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Your guide to understanding pet insurance


1st Jan 2015 Insurance & Legal

Your guide to understanding pet insurance
Pets are an important member of the family, and you want to take care of them as well as you can. While pet insurance isn’t always cheap, it can save you money in the long term. Here are some things to look out for.
There are a number of insurance policies for pets available, and you should pay attention when shopping around and selecting one. Our guide can help you understand what pet plans cover and the different aspects to keep in mind when you look for insurance.

What does pet insurance cover?

There are various types of pet insurance available. You need to consider carefully the best policy for your beloved pet.
Generally, pet insurance covers a number of animals, but you can also find policies that cover specific animals such as dog insurance or cat insurance. A number of insurance companies don’t provide insurance for exotic pets such as spiders and snakes, so check with the provider to find out which pets are covered.
Crucially, the most common and basic pet insurance only covers accidents or illnesses that occur during your pet’s lifetime. They don’t typically cover costs that arise from regular vet visits or vaccinations.
Many insurance companies also don’t provide first time cover for pets that are above a certain age. Therefore, you should look for insurance as soon as you get a pet. As your pet ages, the company might also raise the premium, so check this before you purchase the cover.


Exclusions are different situations that might arise from your pet becoming ill or injured that aren’t covered by the insurance. Different insurance companies have different exclusions within their policies.
The most common exclusion is that pre-existing conditions aren’t covered by your insurance. For example, if you are changing your dog insurance and your dog has diabetes, the new insurance might not cover the condition. There are sometimes exceptions to this and you must check with your provider.
Other exclusions might include problems during your pet’s pregnancy or home visits.

Excess and vet fees

Policy excess and vet fees are perhaps the most important features for you to understand, and they will usually influence the cost of your insurance the most. The higher the excess or the coverage of vet fees, the more the insurance will cost you.
Excess is the amount of money you need to pay from your own pocket when you make a claim. The different types of excess policies include:
  • Fixed excess: you always pay the same amount, no matter how much you claim.
  • Percentage excess: the excess is based on percentage of your claim. Therefore, the higher your claim, the bigger your excess payment will be.
Your pet insurance might cover a specific amount of vet fees annually or monthly. These tend to range from £500 right up to £3,000.

Choosing between a lifetime cover or a non-lifetime cover

There are typically two types of pet insurance policies: lifetime cover and non-lifetime cover. Generally, the lifetime cover is more expensive.
Lifetime cover tends to offer you two different policies:
  • Per condition per year lifetime cover, which gives maximum cover, and you are allowed to claim for a number of conditions during each year.
  • Annual lifetime cover resets the limit of cover each year.
Likewise, if you select a non-lifetime cover, you have two different policy options available:
  • Per condition cover comes with a specific amount you are able to claim for a condition.
  • Time-limit cover, which only allows you to claim for conditions for a specific time. These are often the cheapest pet-insurance policies.

Accident-only pet insurance

It is also possible to find accident-only pet insurance. Although this might be the cheaper option, you need to remember that it only covers accidental injury.

Do I need an insurance plan for my pet?

Some people think insurance premiums are not worth paying when it comes to looking after your pet. While you might not make a claim for years, it might save you money and your pet’s life.
Vet costs can quickly stack up, and it is important to consider whether you are able to pay for an unexpected visit if necessary. Think carefully whether annual or monthly premiums would give you more financial security or if you can afford to cover expensive vet fees at once in case your pet falls ill.