Without a doubt the UK has long been known as a nation of animal lovers. For many of us, our pets are a big part of our lives and are considered one of the family. Therefore, when they fall ill or are involved in an accident, it can be a very stressful time for all involved. Not only do we have to worry about the well-being of our pets, but also the cost of veterinary bills. Therefore, in recent years, many people have chosen to insure their pets to help lessen the burden of unexpected veterinary bills and ensure that cost is not a limiting factor in treating their pets.

There are a number of pet insurance policies to choose from:

Third Party

This policy is usually available for dogs only and will cover any resulting claim if your dog damages someone else’s property or causes personal injury to a third party.

Accident Only

This type of policy covers your pet if they require veterinary treatment after an accident (e.g. hit by a road vehicle) but will not cover your pet if they develop a medical illness.

Be aware that some of these policies will only cover treatment for a certain period of time.

Per condition with a time limit

This type of policy will cover treatment fees for both accidents and illnesses. It will only cover treatment for a maximum of 12 months after your pet has been diagnosed with a specific illness. This policy typically has a maximum pay-out. This means that if the veterinary treatment exceeds this limit, you will have to pay the remaining balance.

Per condition

With this policy the insurer will cover the cost of treatment of a condition for as long as it lasts, provided you renew the policy after 12 months (i.e. There is no time limit, although a maximum benefit may be imposed per a condition)

Lifetime cover

This type of cover is the most expensive but the most comprehensive. The insurer has a maximum amount they will pay out each year to cover both illnesses and accidents. The maximum amount paid out will vary between insurers.

When buying insurance, there are other key points to consider:


This is the amount of money you have to pay when you make a claim. It may be a fee set by the insurer or you may be able to choose your excess level. If you opt for a higher excess, it will reduce the cost of your insurance premiums.

Elective treatments:

This includes procedures such as vaccinations, parasite treatment, microchipping, neutering or anything related to pregnancy. Many policies will not cover these treatments. However, we would highly recommend keeping your pet up to date with preventative care. It improves your pet’s overall health and many insurers require certain preventative measures to be taken e.g. vaccination for the policy to be valid. Your pet’s insurance premium may be lower if their preventative care is optimal.

Dental procedures or burials fees:

These may or may not be covered by your policy, so we recommend you check with your insurer.

Pre-existing medical conditions:

If you are buying a new policy or switching to another insurer and your pet already has a medical condition, it may not be covered.

In conclusion, pet insurance can greatly help support your pet’s health throughout their life. Before picking a policy, it is vital to do your research and carefully read the terms and conditions of each individual policy.

Insuring your pet while they are young, in good health and by keeping their routine healthcare up to date you help ensure they get the best cover for the best price.

Dr Mary Mullaney MVB MRCVS