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Compare the best pet insurance quotes

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With an array of options from the best pet insurance companies, securing the right policy becomes a fundamental step in safeguarding not just the health of your beloved pets, but also your financial peace of mind. Whether it’s dog insurance, cat insurance, or a comprehensive multi-pet policy, the right insurance plan ensures that unexpected vet bills don’t disrupt your budget. 

Finding the best quotes requires a balance, and weighing the premiums against the coverage offered is crucial.

Our experts delve into what makes a pet insurance policy stand out, helping you choose a policy that offers substantial coverage at reasonable premiums. This isn’t just about mitigating financial risks; it’s about ensuring that your furry family members receive the care they deserve without the stress of unmanageable costs.

What is pet insurance and why should I get it?

Pet insurance is a cost-effective way to manage and pay for your pet’s health. Some policies offer much more than just vets’ fees, such as cover if your pet is lost or stolen, or boarding fees if you can’t care for your pet. 

Vets’ fees without insurance tend to be expensive. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (RSPCA), the average vet bill is £848.

Dogs are generally more expensive to insure than cats, with annual premiums typically costing £133 and £71 respectively, according to Compare the Market.

Why is pet insurance important?

Pet insurance can protect you against some of the unexpected costs relating to pet ownership. Without insurance, you’d have to pay vets’ fees yourself, which can be very high. For example, the Animal Trust charges £929 to £1,849 for a fracture repair for a cat or dog, while X-Rays cost £369. Bear in mind, the Animal Trust is a not-for-profit organisation – private vets will charge much more than this. 

This could mean dipping into your savings, or even getting into debt, to treat your pet, compared with the average cost of a pet insurance premium of £271, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI). If you can’t afford the bills without insurance, you might be forced to make difficult decisions about your pet’s future.

Who offers pet insurance?

Most general insurers (companies which sell home and car insurance) also sell pet insurance. These include Direct Line, LV, Tesco Bank, More Than and Co-op. 

Other insurers, such as Many Pets, Petplan, Waggel and Napo Pet Insurance, focus only on pets. 

Some pet insurers only cover cats and dogs, while others cover horses, rabbits and ‘exotic’ pets, such as lizards and snakes.


Our experts spoke to Dr Dan Filippou-Drennen, BVSc(Hons) MRCVS, a highly experienced small animal vet. 


Dan explains that pet insurance is important and can be the difference between a pet having treatment and absolutely no treatment, based on what the owner can afford. It takes a lot of stress and pressure off the owner; however very few people look at their policy until it comes time to claim. 


We asked Dan what insurance pitfalls pet owners should be aware of. 


He told us that many pet owners don’t know what their claim limits are. For example, the annual claim limit could be £7,000 but has a further limit of £500 per condition, so it’s essential to read and understand the policy small print.


Another point to be aware of is treatment timeframes. If a vet recommends a procedure, some insurance companies will stipulate a time period to carry this out. If that period lapses, then the claim could be rejected. 


Most clinics have a healthcare plan that owners can subscribe to. You’ll receive discounts on preventative treatment, including vaccinations, wormers and flea treatments, or veterinary services for a monthly fee. However, many people get this confused with pet insurance.


Pet owners should also look at a lifelong policy versus an annual policy. Annual policies renew yearly, and any conditions claimed in the previous year will not be covered for the following year. So, if your dog is diagnosed with diabetes or a heart condition, any treatment after the first year is not covered. A lifelong policy will continue to cover these chronic problems. 


“I recommend owners take out pet insurance the second they get their pet, and as a vet, I’m really happy to see clients come through the door with insurance in place. It means their pets can get the care they need without the owner worrying about affording it,” Dan says.

Types of UK pet insurance

There are four main types of pet insurance as follows:

Vet fees for accidents Vet fees for illness Vet fee cover amount renews each year Limited vet fee cover per condition Time limit on vet fee cover Cost
Accident-only x x x £
Time-limited x ££
Maximum benefit x x £££
Lifetime x x ££££

Accident-only pet insurance

This type of pet insurance only covers injuries caused by accidents – this limited cover means it’s usually the cheapest type of pet insurance. 

An accident-only policy might have a limit on:

  • how long an injury will be treated for
  • total treatment costs

Time-limited pet insurance

Time-limited pet insurance will have a limit on:

  • how long you can claim for each illness or injury (usually 12 months)
  • how much money you can claim for each injury or illness

Payouts for a condition will stop when either the time limit or financial cap on treatment costs is reached.

Maximum benefit pet insurance

Maximum benefit (or ‘per condition’) pet insurance is usually more expensive than time-limited insurance. It will have a limit on:

  • the amount of money you can claim per condition

But it won’t have a time limit. This means that you can claim for the same condition more than once, until you reach the fixed sum.

Lifetime cover pet insurance

Lifetime cover is the most comprehensive type of pet insurance – but also the most expensive.

The big benefit of lifetime cover is that any condition your pet develops will continue to be covered as long as you keep renewing the policy. 

A lifetime policy might have a limit on the:

  • payout per condition
  • number of claims per year
  • total vets fees per year

What the experts say

The Kennel Club recommends dog owners buy Lifetime Cover. It says this type of policy is the best pet insurance as it “gives you the best protection from the financial burden of caring for a poorly pet, including cover for ongoing and recurring conditions every year of your pet’s life.” also describes Lifetime Cover as “the best value if your pet develops a recurring or chronic condition”.

If you’re on a budget, Accident-Only is the cheapest type of pet insurance but, as the name suggests, it only covers accidents. It might be an affordable option for older pets.

How to make a claim on pet insurance

Contact your insurer as soon as the vet diagnoses an issue – they might be able to give you advice over the phone or recommend a vet near you. You should be able to start a claim over the phone or online.

Your insurer will ask about your pet’s medical history, what the claim is for, when the illness or accident began and which vet you took your pet to.

If you have already paid for treatment at the vets, you’ll need to send the receipts to your insurer to get the money back. Some insurers will liaise directly with vets regarding costs and payments.

The amount you will have to pay for pet insurance will depend on the type of pet, its breed, age and other circumstantial factors. (Adobe)

What to consider when choosing pet insurance

What is covered by pet insurance?

What’s covered and what’s not (exclusions) will vary from policy to policy, but this table offers a general guide.

Covered Not covered (exclusions)
Accidents Pre-existing conditions
Illness Microchipping
Emergency dental treatment Routine dental treatment
Advertising costs if your pet gets lost Vaccinations
Compensation if your pet dies Neutering
Alternative therapies, such as physiotherapy Cosmetic treatment
Third party liability for dogs Worming and flea treatment
Boarding fees if you are unable to care for your pet Pregnancy/breeding
Euthanasia costs Cremation or burial costs
Treatment for behavioural problems Dogs listed on the Dangerous Dogs Act

Vets’ costs for illness and accidents

Each policy will state a maximum figure for vets’ fees per year. This is an important figure to look at as it can vary widely between policies and insurers. Some ‘budget’ or ‘value’ policies only cover £2,000 a year, while The Kennel Club covers up to £25,000 a year.

According to the ABI, the most common conditions claimed for include: 

  • Skin problems
  • Bone fractures
  • Wounds
  • Arthritis
  • Muscular skeletal issues
  • Gastro intestinal issues
  • Hip dysplasia 
  • Cruciate ligament ruptures 
  • Tumours, Lumps and Growths 
  • Viral infections 
  • Foreign bodies 
  • Chronic illness such as diabetes

Pre-existing conditions

If your pet has been showing signs of, has been diagnosed with, or is waiting for test results for a condition at the time of taking out pet insurance, this will be classed as a ‘pre-existing condition’, which isn’t usually covered by pet insurance. 

Waiting periods

Most pet insurance policies have a waiting (or exclusion/deferment) period, during which you cannot make a claim. The idea is to stop pet owners waiting to take out insurance until their pet is ill, then claiming straight away.

Comparing the best pet insurance UK providers

The following table shows the best rated pet insurer on TrustPilot, with maximum vets’ fees, customer service and perks.

Trustpilot rating Vet fee limit Customer service Perks Pets covered
Many Pets 3.8 Up to £15,000 24/7 online advice Worth up to £500 · Dog · Cat
Vetsure 4.8 £5,000 · Online claims · Direct claims at accredited practices · Unlimited number of conditions covered · Dog · Cat
Agria 4.7 £12,500 · 24/7 vet video calls · Pet 24 tag · Dog · Cat · Horse · Rabbit
Waggel 4.7 £10,000 · Quotes in 30 seconds · Personal claims handler · 24/7 video vet · Supports dog charities · Dog
Napo Pet Insurance 4.7 £16,000 · 24/7 vet video · Low £75 excess · Puppy Academy · Dog · Cat
Petsure UK 4.7 £15,000 · 24/7 access to FirstVet · No upper age limit · Blue Cross bereavement support · Dog · Cat
Kennel Club Pet Insurance 4.7 £25,000 · Breeders insurance · Settle claims directly with vet · 5-weeks free insurance for puppies by breeders · Dog
Petwise Insurance 4.6 £10,000 · Claims paid direct to vet · Senior pet insurance (7+) · Food contribution · Bereavement hotline · Dog
Lifetime Pet Cover 4.6 £10,000 · Claims paid direct to vet · Travel cover · Complementary therapies · Dog · Cat
4Paws Pet Insurance 4.6 £12,000 · Video calls via FirstVet · Claims paid direct to vet · Pay monthly at no extra cost · Dog · Cat · Rabbit
Swinton 4.6 £7,000 · 24/7 vet line · Nutrition advice · Chance to win cost of your insurance back · Join Swinton Pet Club on social media · Cat · Dog

Many Pets offers a range of policy options, including ‘value’ and ‘complete’ Lifetime policies. Perks include a pet first aid course worth £120, unlimited vet video calls and free TrustedHousesitters membership worth £99. 

Napo Pet Insurance is one of the only insurers to cover dental illnesses. All policies have a low £75 excess you only pay once a year, per condition claimed. There’s a 15 per cent multi-pet discount and live classes from pet experts.

Animal Friends passes a proportion of the money from every pet insurance sale to animal welfare charities. All its policies cover pre-existing conditions if your pet has been symptom-free and treatment-free for more than two years. Policy holders get unlimited vet video consultations via the Joii app. 

LV sells Lifetime and Time-limited pet insurance for cats and dogs. It offers discounts for new pet insurance customers, as well as LV car and home insurance customers.

Agria offers Lifetime pet insurance for dogs, cats, rabbits and horses. If you rehome a pet through a rescue centre that works with Agria, you’ll get five weeks of free cover. 

Co-op Insurance sells six levels of Lifetime cover and two levels of Time-limited cover dogs and cats. Discounts are available for Co-op customers and pet parents who adopt from a rehoming centre or charity. You can pay monthly at no extra cost.

Finding the best pet insurance UK policy

The best pet insurance provider for your pet will depend on several factors, including the type and breed of pet you have, their age, and which elements of the policy you consider the most important.

Some pet insurers only cover cats and dogs, while others cover horses and rabbits, too. If you have a reptile, snake or lizard, you’ll need to find a specialist insurer that covers ‘exotic pets’.

The insurance for pedigree cats and dogs will be more expensive. This is based on claims experience as pedigrees tend to suffer from more inherited medical conditions than crossbreeds. For dogs, bigger breeds cost more to treat at the vet’s and so cost more to insure. Older pets also cost more to insure as, like humans, animals are more likely to get ill as they age.

Factors that you should consider when evaluating providers are:

What the policy covers

Accident-only policies only cover accidents, not illnesses. Lifetime cover is much more comprehensive with some policies covering pre-existing conditions if your pet has been symptom and treatment-free for a period of time.

Minimum and maximum age limits

Some insurers cover pets from four-weeks-old but six or eight-weeks is more normal. Most have an upper age limit when insurance starts. Some insurers (for instance, Petwise) specialise in older dogs (7+).

The cap on vets fees per year or per condition

Most policies will have an upper limit as to how much they will pay out for each condition per year. After that, you’ll have to pay for treatment to continue.

The compulsory excess

This is the amount the policyholder must pay towards a claim. In general the higher the excess, the cheaper the policy.

Policy exclusions

Pet insurance doesn’t cover routine procedures, such as microchipping, neutering and vaccinations. Other exclusions may apply too.

Any extra benefits

Almost all pet insurers offer 24/7 video vet calls. Other perks might include bereavement support if your pet dies.

Extra costs if you pay for insurance monthly

It’s almost always cheaper to pay for your policy upfront. If you pay monthly, the insurer is effectively loaning you the full premium, which you pay back with interest.

Understand your pet insurance policy

Whatever pet insurance policy you buy, it’s important to understand the cover. The types of pet insurance are described above: Accident-Only cover is cheapest and Lifetime Cover the most expensive. 

A good dog insurance policy will include third party liability, which will cover you if your dog injures someone or causes damage to property.

Each pet insurance policy will come with an excess. This is the amount the policyholder pays before insurance pays out. You might have to pay one excess per year or one per claim. Higher excesses generally mean lower premiums.

Paying for pet insurance

You can normally pay for pet insurance monthly or annually. Most insurers charge extra if you pay for your policy monthly.

Some insurers offer discounts for:

  • Existing customers
  • Insuring more than one pet
  • Rehomed animals

How to get a quote for pet insurance

Quotes will usually be supplied on various assumptions. For example, for dogs it will assume no aggressive tendencies, up-to-date vaccinations and that there hasn’t been any legal action involving the dog.

Step 1: If you have a dog or cat, use a price comparison site such as Compare The Market, Confused and Moneysupermarket to compare policies. Also get quotes from Direct Line, Petplan and other pet insurers not on price comparison sites. If you have another type of pet, you’ll need to get quotes from individual insurers online or over the phone.

Step 2: Enter your details and those of your pet. You will need the following details to hand: 

  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Crossbreed or breed
  • Size when fully grown if crossbreed (dog)
  • If your pet is chipped
  • If your pets is neutered or spayed
  • How much you paid
  • Details of any pre-existing conditions

It will also ask for:

  • Your name, address and date of birth
  • When you want cover to start

Step 3: Choose the type of cover you want and check the maximum vets’ fees you can claim. Note the excess on the policy and visit Quidco or Topcashback to see if you can get cashback on the policy.

Frequently asked questions

The average pet insurance premium is £115 a year. Dogs are generally more expensive to insure than cats, with annual premiums typically costing £133 and £71 respectively.

Use price comparison sites to shop around for cover, and cashback sites (TopCashback, Quidco) to get cashback on your premium. You can find a cheap policy by opting for a policy with lower maximum vets’ fees and higher excess. Accident-only policies are the cheapest – but cover is limited.

It’s best to buy pet insurance as soon as you can – otherwise you’ll have to pay vets’ fees if your pet has an accident or becomes ill. 

Most policies have a minimum age. Many Pets cover pets from four-weeks-old, but six or eight weeks is more typical.

Dogs cost more to insure than cats, with particular breeds more expensive to insure than others. English Bulldogs are the most expensive to insure as they have a number of genetic health challenges and can also be expensive to breed. ‘Exotic’ pets, such as snakes and lizards, cost more to insure.

Pet insurance doesn’t normally cover pre-existing conditions. But if you buy Lifetime cover and renew the policy each year, your pet will be covered for any conditions they develop while the policy is in place.

Some insurers cover multiple pets on one policy. Petsure, for example, lets you pick and mix your cover limits to suit each pet. Direct Line offers a 10 per cent discount for each pet you add to the same policy.

Use price comparison sites to find the cheaper premiums for dogs and cats, then check Defaqto or Trustpilot to see how policies are rated and previous customers’ experiences.

emma lunn

Emma Lunn

Money Writer

Emma Lunn is a multi-award winning journalist who specialises in personal finance and consumer issues. 

With more than 18 years’ experience in personal finance, Emma has covered topics including mortgages, first-time buyers, leasehold, banking, debt, budgeting, broadband, energy, pensions and investments. 

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As a freelancer she has also completed various in-house contracts at The Guardian, The Independent, Mortgage Solutions, Orange, and Moneywise. She also writes regularly for specialist magazines and websites such as Property Hub, Mortgage Strategy and 

She has a real passion for helping people learn about money – especially when many people are struggling to get by in today’s challenging economic climate – and prides herself on simplifying complex subjects.

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With over 10 years of experience, she has worked with some of the UK’s leading companies and publications, including the Federation of Master Builders, Architectural Digest, and Denon Construction. 

Katharine is particularly passionate about consumer causes and animal welfare and has art, philosophy, and psychology degrees. She lives with her sled dogs in East Sussex.

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