Pet insurance helps to pay for veterinary treatment for your pet so you can concentrate on getting them on the road to recovery.
Horses might need to have a vet called out to them, which will increase costs, and even smaller animals like rabbits can be surprisingly costly to treat.
It’s difficult to think about your animals being hurt or unwell, but you need to ask yourself: what would you do if you were faced with a vet bill for hundreds or thousands of pounds a year?
There are four main types of pet insurance, so it can be hard to decide on the right one for you and your pet.
Think about what you want from your pet insurance. Accident only or time-limited cover is better for expensive, short-term incidents and illnesses. Lifetime and maximum benefit can help cover the cost of treatment for single conditions that go on for many years.
Lifetime pet insurance pays for injuries or illnesses with no time limit on each condition. There’s usually a limit on the amount you can claim in a year for each condition though.
As long as you keep renewing your policy, you’ll get continuous cover for the illness or injury each year that your policy is in place.
You’ll only be covered for new illnesses or injuries, not pre-existing ones.
Accident-only pet insurance helps cover the cost of treatment if your pet is involved in an accident.
It doesn’t cover illnesses, diseases or have any other benefits.
If you pet has a pre-existing condition, it won’t be covered either.
If you pick a time-limited policy, there'll be a cap on how much you can claim for treatment and a time limit too - usually 12 months.
You can’t claim again for a condition after the 12-month period is up, or if you reach the cap on treatment costs - whichever comes first.
Pre-existing conditions aren’t covered either.
This covers your pet for each injury or illness up to a specified pre-set limit. The limit doesn't reset each year, so there’s no time limit on how long you can claim, like with an annual policy.
This means you can keep claiming for the same condition until you reach the pre-set limit, for as long as you keep renewing your policy.
It depends on the type of policy you go for, but as well as veterinary treatment for accidents and/or illnesses policies often include:
Pet insurance is for the unexpected, not routine treatment, so there are a few things that are usually excluded:
Cats and dogs, young and old can all benefit from the right pet insurance.
You can even get cover for your horse or rabbit.
Cover for your hound, whatever the shape or size. This insurance can cover injuries, illness and third-party losses, in case your dog causes damage or injury.
Protect your pampered Persian or cuddly moggy. Cat insurance can be taken out for indoor or outdoor cats, to cover all sorts of scenarios that might end in a vet visit.
Equine insurance for horse and rider. You can get policies that go beyond medical treatment for your horse and also cover loss of use, and theft of or damage to your riding equipment.
Specialist policies can cover small animals too. Treating injuries and illness in rabbits can sometimes cost just as much as for cats and dogs – so find the right cover to give you peace of mind over your bunny’s treatment.
You’ll need a few details to hand so that you can get some quotes for your pet:
Their breed, age and gender
Does your pet live at your address, or elsewhere?
Any pre-existing conditions or previous injuries
Any problems like aggression to people or other animals
How much you paid to buy or adopt your pet
Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive pet insurance you can get. It'll keep paying vet fees for your cat or dog for the whole of its life, as long as you keep renewing the policy, even if they develop a chronic condition
Standard pet insurance almost always excludes pre-existing medical conditions. But recurring illness can be very expensive.
If you’re trying to insure a pet with a pre-existing condition, some specialist insurers will cover them if they haven’t showed any signs of the illness for some time.
If you buy a lifetime policy when your pet’s young, and you keep renewing, you’ll be covered for future chronic health problems.
The alternative is to exclude the condition from your policy and cover any medical treatment yourself. You’ll still be able to claim for other new conditions your pet develops.
Average rating 4.6 out of 5, from 180 people who left a review for pet insurance only as at March 2020
For dogs aged one-five, the average cost of insurance works out at just £23.33 a month. For cats it's £10.92.
But cats tend to be cheaper to insure, with older cats costing less than younger dogs – cats aged eight and over cost an average £22.92 a month for pet insurance.
As your dog ages, the insurance costs go up, with the biggest increase after the age of eight.
Older pets are typically more expensive to insure.
As your pet ages, they’re more likely to suffer the diseases and injuries that are a part of getting old – and insurers will charge more to reflect this increased risk.
Our data shows that pet insurance gets more expensive the older your pet gets. That’s because there’s a higher chance of needing expensive treatments for disease and injuries in older animals. The exception is puppies and kittens – animals under one year old are slightly more expensive to insure because they tend to be more accident prone and at risk of injury at this age.
Insurance for older pets frequently has a co-payment applied. This is where you’re asked to pay a percentage of your animal’s treatment costs and the insurer pays the rest. Co-payments are common in cats from around the age of 10 years and dogs from around eight.
You might find policies where you make a co-payment towards veterinary costs will help keep insurance costs affordable as they get older.
Try our top tips to get those premiums down:
Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, get them microchipped and feed them a quality diet. Healthy pets visit the vet less, which means less chance of needing claim which could push up future premiums.
Put your pets on one policy to see if you can get a better deal
Pet co-insurance can keep premiums affordable for older pets
Always shop around to find a great deal
If you can pay a higher excess towards each claim, your premiums should be cheaper. Be careful though – make sure the excess is still affordable for you if you do need to claim.
Third party liability insurance covers you for your dog causing accidental injury or damage to someone, their property or pet.
This can include paying legal bills if someone takes you to court or tries to sue you due to an incident involving your dog.
Third party liability insurance doesn’t apply to cats – they’re legally regarded as ‘free spirits’.
Pet insurance doesn’t cover the cost of pet vaccinations, but keeping your vaccinations up to date might get you a discount on your premiums with some policies.
If your pet isn’t vaccinated, and you need to make a related claim, your insurance probably won’t cover the cost of treatment.
Policies may include a co-insurance element - if you claim, you’ll be charged a percentage of the remaining vet fees after the excess has been deducted.
As they have a higher value and are more likely to be stolen, pedigree animals generally will be more expensive to insure. Due to their breeding, they also tend to be more vulnerable to genetic complaints.
Yes, you can but you’ll need multi-pet insurance to cover them on the same policy and you'll usually get a discount for it. But compare quotes for insuring your dogs separately on their own policies as well as sometimes it'll work out cheaper.
You probably won’t be able to insure dog breeds listed under the Dangerous Dogs Act. You won’t be able to insure some wild animal hybrids either, such as wolfdogs or first generation (F1) savannah cats.
Yes. The level of veterinary fees associated with your postcode is likely to be reflected in your policy price and - generally speaking - urban areas are likely to be pricier than rural ones.
Pet insurers tend not to insure against accidental damage in the policyholder’s home, largely because pets are temperamental and it’s difficult for underwriters to assess how well an animal has been trained.
Many policies will cover the cost of damage caused to another person’s property up to a specified amount, but watch out for exclusions - there are often a lot of them.
As of April 2021, there are 21 active pet insurers on the panel at Stickee Technology.
Average price of all dog insurance policies and all cat insurance policies purchased through Stickee Technology September 2019-September 2020.
Page last reviewed: 14 June 2021
Next review due: 14 September 2021