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Is pet insurance worth it?

With vet bills capable of stretching to hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds, it’s important to think about how you’d pay for treatment if your pet became sick. So, is pet insurance worth it? Our guide should help you to decide.

With vet bills capable of stretching to hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds, it’s important to think about how you’d pay for treatment if your pet became sick. So, is pet insurance worth it? Our guide should help you to decide.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Home, pet and travel insurance expert
Last Updated
17 APRIL 2024
6 min read
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What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance can cover 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 very high – bill.

Depending on what type of cover you have, pet insurance could 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 could 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 for that condition anymore.
  • Lifetime – this is the most comprehensive policy available and will cover accident, injury and illness for your pet’s lifetime, provided you keep paying your premiums.

Before considering if pet insurance is worth it for you and your pet, it’s important to understand the different types of cover available so you can shop around for a quote that suits you.

What else can be included?

Some insurance providers go the extra mile to make pet insurance worth the money. You should only buy policy add-ons if you want and need the cover, but you could look out for:

  • Help advertising lost pets – some pet insurance providers will help with the costs of advertising to find a lost pet. Keep an eye out for policies that will pay towards the cost of a reward too.
  • Cattery and kennel fees – some policies will contribute towards cattery and kennel fees if you’re unable to look after your pet because you’re in hospital.
  • Emergency treatment abroad cover – thinking of taking your pet on holiday? Some insurance providers could help towards the cost of emergency treatment if your dog or cat needs it while they’re in a foreign country.

How much do vet bills cost?

If you’ve ever wondered ‘is pet insurance worth it?’ it could be worth checking typical treatment costs. Prices vary depending on your pet’s condition and where you live, but according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the average pet insurance claim in 2022 was £771.

Costs for typical procedure can vary from £673 to treat gastroenteritis in a small dog to £13,000 for surgery on a puppy with hip dysplasia.

What to think about when buying pet insurance

Is pet insurance worth it? Here are a few points to think about before you decide:

  • Excess – by agreeing to pay a higher excess you’re more likely to get a cheaper premium but there are some pitfalls involved. The amount you pay towards an individual claim may be charged as a flat fee or a ‘co-insurance excess’ with an added percentage-based cost, which could soon add up. Make sure you’re clear on how you’ll be charged.
  • Maximum cover for vets’ fees – one of the most important aspects of your pet insurance policy. There might be an annual or condition-based limit included in your policy so make sure you know what it is.
  • 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’s 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 might 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 could help to reduce your premiums.

  • Consider a cross-breed – if you’re getting a new pet, choosing a mixed breed could save you money. Pedigree cats and dogs can be more prone to some illnesses and hereditary issues. They’re also more likely to be stolen. This typically makes insuring them more expensive.
  • Spay or neuter your pet as it avoids problems associated with pregnancy.
  • Microchip your cat – while the law says you must microchip your dog, the same rule doesn’t apply for cats. By microchipping your feline, you might end up with a cheaper premium.
  • Buy multi-pet insurance – some insurance providers may give you a discount if you cover more than one pet. Unfortunately, you can’t compare this with us.
  • Pay 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 makes sense to cover your pet in case of emergencies. The average pet insurance claim grew by 4% between 2020 and 2021 to £848. And monthly premiums might be cheaper than you think.

51% of our customers were quoted less than £11.39 per month for their pet insurance.[1]

Pet insurance ensures that you won’t be met with a large and unexpected bill for an injury or illness and could 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 quotes with us now?

[1] Based on Compare the Market cat and dog insurance premium data for all cover types in March 2024.

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