The best pet insurance provider for your pet will depend on several factors, including the type and breed of pet you have, their age, and which elements of the policy you consider the most important.
Some pet insurers only cover cats and dogs, while others cover horses and rabbits, too. If you have a reptile, snake or lizard, you’ll need to find a specialist insurer that covers ‘exotic pets’.
The insurance for pedigree cats and dogs will be more expensive. This is based on claims experience as pedigrees tend to suffer from more inherited medical conditions than crossbreeds. For dogs, bigger breeds cost more to treat at the vet’s and so cost more to insure. Older pets also cost more to insure as, like humans, animals are more likely to get ill as they age.
Factors that you should consider when evaluating providers are:
What the policy covers
Accident-only policies only cover accidents, not illnesses. Lifetime cover is much more comprehensive with some policies covering pre-existing conditions if your pet has been symptom and treatment-free for a period of time.
Minimum and maximum age limits
Some insurers cover pets from four-weeks-old but six or eight-weeks is more normal. Most have an upper age limit when insurance starts. Some insurers (for instance, Petwise) specialise in older dogs (7+).
The cap on vets fees per year or per condition
Most policies will have an upper limit as to how much they will pay out for each condition per year. After that, you’ll have to pay for treatment to continue.
The compulsory excess
This is the amount the policyholder must pay towards a claim. In general the higher the excess, the cheaper the policy.
Pet insurance doesn’t cover routine procedures, such as microchipping, neutering and vaccinations. Other exclusions may apply too.
Any extra benefits
Almost all pet insurers offer 24/7 video vet calls. Other perks might include bereavement support if your pet dies.
Extra costs if you pay for insurance monthly
It’s almost always cheaper to pay for your policy upfront. If you pay monthly, the insurer is effectively loaning you the full premium, which you pay back with interest.
Understand your pet insurance policy
Whatever pet insurance policy you buy, it’s important to understand the cover. The types of pet insurance are described above: Accident-Only cover is cheapest and Lifetime Cover the most expensive.
A good dog insurance policy will include third party liability, which will cover you if your dog injures someone or causes damage to property.
Each pet insurance policy will come with an excess. This is the amount the policyholder pays before insurance pays out. You might have to pay one excess per year or one per claim. Higher excesses generally mean lower premiums.
Paying for pet insurance
You can normally pay for pet insurance monthly or annually. Most insurers charge extra if you pay for your policy monthly.
Some insurers offer discounts for:
- Existing customers
- Insuring more than one pet
- Rehomed animals