7 factors that affect the cost of pet insurance

21 min Read Published: 08 Jun 2021

7 factors that affect the cost of pet insurance

Pet insurance is an insurance policy that will cover the cost of veterinary treatment should your pet get injured or develop an illness. Pet insurance can be expensive and may seem like an unnecessary cost, particularly if you do not need to claim. In this article, I share 7 factors that can affect the cost of your pet insurance policy and what you can do to try and reduce the cost of your premium.

1. Type of pet insurance policy

One of the biggest factors that will affect the cost of your pet insurance policy is the type of pet insurance policy you choose. The more comprehensive pet insurance policies are usually the most expensive. Below we briefly summarise the different types of pet insurance policy and what you can expect to pay for each one.

Lifetime pet insurance

Lifetime pet insurance is the most extensive pet insurance policy for your pet because the veterinary fee cover for illnesses and injuries renews each policy year, meaning that if you use some of your veterinary fee limit in one policy year, it will reset for the following policy year allowing you to make additional claims. Because lifetime pet insurance offers such a good level of cover for your pet, it is usually the most expensive.

The two most common types of lifetime pet insurance are:

  • Annual limit lifetime pet insurance - this lifetime pet insurance policy will insure your pet for a set vet fee amount per policy year e.g £15,000 for all vet fee claims
  • Annual limit per condition lifetime pet insurance - this lifetime pet insurance policy will insure your pet for a set vet fee amount per condition per policy year e.g £6,000 per condition such as arthritis and diabetes

For more information on Lifetime pet insurance read our article, 'Lifetime pet insurance explained'.

Maximum benefit pet insurance

Maximum benefit pet insurance vet fee cover does not renew each policy year and because of this, it is usually slightly cheaper than lifetime pet insurance. You can still get a good level of veterinary fee cover for both illness and injury for your pet. Maximum benefit pet insurance will insure your pet for a set amount per condition, similar to annual limit per condition lifetime pet insurance, but the veterinary fee cover does not renew annually. For example, your pet can be insured for up to £8,000 per condition and once the vet fee limit has been reached the condition will no longer be covered by the insurer.

For more information on Maximum benefit pet insurance, read our article 'Maximum benefit pet insurance explained'.

Time-limited pet insurance

Time-limited pet insurance will cover your pet for both accidents and illness however you are only covered up to the veterinary fee limit or for a set time period, which is usually around 12 months from the first clinical signs of the condition. For example, your pet may be insured for £3,000 per condition and you can claim until the vet fee limit is reached or for up to 12 months after the first clinical signs or treatment of the condition was first received, whichever comes first. Time-limited pet insurance is usually the cheapest pet insurance that covers both illness and injury however you can reach the vet fee limit quite quickly if your pet needs recurring treatment.

For more information on Time-limited pet insurance policies, read our article 'Time-limited pet insurance explained'.

Accident-only pet insurance

Accident-only pet insurance will only cover your pet for accidents and does not offer any cover for treatment due to illness. For example, your pet could be covered for up to £3,000 per accident but some policies enforce a 12-month time limit from the onset of the condition. It is usually the cheapest pet insurance policy for your pet because you are not covered for illness.

For more information on Accident-only pet insurance, read our article 'Accident-only pet insurance explained'.

2. Pet type and breed

The type of pet you wish to insure will affect the cost of your insurance and typically cats are cheaper to insure than dogs. The breed of your pet will also affect the cost of your pet insurance as pedigree breeds are more susceptible to certain conditions, which increases the likelihood of you having to claim. In the below tables we highlight some cost differences between the different types and breeds of pet.

Breed cost comparison table for dogs

The following table compares the cost between some of the most popular dog breeds in the UK. We have compared the cost across four different pet insurance policies so you can compare how the type of pet insurance policy will also affect the cost of your insurance premium. The quotes in the below table are based on 4 different breeds of 1-year-old dog, living in a South East postcode and shows the cost of a monthly pet insurance premium with each provider. For more information on how your address affects the cost of your premium, jump to the following section.

Comparison table - how breed affects the cost of dog insurance 

  Bought by Many lifetime policy Direct Line Maximum benefit policy Animal Friends Time-limited policy More Than Accident-only pet insurance policy
Veterinary fee limit £15,000 per policy year £8,000 per condition £4,000 per condition (12-month time limit and £10,000 annual claim limit) £2,500 per accident (12-month time limit)
Policy Excess £99 £95 £99 £100
Medium-sized mixed breed (monthly cost) £33.45 £21.25 £11.01 £6.50
Labrador Retriever (monthly cost) £44.97 £25.89 £16.54 £5.74
French Bulldog (monthly cost) £107.08 £67.53 £26.87 £10.61
Cocker Spaniel (monthly cost) £36.78 £23.82 £15.12 £5.70

(Quotes correct as of 08/06/21 and based on the most comprehensive policy with each of the providers. The cost may vary depending on the exact policy you choose) 

Breed cost comparison table for cats

The quotes in the below comparison table compare the difference in the cost of pet insurance for a range of popular cat breeds in the UK. We have compared the cost of the four main types of pet insurance and the table highlights how the type of pet insurance policy affects the cost of your premium. The quotes are based on a 1-year-old cat living in a South East postcode and shows the cost of a monthly premium. For more information on how your home address may affect the cost of your pet insurance premium, jump to the following section.

Comparison table - how breed affects the cost of cat insurance 

  Bought by Many lifetime policy Direct Line Maximum benefit policy Animal Friends Time Limited policy More Than Accident only pet insurance policy
Vet fee limit £15,000 per policy year £8,000 per condition £4,000 per condition (12-month time limit and £10,000 annual claim limit) £2,500 per accident (12-month time limit)
Policy Excess £99 £80 £99 £100
Moggy (monthly cost) £22.75 £14.10 £7.63 £12.06
Bengal (monthly cost) £31.76 £23.08 £9.55 £12.06
British blue shorthair (monthly cost) £25.55 £16.61 £7.80 £12.06
Maine coon (monthly cost) £34.99 £23.08 £9.55 £12.06

(Quotes correct as of 08/06/21 and based on the most comprehensive policy with each of the providers. The cost may vary depending on the exact policy you choose) 

3. Age of pet

The age of your pet will affect the cost of your pet insurance because as your pet ages it is more likely to develop an illness or suffer from an injury, this in turn will increase the chance of you making a claim so insurers up the monthly premiums to compensate for this. Some insurers enforce an upper age limit for a new pet insurance policy, this is usually around 8 years old for dogs and 10 years old for cats, but this does vary between providers. Upper age limits on some pet insurance policies can mean it is more difficult to insure older pets for new policies and with some providers, these upper limits can be lower for pedigree breeds too so be sure to check your insurance policy carefully.

The below comparison tables highlight the cost differences you can expect across a range of pets ages.

Age cost comparison table for dogs

The following quotes are based on a medium-sized mixed-breed dog, living in a South East postcode and with no underlying health conditions. The table compares the cost of a monthly pet insurance premium depending on the age of a mixed breed dog. We have also compared how the type of pet insurance policy you choose, affects the monthly cost of your premium as your dog ages.

Comparison table - how age affects the cost of dog insurance 

  Bought by Many Lifetime policy Direct Line Maximum benefit policy Animal Friends Time Limited policy More Than Accident only pet insurance policy
Vet fee limit £15,000 per policy year £8,000 per condition £4,000 per condition (12-month time limit and £10,000 annual claim limit) £2,500 per accident (12-month time limit)
Excess £99 £95 £99 £100
8-week old dog (monthly cost) £29.38 £27.73 £11.01 £8.16
1-year-old dog (monthly cost) £33.45 £21.25 £11.01 £6.50
5-year-old dog (monthly cost) £36.92 £38.83 £13.48 £4.73
8-year-old dog (monthly cost) £58.63 £64.58 £15.87 £4.70

(Quotes correct as of 08/06/21 and based on the most comprehensive policy with each of the providers therefore the cost may vary depending on the exact policy you choose) 

Age cost comparison table for cats

The following quotes compare the cost of a pet insurance premium depending on the age of your cat. The quotes are based on a mixed breed cat with no underlying health conditions and living in a South East postcode. The table also compares how the type of pet insurance you choose affects the cost of your pet insurance premium as your cat ages.

Comparison table - how age affects the cost of cat insurance 

  Bought by Many Lifetime policy Direct Line Maximum benefit policy Animal Friends Time Limited policy More Than Accident only pet insurance policy
Vet fee limit £15,000 per policy year £8,000 per condition £4,000 per condition (12-month time limit and £10,000 annual claim limit) £2,500 per accident (12-month time limit)
Excess £99 £80 £99 £100
8-week old cat (monthly cost) £19.77 £14.67 £7.63 £8.62
1-year-old cat (monthly cost) £22.75 £14.10 £7.63 £12.06
5-year-old cat (monthly cost) £19.66 £16.92 £7.63 £5.04
8-year-old cat (monthly cost) £24.07 £23.51 £9.24 £4.70

(Quotes correct as of 08/06/21 and based on the most comprehensive policy with each of the providers therefore the cost may vary depending on the exact policy you choose) 

4. Where you live

You may not realise that where you live will also affect the cost of your pet insurance premium and it is something to consider, particularly if you move home. The cost of veterinary care in your area is likely to contribute to the cost of your pet insurance premium and as highlighted in the below table, South East and London postcodes tend to mean that your pet insurance premium is more expensive.

The cost of dog insurance based on location

The following comparison table compares the cost of a pet insurance policy for a 1-year-old medium-sized, mixed-breed dog with no underlying health conditions. The table also shows how the type of pet insurance policy affects the cost of your monthly premium.

Comparison table - how your home address affects the cost of dog insurance 

Bought by Many Lifetime policy Direct Line Maximum benefit policy Animal Friends Time Limited policy
More Than Accident only pet insurance policy
Vet fee limit £15,000 per policy year  

£8,000 per condition

£4,000 per condition (12-month time limit and £10,000 annual claim limit) £2,500 per accident (12-month time limit)
Excess £99 £95 £99 £100
ME8 postcode (monthly cost)  £33.45 £20.65 £11.01 £6.50
BR2 postcode (monthly cost) £37.54 £21.81 £14.01 £9.30
M1 postcode (monthly cost) £28.67 £16.97 £11.32 £6.10

(Quotes correct as of 08/06/21 and based on the most comprehensive policy with each of the providers and the cost may vary depending on the exact policy you choose) 

5. Excess and co-payment

The excess on your pet insurance policy will affect the cost of your pet insurance premium. If you choose a higher policy excess you are likely to see a reduction in your pet insurance premium as you are contributing more towards the cost of treatment in the event of a claim. Some insurers also give you the option to contribute to the claim cost even further with a co-payment. A co-payment is a percentage contribution, which is usually 20%, towards the remaining cost of the veterinary fee claim. Some pet insurance providers allow you to choose the percentage you wish to contribute and usually the higher the percentage, the lower your pet insurance premium. But remember if you do choose a higher excess and co-payment amount, this is what you will have to pay towards the cost of veterinary fees when making a claim.

It is also worth noting that some pet insurance providers also make a percentage co-payment compulsory once your pet reaches a certain age, so it is worth reading your policy documents carefully so this does not come as a surprise.

TOP TIP: One thing to look out for when looking at pet insurance policies via a comparison site, is that some of the policies include a compulsory co-payment to make them cheaper

6. Previous claim history

If you have previously claimed on a pet insurance policy for your pet, this is likely to affect the cost of your pet insurance premium as insurers will be expecting you to make another claim. This is particularly apparent when renewing your premium with the same pet insurance provider and in this instance it may better to compare the cost of other policies before auto-renewing. However, if you have previously claimed for a condition on your pet insurance policy and choose to switch provider, it is unlikely that the condition will be covered on a new policy.

Some insurers such as Bought by Many* and Petplan claim that you will not be penalised for making a claim and your individual claims history should therefore not affect the cost of your premium.

7. Pre-existing conditions

If your pet has any pre-existing conditions this will affect the cost of your pet insurance premium and it is best to declare any conditions your pet has been treated for previously by your vet. This is because if you go to make a claim, your insurer is likely to contact the vet for a full medical history and any pre-existing condition that has not been declared could affect your claim. Some insurers offer cover for pre-existing conditions and more information can be found in our article 'Pet insurance for pre-existing conditions explained'.

How to reduce the cost of pet insurance?

How much you pay for the cost of your pet insurance premium varies on a range of factors, as highlighted in this article. Aside from making changes to those factors listed above, where possible, there are a few other steps you can take to try and reduce the cost of your pet insurance premiums, such as:

  • Spay/Neuter your pet to reduce the risk of health complications as well as straying
  • Get a range of quotes from different insurers to ensure you're getting the best deal
  • Look for a multi-pet policy if you have more than one pet as some insurers will offer a discount

More information on the cost of pet insurance and how to reduce the cost of your monthly premium can be found in our article 'How much does pet insurance cost?'

Alternatively, you could choose to self-insure which means that you can save a monthly amount as if you were paying for insurance, into a separate account, and use this if your pet needs veterinary treatment. One thing to consider with self-insuring is that you may need to use a large chunk of your savings should your pet need expensive treatment or an operation. Also, if you choose to get insurance later down the line, it will likely be more difficult and more expensive to obtain cover for any pre-existing conditions.

 

 

 

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