Top tips for buying the right pet insurance policy when times are tough

Top tips for buying the right pet insurance policy when times are tough


When there are financial pressures it’s tempting to think you can do without pet insurance, but could you afford the vet fees if the unthinkable happened? 

There’s no denying that times are tough. We’ve lurched out of a pandemic that was difficult financially and emotionally, into a financial crisis that’s having a real impact on everyone. The price of food, fuel, power and just about everything else is up and many people will be looking at their finances and asking themselves what they could do without in order to make ends meet.

Pet insurance might be one of the things you are thinking you could manage without when you add a furry friend to your family. You might be thinking you could save the money and cross your fingers that your new best friend will stay fit and healthy. It’s understandable.

We would urge you to think again.

The average pet insurance claim was £848 in 2021, up £31 from 2020 according to Association of British Insurers (ABI) figures, and in 2021 UK pet insurers processed a record £2.4 million in claims every day according to ABI data.

These increases in average claim value and total claims contribute (in part) to increases in pet insurance premiums and we know this expense can become hard to justify when you are struggling to heat your home or put fuel in your car to get to work.

However, there are options to consider when buying pet insurance that could help to reduce your premiums, which could make all the difference to the affordability of protecting the furry members of your family.

How can you keep pet insurance costs down?

  • Consider the type of policy you need. Lifetime Cover is the most expensive type of pet insurance as it gives you cover for vet fees up to an agreed amount which renews each year your cover is in place. You could consider taking out a Maximum Cover, Time Limited or Accident only policy instead, which could reduce your premiums.

Maximum Cover policies give you an agreed cover limit for each condition or injury. Once the limit is reached you can no longer claim for that condition or injury. Time Limited policies give you an agreed amount of vet fee cover for a condition or injury for a certain amount of time – usually 365 days from the first claim for that condition or injury.

Maximum Benefit and Time Limited policies tend to be cheaper than Lifetime Cover as they have limits to the amount of cover you have overall, but they could reduce your premiums while giving you the cover you need. It would be worth checking if your breed of dog or cat are prone to chronic conditions as this type of cover would only provide cover for on-going conditions for a limited time. Accident only policies only cover accidental injury and not illnesses or conditions so should be considered carefully as their cover really is limited.

  • Consider having a higher excess or picking a policy with a co-pay amount too.

A co -pay arrangement is where you pay an agreed percentage of all vet fee bills as well as paying your policy excess. It means your costs will be higher if you claim, but your premiums could be cheaper and you will still have cover that will pay out for the majority of a claim. Co-pay amounts can vary and you are normally able to pick from different percentages so check policy wording carefully.

  • Consider taking out a policy with lower limits on some tests, treatments and conditions.

Some insurers keep the cost of their insurance down by having pay out limits for certain things that are lower than the overall cover offered by a policy. These lower pay out limits, called ‘Inner Limits’ can be for things like CT and MRI scans, behavioural or complementary therapies, cruciate ligament injuries, death of your pet, holiday cancellation and theft or straying pay outs. You might consider that you don’t need so much cover for these elements and so can afford to go with a policy that has these lower inner limits.

  • If you have more than one pet look for a policy with multi – pet discounts.

This could be useful, but only if you are planning to get two or more new pets at once or as you add a second pet to your family and existing policy. Remember that if you switch a pet from another insurer, anything you’ve already claimed for will be considered a pre-existing condition and will not be covered by a new insurer!

Is pet insurance worth it? 

The short answer is definitely, yes.

There is no NHS for pets, and no-one wants to be in the position that they can’t afford to take their pet to the vets when they are un-well or hurt. That would be heartbreaking.

We have information on the types of insurance each of our featured insurers offer on their insurer page and with their reviews you should get a good indication of the type of insurer and policy that would be right for you. Please click through our “get a quote” buttons on the insurer pages or on our 'compare dog insurance' and 'compare cat insurance' pages when you’re ready to compare your shortlisted providers and buy, and that will ensure we can continue to send our donations to PDSA to help other, less fortunate pets. Thank you!

Dog and tabby cat cuddled up under a blanket