How much does pet insurance cost?

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Figures from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association show that 3.2 million households in the UK welcomed a pet during the pandemic, from taking a puppy for a friend for a daily walk to adding a few hamsters to your support balloon.

Whether you’re a new pet owner or a more experienced stick thrower, you may want to consider insuring your four-legged friend.

What does pet insurance cover?

Pet insurance covers the cost of unexpected veterinary fees, making it much easier to budget for the treatment of our furry joy packs in case they get sick or injured. According to industry organization British Insurers Association, around 7.7 million Britons are insured.

Veterinary treatment does not come cheap. According to the ABI, pet insurers paid £799 million in compensation in 2020, mostly to cover the cost of vet bills. That made the average demand £817, an amount that would set any tail wagging.

Claims include £5,000 to reattach two toes after a cat has been crushed, and more than £40,000 since 2010 to cover treatment for a terrier with a lung condition.

If you’re looking to get pet insurance, there are several different types of policies to consider.

Basic coverage for more generous plans

The simplest is the accident-only policy, which will cover you for treatment if your pet is involved in an accident.

For broader coverage, you may want to look into a maximum benefit or time-limited policy. They bill for illnesses and accidents, but set a cap on the amounts you can claim.

In maximum benefit policies, the cap refers to the amount you can claim for a given condition. The time-limited plan also sets a usually 12-month limit on how long you can claim a condition. Once you reach these limits, you will collect further bills yourself to pay for that term.

The most generous type of policy is a lifetime plan. This also includes an annual limit by case, general, or both. However, as long as you renew your policy, annual limits will revert each year.

This reassures you that the protection will not expire if your pet develops a recurrent health problem or a long-term chronic condition such as kidney disease, diabetes or a skin condition.

cover cost

The average pet insurance premium is £271 per year, according to the latest figures from the ABI, but how much you pay as an owner depends on a number of factors. The type and gender of your pet, as well as the type of plan you choose, will also affect the premium.

Even where you live plays a role, as vet fees tend to be higher in towns and cities.

Another important factor is the age of your pet. Since the risk of health problems increases with age, premiums will often increase together, so budget for this.

Competition helps make premiums more affordable for certain pets. For example, dogs and cats are by far the biggest beneficiaries of pet insurance in the UK, followed by rabbits. Of the 978,000 claims reported in 2020, 734,000 were for dogs and 212,000 for cats, according to the ABI.

If you take out insurance for a two-year-old crossbreed, you’ll pay Animal Friends £7.11 per month, with a maximum of £2,000 per condition and £7,000 per year subject to an excess of £99. Surplus is the amount the policyholder agrees to pay as part of a claim before the insurance policy takes effect.

If the hybrid is older, say seven years old, the premiums increase to £9.46. For something more unusual, ExoticDirect will cover a 20-year-old turtle for £2,500 veterinary fees for £126.72 per year, subject to an extra £35.

pet insurance cost

Time Limited

Maximum Benefit

Lifetime

Cats

£4.72

£4.62

£4.66

Dogs

£8.13

£9.89

£9.79

* cheapest price quote on our site (January 2023)

get a good deal

As with any insurance, the first rule of thumb to get a good deal is to shop. Using a comparison site or getting quotes from several insurers before making a policy can save you hundreds of pounds.

Adding a larger surplus or agreeing to pay a certain percentage of demand can help reduce costs. Paying a monthly premium will reduce the immediate cost, but a one-time annual premium is likely to result in cheaper coverage overall than 12 separate payments on a particular policy.

Owners can often get a discount if they insure more than one pet with the same provider. Petplan, for example, reduces each monthly premium by £1 with a multi-pet discount. This could save a three-cat household of £36 a year.

It also makes sense to take care of your pet’s health: Getting them microchipped and up-to-date shows insurers that you’re a prudent pet parent who deserves a premium premium.

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