Time-limited pet insurance explained

10 min Read Published: 09 Jun 2021

what is time limited pet insurance

Time-limited pet insurance is a pet insurance policy that offers veterinary fee cover for an illness or injury for a set period of time. In this article, we take a look at time-limited pet insurance including how it works, how much it costs and how it compares to other pet insurance policies

What is time-limited pet insurance?

Time-limited pet insurance is not as comprehensive as lifetime or maximum benefit pet insurance, as it only covers veterinary fees for your pet's illnesses and injuries for a set period of time, which is usually 12 months. Time-limited pet insurance tends to be a cheaper alternative to maximum benefit and lifetime pet insurance however it does not offer the same level of cover.

How does time-limited pet insurance work?

With time-limited pet insurance you pay a monthly or annual premium to your pet insurance provider. The insurer should then cover the cost of veterinary fees should you need to submit a claim for an illness or injury that your pet has sustained. However, time-limited pet insurance is subject to restrictions depending on the level of cover you have and how long ago the condition was diagnosed.

Most time-limited pet insurance policies only cover your pet's illness or injury for 12 months from when the condition was first noticed or until the cost limit is reached, whichever comes first. It is important to check the small print to find out when your pet is covered from as some insurers may start the 12 month period from diagnosis rather than from when your pet has received treatment.

What does time-limited pet insurance cover?

Time-limited pet insurance policies typically cover you for the following:

tick Veterinary fees for illness or injury

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

tick Third-party liability

tick Loss or theft of your pet

What is not covered by time-limited pet insurance?

Time-limited pet insurance will not typically cover you for the following:

Routine vaccinations

Pregnancy complications

Routine dental treatment or dental treatment due to illness

Pre-existing conditions

How much does time-limited pet insurance cost?

The cost of time-limited pet insurance will vary depending on the level of cover you wish to insure your pet for. The price of your time-limited pet insurance policy will be influenced by the type, age and breed of your pet as well as where you live.

In the below table we have compared the cost of time-limited pet insurance policies for a mixed breed dog and cat from three time-limited pet insurance providers. 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 - time-limited pet insurance cost for a 1-year-old dog and cat

Animal Friends Insurance Emporium Argos
Excess £99 £85 for dog £95 for cat £99
Condition limit £1,000 £1,500 £2,500
Annual limit £4,000 no limit no limit
Cover period 12 months from the condition being noticed 12 months from the condition being noticed 12 months from the condition being noticed
Mixed breed dog (monthly cost) £5.53 £11.19 £9.16
Mixed breed cat (monthly cost)  £4.21 £7.82 £10.98

(Quotes correct as of 09/06/21) 

How much should I insure my pet for?

The amount of cover you choose is completely up to you, however, it is worth remembering that veterinary treatment cover does not renew annually with a time-limited policy, so once the cost or time limit has been reached on a condition, any costs incurred over this amount for that condition will need to be self-funded.

The pet insurance provider Animal Friends has highlighted the cost of some of the most common treatments for cats and dogs from data compiled in 2019 based on successful claims from its customers. The cost of veterinary treatment can vary based on each veterinary practice and the condition your pet is suffering from but an example of some of the costs you could expect to incur can be found in the tables below.

Average veterinary fee costs for cats

A table demonstrating the average cost of the most common closed claims on cat insurance in 2020 with the insurance provider Animal Friends.

Condition Average cost
Road Traffic Accident £1,318
Diabetes £1,096
Tumour £924
Heart Disease £949
Kidney Disease £887
Hyperthyroidism £776
Vomiting £769
Lameness £667
Wound £523
Abscess £431

Data compiled by AnimalFriends.co.uk

Average veterinary fee costs for dogs

A table demonstrating the average cost of the most common closed claims on insurance for medium dogs in 2020 with the insurance provider Animal Friends.

Condition Average cost
Cruciate ligament damage £2,021
Seizures £902
Lameness £988
Gastroenteritis £834
Vomiting £819
Tumour £856
Allergies £753
Osteoarthritis £552
Wound £541
Toxic Ingestion £533

Data compiled by AnimalFriends.co.uk

Pros and cons of time-limited pet insurance

Pros of time-limited pet insurance

  • Cheaper than other pet insurance policies
  • Offers a good level of cover without being too expensive
  • Some policies do not have an annual claim limit so you can claim for multiple conditions in a year should you need to

Cons of time-limited pet insurance

  • Not as comprehensive as other policies
  • Does not offer lifetime cover for your pet
  • Have to self-fund conditions after 12 months or once the condition limit is reached

Alternatives to time-limited pet insurance

There are 3 other types of 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.

Lifetime Pet insurance

Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive pet insurance policy as it covers your pet for the duration of its life. There are two different types of lifetime pet insurance, annual limit per condition and annual limit lifetime cover. Annual limit per condition cover insures your pet for a set amount per condition per year. The limit then renews annually for the lifetime of the pet. Annual limit lifetime cover insures your pet for a set amount per policy year, this means you can claim for multiple conditions up to the policy limit. Once this limit has been reached any treatment will need to be self-funded.

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

Maximum benefit pet insurance

Maximum benefit pet insurance covers your pet for a set amount per new condition. After the limit has been reached the condition is considered to be 'pre-existing' and will need to be self-funded. For more information on maximum benefit pet insurance, read our article 'Maximum benefit 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. In most instances your pet will be insured for a set amount per condition and once this condition limit has been reached any further treatment for the accident will need to be self-funded. Some accident-only pet insurance providers will enforce a 12-month time limit on how long you have to claim for an accident so check your policy documents carefully.

For more information on accident-only pet insurance, 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