What is lifetime pet insurance?
Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive pet insurance available and could cover most of your cat or dog’s vet fees for its whole life. It’s the most expensive pet insurance, but it usually means you won’t have to worry about paying for treatment if your pet develops a chronic condition – provided you stick with the same policy.
What does lifetime pet insurance cover?
Lifetime pet insurance typically covers:
Although your policy won’t cover routine treatment like vaccinations, it will usually cover vet bills up to a certain amount per condition, per year. The financial cap resets when you renew your policy. This could prove invaluable if your pet develops a condition needing long-term treatment, although you might need to pay an excess before you can claim.
Your insurance may cover the cost of kennels or a cattery if you can’t look after your pet. There’s usually a maximum annual limit.
Third party liability cover
This offers protection if your dog harms another dog or person and you find yourself liable for compensation or legal fees. Liability cover is often £1 million or more. This cover doesn’t apply to cats – they have the freedom to roam, which means their owners aren’t liable for their actions.
This is unlikely to cover routine dental treatment but will cover your pet in the event of an accident or illness affecting its teeth.
Compensation if your pet is lost or stolen
Lifetime policies sometimes pay for adverts or other costs you may incur trying to find a missing pet.
Costs after a pet’s death
If an illness or accident kills your pet, you could claim back the money you paid for it. There’s usually a financial maximum, as well as an age limit – typically 7-10 years old for a cat, and 7-8 years old for a dog.
Euthanasia (putting your terminally ill pet to sleep), cremation and burial
Some policies pay a contribution towards the costs of your pet’s send-off.
What are the benefits of lifetime pet insurance?
If you choose lifetime cover for your pet:
Your pet will be covered if it develops a chronic condition, like arthritis or diabetes, as long as you renew your policy after claiming. But you’re unlikely to be covered for the same condition if you then switch insurance provider.
You can also claim for vet treatment that lasts over a year, so you can enjoy the same level of cover longer than a year.
What are the disadvantages of lifetime pet insurance
Lifetime cover isn’t right 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 treatment, you’ll need to stay with the same insurance provider to receive ongoing cover.
What other costs come with lifetime pet insurance?
As with any insurance, you’ll need to pay an excess – that is, a contribution towards any claim. Your insurance provider will set a compulsory excess, on top of which you might need to pay a voluntary excess.
As well as the excess, you may need to make what’s called a co-payment. This is a share – usually a percentage – of the cost of your pet’s treatment. Check your policy to see if you need to make a co-payment and, if so, how much.
The co-payment is usually calculated from the balance left after the excess is deducted. This can vary between providers, so check your policy for details.
If you have a £2,000 treatment with £100 excess and a 10% co-payment, your contribution will be £100 + 10% of £1,900.
So that’s £100 (excess) + £190 (co-payment) = £290 towards the treatment costs.
The higher the percentage, the more you’ll need to pay.
Insurance providers typically add co-payments as your pet gets older, but these can start when your pet is a year old.
Some policies don’t apply co-payments to accidents, as getting older doesn’t make your pet any more likely to have an accident. But before buying a policy, make sure you understand how any co-payments work.
What do I need to get a quote?
It only takes a few minutes to find the right lifetime pet insurance. To get a quote, we’ll need to know your pet’s:
Whether it’s microchipped
If it’s neutered or spayed
Your personal details.
Look for lifetime policies that suit you and your pet, and save your quote if you want to make changes or come back to it later.Start a quote
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.”
- Mubina Pirmohamed, Insurance expert
Frequently asked questions
What are the other types of pet insurance?
As well as lifetime cover, there are three other types of pet insurance to choose from:
- Accident only pet insurance. The cheapest type of pet insurance, this covers them for accidents but not illnesses.
- Time limited pet insurance. If your pet develops a health condition, this covers vet fees for a year or until the maximum is reached – whichever comes first. After that, you’ll have to cover any costs, whether you renew your policy or not.
- Maximum benefit pet insurance. This covers your pet for a maximum amount per condition but doesn’t give ongoing cover. Once you reach the maximum amount for a particular condition, you’ll have to cover any extra costs, whether you renew your policy or not.
What types of pets can I cover with a lifetime policy?
Here at Compare the Market, we only compare cover for dogs and cats, although you can often get lifetime pet insurance for rabbits, too. If you need cover for another type of pet, you may need to find a specialist insurance provider.
How much does lifetime pet insurance cost?
How much you pay for your lifetime pet insurance will depend on a number of factors, such as your pet’s breed and where you live. Some dog breeds, such as pugs and German Shepherds, are prone to congenital conditions, which will make them more expensive to insure.
Can I claim for the same condition each year?
Depending on what type of lifetime pet insurance you have, you can claim for the same condition each year.
Some policies set a limit on how much you can claim in a year. Say this is £6,000 – if you go over this amount you’ll have to pay for treatment until you renew, when you’ll get £6,000 of cover again.
Other policies set an annual limit per condition. So, if your limit was £1,000 per condition and your cat had an infection that cost £350 to treat, then diabetes that cost £1,250, the first illness wouldn’t affect your second claim. But you’d only be able to claim £1,000 for the diabetes.
Is there an age limit for lifetime pet insurance?
Some policies have age limits and age-related exclusions, so check these carefully. Lifetime pet insurance could suit an ageing moggy or pooch as it provides so much cover, but insuring older animals can be expensive. It’s often better to get lifetime pet insurance when your pet is young and has yet to develop any health issues.
Will lifetime pet insurance cover existing conditions?
Pet insurance doesn’t usually cover conditions your pet had before you bought the policy – these are known as pre-existing conditions. If your policy offers any pre-existing conditions cover at all, it’s likely to be limited.
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 Correct as of December 2022.
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Compare lifetime pet insurance cover from leading providers including Animal Friends, Bought by Many and MoreThan.