What vet fees does my pet insurance cover?

When buying pet insurance, it’s important to understand what it does and doesn’t cover. While you’ll typically be able to claim for some vet fees on your pet insurance, some costs will need to come out of your own pocket. Find out what is and isn’t likely to be covered with our guide.   

When buying pet insurance, it’s important to understand what it does and doesn’t cover. While you’ll typically be able to claim for some vet fees on your pet insurance, some costs will need to come out of your own pocket. Find out what is and isn’t likely to be covered with our guide.   

Mubina Pirmohamed
Insurance expert
4
minute read
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Posted 26 OCTOBER 2021

What vet bills am I covered for? 

When you take out a pet insurance policy, you’ll get some level of cover for vet fees and medical treatment as standard. But while you’ll be able to claim for emergencies and unexpected illnesses, routine pet healthcare usually won’t be covered. 

Vet fees that are typically covered include the cost of diagnosing and treating illnesses and injuries to your cat or dog. This normally includes: 

  • vet consultations
  • examinations and tests
  • X-rays
  • MRI and CT scans
  • medication and bandages
  • surgery and hospitalisation 

Pet insurance also often includes the cost of being referred to a specialist vet, and complementary therapies like acupuncture, hydrotherapy, massage and herbal remedies.

How much do vet appointments cost? 

Vet fees aren’t regulated and each veterinary practice can set its own prices. Costs will depend on where you live, the practice, and type and size of pet you have. Vet bills can easily skyrocket, which is why many people choose to take out pet insurance. 

A vet appointment alone can cost at least £40, which typically covers a consultation and diagnosis. However, if your pet needs a specific treatment, the costs are likely to be considerably higher, as the table below shows. Costs can vary between practices too and whether the animal needs out of hours emergency treatment or not.

Fees associated with going to the vets

Typical price

Surgery and hospitalisation

£1,500

Overnight stays at a treatment facility

£150

Dental treatment

£300

X-rays

£300

MRI scans

£2,500

Blood and other routine tests

£100-130

Having your pet put down and cremated

£80-300

Spaying and neutering

£50-300

What vet fees are not usually covered by pet insurance?

This can come as a surprise to some people, but most routine treatments aren’t covered by pet insurance, and you may not be fully protected if your pet has an ongoing condition like diabetes or arthritis. 

It’s unlikely that your pet insurance policy will cover the costs of: 

  • pre-existing medical conditions
  • vaccinations for cats or dogs
  • routine check-ups and treatments, eg flea, worm and tick treatments and claw clipping
  • neutering dogs or cats
  • microchipping
  • dental treatment (unless accident or injury) for cats or dogs
  • alternative therapies (unless recommended by a vet)
  • breeding complications
  • pregnancy complications 

Always check the details of your policy, so you know exactly what your pet is insured for.

Can I get cover for routine vet appointments? 

Pet wellness plans can help cover the costs of routine healthcare, like annual check-ups, vaccinations and flea and worming treatments. As you pay an amount each month instead of a one-off fee each time you visit the vet, these are a way to spread the cost of looking after your pet’s regular healthcare. But they’re totally different to pet insurance plans, and it’s important not to confuse the two. 

Most veterinary practices offer pet wellness plans, whereas pet insurance is usually bought from an insurance provider.

What should I think about before getting pet insurance?

Pet insurance can help protect your pet against unexpected vet fees if they fall ill or get injured. But before you take out a policy, it’s important to consider: 

  • The cost of insuring your pet: The more comprehensive your cover, the more it’s likely to cost. But the less your policy covers, the more you might have to pay in vet bills if something happens to your pet.
  • Getting the right policy: It’s very important to get the right cover for you and your pet. Pet insurance can vary, so think about how you would deal with an unexpected bill. Accident-only is the cheapest option, but it won’t cover the cost of illnesses. Lifetime pet insurance offers the most cover, but is the most expensive.
  • The level of excess: This is the amount of any claim you need to settle out of your own pocket. While you can’t choose your excess for pet insurance, it’s likely that the higher your excess, the lower your premium will be. Just be sure you can afford to pay the excess should you make a claim.
  • Maximum amount of cover: Make sure you know the maximum amount of cover your policy provides towards vets’ fees.
  • Risks with your pet: An older pet can cost more to insure and has a higher chance of needing medical attention. Some pedigree dogs and pedigree cats can be more susceptible to hereditary conditions and ongoing illnesses that may not be included in your cover.

Find out about the different types of pet insurance.

Frequently asked questions

Does pet insurance cover dental issues?

Dental cover for accidents like a broken tooth is often included in pet insurance policies. But things like general tooth decay and gum disease tend not to be. These kinds of pre-existing conditions can be more common in older pets, so some policies exclude dental illness because there’s more chance the owner will claim for it.

Does pet insurance cover heatstroke?

Pet insurance will typically cover you for vet fees associated with treating the effects of heatstroke. But that’s on condition your pet didn’t fall ill because you put them at risk. If, for example, you left your dog in a sweltering car on a hot day, your insurance provider could consider this as neglect and wouldn’t pay out.

Can I claim on pet insurance for an ear infection?

Yes, as long as it’s a new condition. If your pet has had an ear infection in the past – before you took out your policy – you might not be covered. If the infection develops into a chronic condition, you might run out of cover if you have a time-limited or maximum benefit policy.

Does pet insurance cover the cost of medication?

Pet insurance should include the cost of tablets, drugs and bandages that are prescribed by a vet to treat an accident or illness your pet suffers. It’s unlikely to pay for medication that is part of a routine treatment, for example worming tablets.

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