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Co-insurance for pets

Having co-insurance for your pet means you pay a percentage of the remaining vet fees after the excess has been deducted if you claim. It’s worth considering if you want an affordable policy for older animals.

Updated 09 January 2021  | 3 min read

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Key points

  • A co-payment is where you pay a percentage of vets fees, after the excess has been deducted, towards the cost of a claim
  • It can increase competition between vet practices, and help keep fees lower
  • It can make pet insurance premiums more affordable, especially for older pets – but you'll have to factor in the extra you'll need to pay towards a claim

What is a pet insurance co-payment?

A co-payment – also known as cost sharing – is a an additional payment you make towards the cost of any vet's fees there are as part of your claim, minus the excess.

The percentage is usually 10% or 20%, and your insurer will cover the rest. It can make your pet insurance premiums cheaper, though your contribution towards the cost of a claim increases.

For example, if the vet's fees are £200, you might pay a £50 excess, plus an extra 20% as a co-payment towards the costs.

20% of £150 (the vet’s fee minus the excess) is £30. So you’d pay £80 (the original excess plus the extra £30).

Why would I choose pet insurance with co-payments?

It can be an affordable way to get insurance for older pets. In cats this is usually around 10 years and in dogs, around eight years (although, some dog breeds are classed ‘older’ aged five plus).

Some insurers increase the excess for older pets. But co-payments allows you to keep your previous fixed excess and pay an additional percentage towards the vet's fees instead.

If you've stayed with the same insurer for years, you might find that they start to charge a co-payment as your cat or dog reaches older age. Though it'll vary between insurers. 

Always read the terms and conditions carefully before committing to a policy so you know what you're expected to contribute towards the cost of a claim.

When do I have to pay a co-payment?

Co-payments are usually applied after your pet reaches a certain age, typically eight for a dog  and 10 for a cat.

If you do have to make a co-payment towards vets fees, it'll be detailed in your policy documents. 

You have to pay the co-payment as well as the excess and it'll be deducted from your policy limit.

For example, if your co-payment is 20% and your excess is £100, if you make a claim for £300 of vet costs, you'll have to pay the £100 excess plus £60 co-payment. The full £300 will be deducted from your policy limit.

What are the pros and cons?

As your pet ages the chance of it needing medical treatment increases, meaning you’re more likely to claim on your policy. This means your premiums may increase.

Advantages:

  • It keeps down the cost of premiums
  • Vet treatment is more affordable (co-insurance boosts competition between vets, keeping prices down)
  • It can be harder to insure older pets, but co-insurance increases your options

Disadvantages:

  • You pay more on top of the excess
  • Not all providers offer pet insurance with co-payments
  • On the other hand, you might not have a choice – you might not be able to find many policies without a co-payment once your pet reaches a certain age
  • It can be hard to know how much you'll have to pay, as vet's fees can rack up quickly

Should I consider pet insurance with a co-payment included?

The cost of an insurance premium spread across 12 months might be an affordable way for you to get help paying for your pet’s treatment. But you might find the additional co-payment hard to find when you need it. 

You'll have to weigh up policies with and without it. Think about whether you'd find it easier to pay a higher premium - and know you'd only have to pay the excess - or a more affordable monthly payment and a co-payment built in.