Pet insurance excess

While pet insurance does help with unexpected costs like vet bills, you still have to pay an excess. We explain how pet insurance excess works so you know how owners and insurers share the expense.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 29 June 2023  | 4 mins read
Reviewed by Jasmine Hembury

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Almost every pet insurance policy includes an excess. Often agreed at the start, pet insurance excess helps lower your premiums and keep the costs of emergency care down.

But how does it work?

Our guide covers everything you need to know about pet insurance excess, so you’re equipped to find the best deal for your pet’s needs.

What is pet insurance excess?

While comparing pet insurance quotes and choosing between providers, you’ll notice an excess amount listed as part of each policy’s terms.

This is how much you’ll be expected to pay for each new claim you make on your pet insurance.

Once in place, the pet insurance excess shouldn’t change for the duration of that policy year. However, when it’s up for renewal, the excess may increase depending on your pet’s specific circumstances, like their age.

If your pet’s health situation does change, you can choose to increase your excess. But before you do this, make sure you could afford the extra expense if you did need to claim.

What are the different types of pet insurance excess?

These are the two main types of pet insurance excess:


A compulsory amount set at the beginning of your policy with your provider’s agreement, usually around £100-£200.

You must pay this at the start of each claim you make per year.


A secondary contribution you can make to the remaining amount of each claim - usually anywhere from 10-20%, depending on your policy.

Under co-payment terms, if your policy states a percentage of the amount of each claim, then you’ll be required to pay that percentage of any claim you make.

For example, if you claim £1,500 for a scan and your policy has a £100 excess and 20% co-pay contribution, you’d pay £380 excess in total.

This is on top of the fixed excess agreed at your policy’s outset.

Co-insurance for pets is sometimes risky, as you’ll likely be adding more to your monthly insurance costs and paying more up front when you make a claim. However, if you’re prepared to pay the extra, it could be worth it to give your pet the cover they need.

If you plan on insuring older pets, please note that copayment contributions will become compulsory once your pet reaches a certain age.

What risk factors can affect pet insurance excess

Taking certain risk factors into account, pet insurance costs are usually determined by:

Excess then gets calculated based on the above information. Insurers may request more detailed information when determining a quote.

Does pet insurance excess change for older pets?

Most of the time, pet insurance excess stays the same throughout any given policy year.

However, once your pet reaches a certain age, the fixed excess amount you pay will increase, with co-payment contributions becoming compulsory, too.

This is because of the level of care and expense typically related to the pet’s health needs.

The age at which your pet classes as “older” varies from insurer to insurer. For cats, this is usually around 10 years. For dogs, it’s roughly eight (although some breeds count as older when they’re over five).

Understanding when your pet’s age will affect pet insurance excess will be key to helping you decide which policy to take out.

Sometimes pet insurers will allow you to increase your pet insurance excess to an amount that suits you, meaning you’ll pay more up front in exchange for lower premiums.

Consider this only if you can accommodate the extra expense when you make a claim.

How does pet insurance excess work?

In most cases, pet insurance excess is taken at the start of any claim made for a new condition.

For example, if you receive a vet bill for £500 and your excess is £200, then your insurer should pay £300 of the claimed amount.

Many lifetime pet insurance policies reset vet fees each year you renew. This means that, on an annual basis, you only pay the excess on the first claim made for each condition.

If you and your insurer have agreed to co-payment terms, then you’ll pay that percentage of all veterinary costs after the fixed excess amount.

Pet insurance excess exclusions

Exclusions will vary by provider, but you may not pay pet insurance excess in the following situations:

  • If your pet dies
  • If your pet goes missing/is stolen
  • Getting a refund for the cost of your pet
  • Getting help for your pet if you are unwell
  • Travelling with your pet
  • Cancelling or cutting short your holiday (due to your pet getting ill or being injured)

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