The benefits of pet insurance

Your pet's likely to need to see a vet from time to time, no matter how well you care for them. Pet insurance can help with unexpected costs for injury or illness.

Updated 05 October 2021  | 4 min read

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The main benefits of insuring your pet

Sick pet? Don’t worry

One of the biggest benefits is that if your pet does get sick, you can take it to the vets with the reassurance that your insurance will cover most or all of the cost, and your pet will get the treatment they need.

Pet insurance saves you money in the long-run

If your pet has an unexpected illness or accident you can claim on your pet insurance to help cover the cost.

There'll probably still be an excess to pay and possibly a co-payment for older animals, but insurance could still massively reduce what you'd need to pay your vet. 

The average pet insurance claim was £817, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI). But claims can reach thousands of pounds depending on the condition. The ABI gives an example of a French bulldog with a claim totaling £7,000 for a fractured leg. 

You can insure all pets big and small, young and old

You can insure pets of all shapes and sizes. Choosing the right pet insurance depends on the type of pet you have. Standard pet insurers will cover pets such as dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs.

You’ll need specialist insurance for the following animals:

Horses are often a large financial commitment and require specialist pet insurance. You could find the right horse insurance with our partner, Animal Friends.

Exotic pets such as lizards, spiders, tortoises, parrots and snakes. These pets are more difficult to find cover for and will need to be insured through specialist insurance companies. Find out more about specialist exotic pet insurance cover.

You can insure multiple pets for a discount

If you have more than one cat or dog, many insurers offer discounts when you cover multiple pets. This often scales with the number of animals you have, so the more pets you have, the more you’ll potentially save. 

You can swap vets whenever you wish

With pet insurance you have the freedom to choose which veterinary practice treats your animal. 

Some larger vets will have access to the latest technology required for specific treatments, whereas some smaller private vet practices may be more limited in what they’re able to offer.

You can choose the right level of cover for your pet

There are hundreds of different pet insurance policies to choose from, which can make looking for insurance a bit confusing. Luckily, you can compare your options with us, which will help make things much simpler. 

There are four main levels of cover:

Accident only: This offers the least amount of cover, but is usually the cheapest. Unsurprisingly, accident-only policies cover animals that have been in an accident. Insurers don’t usually pay out for illnesses, unless your pet gets ill directly as a result of an accident. There’s usually a financial or time cap on these policies.

Time limited: Time-limited insurance covers each illness or injury your pet sustains for a set period of time (usually 12 months). 

You can claim for a certain condition as long as the policy remains in force. You can only claim for a specific illness once on this type of cover – it will then be excluded going forward. You also can’t claim for pre-existing conditions with this type of policy. 

Maximum benefit: This type of insurance covers your pet for both injuries and illnesses up to a pre-set limit per condition. There are no time limits with maximum benefit policies, meaning you can keep claiming for the same condition year after year, as long as you don’t exceed the financial cap and pay your monthly or yearly premiums. 

Lifetime: Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive cover you can purchase for your pet. As long as you keep renewing your policy every year, your pet will be covered for an injury or illness - even if they’re diagnosed with an ongoing condition. 

However, even lifetime insurance has limits. There will either be an annual limit (e.g. £6,000 a year) or a lifetime limit (e.g. £25,000). If you exceed this limit you’ll need to pay the remaining sum of treatment out of your own savings. 

What’s covered and what’s not

Regardless of the policy you choose, certain treatments are never covered by pet insurers. However, this depends on each individual policy, which is why it’s recommended to read the small print. 

Policies generally cover:

  • General vet fees up to a certain amount per year or per condition.
  • Hereditary conditions found in certain breeds. These are not often classed in the same category as existing or ongoing conditions, although it’s still recommended to check the small print.

Pet insurers may cover:

  • Pre-existing or long-term conditions are usually only covered by lifetime policies which offer the most comprehensive cover but at a price.
  • Dental care is covered by some, but not all insurers.
  • Alternative treatments such as physiotherapy and acupuncture might be covered.
  • Pets used for breeding, racing or hunting aren’t always included in standard pet insurance policies. 
  • Prescription diets might not be covered by your pet insurance, but some policies will include an allowance towards special diets.

What isn’t included in pet insurance?

Unfortunately, pet insurance doesn’t cover regular treatments, including annual jabs and boosters.

Policies also won’t cover the cost to spay or neuter your pet. 

If you fail to keep up with routine treatments, your insurer can disagree to pay out if you need to make a claim.

What else might pet insurance cover?

Along with a fee towards veterinary bills, the following may be included in your new policy:

Death by illness or injury

Most pet insurance policies should cover the cost of euthanasia if your pet is terminally ill and has to be put down.

Loss or theft

If your animal's lost or stolen, your pet insurers might cover the cost of advertising. Some providers will also provide reward money.

If you can’t recover your lost or stolen pet some insurers may cover the cost of your pet’s purchase price. When making a claim it’s recommended to provide proof of purchase - especially if you paid more than market value for a specific breed.

Liability cover

Liability cover is only available for dogs and will cover legal costs in the event that your dog is in an incident which causes injury or damage to property.

Cattery and kennel fees

If you need to go into hospital for four days or more, your pet insurance provider may help towards the cost of a cattery or kennel.

Treatments abroad

If your pet has an accident or illness while travelling abroad, this will help cover the vet fees.

What affects the price of pet insurance?

  • The level of cover such as lifetime, accident only or time-limited.
  • Pedigree breeds are more susceptible to hereditary illnesses and being stolen, the higher risks involved will therefore raise the cost of insurance.
  • The size of your dog can affect the cost of insurance. Larger dogs usually suffer with more joint problems and surgery will often cost more.
  • Older pets are more likely to suffer from an accident or illness than younger pets, which is why they cost more to insure.

You can save money on pet insurance by comparing deals to get the best deal for you and your pet. If you have multiple animals it’s worth looking at a multi-pet policy.