Dog insurance can help cover, or contribute towards, the cost of healthcare if your dog falls ill or gets injured. Vets bills can quickly get expensive, particularly if you have a larger, older dog.
If your dog has a recurring health problem, that you want cover for, you can get a policy with cover for pre-existing conditions. Some policies offer additional cover too for things like third party liability, dental care and travelling abroad. But you’ll usually have to pay extra for them.
There are four main types of pet insurance policy you can get for your dog:
Accident-only insurance covers your dog for treatment needed because of an accident. It’s usually the cheapest option, but it might not be suitable if you’re concerned your dog could develop a medical condition – and want cover for it. Any pre-existing conditions are also excluded.
With a time-limited policy, you get a set amount of money towards treatment for an illness or injury, and a set time period for cover – usually 12 months.
You’ll max out the benefit when you reach either the cost limit or the time limit – whichever comes first. If your dog gets ill halfway through a policy, you’d have to renew to get the full 12 months of cover.
‘Recurring conditions’ aren’t covered. So, if your pet gets an ear infection, and then another infection in the other ear – that could be in the 12-month period, or after you renew – it won’t be covered. Any pre-existing conditions aren’t covered either.
These policies pay out a set amount in your dog’s lifetime for each illness or injury. When you reach the limit, the insurer won’t pay out anymore.
That means, if your pet’s issue becomes chronic, or reoccurs after you’ve reached the fixed amount of money, you’ll have to pay for any further treatment.
There’s no time limit. As long as you’ve still got your policy – and haven’t hit the maximum benefit yet - you can claim. Just like a time-limited policy, ‘recurring conditions’ aren’t covered.
Lifetime policies cover your dog for new illnesses and injuries. Any pre-existing condition they have before you take out the policy aren’t covered. But, if they develop one when you’ve got the policy in place, and you keep it, they will be covered.
This is the most extensive cover you can get, but it’s also the most expensive.
There’s a maximum benefit for each illness or injury. But, unlike maximum benefit, it resets every year you renew the policy.
For example, let’s say the limit per condition is £6,000, and your dog develops arthritis. Treatment costs £4,000, so you’re covered. If the treatment costed more than £6,000, you’d have to cover the rest.
The arthritis is a chronic condition, and your dog needs further treatment. The £6,000 limit gets reset every year you renew, so you can claim up to that amount again.
You can also claim for any other illnesses or injuries that develop too – up to the annual limit.
Insurers consider your dog’s age, breed, size and health, as well as the personal information you provide.
Your insurance will be more expensive if you’ve claimed in the past or have an older dog, because you’re more likely to claim.
Pre-existing medical conditions aren’t covered by standard dog insurance, but we can help you get a policy that covers pre-existing medical conditions if you’d like. It’ll probably cost more. But if you want cover for a chronic condition, or your dog has been unwell or injured in the past, it can help cover the costs.
The price of medical treatment will depend on the type of illness or injury, the breed of your dog, where you live and the vet you go to. Chronic conditions usually cost more than simple conditions.
For example, a larger dog will need more anaesthetic during an operation than a smaller dog, and the supplier might charge more.
It's impossible to list every potential situation, or guess how your dog's health will change, but it's worth talking to your vet about what it could cost to treat conditions that affect your dog's breed and weigh these up against insurance quotes.
Make sure you’re happy these are adequate. Check whether your policy includes cover for consultations, examinations, tests, x-rays, scans, medications, bandages, surgery and hospitalisation. It’s also worth checking whether physiotherapy, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, behavioural conditions and dietary treatments are covered
General treatments like worming, pet vaccinations and flea control won’t be included in your dog insurance, so you’d have to pay for this yourself
Pet insurance usually has upper and lower age limits. For dogs, it’s normally older than eight weeks, but the maximum age varies between policies. As long as you pay your premiums, cover will continue when your pet passes the maximum age. This makes shopping around for pet insurance when you’ve got a senior pet a lot harder – particularly if they’ve got a pre-existing medical condition as well
When you claim, you’ll need to pay an excess and, on some policies, a contribution or co-payment to the remaining amount of each claim – usually it’s a fixed percentage. Know how much you’ll be expected to pay if you need to claim, and keep the excess and contribution amount affordable
Some insurers offer cover for stolen or missing dogs, emergency boarding fees, dental care, third party claims and accidental damage cover in the policyholder’s home – you’ll pay more for these though
Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to illnesses, and pedigree dogs are often more expensive to insure. Most insurers won’t cover dog breeds classed as dangerouseither, so you might need to look out for breed-specific cover
Due to the additional occupational risks, most standard policies don’t cover working dogs. However, there are specialist insurance plans out there to pick from
Yes. In the UK it’s a legal requirement to microchip your dog and register the microchip details on an authorised database by the time it’s 8 weeks old. If you don’t, you could be fined up to £500.
Yes. The cost of pet insurance generally increases with the age of your pet, so it’ll be more expensive for an older dog.
Most policies cover dogs from eight weeks old, but you can find cover for puppies as young as five weeks if you need it.
The sooner you get dog insurance, the sooner you’ll be covered should something happen.
Your dog will be more prone to certain conditions depending on its breed. Common health issues that can affect your pooch include skin or food allergies, joint issues, ear infections, hip dysplasia, kennel cough and digestive problems.
If you own a dog specified in the Dangerous Dogs Act, you must have third party liability insurance – it’s the law. You probably won’t be able to get any other cover for illness or injuries though. Most insurers won’t cover them. The same goes for hybrid wild breeds, like wolfdogs.
Page last reviewed: 14 September 2020
Next review due: 14 November 2020