What are the different types of pet insurance?

25 min Read Published: 12 Feb 2021

What are the different types of pet insurance?

Pet insurance is an insurance policy designed to cover the cost of veterinary bills should your pet fall ill or be involved in an accident. Pet insurance does not cover the cost of routine treatment such as vaccinations and worming or the cost of spaying and neutering your pet. Pet insurance can be paid annually or monthly and should you need to claim there is usually a policy excess owed which is deducted from the claim amount. There are 4 main types of pet insurance and in this article we look at what they are, what they cover and how much the different types of pet insurance cost. We also highlight the leading insurance providers for each type of pet insurance. You can use the jump links below to navigate between each type.

Lifetime pet insurance

Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive type of pet insurance as it covers your pet for vet bills for the duration of your pet's life. Lifetime pet insurance is the best pet insurance policy as it is designed to insure your pet for any lifelong and chronic conditions it develops. Because of this, it is generally the most expensive policy and it is usually better to insure your pet when it is young. One thing to consider before opting for a lifetime policy is that should you choose to change providers any pre-existing conditions will not be covered under the new policy. There are different types of lifetime pet insurance and the level of cover you have will depend on the insurer you choose.

Lifetime limit

Lifetime limit pet insurance is when the provider will insure your pet for a set amount for the duration of the pet's life or for the length of the policy. For example, your pet may be insured for a maximum of £30,000 which means you can claim for as many conditions throughout the policy until the limit has been reached. If the limit is reached then any treatment over the total cost will need to be self-funded.

Annual limit

Annual limit lifetime pet insurance is when the provider insures your pet for a set amount per year and then after the year, the limit will then renew. For example, your pet may be insured for a maximum of £6,000 per year which means that you can claim for more than one condition in a year up to the limit. If you exceed the limit in a policy year then you will need to self-fund the additional treatment but the limit will then renew as soon as a new policy year starts. This is generally the most common type of lifetime pet insurance.

Annual condition limit

Annual condition limit lifetime pet insurance is when the insurance provider will insure your pet for a set limit per condition per year. After this limit is reached it will then renew again in the next policy year. For example, your pet may be insured for £3,000 per condition per year which means that you will be insured for up to £3,000 per condition in one policy year. If the limit is reached any additional treatment for that condition will need to be self-funded until it renews the following year. This type of lifetime pet insurance allows you to claim for more than one condition in a policy year so you are less likely to reach the policy limit.

What does lifetime pet insurance cover?

Lifetime pet insurance typically covers:

  • Veterinary treatment for chronic and lifelong conditions such as diabetes and arthritis
  • Vet fees for illnesses and injuries (up to a set limit)
  • Death and euthanasia (this is an additional extra for some lifetime policies)
  • Loss or theft of your pet
  • Dental cover due to an accident or illness
  • Third-party liability (dogs only)

Who is lifetime pet insurance good for?

Lifetime pet insurance is good for those wishing to offer their pets the best protection as it will usually cover a pet for a condition or illness for the duration of the policy or the pet's life. Lifetime pet insurance is, therefore, best for veterinary fee cover for long term illnesses. Having a lifetime pet insurance policy is usually more expensive than other pet insurance policies however, you are better protected against unexpected veterinary bills and you are more likely to be covered for a chronic or lifelong condition. Lifetime pet insurance is best if you take it out when the pet is younger as it will mean that your pet is better protected should it develop any conditions or illnesses later on in its life.

It is worth considering that if you have a lifetime policy and make a claim for an illness or injury and then choose to change providers, the illness or injury will not be covered by the new provider. This is important if you claim for a lifelong condition so it is worth taking the time to find the most suitable pet insurance policy.

Lifetime pet insurance providers

There are numerous pet insurance providers that offer lifetime pet insurance and we have highlighted some of those providers and a summary of the policy details below.

bought by many logo Bought by Many

  • Offers 5 lifetime pet insurance policies - Value, Pre-existing, Moneyback, Regular, Complete
  • Vet fee cover up to £15,000
  • Annual limit lifetime insurance then renews annually
  • 24/7 free vet video calls with FirstVet
  • 15% multi-pet discount
  • Zero excess option for pets under 9

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


agria pet insurance review Agria

  • Offers lifetime pet insurance for cats, dogs and rabbits - Agria Lifetime and Agria Lifetime Plus
  • Vet fee cover up to £12,500
  • Annual limit lifetime insurance then renews annually
  • £25 voucher towards your pets annual health check or vaccinations
  • 5% multi-pet discount
  • Free 24/7 access to a Pet Health Helpline

For more information on Agria pet insurance read our "Agria pet insurance review".


waggel logo Waggel

  • Offers 6 lifetime policies for cats and dogs
  • Vet fee cover up to £10,000
  • Annual limit lifetime insurance then renews annually
  • Exclusive member benefits including discounts with various pet brands such as Pet Remedy
  • 24/7 free vet video calls with FirstVet
  • No multi-pet discount

For more information on Waggel pet insurance read our "Waggel pet insurance review".


petplan logo Petplan

  • Offers up to 3 lifetime pet insurance policies for cats, dogs and rabbits
  • Vet fee cover up to £12,000
  • Annual limit lifetime insurance then renews annually
  • £12 discount per pet with a multi-pet policy

For more information on Petplan's pet insurance read our "Petplan pet insurance review".


animal friends logo Animal Friends

  • Offers 6 lifetime pet insurance policies for dogs and cats
  • Vet fee cover up to £6,000
  • Offer both annual limit lifetime insurance (where you have a vet fee limit that renews each year) and annual condition limit lifetime insurance (where you can claim up to the set limit for each condition each year which renews annually)
  • Free 24/7 vet video calls
  • No multi-pet discount

For more information on Animal Friend's pet insurance read our "Animal Friends pet insurance review".

Maximum benefit pet insurance

Maximum benefit pet insurance will cover your pet's veterinary fees for a certain amount per condition but the limit does not renew each year. There is no time limit on when you can claim for the condition as the limit is for the duration of the policy however, once the limit has been reached any remaining treatment for the condition will need to be self-funded. Maximum benefit pet insurance is not as comprehensive as lifetime pet insurance however it still offers a good level of veterinary fee cover.

What does maximum benefit pet insurance cover?

Maximum benefit pet insurance typically covers:

  • Vet fees for illnesses and injuries up to a set limit (this limit does not renew annually)
  • Death and euthanasia (this is an additional extra for some policies)
  • Loss or theft of your pet
  • Dental cover due to an accident or illness (some policies do not cover dental treatment and for others this is an additional extra)
  • Third-party liability (dogs only)

Who is maximum benefit pet insurance good for?

Maximum benefit pet insurance is good for those that would like a good level of cover for veterinary fees due to an accident or following short term illnesses. Maximum benefit is usually slightly cheaper than lifetime pet insurance. It is worth reiterating that with maximum benefit insurance that should your pet fall ill you may reach the limit quickly and will therefore no longer be covered for the condition should your pet need treatment again. Also, if you change pet insurance provider any conditions you have previously claimed for will usually be excluded from any new policy.

Maximum benefit pet insurance providers

There are numerous pet insurance providers that offer maximum benefit pet insurance and we have listed some of the main providers below along with a summary of the policy details.

healthy pets logo Healthy pets

  • Offers 3 maximum benefit pet insurance policies
  • Vet fee cover up to £7,500 per condition
  • Dental treatment cover if due to an accident or injury
  • 20% online discount

 The Insurance Emporium

  • Offers 3 maximum benefit pet insurance policies
  • Vet fee cover up to £7,500 per condition
  • 10% multi-pet discount
  • 20% introductory discount for the first 12 months of your policy

animal friends logo Animal Friends

  • Offers 3 maximum benefit pet insurance policies
  • Vet fee cover up to £4,000 per condition
  • Free 24/7 vet video calls
  • Donates money to animal welfare charities

For more information on Animal Friend's pet insurance read our "Animal Friends pet insurance review".


scratch and patch logo Scratch & Patch

  • 1 maximum benefit pet insurance policy
  • Vet fee cover up to £4,000 per condition
  • Access to a 24/7 vet helpline
  • 10% multi-pet discount

tesco bank Tesco Bank

  • 2 maximum benefit pet insurance policies
  • Vet fee cover up to £7,500 per condition
  • 20% off for new customers taking out a policy online
  • Access to vetfone 24/7 vet helpline

Time-limited pet insurance

Time-limited pet insurance will cover your veterinary fees up to a set limit or for a set period of time which is usually 12 months. After this limit has been reached, or you have reached 12 months since the condition was first treated/diagnosed, you will no longer be covered for that condition and will have to self-fund any further treatment. Time-limited is usually the cheapest pet insurance policy that covers illnesses as well as accidents.

What does time-limited pet insurance cover?

Time-limited pet insurance generally covers your pet for:

  • Vet fees for illnesses and injuries up to a set limit or for a set period of time (usually 12 months)
  • Death and euthanasia (this is an additional extra for some policies)
  • Loss or theft of your pet
  • Third-party liability (dogs only)

Who is time-limited pet insurance good for?

Time-limited pet insurance is good for those looking for cheap cover for veterinary fees for short term illnesses or injuries. Time-limited pet insurance is usually the cheapest pet insurance policy that covers illnesses as well as accidents. However, that once you have reached the limit on your policy your pet will no longer be covered for the condition should it need further treatment. If you choose to switch pet insurance providers and have previously made a claim, any conditions will be classed as pre-existing and therefore will not be covered.

Time-limited pet insurance providers

There are a variety of pet insurance providers that offer time-limited pet insurance and we have listed some of those providers below along with a summary of the policy details.

 Liverpool Victoria

  • Two time-limited pet insurance policies
  • Vet fee cover up to £2,500 per condition for 12 months
  • 10% online discount
  • Free video consultations with FirstVet

 More Than

  • Two time-limited pet insurance policies
  • Vet fee cover up to £3,000 per condition for 12 months
  • 25% online discount for new customers
  • 10% multi-pet discount
  • Free 24/7 phone line with vetfone

 Ageas

  • One time-limited pet insurance policy
  • Vet fee cover up to £1,500 per condition for 12 months
  • 24/7 vet helpline

animal friends logo Animal Friends

  • Three time-limited pet insurance policies
  • Vet fee cover up to £4,000 per condition for 12 months
  • Annual policy limits up to £10,000 so if you reach the limit in the year you cannot make any further claims for any new conditions until the annual limit resets (you will not be able to claim for conditions you have previously claimed for, if you have reached the limit or exceeded 12 months from the onset of the condition)
  • Free 24/7 vet video calls with Joii

For more information on Animal Friend's pet insurance read our "Animal Friends pet insurance review".


 CoverMy Pet

  • One time-limited pet insurance policy
  • Vet fee cover up to £3,000 per condition for 12 months
  • Flexible excess option

Accident-only pet insurance

Accident-only pet insurance only offers cover for veterinary treatment should your pet get injured due to an accident. You will not be covered for any vet fees due to an illness. Accident-only is the most basic pet insurance policy and it is therefore usually the cheapest.

What does accident-only pet insurance cover?

Accident only pet insurance typically offers cover for the following:

  • Veterinary treatment due to an accident

Who is accident-only pet insurance good for?

Accident-only pet insurance may be good for those whose pets are young and healthy as they are less likely to need veterinary treatment due to illnesses and are potentially more likely be involved in an accident than an older pet. It is worth considering that if you choose to take out pet insurance that covers illnesses at a later date, this may make a premium more expensive as your pet ages. Accident-only pet insurance could also be a good choice for older pets who may no longer be eligible for pet insurance that covers illness as some providers enforce a maximum age limit.

Accident-only pet insurance providers

There are a variety of pet insurance providers that offer accident-only pet insurance and we have listed some of those providers including a summary of the policy details below.

animal friends logoAnimal Friends

  • One accident-only pet insurance policy
  • Vet fee cover up to £2,500 per accident per year
  • Lifetime condition limit of £15,000 per accident (you can continue to claim for treatment related to the accident until the limit is reached)
  • Free 24/7 vet video calls with Joii

For more information on Animal Friend's pet insurance read our "Animal Friends pet insurance review".


 The Insurance Emporium

  • One accident-only pet insurance policy
  • Vet fee cover up to £3,000 per accident
  • 10% multi-pet discount
  • 20% introductory discount for the first 12 months of your policy

healthy pets logo Healthy Pets

  • One accident-only pet insurance policy
  • Vet fee cover up to £1,000 per accident
  • Claim up to 12 months from the date of the initial incident
  • 20% online discount

 Asda Money

  • One accident-only pet insurance policy
  • Vet fee cover up to £2,500 per accident
  • No time limit on a claim as long as the policy is open
  • 10% multi-pet discount
  • 24-hour vet helpline

 Perfect pet

  • One accident-only pet insurance policy
  • Vet fee cover up to £1,000 per accident
  • Claim up to 12 months from the date of the initial incident
  • 10% multi-pet discount

How to pick the right pet insurance

When it comes to picking the right pet insurance for your pet there are numerous things you should consider such as:

The age of your pet

How old your pet is will depend on how much your pet insurance costs. It will also affect which pet insurance you choose as some providers may restrict cover for older pets. It is advisable to insure your pet from a young age as they will be better protected against any illnesses or injuries.

The breed of your pet

What breed of pet you have may also determine which policy you choose. Some pet insurance providers restrict cover for some pets particularly pedigree pets as they are more susceptible to certain illnesses. The breed of your pet will also affect the cost of your pet insurance policy, mixed-breed pets are usually cheaper than pedigree pets as they are less likely to develop certain conditions associated with pedigree breeds.

The type of pet

The type of pet you are trying to insure will affect which pet insurance policy you choose. Outdoor cats for example could be more likely to be involved in an accident than dogs due to crossing roads and roaming freely. Dog insurance is also usually more expensive than cat insurance.

How much cover you would like

When it comes to opening a pet insurance policy it is important to decide what level of cover you wish to have, especially if you do not want to be caught out by any unexpected vet bill. If you want to ensure your pet is covered for any level of treatment for the duration of its life you may wish to opt for a lifetime pet insurance policy. If you are only wanting to cover your pets for vet fees caused by an accident, then an accident-only policy may be more suitable. Maximum benefit and time-limited policies also offer a good range of cover but have time and cost restrictions so may be better suited if you only wish for cover for short term illnesses.

How much you want to pay

How much you want to pay for your pet insurance premium is likely to influence which policy you choose. Accident-only is the cheapest pet insurance policy but it does not offer cover for vet fees due to illness. Time-limited pet insurance may be a better option if you do not want to pay a large amount but still wish to cover your pet for illness. Maximum benefit and Lifetime pet insurance are more expensive pet insurance policies but they offer a more comprehensive level of cover. If you have more than one pet you may benefit from insuring them with the same provider to take advantage of multi-pet discounts that some insurers offer.

Any additional benefits

Some pet insurance providers have additional benefits that enhance the pet insurance policy. For example, Bought by Many and Animal Friends offer free 24/7 vet video calls and Waggel offers member discounts.

Pre-existing conditions

If your pet has previously received treatment for an illness or injury it is likely to be excluded for any pet insurance policy should you choose to take out a new policy or switch providers. This is why it is advisable to insure your pet from a young age to ensure it is covered for any conditions it develops. Some pet insurance providers do offer cover for pre-existing conditions but the premiums are usually expensive. You can find out more in our article "Pet insurance for pre-existing conditions explained".

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