We all love our pets, but it's no secret that vet bills can be expensive. If your pet becomes ill, injured or lost, their treatment can cost hundreds of pounds.

This is where the right pet insurance policy could help you cover those costs

How does pet insurance work

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

Pet insurance can also cover fees if you need to place your pet in temporary care if you are ill or in hospital in the UK.

Depending on what you need, you can find different types of pet insurance policies. For example, there are puppy insurance policies, or lifetime pet insurance if your pet's breed is known to have medical problems.

What does pet insurance cover?

Pet insurance typically covers:

  • Accidents: If your pet gets injured or happens to injure someone else

  • Illnesses: If your pet becomes ill while your pet insurance policy is valid.

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

How to choose the right level of cover?

How much cover your pet has depends on what type of policy you buy, so think carefully about which one you need.

  • Accident only pet insurance: This type of pet insurance policy only covers injuries your pet suffers after an accident. Some offer low levels of cover for vet fees, but not all.

  • Time limited pet insurance: This type of pet insurance policy lets you claim for a specific condition for a set time period, usually a year. After this, you have to pay to treat that condition yourself.

  • Maximum benefit pet insurance: This type of pet insurance policy lets you make claims up to a set limit, such as 8,000. Your insurer will not pay out once you reach that limit.

  • Lifetime pet insurance: This is the most comprehensive policy because 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 think about getting a high level of cover because they can suffer from hereditary diseases as they get older.

Look at what cover you can get for your pet being stolen or getting lost. Here is everything you need to know about what is covered by pet insurance policies.

Always check the exclusions

Most pet insurance policies have exclusions, which means that you could be rejected if you make a claim for a specific circumstance. Some exclusions may include:

  • Older pets: Some policies will not cover older animals

  • Your pet's health: If your pet has an existing medical condition, many insurers will not provide cover

  • Your pet is used for business: If your pet is a working animal or used for breeding, most insurers will not provide cover.

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

How to get the best pet insurance?

When you compare pet insurance policies, it's important to check what your pet might need.

For example, pedigree dogs or purebred cats are more prone to illness than cross breeds so you may want to choose a pet insurance policy with a higher cover. You will need to make sure you have their formal paperwork and certificate.

Here is a guide on how to insure your pedigree pet.

As you compare pet insurance quotes, you'll see different insurers offering quotes based on several factors. These can include:

  • Your pet's age: Older pets are more likely to get sick, so their insurance costs more. Here is how to find cover for your older pet.

  • Pre-existing medical conditions: If your pet has any medical issues most insurers will not cover them, and those that do will charge you much more to cover the risk.

  • Cost of your pet: Pedigree pets cost more to cover than crossbreeds, because they are more expensive to buy and can suffer from inherited health issues. Here is how to find the right insurance for pedigree pets.

  • Type of pet: For example, small pets like rabbits are cheaper to cover on average than dogs and cats because they cost less to buy and their vet fees will be lower.

It can be helpful to read reviews of pet insurers before choosing a pet insurance policy so you know the kind of care you'll receive.

If you are looking for a local vet, it can help to see pet insurance reviews from people who live in your area too.

Getting the best pet insurance might be your priority but you should also consider preventative care plans to keep your pet healthy.

With a preventative care plan, you pay a monthly fee and it offers discounts for routine treatments. The following are usually not covered under pet insurance but are likely to be included in preventative care plans:

  • 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 preventative care plans that can sit alongside pet insurance.

How to save money on your pet insurance

Getting a cheap pet insurance policy isn't impossible, it just takes a bit of effort. Planning ahead can go a long way in saving you money on your pet insurance.

Do your research: If you are considering what type of pet you want, it is worth checking which animals tend to be more prone to illness as they will cost more in the long-term. You are more likely to get cheap dog insurance if you choose a more common dog like a Jack Russell instead of a Dalmation.

Take care of your pet's health: A preventative care plan for your pet will help keep vaccinations and routine appointments up to date which should mean a healthier pet with less illnesses.

Microchip your pet: Since April 2016, you are 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.

Multi pet insurance: If you insure more than one pet with the same company they may offer a discount on your pet insurance.

Self insurance: A pet insurance comparison should be done with your own budget in mind. With self insurance you choose how much you put aside each month and use that pot of money when you need to pay out for vet bills. To earn interest on the money you put aside you can compare savings accounts.

If you are struggling financially, you may be able to get help with caring for your pet. Here is how to get help with vet bills.

Does the type of pet affect the cost of pet insurance?

The cost of pet insurance can vary depending on the type of animal you have.

Every pet is different so you need to make sure you get insurance that will cover them throughout their life.

Pet insurance FAQs

Q

How do I claim on my pet insurance?

A

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

Q

Can I get cover that starts immediately?

A

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.

Q

Does pet insurance cover vaccinations?

A

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

Q

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

A

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.

Q

Can I cover my older pet?

A

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.

Q

Can pet insurance cover existing conditions?

A

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.