We all love our pets, but vet bills are expensive. If your pet is ill, injured or lost, their treatment can cost hundreds of pounds.

That's where pet plans come in. Having animal insurance could help you cover those costs.

How do pet plans work?

With pet insurance, UK insurance companies charge you a monthly premium to cover your vet fees if your pet is ill or has an accident.

The best pet insurance can also cover fees if you need temporary care for your pet if you're ill or in hospital.

There are different kinds of pet plans available. For example, you can get puppy insurance policies. Or you can get lifetime pet insurance policies - which can be good if your pet's breed is known to have medical problems.

What does pet insurance cover?

There are lots of different types of pet insurance available. The best pet insurance for you will depend on your situation.

Pets plan insurance typically covers accidents, illnesses and injuries.

  • Accident cover means you're covered if your pet gets injured or happens to injure someone else.

  • Illness cover is for if your pet becomes ill while your pet insurance policy's valid.

  • Emergencies cover is for if you fall ill and have to go into hospital. Some policies cover the cost of your pet's temporary care.

How to choose the right level of cover

Before you get pet insurance quotes and compare pet insurance, you'll need to work out what level of cover you want.

If you want cheap pet insurance, you'll probably need to go for a low level of cover. But make sure your policy covers you for what you need. There's no point in a pet insurance policy that doesn't give you the right level of cover.

Here's a summary of the various levels of pet insurance, UK wide, that you can choose from.

  • Accident only pet insurance: This type of pet insurance covers your pet's injuries if they have an accident. It's the most basic, cheapest pet insurance. Some policies give a low level of cover for vet fees if your pet gets ill as a result of their accident. But not all pet insurance companies include this, so check carefully.

  • Time limited pet insurance: This type of pet plan lets you claim for a specific condition for a set time period (usually a year). Once the time period's over, you'll have to pay to treat that condition yourself.

  • Maximum benefit pet insurance: This type of pet insurance policy lets you claim up to a set limit, such as 8,000. Your insurer won't pay out once you reach that limit.

  • Lifetime pet insurance: If you want pet insurance, lifetime cover is the best pet insurance, UK wide. It's the most comprehensive and therefore the most expensive kind of pet plan. It lets you claim up to a set amount such as 12,000, for each year of your pet's life, for any condition.

If you have a pedigree pet, you should think about getting one of the higher levels of cover. Lifetime insurance can be the perfect pet insurance for pure breds. That's because they often suffer from hereditary diseases as they get older.

For example, it is important to consider that if you are looking for the best dog insurance, UK vet bills over the life a pedigree breed can be thousands of pounds. Therefore, lifetime or maximum benefit insurance can save you a lot of money in the long run.

You might also want to check what cover you've got for your pedigree pet being stolen or getting lost. For pet insurance, UK providers will usually offer a range of add-ons and extras.

Find out what's covered by different pet insurance policies to choose which pet insurance you need.

Always check the exclusions

Even the best pet insurance, UK wide, will have exclusions. That means you could be rejected for certain claims to try to make.

When you're looking at health plans for pets, make sure you check the list of exclusions.

Some policies exclude older pets. Other policies just give healthy pets insurance and don't cover pets who have a pre-existing medical condition. And many pet insurance companies won't cover working pets that are used for business or breeding.

If your pet falls under one of these categories, you could look into specialist pet plans. For example, if you want pet insurance, pre-existing conditions shouldn't stop you getting it. You just might need a special policy for your pet.

Here's how to claim on your pet insurance policy, including all the exclusions to look out for.

How to get the best pet insurance for a pedigree

When you compare pet insurance, you'll need to think carefully about what your pet might need.

For example, pedigree dogs or pure bred cats are more prone to illness than crossbreeds so you may want to choose a pet insurance policy with a higher cover. For top cat insurance and the best dog insurance, UK providers will usually want to see formal paperwork and certificates.

Look out for hereditary conditions

Pedigree dogs and cats are more likely to suffer from specific illnesses than mixed breeds, so find out what conditions your pet could develop and make sure you get an insurance policy that will cover them.

Here's a guide on how to insure your pedigree pet.

When should I get pet insurance?

For most pet owners, the right time to get insurance is straight away.

It may be tempting to wait until your pet is older to buy an insurance plan, but it is likely - especially with puppies or kittens - that your new pet will need medical care and operations when they are young.

It is also important not to make the mistake of thinking that young pets will not get ill. Any animal can suffer from illness that requires medical treatment, while pet insurance will also cover accidental injury.

Animals can also quickly develop long-term health conditions, so buying the right policy when they are young can protect you from rising costs as they age. This is especially important as new policies will be much more expensive if your pet has a pre-existing medical condition.

How to compare pet insurance

When you compare pet insurance quotes, you'll see different insurers offering quotes. These are based on several factors.
Your pet insurance comparison will take the following factors into consideration:

  • Your pet's age: Older pets are more likely to get sick, so their insurance costs more. Here's some information on finding cover for your older pet.

  • Pre-existing medical conditions: If your pet's got any medical issues, then most insurers won't cover them. Those that do will charge you much more, because it's more risky for them to insure you.

  • Cost of your pet: Insurance for pedigree pets costs more than insurance for crossbreeds. That's because pedigree pets are more expensive to buy and can suffer from inherited health issues.

  • Type of pet: Small pets like rabbits are cheaper to cover than bigger pets like dogs and cats. That's because smaller pets cost much less to buy, and their vet fees are lower.

You can use our pet insurance comparison table at the top of this page to compare pet insurance, UK wide.

Whether you want cheap pet insurance, UK pet insurance quotes, or pet insurance that covers pre-existing conditions, you're in the right place. We'll help you to get all the information about pet insurance, compare prices and find the right insurance for you.

It's also a good idea to read pet insurance reviews before choosing a policy. This'll give you a sense of the kind of care you'll receive from different pet insurance companies if you need to claim. Pet insurance reviews, UK wide, can point you in the direction of a good local vet sometimes, too.

How to get charity help with vets bills

If you are retired, on a low income or receive certain state benefits you may be able to get help towards the cost of vet bills from a dedicated animal charity.

There are multiple UK charities that provide a variety of helpful services.

If you need help, consider contacting:


The PDSA treats animals that belong to owners who get financial help from certain state benefits like Housing Benefit or Council Tax support.

Usually the PDSA provides free vet care, but ask anyone whose pet receives free treatment to make a voluntary donation towards the cost.

For more information and to check if your pet qualifies for free treatment, call the free PDSA helpline on 0800 731 2502 or visit the PDSA website.

Blue Cross

The Blue cross runs four animal hospitals and five mobile clinics across London and Grimsby. They also have five pet care clinics located outside London. These offer free veterinary treatment for pets whose owners are on a low income or get certain means-tested benefits.

Visit the Blue Cross website to check if you qualify for free veterinary care.

Dogs Trust

The Dogs Trust offers financial support to dog owners to help towards the cost of neutering. They support owners that live in certain areas of the UK, have a low income or receive certain means-tested benefits.

How else can I protect my pet?

Getting the best pet insurance might be your priority right now. But you could also look at preventative care pet plans to keep your pets healthy.

Because there are so many reasons you might take your pet to the vet, pet insurance doesn't cover all of them. With preventative care pet plans, you'll pay a monthly fee. And in return, you'll get discounts on routine treatments that aren't covered by normal pet insurance.

The kinds of treatments that are likely to be included in preventative care pet plans include:

  • Full examinations

  • Flea and worming treatments

  • Discounted dental checks and treatments such as neutering

  • Discounted pet food and medication

  • Discounted vet consultations

  • Microchipping.

Proactive Pets and The Pet Health Club are examples of preventative care pet plans that can sit alongside pet insurance.

How to save money on your pet insurance

If you're wondering 'how much is pet insurance?' then it's worth noting that it can vary.

Getting a cheap pet insurance policy that includes everything you need isn't impossible, it just takes a bit of effort. Planning ahead can help you to save you money on your pet insurance. Here are some top tips.

Do your research: If you're thinking about what type of pet you want, it's worth checking which animals tend to be more prone to illness. Those animals will cost you more in vet's bills or pet insurance. You're more likely to get cheap pet insurance if you choose a more common dog like a Jack Russell, rather than a Dalmatian.

Take care of your pet's health: Preventative care pet plans help keep vaccinations and routine appointments up to date. This should mean you have a healthier pet with fewer illnesses.

Microchip your pet: Since April 2016, you're legally required to microchip your dog. It's not legally required for cats or other types of pets, but it can help you get cheaper pet insurance, UK wide.

Multi pet insurance: If you insure more than one pet with the same company they may offer a discount. This is called multi pet insurance.

Shop around: If you're looking at pet insurance, compare deals from different insurers to find the best value pet insurance. Our pet insurance comparison will help you to do this. Don't forget that different types of pet insurance cost different amounts, so think carefully about what type you need before you buy one. For example, with pet insurance, lifetime cover is the most comprehensive kind but you might not need this level of cover.

Self insurance: A pet insurance comparison should be done with your own budget in mind. Another way of working within your own budget is to create your own pet insurance. To do this, you choose how much to put aside each month and use that pot of money when you need to pay out for vet bills. You can then earn interest on the money - compare savings accounts to find the top interest earning accounts.

If you're struggling financially, you may be able to get help with caring for your pet.

Here's how to get help with vet bills.

Does pet insurance cost depend on what kind of animal you have?

Yes, your pet insurance cost varies depending on the type of animal you have.
Every pet's different so you need to make sure you get insurance that will cover them throughout their life.

Pet insurance FAQs


How do I claim on my pet insurance?


You need to send a claims form to your insurer. Here is what you need to do to make a pet insurance claim.


Can I get cover that starts immediately?


Yes, most policies will start when you purchase your cover, which means you could claim straight away in an emergency. Others might have a 14-day cooling-off period so you will need to check your policy's small print.


Does pet insurance cover vaccinations?


No, you cannot claim on your policy to cover the cost of routine treatments like vaccinations or vet check ups.


Can I cover more than one pet on the same policy?


Yes, you can get a multi pet policy that covers two or more pets which may earn you a discount. Here is how to insure multiple pets at once.


Can I cover my older pet?


Yes, but many insurers set a maximum age limit on their policies, for example eight years old for dogs and cats. Here is how to find cover for your older pet.


Can pet insurance cover existing conditions?


Most policies do not, but some can cover conditions if your pet has been symptom free for at least two years. Find out more here.

Last updated:7 April 2021