Does pet insurance cover long-term illness?

Just like us, pets can develop long-term illnesses, especially as they get older. But not all pet insurance will cover your vet bills if this happens. That’s why it’s so important to have the right pet insurance in place.

Just like us, pets can develop long-term illnesses, especially as they get older. But not all pet insurance will cover your vet bills if this happens. That’s why it’s so important to have the right pet insurance in place.

Mubina Pirmohamed
Insurance expert
3
minute read
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Posted 8 OCTOBER 2019 Last Updated 10 MARCH 2022

What are the most common long-term illnesses for cats and dogs?

Some common long-term cat illnesses include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions
  • Eye problems 

Some common long-term dog illnesses include: 

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Kidney failure
  • Thyroid problems
  • Heart conditions

And it’s not unusual for older pets to have two or three chronic conditions at the same time, in the same way humans do. 

Pedigree animals can be at higher risk of developing hereditary conditions than crossbreeds. German shepherds, for example, are prone to hip dysplasia, while pugs often suffer with breathing issues.

What types of pet insurance cover long-term illness?

Only two types of pet insurance will cover your vet bills on an ongoing basis:

  • Lifetime pet insurance – will cover your pet for the rest of its life, but you’ll need to renew the policy each year. When you renew, it will still cover conditions you’ve already claimed for. That means lifetime pet insurance is the only way to make sure your pet is covered if it develops a chronic or long-term illness. However, even with lifetime pet insurance there are limits on cover, either per condition or per year. So, the policy will pay out a set amount for each condition within a year or a total amount on vet fees per year. The limits are reset once the policy is renewed. And as your pet gets older, your premium is likely to go up.
  • Maximum Benefit – will cover the costs of an ongoing illness indefinitely, up to the amount specified on your policy. Once you reach that limit, you won’t be able to make any more claims, even if your pet is still ill.

What should I do if my pet develops a long-term illness?

If your pet develops a long-term illness and you don’t already have lifetime cover in place, it might not be possible to insure them for that condition. Instead, you’ll have to rely on the insurance you already have in place. 

If this happens, you’ll need to find out: 

  • What type of pet cover you have.
  • How much you can claim on your insurance.
  • Your vet’s long-term prognosis for your pet.

If your insurance won’t provide enough cover, you’ll need to see if you can put money aside for future vet bills or see what help is available from animal charities.

What are the pros and cons of lifetime pet insurance?

The advantages of lifetime pet insurance are:

  • It’s the most comprehensive form of pet insurance and the only way to protect yourself against the costs of a long-term illness.
  • The limits on how much you can claim for each condition are usually fairly high – at around £5,000 per year.

The disadvantages of lifetime pet insurance are:

  • It can be expensive, especially for pedigree cats and dogs that can be at risk of developing hereditary illnesses.
  • There’s still likely to be a limit on how much you can claim for each condition in any one year.
  • Lifetime insurance can be harder to get for older pets.
  • Some lifetime insurance plans may exclude hereditary conditions.
  • Some insurance providers will ask you for a co-payment as your pet gets older. A co-payment is an additional payment you make towards the cost of treatment for your pet, on top of the excess you pay towards a claim.

Why should I compare quotes for pet insurance?

To quickly see which pet insurance suits your needs, start a comparison today. Just tell us a bit about yourself and your pet. We’ll do all the legwork and give you a list of policies showing you how much you could save.

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Frequently asked questions

Can I get lifetime pet insurance for an older pet?

Sadly, the older your pet gets, the more likely it is to succumb to a long-term illness. For that reason, lifetime pet insurance can be harder to come by for older animals. But not all insurance providers have maximum age limits – that’s why it’s always worth shopping around.

How much does lifetime pet insurance cost?

How much you pay for your pet insurance will depend on a number of factors, including your pet’s age and breed, as well as where you live and how comprehensive you’d like your cover to be.

How much are vet fees?

Vet fees can vary dramatically, depending on which practice you go to. So, when it comes to getting your pet treated, it’s always worth getting a few quotes.

What information do I need to get a quote?

We’ll just need to know how old your pet is, along with its breed and whether or not it’s been neutered. We’ll also need some details about you, such as your home address.

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