Is pet insurance worth it?

With an estimated 92% of pets needing emergency vet treatment at some stage in their lives - and vet bills capable of stretching to thousands of pounds - you need to think about how to pay for treatment. So, is pet insurance worth it? Our guide should help you to decide.

With an estimated 92% of pets needing emergency vet treatment at some stage in their lives - and vet bills capable of stretching to thousands of pounds - you need to think about how to pay for treatment. So, is pet insurance worth it? Our guide should help you to decide.

Mubina Pirmohamed
Insurance expert
minute read
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Posted 2 NOVEMBER 2020

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance can protect you from the costs of treating your pet if they suffer from an illness - or are injured in an accident - and need treatment from a vet. It could save you from an unexpected - and potentially high - bill.

Depending on what type of cover you have, pet insurance can also help with:

  • Dental care
  • Alternative treatments
  • Loss or theft of your pet
  • Treatment for behavioural problems
  • Death by illness or injury
  • Liability cover – this can pay costs if a person or pet is injured or property damaged in an incident involving your dog

What types of pet insurance are available?

There are four main types of pet insurance:

  • Accident only – this is where your insurance provider will only cover your pet for accidents. 
  • Time limited – this covers illness and accident for (usually) 12 months.
  • Maximum benefit – this covers accident and illness indefinitely (as long as you renew your policy). There’s usually a fixed cost limit and once this is reached, you won’t be able to claim anymore. 

  • Lifetime – this is the most comprehensive policy available and will cover accident, injury and illness for your pet’s lifetime. 

Before you can consider whether pet insurance is worth it for you and your pet it’s important to appreciate the different types of cover available so that you can shop around for quotes and assess which suits your circumstances.

How much do vet bills cost?

It depends on what your pet is treated for and where you live – costs do vary from region to region. However, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the average dog insurance claim in 2021 was £848.17. Meanwhile, the average cat insurance claim in 2021 was £671.11 – no small sum if you have to cover it yourself. This makes pet insurance well worth thinking about.

What else do I need to consider?

When choosing whether to insure your pet, there are a few other things to think about.

  • Pre-existing conditions – these aren’t usually covered by pet insurance.
  • Long-term conditions – ongoing conditions may only be covered if you have a lifetime policy. Check carefully to see what is covered – particularly if choosing an annual policy.
  • The age of your pet – this will influence the cost of your premium. Older animals cost more to insure and after a certain age, you may find very few insurance providers are willing to cover your pet.
  • Breed – if your pet is a pedigree it could cost more to insure.
  • Breeding and pregnancy – costs related to pregnancy are not always included, so if you are planning on breeding then make sure this is covered.

Routine vaccinations, check-ups, spaying or neutering aren’t usually covered by pet insurance. If your pet misses a routine vaccine and becomes ill, it could invalidate your policy.

Is it possible to save money on pet insurance?

As well as comparing pet insurance prices to make sure you get a competitive quote, there are a few ways you can help to reduce your premiums.

  • Avoid pedigree animals – if you are getting a new pet, choosing a cross breed could save you money. Pedigree cats and dogs can be more prone to some illnesses and some congenital diseases and hereditary issues. They are also more likely to be stolen. This makes insuring them more expensive.
  • Spaying or neutering your pet as it avoids problems associated with pregnancy.
  • Multi-pet insurance – some insurance providers might give you a discount if you cover more than one pet. Sorry, you can't yet compare this with us.
  • Paying a higher excess, but make sure you can afford the pay the amount should you need to make a claim.
  • Get insurance when your pet is young and healthy – if you wait until they are older or have health problems you might find it hard to get the cover you want or have to pay more for it.

Find out more about reducing the cost of your pet insurance.

What does a dog owner say about pet insurance?

For dog lover John Goddard, who owns Ludwig (pictured), a five-year-old Miniature Schnauzer, getting pet insurance was a no-brainer:

“We’ve had dog insurance for Ludwig since he was a pup. We decided on a lifetime policy because it offers a really good level of cover for his whole life.”

“You shouldn’t underestimate what could happen to your pet – my first cat fell seriously ill and was diagnosed with cancer. The cost of housing her overnight at the vet’s was eye-watering, never mind the treatment itself.”

So is pet insurance worth it?

The figures suggest that it certainly makes sense to cover you and your pet in case of emergencies. This insurance ensures that you won’t be met with a large and unexpected bill for an injury or illness and can concentrate on helping your precious pet to recover.

To get an idea of what pet insurance providers can offer you and your pet, why not compare some quotes now?

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