The best pet insurance for older pets

19 min Read Published: 12 Aug 2021

best pet insurance for senior pets

Pet insurance is designed to help pay for the cost of veterinary treatment should your pet fall ill or sustain an injury. As your pet ages, you are likely to see an increase in your pet insurance premium as older pets are more likely to suffer from illness or injury leading to an increase in the likelihood of making a claim.

In this article, we take a look at the best pet insurance providers specifically for older pets, as well as how much the pet insurance is likely to cost and whether it is worth taking out pet insurance if you have an older pet.

Can I get pet insurance for older pets?

You are more likely to make a claim for an older pet than for a pet that is young and relatively healthy and so getting pet insurance for an older pet is an important consideration for any pet owner. If you have an existing pet insurance policy it is likely that your insurer will continue to cover your pet as it ages, but you will need to check your policy documents carefully to ensure that your pet remains fully covered. If you considering changing provider or are looking to take out a new pet insurance policy then you may need to shop around for a provider that insures older pets due to some insurers enforcing upper age limits on their policies.

Is there an age limit on pet insurance?

Some insurers enforce upper age limits for new pet insurance policies. In most cases, this is from the age of 8 for dogs and 10 for cats but can be lower depending on the breed of your pet. For example, with some pet insurance providers, certain breeds such as an English Bulldog will be considered senior from the age of 5. Make sure you check your policy documents carefully so that you know your pet is covered, particularly as some insurers add a co-payment to the cost of a claim in addition to the compulsory excess fee once your pet reaches a certain age.

A co-payment is a percentage contribution towards the cost of the remaining veterinary bill, minus the policy excess. It is usually around 20%.

What are the different types of pet insurance for older pets?

There are four main types of pet insurance policy for your senior pet and how much you pay for your pet insurance will depend on the type of policy you choose. We summarise the differences between the various types of pet insurance below. For more information on the cost of pet insurance for older pets jump to 'How much does pet insurance cost for older pets?'

Lifetime pet insurance

Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive pet insurance policy you can buy for your pet as it insures them for the duration of their life. You can get veterinary fee cover for a set amount per year or for a set amount per condition per policy year, depending on the lifetime pet insurance provider. Lifetime pet insurance is best taken out when your pet is young as it will cover your pet should any conditions develop as it ages or if it is diagnosed with any lifelong or chronic conditions.

If you already have a lifetime pet insurance policy for your pet it is likely to still be covered as it ages but a lifetime policy for your older pet is likely to be very expensive. In addition, some lifetime pet insurance providers may not even offer new lifetime pet insurance policies for your pet once it reaches a certain age, which is usually around 8 years old for dogs and 10 years old for cats.

Maximum benefit pet insurance

Maximum benefit pet insurance will insure your pet for a set amount per condition until the condition limit has been reached. There is no time limit on when you have to claim. Whilst it is not as comprehensive as lifetime pet insurance - as the veterinary fee cover does not renew annually - it still offers a good level of cover for your pet. Because maximum benefit offers a good amount of cover for your pet, it is likely to be an expensive policy choice as your pet ages and like lifetime pet insurance there may be upper age limits on new policies.

Time-limited pet insurance

Time-limited pet insurance insures your pet for a set amount of veterinary fee cover for a set period of time. Time-limited pet insurance may be a more affordable option for older pets as it still offers cover for illness as well as injury but usually at a lower cost compared to maximum benefit and lifetime pet insurance policies. However, with time-limited pet insurance your pet is only insured for a set period of time for the condition, which is usually around 12 months and after this, the condition will no longer be covered.

Accident-only pet insurance

Accident-only pet insurance will only insure your pet for veterinary fee cover for accidents and so will not cover for illnesses. Accident-only pet insurance could be a good option for older pets particularly those who have pre-existing conditions or are unable to get insured on more comprehensive policies because of their age. It is worth noting, however, that some accident-only policies enforce a time limit on claiming for an accident, which is usually 12 months.

Pet insurance for senior pets

As your pet ages, it can be increasingly difficult to switch pet insurance providers as some insurers enforce upper age limits on their pet insurance policies. Below we list some providers that do not have upper age limits on their policies and the different types of cover you can expect with each one.

animal friends logo Animal Friends - best for free vet video calls

  • Pet insurance policies: Accident-only, Time-limited, Maximum Benefit, Lifetime
  • Maximum vet fee cover: Vet fee cover up to £6,000 (policy dependant)
  • Upper age limit: No
  • Excess: £99
  • Compulsory co-payment amount: 20%
  • Multi-pet discount: 0%
  • Online discount: 0%
  • Why we like it: Each policy holder gets access to free veterinary video calls

For more information on Animal Friends pet insurance, read our 'Animal Friends pet insurance review'.

Bought by Many logo Bought by Many - best for comprehensive cover

  • Pet insurance policies: Lifetime
  • Maximum vet fee cover: Vet fee cover up to £15,000 (policy dependant)
  • Upper age limit: No
  • Excess: £99
  • Compulsory co-payment amount: 20%
  • Multi-pet discount: 15%
  • Online discount: 0%
  • Why we like it: Bought by Many also offers a pre-existing condition policy for pets that have a history of medical conditions

For more information on Bought by Many pet insurance, read our 'Bought by Many pet insurance review'.

The Insurance Emporium pet insurance review The Insurance Emporium - best for policy choice

  • Pet insurance policies: Public liability (dogs only), Accident-only, Time-limited, Maximum benefit, Lifetime
  • Maximum vet fee cover: Vet fee cover up to £8,000 (policy dependant)
  • Upper age limit: No
  • Excess: Ranges from £75-£135
  • Compulsory co-payment amount: 15%
  • Multi-pet discount: 10%
  • Online discount: 20%
  • Why we like it: Has a vast range of policies to choose from with a policy to suit every budget

For more information on The Insurance Emporium pet insurance, read our 'The Insurance Emporium pet insurance review'.

 More Than - best for an introductory discount

  • Pet insurance policies: Accident-only, Time-limited, Maximum benefit, Lifetime
  • Maximum vet fee cover: Vet fee cover up to £12,000 (policy dependant)
  • Upper age limit: No
  • Excess: £100
  • Compulsory co-payment amount: 20%
  • Multi-pet discount: 10%
  • Online discount: 25%
  • Why we like it: More Than's lifetime and maximum benefit pet insurance policies have a 5 star defaqto rating

For more information on More Than pet insurance, read our 'More Than pet insurance review'.

Scratch & Patch pet insurance review Scratch and Patch - best for no co-payment

  • Pet insurance policies: Accident-only, Time-limited, Maximum benefit, Lifetime
  • Maximum vet fee cover: Vet fee cover up to £8,000 (policy dependant)
  • Upper age limit: No
  • Excess: £200
  • Compulsory co-payment amount: 0%
  • Multi-pet discount: 10%
  • Online discount: 0%
  • Why we like it: Whilst you have a higher policy excess this is fixed and no additional percentage co-payment is required

For more information on Scratch & Patch pet insurance, read our 'Scratch & Patch pet insurance review'.

How much does pet insurance cost for older pets?

In the following comparison table, we have compared the cost of various pet insurance policies for mixed breed cats and dogs aged 10 and 14. The quotes are based on a pet living in a South East postcode with no underlying health conditions. For more information on any of the providers read our reviews:

Pet insurance for older pets cost comparison

Animal Friends* Bought by Many*  More Than  Scratch & Patch  The Insurance Emporium
Policy type  Lifetime Lifetime Maximum Benefit Time-limited Accident-only
Policy excess £99 £99 £100 £200 £75 for dogs
% co-payment 20% 20% 20% 0% 15%
Vet fee cover  £5,000 per year £7,000 per year £4,000 per condition £3,000 per condition £3,000 per injury
Time limit to claim No No No 12 months from the first date of treatment No
Monthly cost 10-year-old dog  £38.82 £59.55 £36.66 £43.76 £5.87
Monthly cost 10-year-old cat  £18.85 £23.02 £15.96 £19.42 Not available
Monthly cost 14-year-old dog  £42.78 £90.38 £54.14 £64.39 £5.87
Monthly cost 14-year-old cat  £34.57 £40.83 £30.34 £32.09 Not available

Things to consider before insuring an older pet

Choosing whether to continue insuring your older pet can be difficult especially as the cost of pet insurance is likely to significantly increase as your pet ages. There are some things that you may wish to consider when deciding whether to insure your pet as it ages and we share some of those reasons below.

Can you afford the cost of the premium?

Pet insurance premiums are likely to increase each year and once your pet reaches a certain age you should expect a bigger jump in your renewal premium, as the provider will at that point consider your pet as 'old'. As your pet ages you are statistically more likely to make a claim on your insurance policy, hence the price increase. It is important to consider whether you can afford the increases each year.

Does your pet have pre-existing medical conditions?

If your pet has pre-existing health conditions then this may be contributing to a rise in your pet insurance premiums. Additionally, depending on the pet insurance policy you already have, your pet may no longer be insured for the conditions it suffers from. If you are considering a new pet insurance policy or a new pet insurance provider altogether then you may not even be able to get your pet insured for the existing conditions.

How much do you have to pay if you need to make a claim?

As your pet ages it is likely that the amount you will pay towards the cost of a claim will increase. Most pet insurance providers impose a compulsory co-payment once your pet reaches a certain age. This means that you will have to pay the chosen compulsory excess, plus an additional co-payment which is a percentage of the remaining claim, usually 10%-20%. For example, The Insurance Emporium has a 15% co-payment payable in addition to the policy excess for pets over the age of 8 which means that you are contributing a considerable amount towards the claim.

Should you self-insure?

Self-insurance is where you put away a monthly amount to cover the cost of a veterinary bill should your pet require veterinary treatment. In most cases, self-insurance may not be a good idea as it could leave you short if your pet has an expensive claim, however, as your pet ages and pet insurance becomes more expensive it may be something to consider.

One thing to consider as your pet ages is how much you are paying for the premium, as well as how much you are going to pay when you make a claim. I have included an example below of the cost of a pet insurance premium and making a £1,000 veterinary fee claim. The example is based on a 12-year-old moggie with no underlying health conditions and an insurance claim of £1,000 for veterinary treatment. The example is based on a quote with The Insurance Emporium's Time-limited Gold policy.

Veterinary bill  £1,000
Policy Excess £115
% co-payment (15% of remaining vet bill) £132.75
Total payable when making a claim  £247.75
Monthly policy cost  £24.20
Annual policy cost  £290.40
The possible amount payable if the claim is near end of the policy year (including policy contributions and monthly premium costs)  £538.15

As the example above shows, depending on when you make the claim, you could end up paying over half of the cost of the veterinary treatment in a policy year. Despite being covered for treatment costs up to £1,000, when you include the premiums, the excess and co-payment, you may still end up paying an amount that equates to over half of the cost of the treatment.

With this in mind, it may be worth discussing with your vet the potential cost of treatment for a dog or cat that suffers from similar conditions as your pet, so that you have an idea of how much to save if you decide to self-insure. This may be particularly useful if you have a pet that is prone to certain conditions due to its breed and it may be worth weighing up the cost of the treatment compared to the cost of the pet insurance premium.

Should I get pet insurance for my senior pet?

Pet insurance is designed to help with the cost of veterinary bills should you need to make a claim for an illness or injury that your pet requires treatment for. As your pet ages, you are likely to see an increase in your pet insurance premium as your pet is more likely to suffer from an illness, increasing the chance of you making a claim if you have not done so already. Because of this your pet insurance premium is likely to be expensive for an older pet. In this case, it may be worth considering whether pet insurance is affordable if the premiums are high and whether self-insurance is an option for you. That being said, the cost of treatment can quickly add up, so you should consider whether you have enough money put aside to cover the cost of high veterinary bills.

 

If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. The following link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses or take advantage of any exclusive offers - Animal Friends, Bought by Many