Every dog or cat owner is well aware of just how expensive vet bills can be. As advances in human medical care and technology trickle down to the animal world, vets now have more options than ever before to treat illness and injury in our furry friends. But with no NHS in place for pets, owners can find themselves unable to afford the cost of expensive treatment.
Pet insurance can cover the cost of vet fees for treating illness or injury to your pet. Most vets recommend that owners take out pet insurance as they’ve witnessed first-hand when treatable animals have to be put down because their owners can’t afford the vet bills.
What pet insurance options do I have?
Pet insurance in the UK is divided into four types of policies:
Time limited. This type of policy covers your pet for accidents and illnesses for a fixed period of time (usually 12 months).
Accident only. This covers veterinary expenses related to accidental injuries, such as broken bones. Be aware that it does not cover illness unless it is a result of an accident.
Maximum benefit. This covers accidents and illnesses up to a maximum amount per condition.
Lifetime. This is the most comprehensive type of pet insurance, covering veterinary conditions or accidents over the course of your pet’s life.
This type of insurance covers injuries caused by an accident. Think broken bones from car accidents, scratches from fighting with other animals or burns.
However, this policy does not pay out for all types of accidents. For example, any accidents that happen outside of the UK are not covered by this type of policy.
This type of policy is best suited to a new pet that has no pre-existing health conditions.
Lifetime cover is the most comprehensive form of pet insurance you can get for your pet. It covers your pet for the entirety of their life. This type of cover would be a good option if you’re concerned that your pet may suffer from reoccurring illnesses or a chronic disease over their lifetime.
Generally there are two ways that cover limits are set with lifetime policies. A policy will either set an annual limit per condition or an overall or lifetime limit per condition.
As you might expect this type of cover is also the most expensive pet insurance policy
Pros and cons of pet insurance
You can choose your level of cover and unexpected, emergency costs can be covered.
You can save money by obtaining several quotes.
Fatal pet diseases can be covered.
You can save money if you’re looking to insure more than one pet.
Pre-existing conditions are usually not fully covered, but each insurer can have a different interpretation of what is a pre-existing condition.
Most policies will not cover pets over the age of 8 or if they do offer a very reduced level of cover.
There can be limits or caps per accident, condition or per year.
Some specific breed conditions cannot be covered.
Can’t I just put money into a savings account?
This certainly is an option. If your pet is fortunate enough to only require minimal treatments throughout their lifetime then setting aside money may be just fine in maintaining their care. However, pet insurance is beneficial for those high-cost, unexpected ailments which could occur at any time in any pet.
With the rising costs of vet care and the unpredictability of accidents, your pet might be in need of serious medical treatment before you have saved up enough money to cover for it. And should your pet develop an ongoing, chronic illness, looking for an affordable insurance policy at that point would be very difficult.
What other benefits should I consider?
Many pet cover policies will also include additional benefits, so it’s important to be aware of these when exploring your options.
The following are options to consider:
Third Party Liability. This covers you if your pet causes injury to someone else or if they cause damage to a property, which you are legally liable for.
Advertising & reward. If your pet goes missing then this type of benefit covers the cost of local advertising and the reward to find your pet up to a certain amount.
Loss from straying or theft. If you have lost your pet or if your pet is stolen then your insurer may pay out their purchase price after a certain period of time.
Overseas travel. This ensures the extension of your pet’s policy if you take them overseas. There are often restrictions on this type of cover so it’s important to read the details of the specific policy.
Breeding risks. If you decide to breed from your pet then this additional benefit may cover any vet fees should complications relating to the pregnancy arise.
Death. In the sad event that your pet dies then this cover lets you claim a percentage of their purchase price. Be aware that exclusions such as age and pre-existing conditions apply to this cover.
Boarding kennel fees. In an event of an emergency whereby the pet owner is unable to look after the pet, such as being rushed into hospital, then this benefit covers the kennel cost or cost of someone to look after your pet whilst you are unable to do so.
Holiday cancellation. If you have to cancel a holiday or cut it short because your pet unexpectedly falls ill and requires emergency surgery or treatment, some policies will cover the cost of your holiday cancellation.
Reading the fine print: Questions to ask when you are comparing pet insurance
Maximum vet fees. Pet insurance policies have a limit on the amount they will pay out in vet fees per year. Whilst most people never reach their limit, it’s important to be aware of how much you can actually claim if the need arises.
Excess payments. Most policies require you to pay an excess (claim contribution) when making a claim. Ensure you understand how much you will be paying in the event of a claim. Typically if you have a lower excess you will have a higher premium (regular contributions). Likewise, if you opt for a higher excess your premiums will be lowered.
Age limits. Unfortunately, finding cover for your pet after they hit their eighth birthday is difficult. Unless you take out cover for your pet before this, you will usually only be able to cover them for accidents.
Co-insurance for pets. Co-insurance may be a way of keeping premiums at an affordable level especially as your pet ages. In the event of a claim the insurance provider will meet the majority of the cost but the policyholder will also be charged a percentage of the claim after excess (usually 10%-20%).
Pre-existing conditions. Ensure you understand whether pre-existing conditions are covered. Some insurers will automatically limit the level of cover available if your pet has a pre-existing condition.
Policy renewability. Having a policy that is renewable is especially important for older pets. Ensure you’re with an insurer that offers this or your pet could be without cover as it enters its senior years.
Multi pet. If you have a few furry friends then insurers are more likely to offer you a discount on your policy. Be sure to shop around first to see who will offer you the best deal.
Waiting period. Some policies include a waiting period once the policy has been taken out, this means it can be a few days, a couple of weeks, or even months until your pet is fully covered. Make sure you are aware of your insurers specific waiting period.
Ensure you compare pet insurance policies and read insurer reviews whenever possible.
What exclusions should I be aware of?
A malicious act, deliberate injury or gross negligence by you or even someone living with you.
Treatment for diseases for which there is a known vaccine. This includes conditions like kennel cough.
Damages caused by your dog whilst in the care of someone else such as a dog minder.
Vet costs for elective treatments. This can include spaying or neutering.
Routine vet care is also rarely covered, this can include vaccinations, wormers, flea treatment and grooming.
If you fail to take all the reasonable steps to care for your pet, including not following the instructions of your vet, you won’t be able to make a claim.
Most pre-existing conditions.
Grooming, including shampoos, baths, dips or any cosmetic surgeries.
If you fail to inform of a change in your pet’s health condition or situation, e.g. spaying or change in owner.
Training or socialisation.
Cost of putting your pet down if they are over a certain age (usually 8 years old).
Any X-rays needed to diagnose an issue which hasn’t been recommended by a vet.
Can I get insurance if my pet has pre-existing conditions?
Yes you can. You can get pet insurance even if your pet has a pre-existing condition, but it’s important to understand that very few insurers will offer full cover. Typically, the following are considered pre-existing conditions:
Injury or illness that occurred or showed signs before you took out cover.
Any condition that your pet has previously been diagnosed with before you took out cover.
A condition caused by injury or illness your pet had before you took out cover.
Getting pet insurance early means you’re more likely to be able to claim costs for conditions that develop early in the pet’s life. However, insurers are within their rights to adjust the cost or terms of your policy afterwards to reflect the increased cost. To ensure continuity of cover in these circumstances, you can look for a lifetime pet insurance policy, or one that comes with guaranteed future insurability.
Pet insurance tips and tricks
Pet insurance policies generally provide good value, but you do need to pay attention to some details:
Do not underestimate limits. Limits, combined with the excess, can considerably reduce the reimbursement percentage of pet insurance. For example, if you claim £2000, your compensation consists of 80% of the medical bills and you have an excess of £500, you will be reimbursed £1100.
Confusing policy information. Make sure you know exactly what you will/won’t be covered for. Some provider websites and product documents tend to be overly confusing with no clear explanation of the terms and conditions. Make sure you know when a claim will/won’t be paid before signing up for cover. A good idea would be to get in contact with providers with any questions/clarifications before you sign on the dotted line.
Cheap cover. Whilst it’s great to find a cheap deal, it’s important not to sacrifice good cover to bag a bargain as it can turn out to be more expensive in the long run. Work out the right cover for your pet and compare different pet insurers to make sure you’re offering the best care for your pet.
Some common questions about pet insurance
Most policies will let you use any vet that is licensed to legally practice in the UK, but it might be worth double checking your vet with your insurance provider.
You generally won’t need to provide a full medical history, but will need to disclose any illnesses or injuries your pet has suffered prior to taking out the policy.
You will need to provide a copy of the documentation provided by the pet shelter.
Yes. Most companies will let you get cover for multiple pets, with some offering multi-policies discounts when you do.
Most companies will let you provide an estimate of your pet’s age when applying for cover. Some insurers might ask you to consult a vet for a more precise estimate.
It is important to check with your individual provider, but usually this is not covered.
Yes. When you make a vet fees claim, many insurance brands can pay them directly. You should check with your vet first as they will need to complete the necessary paperwork.
Most pet insurance policies will require your pet to be under eight years of age when starting the policy. The policy is then renewed automatically each year provided there are no gaps in cover.
Your pet insurance premiums are likely to increase each year to keep pace with advances in diagnostic, medical and surgical procedures, and the increased chance and cost of claims as pets get older.
A specialised policy for dogs or cats is not inherently preferable to general pet insurance. Consider cat or dog insurance policies on their own merits, just as you would compare other policies.
Yes. Specialised equine insurance has cover more suited to horses.
*Disclaimer: Please take reasonable care to answer all the questions honestly and to the best of your knowledge. If you don’t answer the questions correctly, your policy may be cancelled, or your claim rejected or not fully paid.
The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products finder.com has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms ‘Best’, ‘Top’, ‘Cheap’ including variations, are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your personal financial circumstances when comparing products.
Compare pet insurance policies on offer at ASDA money to find the best protection for your pet today. Discover prices, cover options and more.
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
finder.com is an independent comparison platform and information service that aims to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions. While we are independent, the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which finder.com receives compensation. We may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn't influence our assessment of those products. Please don't interpret the order in which products appear on our Site as any endorsement or recommendation from us. finder.com compares a wide range of products, providers and services but we don't provide information on all available products, providers or services. Please appreciate that there may be other options available to you than the products, providers or services covered by our service.