Lifetime pet insurance explained

9 min Read Published: 21 Oct 2021

What is lifetime pet insurance?

Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive pet insurance policy, covering your pet for illness and injury for the duration of its life. In this article, we take a look at lifetime pet insurance including how it works, how much it costs and how it compares to other pet insurance policies.

What is lifetime pet insurance?

Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive type of pet insurance policy for your pet and therefore tends to be more expensive. The types of Lifetime pet insurance vary depending on the provider but we have summarised the differences below:

Annual limit per condition

Annual limit per condition lifetime pet insurance insures your pet for a set amount per condition. This limit then renews annually for the lifetime of your pet. For example, if the condition limit on your policy is £3,000, your pet is insured up to £3,000 per condition, per year. This limit would then reset each year.

Annual limit

Annual limit lifetime pet insurance insures your pet for a set amount per year, which then renews annually. For example, your pet may be insured for a total of £6,000 per year. This means that you can claim for multiple conditions up to a combined total of £6,000 each year, this limit will then renew annually. If you exceed the £6,000 limit in a year, any further treatment will need to be self-funded until the limit renews. Annual limit lifetime pet insurance tends to be the most common lifetime pet insurance policy available.

Some lifetime pet insurance providers may add a lifetime claim limit on the policy which will restrict the total amount you can claim over the lifetime of your pet/the policy. Check your policy documents carefully for any restrictions on your cover.

How does lifetime pet insurance work?

With lifetime pet insurance you pay a monthly or annual premium to cover your pet for the duration of its life. The premium is reviewed annually. If you need to make a claim your veterinary fees will be covered up to the cost limit on your policy, minus any excess. Lifetime pet insurance policies are designed to cover your pet for injuries and long term illnesses. It is best to take out a lifetime pet insurance policy when your pet is young as this will ensure your pet is covered for any long term illnesses that may occur in the future.

What does lifetime pet insurance cover?

Lifetime pet insurance offers the most comprehensive protection for your pet and it typically includes cover for the following:

tick Veterinary fees for illness or injury

tick Death and euthanasia (some policies have this as an optional extra)

tick Dental cover due to illness or accidents

tick Third-party liability

tick Loss or theft of your pet

Most lifetime pet insurance policies will cover your pet for the duration of its life however there may be changes in the policy as your pet gets older. For example, Bought by Many changes its excess once your pet turns 9 years old and insists that you pay a 20% co-payment on top of the fixed-fee excess of £99. A co-payment is an additional cost of the percentage of the veterinary fees, this is in addition to any excess. Like most pet insurance policies, lifetime pet insurance will not offer cover for any pre-existing conditions your pet has prior to taking out a new policy, but if your pet develops a new long term condition it will be covered.

How much does lifetime pet insurance cost?

The cost of lifetime pet insurance will vary depending on multiple factors such as the type, age and breed of your pet as well as where you live and if you have previously made any claims. In the below table we have compared the cost of three lifetime pet insurance policies for a mixed breed dog and cat. The table is designed to show what you can expect to pay for a lifetime policy each month but it can vary as each provider offers different features within its policy.

For more information on the cost of pet insurance and for a wider comparison of pet insurance policies, check out our article 'How much does pet insurance cost?'

Comparison table - lifetime pet cover for a 1-year-old dog and cat

Bought by Many M&S Waggel
Policy name Regular Standard policy
Waggel policy
Excess £99 £100 £100
Vet fee cover £7,000 £4,000 £6,000
Condition limit cross £1,000 cross
Mixed breed dog (monthly cost)  £26.53 £14.32 £28.12
Mixed breed cat (monthly cost)  £17.97 £10.64 £18.54

*Lifetime pet insurance quotes correct as of 09/06/21

Pros and cons of lifetime pet insurance

Pros of lifetime pet insurance

  • Offers the best protection for your pet
  • Covers long term illnesses
  • Covers reoccurring issues if you stay with the same provider (if you switch provider these will be classed as pre-existing and excluded from the policy)

Cons of lifetime pet insurance

  • More expensive than other pet insurance policies
  • Have to stay with the same provider if you want long term health conditions to be covered

Alternatives to lifetime pet insurance

There are 3 alternatives to lifetime pet insurance and we summarise the key differences in the table below. Some providers also offer public liability pet insurance which protects you against legal action in the event that your dog bites somebody or damages property. Most pet insurance premiums offer this cover as standard, however, a public liability-only policy does not cover your dog for any illness or injuries that it sustains.

Maximum benefit pet insurance

Maximum benefit pet insurance covers your pet for a set limit per new condition. For example, if your pet is insured for £4,000 per condition you will be able to claim for each condition until the £4,000 limit is reached. After the limit has been reached the condition is considered pre-existing and will need to be self-funded. For more information read our article "Maximum benefit pet insurance explained".

Time-limited pet insurance

Time-limited pet insurance covers your pet for a condition up to a set amount or for a specific period of time (usually 12 months), whichever comes first. For example, your pet may be insured for £1,000 per condition for a period of 12 months. You will no longer be covered for the condition once you have reached the £1,000 claim limit or if it has been 12 months after the condition was first identified. After this point, the condition is considered pre-existing and will need to be self-funded. For more information read our article "Time-limited pet insurance explained".

Accident-only pet insurance

Accident-only pet insurance is the most basic pet insurance policy as it only covers your pet for accidental injuries. Your pet is not covered if it develops an illness. For more information read our article "Accident-only pet insurance explained".

The different types of pet insurance

The below comparison table summarises the different types of pet insurance policies available.

Lifetime pet insurance Maximum benefit pet insurance Time-limited pet insurance
Accident-only pet insurance
Vet fee cover for illness
Vet fee cover for injury
Vet fee cover amount renews annually
Vet fee cover per condition *
Vet fee cover for a set time period (usually 12 months) *

*policy dependant