month £5,000
  • ASDA Money - Lifetime £10,000
  • ASDA Money - Lifetime £2,000
  • ASDA Money - Lifetime £4,000
  • Aviva - Platinum
  • Bought By Many - Complete
  • Bought By Many - Fixed for Life
  • Bought By Many - MoneyBack
  • Bought By Many - Pre-Existing
  • Bought By Many - Regular
  • Buddies - Premier Plus
  • Club Care Insurance - Life Plus
  • Club Care Insurance - Life Premium
  • Club Care Insurance - Maximum Benefit £7,000
  • Computer Quote - Ultimate Cover
  • Confidas - Pet Lux
  • Confidas - Pet Max
  • Debenhams - Elite
  • Direct Line - Advanced Cover
  • Direct Line - Select Premier Pet Insurance
  • Emerald Life - Emerald Level 4
  • Everypaw - Lifetime Everypaw £10k
  • Everypaw - Lifetime Everypaw £6k
  • Everypaw - Maximum Benefit Everypaw £5k
  • Geoffrey Insurance Services - Enhanced Lifetime
  • Geoffrey Insurance Services - Standard Lifetime
  • Healthy Pets Insurance - Gold
  • Healthy Pets Insurance - Premier
  • Insureyourpaws.co.uk - Lifetime
  • Insureyourpaws.co.uk - Maximum Benefit
  • John Lewis Insurance - Essential
  • John Lewis Insurance - Plus
  • John Lewis Insurance - Premier
  • Legal & General - 12 Month £5,000
  • Legal & General - Lifetime £10,000
  • Legal & General - Lifetime £2,000
  • Legal & General - Lifetime £4,000
  • LV= - Lifetime £10,000
  • LV= - Lifetime £3,000
  • LV= - Lifetime £5,000
  • LV= - Time Limited £2,500
  • M&S Bank - Premier
  • MiPet Cover - LifetimeFlex £10,000
  • MiPet Cover -LifetimeFlex £12,000
  • MiPet Cover - LifetimeFlex £4,000
  • MiPet Cover - LifetimeFlex £6,000
  • MiPet Cover - LifetimeFlex £8,000
  • MORE TH>N - Basic £3,000
  • MORE TH>N - Classic £4,000
  • MORE TH>N -Classic £8,000
  • MORE TH>N - Premier £12,000
  • MORE TH>N - Premier £4,000
  • NatWest - Premier Pet Insurance
  • NCI Pet Insurance - Life Plus
  • NCI Pet Insurance - Life Premium
  • NCI Pet Insurance - Maximum Benefit £7,000
  • PDSA - Ultimate
  • PDSA - Ultimate Plus
  • Petguard - Accident & Illness £12,000
  • Petguard - Accident & Illness £3,000
  • Petguard -Accident & Illness £6,000
  • Petplan - Classic +
  • Petplan - Ultimate
  • Pets in a Pickle - Standard Lifetime
  • Pets in a Pickle - Ultimate Lifetime
  • PETtrac - Accident & Illness £12,000
  • PETtrac - Accident & Illness £3,000
  • PETtrac - Accident & Illness £6,000
  • Petwise - Gold
  • Petwise - Platinum
  • Post Office Money - Premium Plus
  • Purely Pets - Lifetime Bronze
  • Purely Pets - Lifetime Gold
  • Purely Pets - Lifetime Silver
  • Royal Bank of Scotland - Premier Pet Insurance
  • RSPCA Pet Insurance - Gold
  • RSPCA Pet Insurance - Platinum
  • RSPCA Pet Insurance - Silver
  • Saga - Super
  • Sainsbury's Bank - Lifetime £2,500
  • Sainsbury's Bank - Lifetime £5,000
  • Sainsbury's Bank - Lifetime £7,500
  • Scratch & Patch - Premier Plus
  • Sterling Pet Solutions - Pet Insurance
  • Tesco Bank - Extra £4,000
  • Tesco Bank - Extra £7,500
  • Tesco Bank - Premier £10,000
  • Tesco Bank - Premier £4,000
  • Tesco Bank - Premier £7,500
  • Tesco Bank - Standard
  • The Insurance Emporium - Lifetime Bronze Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Lifetime Gold Annual
  • The Insurance Emporium - Lifetime Gold Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Lifetime Silver Annual
  • The Insurance Emporium - Lifetime Silver Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Maximum Benefit Bronze Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Maximum Benefit Gold Annual
  • The Insurance Emporium - Maximum Benefit Gold Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Maximum Benefit Silver Annual
  • The Insurance Emporium - Maximum Benefit Silver Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Time Limited Bronze Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Time Limited Gold Annual
  • The Insurance Emporium - Time Limited Gold Monthly
  • The Insurance Emporium - Time Limited Silver Annual
  • The Insurance Emporium - Time Limited Silver Monthly
  • The Kennel Club - Kennel Club Lifetime
  • The Kennel Club - Kennel Club Lifetime Plus
  • Vetsure - Premier
  • Vetsure - Premier Plus

Best dog insurance - Four Star

Dog insurance - Four Star

  • AA - Gold
  • AA - Gold Plus
  • Admiral - Premier
  • Ageas - Classic
  • Animal Friends - Max Extra
  • Animal Friends - Superior Plus
  • Argos - Lifetime £3,500
  • Argos - Time Limited £4,000
  • Aviva - Gold
  • Buddies - Premier
  • Computer Quote - Classic Cover
  • Co-op Insurance - Select Plus
  • Direct Line - Essential Cover
  • E&L - Diamond Lunar Monthly
  • Emerald Life - Emerald Level 3
  • Everypaw - Lifetime Everypaw £4k
  • Everypaw - Maximum Benefit Everypaw £3k
  • Helpucover - Premier
  • Leisure Guard - Lifetime Lunar Monthly
  • Leisure Guard - Lifetime Yearly
  • LV= - Time Limited £1,500
  • MiPet Cover - 365Flex £5,000
  • MiPet Cover - LifetimeFlex £2,000
  • MORE TH>N - Basic £1,500
  • PDSA - Advance Plus
  • Pet ID - Select Plus
  • Pet-insurance.co.uk - Lifetime Lunar Monthly
  • Pet-insurance.co.uk - Standard Lunar Monthly
  • Petplan - Essential
  • Pets in a Pickle - Essential Lifetime
  • Petwise - Silver
  • Sainsbury's Bank - Time Limited £3,000
  • Scratch & Patch - Premier
  • The Insurance Emporium - Lifetime Bronze Annual
  • The Insurance Emporium - Maximum Benefit Bronze Annual
  • VetsMediCover - Diamond

What is pet insurance?

Many pet owners consider their beloved cat or dog as one of the family. Unfortunately, when a pet falls ill the vet’s fees can quickly mount up. Pet insurance is there to help you pay for the veterinary costs should your cat, dog or other domestic pet becomes sick or is injured.

In addition, if you choose you can expand the cover to include a range of other perils, such as public liability (if your dog attacks and injures another animal and/or person or it damages someone else’s property), the cost of keeping your cat or dog in a cattery or kennels if you fall ill and must go into hospital or temporary care and even the replacement value if your animal is stolen or lost.

In this guide we’ll be looking at the important things you need to know about pet insurance.

What kind of pet can I insure?

Most people tend to buy pet insurance for their cat or dog; however, cover isn’t just restricted to our four-legged friends. It’s perfectly possible to insurance a range of domestic animals, such as hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs or anything else you may find in a pet shop. This also includes certain types of birds, like budgies or parrots.

Pets which you keep for the purposes of racing them, such as greyhounds (unless they are retired) or pigeons, may cost more to insure (or may be declined entirely) due to the higher likelihood of them being injured or lost.

Of course, pet insurance is available for the not-so-common pets too, so if you have an exotic animal, such as snakes, lizards, spiders – even tropical fish – you can still find there’s a policy out there for you.

Horses and ponies aren’t covered under domestic pet insurance but can still be insured by an equine insurance provider.

How much does pet insurance cost?

The cost of your pet insurance can vary tremendously depending on what type of animal you are insuring, their age and what is covered under the policy. Insurance which has higher limits, more comprehensive cover and greater benefits will cost more than those offering basic cover for a limited number of risks.

The cost of pet insurance however is small compared to the £100’s and even £1,000’s you could have to pay in vet’s bills if your furry friend gets seriously ill or injured. Worse yet, if you can’t afford to pay and must have your pet put down.

Things which might increase your premium

  • Age – Older pets will cost more to insure and may not get cover at all
    Medical history – You will have to declare any medical problems which your pet has already suffered. These can increase the premium or the risk may be excluded completely from cover (Never be tempted to lie or simply not disclose this kind of information – this is illegal and can result in both prosecution and your policy being cancelled)
  • Type and breed of pet – Dogs tend to attract a higher premium than cats. Exotic pets and pedigree breeds will also tend to increase the premium you can expect to pay. However, on the plus side some insurers offer multibuy discounts if you are insuring more than one animal.

Choose a policy which gives a level of cover you are happy with at a price you can comfortably afford. Of course, you can always choose to pay monthly to spread the cost of most pet insurance premium but remember that you’ll probably be charged interest for doing so.

What does pet insurance cover?

This includes:

Veterinary bills and medical treatments

At the most basic level you can buy pet insurance policies which work perfectly to cover you against unexpected vets bills for illness or injury.

These include the cost of drugs, any surgeries required and even physiotherapy to help your pet recover. Some policies will also cover the cost of non-standard treatments, such as acupuncture, homeopathy and behavioural therapy.

However, it’s important to note that some things – such as the cost of regular check-ups, vaccinations, booster shots, anti-flea treatments and grooming – will not be covered. For more information see the section on What is excluded from pet insurance? below.

Pet value on loss or death

Pet insurance also often covers the value of your treasured pet, should they die due to illness, accident, be lost or even stolen. While the average cat or kitten might be bought for less than £50 – often they are free to a good home – pure-bred pedigree cats can have a value measured in the hundreds and even thousands of pounds, as can many dogs.

Exotic pets by their very nature tend to be rarer and cost far more than ordinary domestic pets. While no sum could truly make up for the loss of your furry friend at least this will compensate you for your basic financial loss.

In cases where a pet goes missing some insurance policies will cover you up to a set limit to advertise for your lost pet and even offer a modest reward for finding the animal and returning it to you or for information that leads to a conviction if the pet was stolen.

Public liability

As mentioned previously pet insurance can also include an element of public liability cover should your animal injure someone or do damage to their property (including another pet or livestock). This cover is normally reserved for dogs, but it can also be extended to venomous exotic pets too.

Boarding costs

Many pet insurance policies may also cover the cost of boarding your cat or dog at a cattery or kennels, should you have to go into hospital or into temporary care. Often these boarding charges are only claimable for periods over four days, if the costs exceed a certain limit – such as £500 – and have an upper limit to all payments – say, up to £2000 for any single occasion.

Overseas costs

Some policies will cover your pet for all or some of the above events while you are abroad. This is great if you have a second home overseas which your pet might travel to with you.

What will my pet be covered for?

There are several different types of pet insurance which affect what you are covered for, if there is a limit on what you can claim and how often per year.

See the section below What types of pet insurance are there? for more info

What is excluded from pet insurance?

There are some things which you cannot insure against or claim for with pet insurance. What you are insured for will differ depending on your policy and provider. This is one of those occasions where you really should read the small print!

  • Dental care (check carefully!). Some policies will cover this at an additional expense or even as part of their standard cover. However, some will not cover dental treatments for your pet at all or may have a limit on cost of treatments. Check your policy carefully and make sure this is in place if necessary. In all cases cosmetic dental work will not be covered.
  • Pre-existing health conditions*. Very often these are specifically excluded from cover, unless they arise during the period of insurance. For example, if it is known that your dog has liver problems before you take out the policy you will probably not be able to claim for treatments or death specific to this cause. If, however, your pet’s condition is diagnosed after 14 days from the start of the policy this will likely be covered (subject to your policy’s cover, terms and exclusions).
  • Regular health check-ups, vaccinations and immunisations (including booster shots)
  • Grooming costs – Including claw-clipping, de-matting and cosmetic procedures
  • Routine and preventative treatment – This includes flea, tick and worm treatments, spaying and castration costs
  • Pregnancy – Some policies may exclude claims related to pregnancy or your pet giving birth - Be sure to check
  • Euthanasia and cremation costs- Some policies do not cover the cost of having your pet put to sleep and/or the costs of cremation. In addition, if these are covered then there may be policy limits which restrict how much they will pay in these circumstances. Again, check your policy carefully.

* - Hereditary illnesses. If you pet has a family history or a tendency in the breed to develop certain health problems, you must declare this when taking out the policy. Most insurers will accept the risk if your pet is not showing any signs of this condition when the policy is taken out (although you may be charged a higher premium).
If your pet subsequently develops this condition 14 days or more after the policy starts and you have ‘unrestricted’ cover then you will be covered (subject to your normal policy conditions, limits and exclusions).

Always make sure you know what is covered by your pet insurance policy and what isn’t – Don’t find yourself in the unenviable position of having paid a premium only to find out later that you aren’t covered when the worst happens

What types of pet insurance are there?

Pet insurance falls into four types: Lifetime, maximum benefit, time-limited and accident only.

Lifetime

This is the most comprehensive cover level and so is usually also the most expensive. However, it does provide the widest level of cover for your pet. Lifetime insurance means that you will be able to claim up to a set amount (detailed in your policy) every year that your pet is covered – for example, cover may stipulate a maximum total of £10,000 per year.

These limits ‘reset’ every year so in the example above you’d be able to claim up to £10,000 of treatment every year. Any costs over and above this will not be covered – For example, if the total value of your pets treatment comes to £13,000 in a single year you can claim up to £10,000 of this but you would have to pay the remaining £3,000 yourself. Lifetime pet insurance policies tend to set limit either by condition per year or lifetime annual cover (which works like a total overall limit per year).

  • Per condition per year limit. This is where there is a limit to how much you can claim for per condition each year. For example, the limit could be £2,000 per year for your cat’s liver disease and £1,000 for skin conditions per year so these would be the maximum amounts you could claim annually. Again, these limits reset at renewal every year.
  • Lifetime annual cover. This is cover provides an overall limit to how much you can claim over the period of one year. For example, cover may limit the total amount for all claims to £5,000 per year.

Both types of lifetime cover will reset on an annual basis (so long as you renew your policy with that provider and don’t go elsewhere) so your pet can have ongoing treatment for the remainder of its life.

Maximum benefit

These may also be called per condition policies or money limited policies.
This type of policy often has limits which will not reset even when you renew so your pet will only be covered up to the policy limit for this condition for their lifetime, regardless of whether you renew with that insurer after a year. Once you have claimed for treatment up to this limit you will have received the ‘maximum benefit’ available under that policy. You will be responsible for the remainder and any further costs for this condition, even if you renew the policy with the same insurer.

As ever, check the small print carefully for details of the limits your policy will impose in any treatment before you buy to ensure you are getting the cover you want for your pet.

Time limited

This type of policy normally covers a pet for both injuries and any illnesses. However, these are limited to fixed limits in both how long you can claim for, as well as how much the insurers will pay for treatment. Normally claims are limited to around 12 months from when your pet falls ill or suffers an accidental injury.

When the time or monetary limit has been reached you will no longer be able to claim for your pet’s treatment. This applies even if you renew the policy.

Accident only

This is the lowest level possible to obtain for your pet and is the cheapest to obtain. It’s likely that the cover levels will be lower than lifetime or annual policies and feature larger excesses.

Accident cover does not insure against illness at all but only treatment if your pet suffers an accident (such as being hit by a car).

A word about excesses...

All pet insurance policies are likely to carry some form of excess. For example, if your pet’s policy has a £250 excess this means that the insurers will not pay for the first £250 of any claim.

Most policies also charge a percentage of the amount outstanding after the excess has been deducted, this will vary depending on the age of the animal.

Different excesses may apply for different conditions, treatments or pets as well so check your policy carefully.

Frequently asked questions on pet insurance

How soon is my pet covered by insurance?

Pet insurance policies normally carry a waiting period of 14 days from when the policy starts. No claims are covered within this 14-day period but after this your insurance operates as normal.

Consequently, be cautious regarding any pet insurance that offers ‘instant’ cover.

How do I claim on my pet insurance?

In cases where the treatment is on-going, insurers can arrange to pay vets directly for their fees. However, most vets will insist on an account being settled straight away or in advance, in which case you will have to submit your invoices and other payment proof to your insurer so they can reimburse you (subject to cover limits and any excesses).

Always keep copies of any invoices or other documents which you send to the insurance company for your own records and in case they are lost en-route.

How can I cancel my pet insurance policy?

Cancelling your pet insurance policy should be a matter of simply calling your insurer and informing them that you don’t need cover any longer. If you are moving to another insurer, then be sure to let your current insurance company know that you won’t be renewing your policy with them (many insurers will automatically renew your policy and take payment accordingly). If you cancel your insurance mid-policy (rather than at renewal) you may be charged a fee.

Pros and cons of pet insurance

  • Veterinary treatment - especially for serious and long-term conditions – can be very expensive.
  • Depending on the cover you choose it often covers more than just vets’ bills – including public liability and boarding fees, etc.
  • There are a wide variety of covers available allowing you to choose a pet insurance plan which suits your budget
  • Pet insurance doesn’t cover the cost of routine vet treatments (such as inoculations, deworming and check-ups, etc.)
  • Policy excesses may mean you have to contribute toward the cost of treatments, while policy limits may restrict the total amount that insurers will pay over a year or per condition.
  • You may have to settle the vets bill first before being repaid by the insurers (less any excesses or policy limits)

Moneyfacts tip

Moneyfacts tip nigel woollsey

Be sure to check if your pet insurance covers emergency dental problems and treatments. This often catches people out when they buy a policy but find out later that this element is specifically excluded.

Remember that routine dental care provided by your vet (descaling, cleaning, etc.) won’t be covered

Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.

At a glance

  • Pet insurance protects you from the high cost of vet’s bills if your pet falls ill or has an accident.
  • Dog insurance can include public liability insurance – in case your dog injures someone or causes damage to their property (including another animal or livestock).
  • When taking out pet insurance cover make sure you understand what treatments are covered and if there are any limits or excesses to pay.
  • Nearly all domestic pets can be insured but be aware that the older they are the higher the premium you are likely to be charged.

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