There’s no NHS for pets. Veterinary care can be eye-wateringly expensive but most cats and dogs will need treatment for an illness or injury at some point in their life.
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?
Pet insurance gives you peace of mind that you’ll be able to pay for treatment and concentrate on getting them on the road to recovery.
Pet insurance comes in lots of different shapes and sizes - you just need to choose the right one for your little pal.
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 will 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.
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 inury each year that your policy is in place.
You’ll only be covered for new illnesses or injuries, not pre-existing ones.
Maximum benefit insurance gives you an annual sum to claim on throughout the year. It can be per policy, per condition, or both.
When you reach the claim limit for a condition, you can’t claim for it again.
Any pre-existing conditions won’t be covered.
Levels of cover vary depending on the type of policy, but as well as veterinary treatment for accidents and/or illness, policies often include:
Pet insurance is for the unexpected, so there are a few things that are usually excluded:
Your name, address, that kind of thing
Its breed, age and gender
Their permanent address
Do they have any pre-existing conditions we should know about?
How much you paid to buy or adopt your pet
It may be more expensive to insure older pets as they’re more prone to health issues.
However, you can still find a policy to cover them - if a standard policy won’t do, talk to a specialist insurer who should be able to help.
Pet insurance often excludes pre-existing medical conditions because the cost of treating recurring illnesses can be very expensive.
Pets with pre-existing conditions are a greater risk to insurers. If you buy a lifetime policy when your pet is young, you’ll be covered for health problems that arise in future.
Pet insurance doesn’t cover the cost of vaccinations, but keeping your vaccinations up to date might get you a discount on your premiums with some policies.
If your pet’s not vaccinated and you need to make a related claim, your insurance probably won’t cover the cost of treatment.
Third party liability insurance covers you for your dog causing accidental injury or damage to someone else’s person, 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 which are legally regarded as ‘free spirits’.
Try our top tips to get those premiums down:
The cheapest option may not work out the best in the long run
Chipping your cat or dog could reduce your bill
Some insurers may give you a better offer
Make sure they get plenty of exercise and have a healthy lifestyle
Put your pets on one policy to see if you can get a better deal
If you haven't got your pet yet, a crossbreed may be cheaper to insure
The charity may be able to help cover the cost of vet fees
Co-insurance could be a possibility if you have an older pet
Always shop around to find a great deal
Pet insurance can be quite cost effective for young, healthy animals that have never been unwell, starting from just a few pounds a month.
Cats are generally cheaper to insure than dogs and costs rise as your pet ages or if they have any pre-existing health conditions.
The best way to find the right policy for you at a competitive price is to compare pet insurance.
Policies may include a co-insurance element - if you make a 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.
If you own one of the types of dog specified in the Dangerous Dogs Act you must take out third party liability insurance, but it’s not typically possible to take out additional pet insurance cover for banned breeds.
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.