Many households around the UK look at pets as family. So, if they get sick or injured, finding treatment for them is top priority.
Unfortunately, this can be expensive.
Despite not being a legal requirement, pet insurance provides a safety net for you and your pets if their care costs become too high. But when money’s tight, is pet insurance worth it? Or is it an unnecessary extra?
Our guide will help you decide.
What are the benefits of pet insurance?
One of the biggest benefits of pet insurance is peace of mind. With the right cover, you know that if your pet gets ill or injured, you can take them to the vet and your policy will cover most of the cost. Plus, your pet will receive the treatment they need. Phew.
Other benefits of pet insurance include:
If your pet gets ill suddenly or sustains an injury, you can claim on your pet insurance to help cover their care costs.
You’re still likely to pay an excess, especially with older pets .
Cover for all pet types
Big or small, young or old, different shapes and sizes. No matter what pet you have, there’s a policy for them if you know where to look.
Standard pet insurers will usually cover dogs, cats, rabbits and small mammals, like guinea pigs or hamsters.
However, animals requiring more specialised care need specialist insurance. These include:
- Exotic pets (including lizards, spiders, snakes, tortoises and parrots)
Some pet insurers will offer discounts if you cover multiple pets.
These discounts can also scale up depending on how many pets you insure, so by adding more animals to your policy, you could save money on your premium.
Swap vets anytime
With pet insurance, you’re free to choose which veterinary clinic treats your pets.
Choose a vet based on your pet’s specific needs. For example, some larger vets have access to the latest technology used for diagnosing and treating certain conditions.
On the other hand, if your pet prefers a calmer atmosphere, perhaps take them to a smaller clinic if their injury/illness does not require extensive treatment.
Pet insurance cover types
There are four main pet insurance cover types:
Accident-only pet insurance, as its name suggests, just applies solely to animals that have been in an accident. It won’t usually pay out for illnesses, unless it’s ruled that your pet became ill as a direct result of an accident.
These policies also tend to apply time or financial caps as part of their terms and conditions.
Time-limited pet insurance covers each illness or injury for a set time period (usually 12 months).
Exclusions notwithstanding, you can claim for any condition as long as your policy remains active.
However, you can only claim for a specific illness once with this pet insurance cover type – it will then be excluded going forward.
You can’t claim for pre-existing conditions with this type of cover, either.
Maximum benefit pet insurance covers your pet for illness or injury up to a pre-set financial amount per condition.
There are no time constraints, however, which means that you can keep claiming for the same condition each year – providing that you don’t exceed your monthly limit and remember to keep up with your premiums.
As the most comprehensive pet insurance cover type, lifetime cover means your pet’s covered for illness or injury – even if they’re diagnosed with an ongoing condition.
This, of course, depends on you renewing your policy on time.
Still, even lifetime insurance has limits. There will either be a monthly or annual cost cap, as stipulated by your insurer.
Exceeding this cap means you’ll be responsible for paying any additional treatment costs yourself.
What does pet insurance cover?
Pet insurance policies generally cover:
- Standard vet bills up to a certain amount each year (or per condition)
- Hereditary conditions found in certain breeds (these usually aren’t categorised the same as existing or ongoing conditions, so always check your policy’s fine print)
Some pet insurers also cover:
- Pre-existing or long-term conditions, usually as part of a lifetime pet insurance policy
- Dental care
- Alternative treatments, like physiotherapy or acupuncture
But not all pet insurance providers cover these. If they’re important to you, compare policies that offer the most suitable conditions for your pet.
Other pet insurance features
Along with payments towards vet bills, these other useful pet insurance features can come as part of your policy:
Death by illness or injury
If your pet is ill and has to be put down, most insurers will cover the cost of euthanasia.
Loss or theft
If your pet goes missing or is stolen, some insurers will cover the cost of advertising. Others may even provide reward money.
For owners unable to recover their lost or stolen pets, certain insurance policies will also cover your pet’s purchase price. For this type of claim, proof of purchase is usually required – especially if you paid extra for a specific breed.
Available purely for dogs, liability cover ensures your legal costs are covered if your dog is involved in an incident that has caused injury or damage to property.
Cattery and kennel fees
If you need to go to the hospital for four or more days, your pet insurer can help towards the cost of a cattery or kennel.
When travelling with your pet overseas, pet insurance can help cover the cost of vet treatments if they become ill or sustain an injury abroad.
What does pet insurance not cover?
Unfortunately, most pet insurance policies don’t cover regular treatments. This includes annual vaccinations and boosters.
Also, most pet insurers won’t cover the cost to spay or neuter your pet.
Pets used for racing, breeding or hunting aren’t always included in standard pet insurance policies, either.
Your pet insurance may not cover prescription diets, but some policies do include an allowance towards these.
Not keeping up with any routine treatments could result in your insurer refusing to pay out if you make a claim.
Does pet insurance go up every year?
Depending on your pet’s individual circumstances, you may notice your pet insurance premiums increase year after year.
There are several reasons why this might be happening, including:
Level of cover
Accident-only, time-limited, maximum benefit and even lifetime policies all have certain conditions attached to them that could increase your premiums.
Pedigree breeds are more likely to develop certain diseases or be stolen; therefore, these higher risks will raise the cost of your pet insurance.
Larger pets often suffer with joint problems, and surgery usually costs more.
Older pets tend to suffer from illness or have accidents more than younger ones, which is why they cost more to insure.
So, is pet insurance worth it? Compare pet insurance deals to find the right cover for you and your pets.