Skip to content
Sergei being licked on the cheek by a dog
View of dog walking park and park benches Sergei being licked on the cheek by a dog

Pet insurance

DON'T GET CAUGHT OUT BY VET FEES

  • Protect your pet for less than £10.37 per month[1]
  • Get covered for unexpected costs. On average, an X-ray can cost over £300 & an MRI scan over £2,500
  • Plus, enjoy fantastic rewards, on us*

[1] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £10.37 per month in December 2023 for their pet insurance based on the monthly cost when paying for the policy in one annual payment, excluding any interest charged on instalment payments.

Compare cheap pet insurance quotes

from 30 leading providers with 224 products to choose from[2]

[2] Correct as of December 2023.

What pet are you looking to insure?

Cat

Indoor or outdoor cat, moggy or purebred, we can help you find cover for your furry friend.

Dog

Puppy or older dog, pedigree or mutt, we have a range of policies for you to compare.

Why do I need pet insurance?

Having the right pet insurance in place means you could potentially cover the vet bills for your dog or cat and give them the care they need if they fall ill or are injured.

At Compare the Market, we can help you find and compare prices for pet insurance in minutes. It’s a quick way to find a policy that suits you and your furry friend.

Read on to find out more about the different types of pet insurance for your dog or cat, what it includes and how much it costs.

Types of pet insurance policy

To find the best pet insurance policy for you, you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of the various options available. This usually boils down to the level of cover you want and how much you’re willing to pay.

There are four main types of pet insurance to look out for when comparing deals:

Lifetime pet insurance

Lifetime pet cover is the most comprehensive pet insurance available. If you maintain the policy, your pet could be covered for accidents, injuries and illnesses that develop while they’re insured.

Time-limited pet insurance

Time-limited pet insurance covers illnesses and accidents, for up to 12 months from when the condition was diagnosed or up to the limit of the policy, whichever happens first. After that, the condition won’t be covered, even if you renew.

Maximum benefit pet insurance

Maximum benefit pet insurance covers accidents and illnesses up to a maximum amount per condition. Once you’ve reached the limit, your pet’s no longer covered for that particular condition.

Accident-only pet insurance

Accident-only pet insurance covers vet bills if your pet’s hurt in an accident, but not if they become ill. Compared to more comprehensive policies, it’s likely to be cheaper and might work out well if you have a young dog or cat that’s fit and healthy.

The best pet insurance for you depends on your budget and your needs. But whichever policy you choose, always read the policy documents carefully and make sure you know what’s excluded to avoid any nasty surprises.

What does pet insurance cover?

Pet insurance policies can vary. Make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully so you know what’s covered and what isn’t.

Lifetime, time-limited and maximum benefit pet insurance will typically cover:

  • Vet fees and treatment if your pet is ill or injured.
  • Emergency dental treatment in the event of an accident.
  • Compensation if your pet dies or goes missing.
  • Advertising fees and reward money if your pet goes missing.
  • Kennel and cattery fees if you’re temporarily unable to care for your pet.
  • Third-party liability cover if your dog injures someone, causes an accident or damages someone’s property.
  • Alternative treatments like physio, acupuncture or homeopathy, if they’re recommended by your vet.

Accident-only pet insurance won’t cover illness and is unlikely to cover compensation, alternative treatments, advertising fees and reward money, plus kennel and cattery fees. Be sure to check the terms of the policy.

Pet insurance won’t typically cover:

  • Treatment for pre-existing conditions – injuries and illnesses your pet was already suffering from when you took out the policy.
  • Vaccinations and boosters.
  • Any condition that could have been prevented by routine vaccinations, for either cats or dogs.
  • Microchipping your pet.
  • Neutering or spaying your pet and other preventative treatments
  • Routine medical treatment, such as annual check-ups, worming and flea treatments.
  • Routine dental care and dental treatment resulting from illness.
  • Putting your pet to sleep and other costs related to euthanasia, cremation or burial.
  • Cosmetic treatments or any other medical treatment not recommended by a vet.
  • Pregnancy care, so always check first if you plan on breeding your pet.
  • Any international costs, if you take your pet abroad and they need vet treatment.
  • Third-party liability cover if your cat injures someone, causes an accident or damages someone’s property.

It’s important to check any policy carefully before you buy to make sure it includes the cover you need. Some policies won’t include overseas cover and holiday cancellation as standard, for example, but you may be able to add them to your policy at an extra cost.

How much is pet insurance?

The cost of your pet insurance will depend on:

  • The type of policy you choose – policies that offer more cover tend to cost more.
  • The amount of cover you want – policies with lower maximum pay-outs may be cheaper but might not pay for everything if your pet has a serious accident or condition.
  • The insurance provider you choose – each provider prices according to their claims history and experience of risk.
  • The age and health of your pet – insuring older pets tends to be more expensive as they’re more likely to develop illnesses or conditions.
  • Whether your pet has been spayed or neutered – because this can reduce the chance of your pet developing various conditions and makes them less likely to stray.
  • The size of the compulsory excess – how much you’ll have to pay towards a claim.

And remember, the cheapest pet insurance premium might not offer you all the cover you want. It can be hard to find the best pet insurance for your pooch or more cover for your moggy, so always read the small print.

Pet insurance premiums
Pet Monthly premium[4] Annual premium[5]
Dog £12.09 £146
Cat £6.36 £77

[4] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £12.09/£6.36 per month in December 2023 for their dog insurance based on the monthly cost when paying for the policy in one annual payment, excluding any interest charged on instalment payments.

[5] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £145.08/£76.35 for their dog insurance in December 2023.

Did you know?

The poor conditions of puppy or kitten farms can lead to illnesses and complications, which could incur treatment costs of over £1,500 in the first year of the animal’s life. In some severe cases, the costs could rise to £5,000 or even result in the pet being euthanised, according to more than half of vets (54%) asked in a government survey.

How can I get cheaper pet insurance?

Here’s a few top tips to help you find cheap pet insurance:

  • Look for a higher excess – the more you’re able to contribute towards a claim, the smaller your premiums are likely to be. But you’ll need to be sure you can afford the excess if you need to make a claim.
  • Choose a contribution policy – where you pay a percentage of the claim in addition to the compulsory excess.
  • Keep your pet healthy – looking after your pet properly could save you hundreds (or even thousands) of pounds in vet bills. 
  • Vaccinate your dog or cat and don’t miss any booster jabs – this can help avoid some serious illnesses. If your pet isn’t vaccinated and they fall ill with a disease they could’ve been protected against, your insurance provider might refuse to pay the claim 
  • Spay or neuter your pet – this could potentially lower your premiums, as it means pets are less likely to catch or develop various illnesses and conditions.
  • Choose your breed wiselypedigree dogs and cats can make wonderful pets but might be more prone to inherited disorders, which could then make them more expensive to insure.
  • Compare pet insurance quotes – our pet insurance comparison service allows you to compare quotes from a wide range of insurance providers.

Find more money-saving tips in our guide to the average cost of pet insurance.

Author image Mubina Pirmohamed

What our expert says...

“It’s not just upsetting if your cat or dog is injured or becomes ill unexpectedly – it can be extremely expensive. Knowing you’re covered financially by pet insurance means you can focus on finding the best care for your pet and getting them well again.”

- Mubina Pirmohamed, Insurance expert

Why compare pet insurance with Compare the Market?

We're rated Excellent on Trustpilot[2]

We compare prices for 30 trusted pet insurance providers[3]

Buy your pet insurance through us and enjoy fantastic rewards, on us*.

[2] As of January 2024, Compare the Market had an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 from 38,330 people who left a review on Trustpilot. The score 4.8 corresponds to the Star Label ‘Excellent’.  

[3] Correct as of December 2023.

What do I need to compare pet insurance?

To compare pet insurance with us, we’ll need to know:

  • Your pet’s age and breed 
  • Whether your pet is male or female 
  • How much you paid or donated for them
  • Whether your pet has been neutered or spayed
  • Whether they’re microchipped.

Frequently asked questions

Does pet insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

Typically, most pet insurance policies won’t cover pre-existing conditions. These are conditions your pet had before the policy started – such as diabetes.

This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to insure your pet, it just means your pet won’t be covered for claims relating to that condition.

We don’t compare policies that cover pre-existing conditions, but you might be able to find a specialist policy.

You may also be able to find a policy that covers historical pre-existing conditions. They’re conditions your pet has had in the past but hasn’t had symptoms or treatment for in a specified period of time – for example, in the past two years.

However, these types of specialist policies are rare and might not cover all conditions.

How does my pet’s age affect pet insurance?

Insurance premiums often go up as your pet gets older. That’s because they’re more likely to suffer from health conditions, and for insurance providers they’re more of a risk. Your policy excess might go up too.

If you want to insure an older cat or older dog, make sure you shop around and remember that cheap pet insurance may not always provide the best cover. Look for the policy that gives you the level of cover your older pet needs.

Do I need to pay an excess for pet insurance?

For most types of pet insurance, you’ll have to pay an excess with each claim. Excess is the amount you pay towards a claim. Pet insurance policies can have:

  • A set excess – £90 per claim, for example
  • A contribution excess – this is a percentage of the claim
  • A combination of the two – so, for example, £90 plus 10% of the claim.

Most providers will specify if the excess is likely to change as your pet gets older.

How does my address affect pet insurance?

While your address shouldn’t affect the cost of your pet insurance drastically, vet bills do vary across different regions. This means you might find those costs passed on in your premiums.

If you live in London, for example, you’ll likely find vet bills are more expensive than somewhere outside of the capital.

Does pet insurance include kennel or cattery fees?

Pet insurance could include cover for boarding your pet in a kennel or cattery if you need to go into hospital and are unable to look after them. There may be a minimum number of days you need to be in hospital for in order to claim.

Check the terms and conditions of your policy to be sure this is covered.

Can I get cover that starts immediately?

No, there’s usually a waiting period before your pet cover begins. This is to stop people using their new pet insurance policy to cover conditions they already knew their pet had.

Cover usually starts around 14 days after the policy start date. Check the terms and conditions of the specific policy to be sure.

Is it better to pay for insurance annually or monthly?

If you can afford to, it’s usually cheaper to pay upfront in one annual payment. If you pay monthly, it’s likely you’ll be charged interest.

What pets can I get covered?

You can often get animal insurance for dogs, cats, rabbits and horses. But here at Compare the Market, we only compare prices for pet insurance that covers dogs and cats, including puppies and kittens.

If you have another type of pet, you might need to look for a specialist pet insurance provider. In some cases, it’s possible to get cover for guinea pigs, ferrets, chinchillas, tortoises, snakes, lizards, parrots and other exotic animals.

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

Some insurance providers offer multi-pet insurance, so if you insure more than one pet with them, you might get a discount. This type of policy could also be easier to manage in terms of paperwork.

Currently, you can’t compare multi-pet insurance with us. But most of the providers you can compare through us have the option of adding a pet to your policy.

To do this, run a comparison search on our site for one pet and find the policy you want. Then click through to that policy provider’s site and see if it gives you the option to add another pet to the policy.

What should I do if my pet goes missing?

If your dog or cat is microchipped, contact the microchipping company to see if they’ve been handed in anywhere. Failing that, get in touch with your local animal rescue centre, ask your neighbours and put the word out on social media.

Pet insurance could help if your pet goes missing – some policies offer help with advertising and reward money if your pet goes astray.

Will pet insurance cover life-threatening injuries or illness?

Accident-only insurance will only cover your pet if they have a life-threating accident. However maximum benefit, time-limited or lifetime pet insurance should cover life-threatening injuries or illness – but there will be cover limits and exclusions.

Can I still travel with my pet now Brexit has happened?

You can, but instead of a pet passport, you’ll need to get an animal health certificate (AHC) to travel to Europe or Northern Ireland with your pet.

If you want to take your pet to a non-EU country, you’ll need to get an Export Health Certificate – you can get this through your vet – and check on individual regulations for the country you’re travelling to.

If you’re travelling to a non-EU country from Scotland, Wales or England, you’ll also need to fill out the Export Application Form (known as EXA).

For more information on taking your pet abroad, see GOV.UK.

Find out more about pet insurance with overseas cover.

How do I claim on pet insurance?

Follow any instructions in your policy documents about how to claim. Generally, you’ll have to call your provider’s claims line and it’s a good idea to have your policy number ready. With some policies, your vet might be able to claim on your behalf, so check with the vet.

If your pet is ill, you may be able to get an idea in advance of whether you’ll be covered for a particular treatment by speaking to your insurance provider’s claims team.

You’ll need to know what evidence you need to provide for your claim, such as invoices and receipts.

Submit your claim as soon as possible. You might have to pay the bill and claim back the money less your contribution to the claim – your excess.

What happens if I can’t afford vet bills?

If you can’t afford vet bills, there are a number of options These can include:

  • Shopping around online to get prescribed medication more cheaply
  • Credit-based payment plans from the vet
  • Swapping to a different vet with lower fees
  • Seeing if your pet is eligible for free or low-cost treatment through an animal charity.

Start by speaking honestly to your vet. Let them know what you can afford in case they can suggest alternative treatments.

Will property be covered if my pet damages it?

Pet insurance doesn’t cover damage to your property. Likewise, most home insurance policies exclude pet damage. You may be able to add accidental damage to your home insurance policy – but even this might exclude pet damage caused in particular ways, such as chewing or scratching.

Does pet insurance cover ‘cherry eye’ in dogs?

It may depend on what type of policy you have and whether this is the first time your dog has had the problem.

Cherry eye, which is a problem with the dog’s third eyelid, might be helped by medication but if the gland in the eyelid has swelled up it may require surgery.

Talk to your pet insurance provider to check if you’re covered as it can vary between types of insurance and policies.

Does pet insurance cover BOAS surgery?

This will depend on what kind of insurance you have. It will also depend on the severity of the condition, whether their brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) is being treated as a pre-existing condition and whether any other treatment options are possible.

BOAS usually affects certain breeds and not every dog within the breed type will suffer from it. For some flat-faced dogs without severe breathing problems, the issue can be managed through weight-loss, keeping them cool in the heat, using a harness rather than pulling on a lead and giving them medication.

In some severe cases an operation might be considered. You’ll need to talk to your pet insurance provider to see if this will be covered under your policy.

Page last reviewed on 17 JANUARY 2023
by Mubina Pirmohamed