What is lifetime pet insurance?
If you want to wrap your pet up in long-lasting cover, lifetime pet insurance might be right for you. It gives you the most comprehensive pet insurance available. As the name suggests, it could pay the bulk of the vet fees for your cat or dog for the whole of your pet's life. While it may be the most expensive pet insurance, it means you can worry less about paying for your pet’s treatment if they develop a chronic condition – provided you stick with the same policy.
What’s included in lifetime pet insurance?
Lifetime pet insurance typically covers:
These are usually covered up to a capped amount per year, per condition but routine treatments like vaccinations won’t usually be covered. At renewal time the financial limit is reinstated all over again. This could be invaluable if your pet develops a condition that needs long-term treatment. Remember, you may need to pay an excess fee before you can make a claim.
If you can’t look after your pet for a while, your insurance may cover kennels or cattery costs. There’s usually a maximum yearly limit to the costs.
Third party liability cover
If your dog harms another dog or person, this insurance protects you against costs that you’re found to be liable for, and any legal fees involved. Liability cover is often £1 million or more. This cover doesn’t apply to cats – they’re legally considered to have the freedom to roam. This means their owners aren’t liable for their actions.
Some policies include this for issues caused by accidents or illness that affect your pet’s teeth.
Compensation if your pet is lost or stolen
Lifetime policies may sometimes pay towards adverts or other search-related costs, to help find your missing pet.
Costs after a pet’s death
If your pet dies because of an illness or an accident, you could get back the price you paid for them. Most policies have an age limit, typically 7-10 years old for a cat, and 7-8 years old for a dog, and there’s also usually a financial limit.
Euthanasia (putting your terminally ill pet to sleep), cremation and burial
If the worst does happen, some policies will pay something towards the costs of a send-off for your pet.
What are the benefits of lifetime pet insurance?
If you choose lifetime cover for your pet:
Your pet will be covered if they develop chronic conditions – like arthritis or diabetes, as long as you renew your policy after you’ve claimed for the condition. But you’re unlikely to be covered for the same condition if you swap to a new provider.
You’d be able to claim for the costs of ongoing treatment by a vet which go beyond a year – so you’re covered each year at the same level.
What are the disadvantages of lifetime pet insurance
Lifetime cover isn’t the right pet insurance policy for everyone. Downsides include:
- The cost – it can be expensive compared with time limited or maximum benefit polices.
- If your pet develops a condition that needs ongoing care or treatment, you have to stay with the same insurance provider year after year, to benefit from ongoing cover.
What other costs come with lifetime pet insurance?
As with any insurance, you’ll need to pay an excess – an amount towards any claim. There will be a compulsory excess set by the insurance provider, plus a level of voluntary excess that you agree to pay.
There may also be what’s called a co-payment to make. This means you’ll pay a share, usually a percentage, of the cost of treatment for your pet. Check your policy to see if co-payments are required and if so, what the percentage is. Co-payments may be required in addition to the excess.
The co-payment is usually calculated from the balance left after the excess has been deducted. This can vary between providers, so check what your policy says in case you need to co-pay on the whole amount.
For example, if you had a £2,000 treatment with £100 excess and a 10% co-payment policy, you’d need to pay £100 + 10% of £1,900 as your contribution towards the cost of the claim.
So that’s £100 (excess) + £190 (co-payment) – a total of £290 towards the cost of treatment.
The higher the percentage, the more you’d need to pay towards each claim.
Typically, insurance providers will add co-payments to policies as your pet gets older, but this can start from just one year’s old. It’s definitely worth checking before you take out any policy, as it can help you compare what you’ll be expected to pay if you need to make a claim.
Some policies may not apply co-payments to accidents, as they consider that the risk of an accident doesn’t increase as your pet gets older, unlike the chances of your pet getting ill. Make sure you understand the policy details before you buy, to see how any co-payments would work.
Frequently asked questions
What are the other types of pet insurance?
As well as lifetime cover, you’ve got three other pet insurance options to choose from:
- Accident only pet insurance. This covers your pet for accidents, but not illnesses.
- Time limited pet insurance. TThis will pay vet fees for a year from when your pet develops a condition, or until the maximum amount of money to treat the condition is used up – whichever happens first. Once that happens, you’ll have to pay the costs for the condition, whether you renew or not.
- Maximum benefit pet insurance.This protects your pet from illnesses and accidents up to a maximum amount per condition. It doesn’t provide ongoing cover. That means you’ll have to cover the costs for the condition once the maximum amount is used up, whether you renew your policy or not.
What types of pets can I cover with a lifetime policy?
You can often get lifetime pet insurance for dogs, cats and rabbits, but here at Compare the Market we only offer cover for dogs and cats. If you’ve got another type of pet, you might get cover from a specialist insurance provider.
Can I claim for the same condition each year?
You can claim for the same condition each year, but the way this works depends on what type of lifetime pet insurance you have.
Some policies set an overall limit for what you can claim for in a year, for example, £6,000 per year. This means if you go over that amount, you’d have to pay for treatment. When you renew, you’d get £6,000 worth of cover again.
Other policies set an annual limit per condition for claims in a year. So, if the limit was £1,000 per condition and your cat first had an infection that cost £350 to treat, and then diabetes that cost £1,250, the first illness wouldn’t impact the claim for the second. But you’d only be able to claim £1,000 for the diabetes.
Some policies have a combination of both these limits.
Is there an age limit for lifetime pet insurance?
Some policies may have age limits and age-related exclusions, so check carefully. Lifetime pet insurance could be very suitable for an aging moggy or pensioner pooch, as it offers so much cover, but insuring an older animal can be expensive. Usually it’s considered best to get lifetime pet insurance when your pet is young and hasn’t yet developed any conditions. That’s because most pet insurance policies won’t cover these
Will lifetime pet insurance cover existing conditions?
Pet insurance doesn’t typically cover any conditions your pet had before you took out the policy – in insurance terms these are known as pre-existing conditions. If your policy does, the cover will be very limited.
Some policies may cover what’s called ‘historic conditions’. These are conditions that your pet hasn’t had any symptoms of, or treatment for, for a certain amount of time. The exact conditions will be set out in the policy.
What do I need to get a quote?
It only takes a few minutes to find the best lifetime pet insurance for you and your cat or dog. To get a quote, tell us:
- your pet’s age
- their breed
- if they’re microchipped
- if they’ve been neutered or spayed
- your personal details
Look for lifetime policies that could suit you and your pet, and save your quote if you want to make changes or come back to it later.Start a quote
From the Pet team
What our expert says
“Lifetime pet insurance cover isn’t the cheapest type of protection, but it’s the most comprehensive way to safeguard your pet. You can relax and have fun with them, knowing your cat or dog has insurance that protects them for the costs of illnesses or accidents, throughout their life."
Why use Compare the Market?
We compare prices for 33 pet insurance products^^^
92.4% of users would recommend Compare the Market to friends or family^^^^
^^^Correct as of June 2021.
^^^^For the period 1st March to 31st May 2021, 9,781 people responded to the recommend question. 9,033 responded with a score of 6 or above, therefore 92.4% are likely to recommend.
Our pet insurance providers
Compare lifetime pet insurance cover from leading providers including Animal Friends, Bought by Many and MoreThan.