How to get the right pet insurance

  1. Choose the level of cover your pet needs

  2. Think about what extras you need to add

  3. Find pet insurance policies that meet your needs

  4. Check the policies for exclusions

  5. Choose the policy that offers the cover you need at the best price

Before you start looking for pet insurance though, you should think about:

  • Your pet's age: It can be harder to find insurance when your pet is older, for example over eight years old for dogs and cats, or younger than eight weeks old. Here is how to get cover for older pets.

  • Existing conditions: Most insurers will not cover your pet if they have an existing medical problem. Here is how to find insurance if your pet has medical conditions.

  • What pet you have: Most policies only cover dogs and cats, but you can find insurance for horses, rabbits, birds and exotic pets.

  • How many pets you have: If you have more than one pet you could cover them under the same policy to earn a discount. Find out more about multi pet insurance here.

Buy pet insurance when your pet is young and healthy because it becomes more expensive and harder to find as they get older, or develop any health problems.

Choose the right level of cover

There are four main types, each offer a different level of protection for your pet:

Accident only policies

This type of policy only covers injuries your pet suffers after an accident.

This may not be a suitable option if your pet is likely to develop health issues later in life because treatment for illnesses will not be covered.

For example, if you have a pedigree bulldog they will be more likely to develop heart problems or hip dysplasia in later life, and an accident only policy will not cover their treatment.

Time limited policies

This type of policy lets you make claims for a set period of time, usually 12 months, for a certain condition.

At the end of the 12 months you will not be able to make any further claims for that condition, and there will usually be a maximum claim limit too, for example 1,500. After this you need to pay for any ongoing treatment yourself.

This type of policy can protect against illnesses and be cheaper than higher levels, but it will not cover long term hereditary diseases that last several years.

Maximum benefit policies

Your pet will be covered for a condition up to a set limit, for example 5,000. Once you have claimed up to this limit you will not be able to make any further claims for that condition.

This offers more cover compared to time limited policies, because you can claim for the same condition over several years, provided you do not exceed the claim limit.

This type of policy may offer enough cover as long as the maximum claim limit is high enough to pay for all the treatment your pet might need during their life. Think about:

  • If your pet's breed is susceptible to any medical problems

  • How much their treatment might cost, for example it could cost 400 each time to treat your dog for a skin disorder

Try and estimate how much it might cost to treat your pet during its life. For example if you have a Persian cat with skin problems it could cost over 4,000 to treat them once a year for their whole life.

Lifetime policies

This is the most comprehensive level and offers a set cover limit that renews every year. So if you have cover of 10,000 for vet fees, you will be able to claim up to this amount every year of your pet's life.

Lifetime policies are usually the most expensive option, but they also offer the highest cover limits.

This is a good option for any animals that are susceptible to medical problems, or if you just want to make sure your pet has the best possible cover.

Add extra cover

You may be given the option of adding extra benefits to your policy, like:

  • Loss cover: This covers the initial cost of your pet if they die or have to be put to sleep by a vet.

  • Lost and found cover: You will be covered against the cost of advertising if your pet goes missing, and paying a reward if they are found. If your pet is not found you receive the amount you paid for your pet.

  • Overseas travel cover: This can cover any vet fees abroad, and can also cover holiday cancellation and quarantine costs. Here is how pet travel insurance works.

Many policies include these as standard so check the policy before you apply for a quote. Adding extra cover increases the cost of your policy so think carefully about whether you need it first.

Check for exclusions

Every pet insurance policy has exclusions that could mean your claim is rejected, like:

  • Pre existing medical conditions

  • If your pet is over a certain age

  • What vet you use

Find the best pet insurance policy

Once you have worked out exactly what level of cover you need, and you know what exclusions to look out for, you should shop around for pet insurance policies.

Before you buy your policy make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully so you know exactly what is covered, and what you need to do if you need to make a claim.

Make sure you also check what excess you will need to pay if you claim, because some insurers charge more than others. This guide explains what excess you might be charged.