What are the different types of pet insurance?

21 min Read Published: 23 Jun 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.

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 in the below comparison table. You can find out more in our article, 'Compare the best lifetime pet insurance'.

Agria* Animal Friends* Bought by Many*  Petplan  Waggel* 
Number of lifetime policies  2 6 5 3 6
Pets insured Cats, dogs and rabbits Cats and dogs Cats and dogs Cats, dogs and rabbits Cats and dogs
Maximum vet fee cover (policy dependant)  Up to £12,500 Up to £6,000 Up to £15,000 Up to £12,000 Up to £10,000
Lifetime policy type  Annual limit Annual limit and Annual condition limit Annual limit Annual limit Annual limit
Free Vet video calls/helpline  tick tick tick cross tick
Multi pet discount  tick cross tick tick cross
More information... Agria review  Animal Friends review  Bought by Many review  Petplan review  Waggel 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 cover for veterinary fees due to an accident or short term illnesses. Maximum benefit pet insurance is usually slightly cheaper than lifetime pet insurance. It is worth reiterating 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 in the below comparison table. Find out more in our article, 'Compare the best maximum benefit pet insurance'.

  Animal Friends* Direct Line Scratch & Patch  Tesco Bank  The Insurance Emporium 
Number of maximum benefit policies  3 1 1 2 3
Pets insured Cats and dogs Cats and dogs Cats and dogs Cats and dogs Cats, dogs and horses
Maximum vet fee cover per condition (policy dependant)  Up to £4,000 Up to £8,000 Up to £4,000 Up to £7,500 Up to £7,500
Free Vet video calls/helpline  tick tick tick tick cross
Multi pet discount  cross tick tick tick tick
More information... Animal Friends review  Healthy pets Scratch & Patch review Tesco Bank review The Insurance Emporium review

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 pet insurance 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, 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 will therefore 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 in the below comparison table. Find out more in our article, 'Compare the best time-limited pet insurance'.

  Ageas Animal Friends* Asda Co-op More Than 
Number of time-limited policies  1 3 2 1 2
Pets insured Cats and dogs Cats and dogs Cats and dogs Cats and dogs Cats and dogs
Maximum vet fee cover per condition (policy dependant)  Up to £1,500 Up to £4,000 Up to £5,000 Up to £2,000 Up to £3,000
Annual limit cross £10,000 cross cross cross
Time limit to claim  12 months 12 months 12 months 12 months 12 months
Free Vet video calls/helpline  tick tick tick cross tick
Multi pet discount  cross cross tick tick tick
More information... Ageas Animal Friends review  Asda review Co-op review  More Than

 

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 to 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 summarised some of the providers in the below comparison table. Find out more in our article, 'Compare the best accident-only pet insurance'.

  Animal Friends* Asda Healthy Pets  More Than  The Insurance Emporium 
Number of time-limited policies  1 1 1 1 1
Pets insured Cats and dogs Cats and dogs Cats and dogs Cats and dogs Cats, dogs and horses
Maximum vet fee cover per condition (policy dependant)  Up to £2,500 Up to £5,000 Up to £1,000 Up to £2,500 Up to £3,000
Lifetime claim limit £15,000 cross cross cross cross
Time limit to claim  cross cross 12 months 12 months cross
Free Vet video calls/helpline  tick tick cross tick cross
Multi pet discount  cross tick cross tick tick
More information... Animal Friends review  Asda review Healthy Pets More Than The Insurance Emporium review

How to choose 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 from 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, such as Scratch & Patch, do offer cover for pre-existing conditions but the premiums can be expensive. You can find out more in our article 'Pet insurance for pre-existing conditions explained'.

 

 

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