Pet Insurance Explained

Did you know that you are far more likely to claim your pet insurance than you are on your home or car insurance? This means it is important that you know what you are signing up for when you pick a policy for your pet.

We understand that it may be a struggle for you to know which type of insurance to pick. With so many different policy types available, it can be easy to get confused with what all the jargon means. So, we wanted to break things down for you and answer some of your most frequently asked questions, to help you feel more confident about your insurance choice.

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance is insurance to help cover the cost of your pet’s healthcare should an accident or illness occur. This could be a one-off issue like a fractured limb, or it could be an ongoing health complaint like skin allergies or diabetes. Pet insurers may also pay out if your pet is lost or stolen, as well as providing 3rd party cover if your pet damages someone else’s property.

Why should I insure my pet?

If your pet requires veterinary treatment, it can feel reassuring to know that insurance will help you with the cost. Pet insurance may be the difference between your pet being able to access the care that they need or not, especially as most problems occur suddenly without much time to financially plan or budget. Owners are more likely to seek help sooner, as well as being able to access more treatment options. This can lead to improved animal welfare and clinical outcomes.

How much will pet insurance cost me?

The cost of your pet insurance will depend on a few different factors. This includes the type of pet you have, as well as their breed. Certain breeds are more prone to health problems than others, and therefore more likely to claim on their insurance (e.g. brachycephalic breeds like Pugs and French Bulldogs). The more likely you are to claim, the higher your monthly premiums are likely to be.

Whether your pet has been unwell previously may also affect the cost of your insurance. This is due to their increased risk of disease in the future. The age of your pet is also a factor, with older pets more likely to develop ongoing medical complaints.

Finally, the type of policy you choose, and therefore how comprehensive your coverage is, will also dictate the cost. We’ll explore the different policy types available next.

What are the different policy types available?

There are three main policy types:


Lifetime policies are designed to cover a condition for the life of your pet. These are helpful if your animal develops an ongoing condition like epilepsy or arthritis. They provide cover up to the amount on your policy limit for each condition your pet develops, every year. This amount is then renewed and starts again each year, if you continue to keep your policy in place without a gap in cover.


These types of policies cover a condition for a limited period, usually 12 months. After the time limit, or the policy limit amount, has been reached your pet will no longer be covered for this health complaint.

Accident only

These types of policies only cover accidents or injuries, so will not cover illnesses or ongoing health complaints. Many of these policies are also time-limited, as well as stopping once the policy limit has been reached.

What isn’t covered by pet insurance?

Your pet insurance does not cover routine preventative treatments such as vaccination, anti-parasite treatment and neutering.

Most insurance companies do not cover any costs associated with breeding your pet, which may include fertility tests, pregnancy complications or caesarean sections.

Pet insurance does not usually cover health conditions that began before you took out your pet insurance. These are known as pre-existing conditions. Remember that if you change insurance policies, any illnesses that they have already suffered from may not be covered.

Your chosen policy may also have some additional conditions they do not cover, such as dental treatment or behavioural problems. It is therefore important that you read the small print so that you know exactly what your insurance will cover your pet for.

I’m struggling to understand pet insurance jargon, what do the different terms mean?

Here are some of the most common pet insurance words and phrases explained –


This describes a claim for further medical treatment after an initial claim has been made. For example, if you have a pet with diabetes and need to get some more insulin for them this will go in as a continuation of any previous claims you have made.

Direct Claim

A direct claim is when your pet insurance company pays your veterinary practice or referral hospital directly. Not all practices accept direct claims.


The excess is the amount of money you contribute towards the bill when you make a claim. This may be a fixed amount (for example £100), or it could be a specified percentage of the total bill – this is more common in elderly patients’ policies. Your insurance will settle the claim minus this excess amount.


Your insurance policy may list certain exclusions. These are conditions that your insurance company will not cover and may include issues related to breeding your dog, pre-existing conditions and preventative treatments.

Exclusion period

This describes a period at the start of your new policy where veterinary treatment is not covered. In many cases this is 14 days, but in some cases it may be longer.


This describes when your pet insurance agrees to pay towards your veterinary costs before you make the claim. Your insurance company will review your vet’s estimate and your pet’s clinical notes to determine whether they are covered. This can give you confidence when deciding whether to go ahead with your pet’s treatment or not.

Pre-existing condition

This describes an illness or complaint that has occurred before your pet insurance policy starts. As an example, perhaps your dog has had a recurrent ear infection in the past. If you then take out a new pet insurance policy and try and claim for their latest ear flare-up, your insurance company will be unlikely to cover this.


Does my veterinary practice provide pet insurance?

Pet insurance is provided by external companies and is different to the healthy pet schemes or care plans that many vet practices run. These are aimed at spreading and reducing the cost of your pet’s preventative treatments. Some owners get confused between the two, but they serve different purposes.

What is the best type of insurance policy for my pet?

Lifetime policies offer the most comprehensive cover for your pet. However, most vets would agree that some insurance is better than none, so try and pick the best insurance that you can for your budget.

Is it worth paying for pet insurance?

We don’t know what the future holds for our pets. Some seem prone to every accident and illness going, whereas others never need to see the vet apart from their annual health check and boosters. If your pet is one of the unlucky ones, then insurance can really come into its own, helping you to cover the cost of your pet’s care.

When should I insure my pet?

You should insure your pet as soon as possible. This helps to avoid any pre-existing conditions developing before you are insured. You should also remember that most policies have an exclusion period, meaning that your insurance won’t cover any veterinary treatment until this time has elapsed.


Pet insurance helps to provide peace of mind and financial assistance if your pet becomes unwell. When choosing your policy, be sure to check which policy type you are signing up for and always read the small print. It is far better to spend some time going through all the terms and conditions now, rather than waiting until your pet is sick. If you have any questions about your pet insurance, you can contact us for advice or speak to your insurance provider directly.

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