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What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance is designed to help with unexpected vet bills. By paying a pet insurance provider a monthly or yearly premium, you’re able to claim for the cost of vet treatment if your pet becomes unwell or has an accident.

The price of vet treatment can vary depending on the pet and condition but it’s not uncommon for it to run into thousands of pounds.

Most pet insurance policies also include other types of cover, such as liability insurance.

What pet insurance do you need?

The main component of pet insurance that you should consider is the vet fee cover. Most policies cover accidents and illness but there are accident-only policies so owners should be sure the cover they’re looking at meets their needs.

The amount of vet fees a policy will cover also varies. Again, owners should choose a suitable amount for their pet, for example, certain breeds might be more susceptible to expensive conditions and in general dogs cost more than cats to treat.

There are different kinds of pet insurance policies but vets and rehoming centres often suggest that you should consider a lifetime policy. A lifetime policy resets the vet fee limit owners can claim each year, which allows you to claim for ongoing conditions year after year.

With per-condition or time-limited pet insurance policies, limits can run out once you’ve claimed a certain amount or after a period of time.

Pet insurance also includes cover for other claims, such as third-party liability. This can cover owners for legal issues if their pet injures someone or damages their property. It’s worth considering policies that include this cover.

There are a number of other features or add-ons that owners may want to look at based on their personal circumstances or the needs of their pet. Many companies offer travel cover as an add-on and only certain policies include cover for dental treatment that isn’t related to an accident.

What does pet insurance cover?

Pet insurance can cover the cost of treating a pet for an accident or illness. Along with actual vet treatment, policies may also be able to offer cover for complementary treatments, behavioural issues or prescription diets.

Most policies include cover for dental treatment for accidents but only the most comprehensive will pay for claims for dental disease or dental referral work recommended by a vet.

Along with standard cover, many pet insurance policies included added services such as vet helplines. This can be a useful service, particularly if they offer video calls so that the vet can see any conditions or injuries you’re concerned about. Some pet insurance policies gives pet owners unlimited video calls with a vet so they can speak to an expert 24/7 if they’re concerned about their pet.

You can also get cover for loss, theft and death. Loss and theft cover can often pay for the cost of a reward and advertising to help find a missing pet. If your pet doesn’t return, your insurer may cover the value of your pet.

Pre-existing conditions (these are usually defined as something your pet has had treatment for before you take out pet insurance with a provider) are usually excluded. However, it is possible to get a policy from that offers some cover for recent conditions and a handful of companies can cover conditions that haven’t needed treatment for at least two years.

Most policies include third-party liability cover and many offer cover for travel with your pet or if your trip is disrupted because of your pet.

Is pet insurance a legal requirement?

Pet insurance is not a legal requirement for most pets although pets registered as dangerous breeds or animals might be required to have liability insurance.

How much does pet insurance cost?

The cost of pet insurance varies massively depending on factors such as the breed and age of the pet, the level of cover, and where the owner lives.

It’s likely that it will cost less for cats and more for older pets.

Owners can expect premiums to be a few hundred pounds a year for a quality lifetime policy. You may be able to get a discount if you insure more than one pet with an insurer.

What vet fee limit do you need?

The limit you need should be based on the needs of your pet and will be influenced by the age and breed of your pet.

It’s worth speaking to a vet to understands the conditions your pet might need treatment for throughout its life and how much they cost to treat.

What information do you need about your pet?

Pet insurance providers will need to know the breed of your pet, whether it has had any conditions in the past and how old it is. If you have a rescue pet you may not know its exact age but if you have a rough idea based on information from a vet this will be enough for many insurers.

They’ll also ask whether it has been spayed or neutered, which can affect the price with some providers.

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