In this nation of animal lovers, it’s little wonder that Britons are looking to insure their pets to make certain that they are taken care of.
According to the Association of British Insurers, 3.7 million animal owners in the UK bought pet insurance in 2021, which is the highest figure since 2017. In the same year, the average pet insurance claim in 2021 was £848, which was an increase of £31 from 2020.
As more and more pet owners look to buy insurance for their animals, it’s a good time to ensure that you buy the right cover for your own pet. There’s an abundance of insurance policies to choose from, with plenty of coverage options for you and your pet’s circumstances.
In this guide, we’ll look at the factors that affect the cost of pet insurance and ways you can try and save yourself money when you buy cover for your pet.
How much does pet insurance cost?
As with any type of insurance, the cost of pet insurance varies depending on which level of cover you have. On average, most pet owners pay around £120 for the average pet insurance premium, although this can be higher or lower depending on various factors. For example, larger animals, such as horses and dogs, are vastly more expensive to insure than smaller species, such as rabbits and guinea pigs.
Some insurance companies offer no-claims discounts if you don’t make a claim on your insurance. However, some insurance companies (such as PetPlan) don’t increase premiums if you make a claim, which means that they don’t offer no-claims discounts either.
It’s a good idea to shop around for pet insurance so that you can find the best cover for your pet at the most affordable price. You can compare pet insurance quotes from different pet insurance companies so that you can make an informed decision on which insurance plan you want to sign up for.
Continue reading to find out what can affect the cost of your pet insurance, the different levels of cover and how you can reduce the cost of your premiums.
Are some pets more expensive to insure than others?
Dogs are usually more expensive to insure than cats, as most vet bills are cheaper for cats. Most insurance companies ask for a minimum of £135 annually per dog, although this cost can vary significantly. Cats, on the other hand, can be insured at a minimum of £75 annually per animal although the average cost is nearly £300 per year.
Horse insurance tends to be based on the market value of the horse. For example, you can expect to pay around 2.5% to 4% of the horse’s value to make sure that they are covered for costly vet bills.
Smaller animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, are usually cheaper to insure than other types of animals, although not every pet owner decides to insure smaller pets. This is because the cost of treatment and insurance often works out more expensive than the original purchase price of the pet. It’s also harder to find insurance for animals such as hamsters because it isn’t as popular.
You can buy insurance for exotic animals, although this type of insurance can vary dramatically, depending on the species and breed of animal. The cost that you paid for your pet will often impact how much you can insure it for. For example, a pygmy hedgehog that cost £200 to buy can usually be insured for around £50 per year, whereas a parrot that was bought for £2,000 can cost around £300 per year to insure.
What factors affect the cost of pet insurance?
One of the main factors that can affect the price of pet insurance is the species and breed of animal. This is because vet fees will vary in price as some animals are easier and cheaper to treat than others.
The location that you live in can also affect how much you pay for insurance. Areas such as London, which have a higher cost of living, are usually more expensive because vet fees cost more. The number of vets that are based in the area can also affect insurance premiums, as a lack of vets will increase prices due to higher demand.
Your pet’s age can also influence how much an insurance company quotes for your insurance. Older pets are at an increased chance of becoming ill or needing operations. This will increase the cost of your insurance as you are more likely to make a claim on your insurance.
Some animals can develop long-term medical conditions that require ongoing medication or treatments. This will likely increase your insurance premiums in comparison to animals that rarely visit the vet. Certain breeds are at an increased chance of developing medical conditions, which is why one breed of dog may cost more to insure than another. For example, flat-faced dog breeds such as pugs are notorious for developing breathing problems. This means that pugs and French bulldogs are usually more expensive to insure than Jack Russells and chihuahuas, as they aren’t prone to the same debilitating issues.
Pedigree animals are normally cheaper to insure because pet owners will generally have access to their entire medical history and family history. Crossbreed animals can also be fairly cheap to insure because there could be a reduced chance of genetic conditions. However, mongrels tend to be more expensive to insure because pet owners may not have access to their medical history or know their family history.
What factors affect the cost of dog insurance?
The life expectancy and health of dogs are largely based on their breed and size. Smaller dogs, such as chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers, tend to live longer than medium and larger breeds such as labradors and Great Danes. Each breed also has associated health conditions that can affect the cost of insurance. For example, bulldogs are prone to respiratory problems, while German shepherds are known for developing hip dysplasia.
What factors affect the cost of cat insurance?
Indoor cats are usually easier to insure as there is a reduced chance that they will be injured because of external dangers (such as vehicles). As with dog breeds, snub-nosed cat breeds are prone to developing respiratory problems which could increase the cost of your cat insurance. Other breeds, such as Maine Coons, are also more likely to have ongoing heart conditions, which could encourage insurance companies to increase the cost of your cover.
What are the different types of pet insurance?
There are different types of insurance that offer varying degrees of cover. It’s a good idea to think about how much cover you want and the likelihood that your pet will need vet treatment in the short term or long term. Below is a breakdown of the different levels of cover that most insurance companies offer.
Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive and popular level of cover. Insurance companies will cover your pet’s treatment for an indefinite length of time, although they can come with annual limits. You should get continuous cover as long as you keep paying for and renewing your policy. Insurance companies will only pay for new illnesses and injuries after you buy the insurance rather than pre-existing ones.
Accident-only policies cover your pet’s medical treatment if it has been involved in an accident. It won’t cover any illnesses or diseases that your pet develops or offer additional benefits. Care for pets with pre-existing injuries won’t be covered either. This type of insurance will usually provide cover for each injury at a fixed sum and will generally stop providing cover for each injury after 12 months.
As this is the most basic level of cover, you will also pay the lowest price for it in comparison to other levels of cover.
This level of cover will restrict how much you can claim for your pet’s treatment in a set time period (usually 12 months). You won’t be able to claim payments for ongoing treatment after the 12-month mark or after you pass the spending limit — whichever comes first.
Maximum benefit insurance covers your pet’s treatment for illnesses and injury until a set time limit. This limit won’t reset annually, so there’s no time period on how long it takes you to claim, as an annual policy does. You can therefore keep claiming for ongoing conditions until the cost hits the pre-set limit, as long as you keep renewing the policy.
What does pet insurance cover?
Depending on your level of coverage, you may be eligible for a variety of policies. This includes full or partial cover of veterinary bills which can include the initial consultation and treatment. You may be covered if your pet requires x-rays, MRI/CT scans and surgery. Some insurance policies also cover additional treatment such as physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic treatment.
Your pet insurance may offer third-party liability, which will give your cover if your pet injures someone else or damages their property. The policy may cover any compensation that you are expected to pay if you are found responsible for the damage or injury that your pet caused.
Many insurance policies cover dental work, although they may have specifications over whether they cover dental work that is a result of injury or illness. This type of policy may require your pet to get regular dental check-ups.
Animals often go missing, which is why many insurance companies offer cover for advertising fees to help you find your pet or a financial reward. You may also be offered boarding and hospitalisation costs if your pet has to go into hospital due to unforeseen medical treatment. There may be a minimum number of days that your pet must be in the hospital until your insurance company agrees to cover the costs.
Depending on your cover, your insurance company might also pay for holiday cancellation costs if you have to cancel your holiday because your pet needs urgent medical treatment. Some policies also cover the cost of putting your pet to sleep, cremation or burial.
What doesn’t pet insurance cover?
Although most insurance policies are fairly comprehensive, there are a few issues that pet insurance doesn’t cover. This includes medical care for pre-existing conditions and injuries that your pet has before you buy the insurance. Some insurance companies issue a waiting period of around 14 days after the insurance cover starts. Your pet won’t generally be covered for injuries and illnesses that occur during this time, although any medical care required after this time is covered.
Pregnancy and post-natal care are not generally covered by pet insurance. Insurance companies don’t always cover vaccinations, or routine treatment (such as worming and flea treatment) either. An insurance company may also have their own set limitations on what policies it will and won’t offer that vary from competitors.
How can I reduce the cost of pet insurance?
Many insurance companies offer multi-pet discounts if you insure more than one pet. You could save around 5% to 10% by insuring your pets at the same time with the same company with multi-pet insurance.
Another way to save money on your insurance is to buy cover for your pet as early as possible. Puppy and kitten insurance tends to be cheaper than cover for older animals as they are less likely to develop health conditions. The cost of insurance will likely increase as your pet gets older as they are at higher risk of getting injured or falling ill and of you making a claim.
Pet insurance costs are also influenced by your excess. You will normally be given the choice as to whether you increase or decrease the portion of the vet bills that you cover. By covering a larger portion of the cost of vet bills, the cost of your insurance will decrease.
Am I eligible for free pet care?
Pets can be expensive to care for, especially if they become ill or get injured. You may not be able to afford insurance or aren’t given enough cover to pay for your pet’s vet bills.
The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) is a UK veterinary charity that aims to provide low-cost or free treatment to pets that belong to individuals who earn a low income or are on benefits. You can check if you are eligible for help from the charity by completing their online form.
The cost of pet insurance will largely depend on the species, breed and age of your pet. Your location will also affect the cost of your insurance as some areas have more expensive vet bills than others. Standard pet insurance usually costs between £100 and £300 per year, although this will vary depending on how comprehensive you want the policies to be.
There are different levels of cover that will also determine how much you pay for insurance. Lifetime is the most expensive type of cover, but it offers the most comprehensive level of cover. Accident-only is the cheapest option, but it won’t cover vet fees if your pet develops a short or long-term illness.
There are some factors that make pet insurance cheaper, such as increasing your excess and insuring your pet when they are young. You can also save money by using multi-pet insurance if you own more than one animal.
The best way to find affordable pet insurance policies is to ask pet insurers for quotes based on your specific circumstances. Pet insurance quotes are a good way to compare the market and ensure you get maximum benefit for the price you are paying.