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Claws and effect: The price of Britain’s pet insurance policies

We uncover the varying cost of pet insurance across the UK and explore some of the reasons why, including how different breeds and where you live could affect the price.

goco author
Updated 25 January 2022  | 5 min read


It’s no secret that in Britain we’re very attached to our furry friends. As more households choose to adopt and buy pets, vet bills become a part of life, and can add up to a large cost over time. It’s surprising then, that a whopping 43% of UK pet owners don’t have pet insurance.[1]

The amount spent on vet bills without the help of insurance reached a staggering £468.7 million in just the third quarter of last year alone.[2] Meanwhile, the remaining 57% of pet owners who do have cover won’t have been paying out of their own pockets. Insurance takes the pressure off pet owners –; paying a monthly or yearly premium helps to cover any future veterinary bills.

Esme Wheeler, a pet welfare expert at the RSPCA commented on the costs to pet owners: “Owning a pet can be very expensive and sometimes you can be hit with a large, unexpected bill if your pet is injured or becomes ill. 

“We would encourage all owners to take out insurance for their pet to help them financially should the worst happen, and to provide peace of mind that if your pet ever needed significant veterinary treatment you would have support from your insurers.”

Just as our pets have their own unique characters, they need individual insurance policies, too. We’ve taken a look at some of the interesting variations within pet premiums across the UK, including how different factors can affect the price.

Which area spends the most on premiums? 

Interestingly, your pet insurance premium could vary depending on where you live. Much like other insurance policies, pet premiums are reflective of the area they cover. Veterinary costs is one of the main factors affecting prices, meaning the most expensive policies often exist in areas with the most expensive vets.

The priciest place to purchase pet insurance was the nation’s capital. The average premium in London totalled just under £501 per year for dog owners and £260 for cat owners.[3] South East England was found to be the second most expensive region for both cat and dog cover.

Conversely, Northern Ireland had the cheapest average premium at £306 – a staggering difference of £195 for dog owners. Cat owners in the North East will be pleased to learn that their region had the lowest average premiums, at just £156 per year.






Top dogs and top cats: Which breeds are the cheapest and most expensive?

Unsurprisingly, insurance costs differ for cats and dogs. What may surprise you, however, is that the policy price can vary depending on the breed. Take a look at the top five most expensive cat and dog breeds compared to the five cheapest.

Dogs 

The most expensive dog breeds to insure were:




The least expensive dog breeds to insure were: 




Cats 

The most expensive cat breeds to insure were: 




The least expensive cat breeds to insure were: 




Why do some breeds cost more to insure?

Insurance companies take several factors into account when calculating premiums. However, certain elements are known to influence prices, such as the likelihood of health conditions and the characteristics of certain breeds.

Pet personalities 

Just like us, cats and dogs have their own characteristics. When deciding on which pet they would like, owners often choose a breed that they feel will be a good match for themselves. Just as these attributes can make a pet more compatible with its owner, they can also influence insurance costs.

Dogs that are considered to be more boisterous, such as Rottweilers, often carry a higher premium. This is because they are more likely to get into accidents that could cause unexpected vet bills. The average policy price for a Rottweiler is £760 – a huge £380 more than the UK average for dogs.

Indoor versus outdoor cats

Although each cat has its own unique traits, you can often see the most difference between breeds that are typically indoor or outdoor cats.

The Scottish fold is one example of an indoor cat breed, as they are usually very calm and prefer the warmth of an indoor environment rather than braving the elements. With a midrange average premium of £252, they cost less to insure than many outdoor breeds.

The trend within insurance prices shows that indoor cats are normally cheaper to insure than their outdoor counterparts. The UK average cost for outdoor breeds was £291, compared with just £242 for indoor breeds.

When adventurous felines head outside, they exercise their curiosity but also expose themselves to risks, including busy roads, other cats and infections. If you live in an urban area, it’s worth considering a breed that will be happier inside. The peace of mind for your cat’s safety will only be made sweeter with some extra cash in your pocket.

Health problems and selective breeding 

Over time, as humans domesticated dogs, we also bred them to have choice features. Unfortunately, this wasn’t always beneficial to the health of the animals.

Flat-faced breeds of dogs, such as French bulldogs and pugs, are at risk of common health issues caused by selective breeding. Brachycephalic dogs’ nasal passages have become shortened, causing breathing problems. They are also prone to eye issues due to overly shallow eye sockets.

This means that owners often pay the price in their premiums. French bulldogs were the fourth most expensive dog to insure on average at £814 and pugs also carry a relatively high insurance premium of £512 – £132 more than the UK average. 

Cats have seemingly suffered less from selective breeding, however, it does still pose issues in some breeds. Flat-faced cats, such as the exotic shorthair (the fourth most expensive to insure), suffer from similar breathing problems, as well as clogged tear ducts and dental issues. These cats were specifically bred to have features that are considered aesthetically desirable.

Additionally, the fifth most expensive dog to insure on average, the shar-pei, is bred to have excessively wrinkled skin – the culprit of costly skin infections. Plus, dogs bred to be large in size often suffer from various orthopaedic problems such as arthritis and bone cancer. 

These larger dogs, including the Cane corso and Great Dane, often require pricier insurance premiums because of this. These breeds feature first and third in our list of the top five most expensive dogs, costing an average of £977 and £821 respectively.

Selecting the right breed for you 

Esme Wheeler, a pet welfare expert at the RSPCA, offered some advice for those considering which breed to welcome into their family:

“Lots of people have an idea of the type of pet they want or a specific breed, often based on pets they’ve owned in the past or a breed they’ve seen on TV or in the media. However, it’s really important to keep an open mind and consider what type of pet and what breed will be best suited to your family, home and lifestyle. 

“Remember that breed isn’t always an indication as to what a pet will need or what their personality will be like; all pets are individuals and will have their own needs. The best way to acquire a pet that suits you may be to visit your local rescue centre and speak to the experts there about who might be your perfect match.”

[1] To collect the data used in this report, we surveyed 3,000 UK adults via YouGov. The survey ran on 1 December 2021 and all respondents were selected at random. The answers to this survey provided us with the percentage of UK pet owners and the percentage of pet owners without insurance – 43%.

[2] Data provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed an expenditure of £1.09bn on veterinary and other pet services in the third quarter of 2021. Taking the percentage of pet owners without insurance, we were able to estimate the total amount of uncovered expenditure on vet bills in the third quarter of 2021.

[3] We sourced data from our insurance partners taken between July and September 2021 to work out the average premium costs by breed and location. All information relating to average premiums throughout our report has been collected from our partners. Cat breeds with a sample size smaller than 10 and dog breeds with a sample size smaller than 100 were excluded from the cheapest/most expensive breeds list due to insufficient data.