Most pet insurance policies place a limit on the amount you're able to claim for each health condition.

This means if you're pet develops an illness that needs long term treatment, you'll be left footing the bill once you've claimed as much as you can - with vet bills getting more expensive by the day this could see you paying out an extortionate amount to keep your pet healthy and pain free.

This is where pet insurance lifetime cover has its real value.

The best lifetime pet insurance policies don't place a cap on how long, or how much you can claim for treatment of an ongoing condition. So if your pet develops a health problem that's going to require long term care, you won't have to worry about how you'll pay for it.

How does lifetime pet insurance work?

A lifelong pet insurance policy will pay out to cover the cost of ongoing veterinary treatment for as long as you continue to pay your premiums and renew your insurance with the provider.

Some policies will place a yearly cap on the amount you can claim for each condition, but this will reset itself when you renew your policy. Other policies won't place any kind of limit on what and when you can claim.

It's worth noting that most pet insurance companies won't pay out to cover pre-existing conditions, and because of this you won't easily be able to switch insurer once you start claiming for treatment of a long term health problem.

However, if you already have lifelong pet insurance in place, you won't have to worry.

How do I choose the best lifetime pet insurance?

That said, you do need to make sure that you take extra care to check that you're happy with the policy features, benefits and exclusions when you choose a life pet insurance policy because you really are taking out pet insurance for life!

Of course, you will be able to switch to a different pet insurance provider, or even stop paying for insurance altogether. But once you start claiming for treatment for an ongoing condition, finding another insurer to cover it will be incredibly difficult - if not impossible.

Make sure that you check whether the insurer will cover hereditary and congenital conditions (those that are present from birth), whether there is an annual limit on how much they will pay out for each condition and whether they will guarantee cover for your pet in old age.

Some so-called lifetime pet insurance policies will reserve the right to significantly increase your premiums, significantly increase your excess, or stop paying out for treatment for a previously covered condition once your pet reaches a certain age - you need to make sure that you choose a company that doesn't do this.

You will also need to check the excess the pet insurance company will charge when you make a claim and ensure that you can comfortably afford to meet this.

You may be able to make your lifetime pet insurance policy a little cheaper by increasing your voluntary excess so you pay more when you make a claim. However, you will need to work out whether this is worthwhile if you start making regular claims for ongoing treatment.

Finally, while lifelong policies can work out a little more expensive than pet insurance that is designed to pay out for short term care, they do provide invaluable reassurance that if your pet does develop an ailment that needs ongoing treatment, you'll be able to afford it.

What's more, if you shop around and compare your options you will be able to find cheap lifetime pet insurance that provides you with real value for money.