4Paws Pet Insurance: A Good Deal for You and Your Pet?

4Paws Pet Insurance: A Good Deal for You and Your Pet?

Good for

  • Up to a year to submit claims
  • Dental illness & injury
  • Reasonable prices

Bad for

  • No vet helpline
  • No euthanasia cover

Editor's Rating


The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

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4Paws offers competitively-priced Time Limited, Max Benefit and Lifetime pet insurance for dogs, cats and rabbits. Read this review to learn how 4Paws policies differ from competitors, to help you decide if they're the best combination of price and features for your needs.

In This Review

Choosing the best policy for you and your pet will depend on your individual situation. There may be other cat or dog policies with better features available in the marketplace. You may want to read about other options in our article on Cheap Dog and Cat Insurance.

4Paws Pet Insurance Review

4Paws is a brand of NCI Insurance, a UK-based broker that specialises in personal insurance lines like car, breakdown, and pet insurance. 4Paws pet owners can choose from a wide selection of time limited, max benefit and lifetime pet insurance policies, with vet limits ranging from £1,000 up to £12,000.

Their Lifetime and Max Benefit policies in particular offer a solid set of features, and our pricing analysis showed that 4Paws premiums are generally very competitive compared to the market.

But, the features vary by type of policy (i.e. Lifetime, Max Benefit or Time Limited) so it's important to understand what's covered and what's not before choosing which is right for you. And 4Paws doesn't cover some things like pre-existing conditions or euthanasia and cremation/burial, which you can get from other companies. (Read this article if you need cover for pre-existing conditions.)

The very budget conscious might want to compare prices for similar plans before buying, for instance from Animal Friends, which you can do here (4Paws is part of the comparison panel).

Customer ratings of 4Paws are generally very positive, with many citing friendly customer service, good prices and efficient claims handling. While 4PAws pays 97% the claims, there will be some claims they don't pay—like claims that fall outside of what's covered according to the terms and conditions. That's why we always recommend reading the policy documents before buying any insurance policy to be sure you understand and are happy with any exclusions and terms. In the next section we highlight a few limitations of 4Paws policies—for example, Max Benefit plans have lower sub limits on CT/MRI scans and cruciate ligament surgery.

With 4Paws you can visit any registered vet in the UK, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man—there are no restrictions on which vet you can visit for treatment. And we like that they've recently added a new feature—access to 24/7 free vet video calls.

What to Look Out For

  • Max Benefit policies have lower inner limits for cruciate ligament surgery and MRI or CT scans
  • You must keep your pets vaccinations up to date
  • Your pet must have had a dental examination carried out by a vet in the previous 12 months in order to get cover for dental illness and injury
  • There's no cover for pre-existing conditions
  • There's no cover for illnesses in the first 14 days and accidents in the first 24 hours

Time to Claim: The 4Paws policy documents do not seem to explicitly give a time frame within which to submit a claim; the Insurance Product Information Documents state: "send us the claims information as soon as possible".

Excess: The 4Paws standard vet fee excess is £105, which is roughly mid market—but higher than some competitors (e.g. the standard Animal Friends excess is £99; it's £69 for ManyPets, but it's £85-£145 for Petplan). A slightly higher excess can be a good thing, however, as a higher excess can keep premiums lower. (That said, you do need to be able to comfortably pay the excess, should you need to claim.)

On Lifetime policies, when your pet reaches their 7th birthday, you'll also pay a compulsory 15% contribution towards the remaining claim amount after any fixed excess has been deducted. So you pay £105, then 15% on the rest of the vet bills for conditions each year.

For Max Benefit policies, the excess includes the fixed excess and, for pets over 4 years of age, paying 10% towards a claim.

For Time Limited policies, the excess includes the fixed excess and you are also required to pay 30% towards a claim (all pet ages).

Also, you have to option of paying a 30% voluntary contribution towards any claim to reduce your premium (you can opt for this during the quotation process for pets of any age, even when they're young).

Insurance for Older Pets: For older pets aged there is a mandatory % co-payment that is paid in addition to the deduction of the standard excess (see above). There is an upper age limit so dogs over the age of 8 and cats over the age of 10 are not eligible for new policies—BUT if your pet is signed up before this date, you can renew your policy after these upper age limits. As with all pet insurance, premiums can be expected to climb for older pets.

Bilateral Conditions: For policies with a benefit limit (e.g., 12 months or maximum benefit per condition), bilateral conditions are considered as one condition. For example, if your dog has hip dysplasia in both legs they'd be treated as one condition, with only one condition limit to use for both legs.

4Paws Key Facts

  • Fully UK based contact centre
  • 24-hour Vet Helpline
  • Can submit claims online
  • 97% of claims paid
  • Claims should be paid within 5-10 working days
  • Vets fees cover ranging from £1,000 to £12,000
  • Lifetime, Max Benefit and Time Limited cover available
  • Overseas vet cover
  • Dental injury and illness cover
  • £2m Third Party Liability cover for dogs included
  • Pay yearly or monthly with no interest charges

For reference, their vet helpline is called FirstVet and it can help with:

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Itching and skin problems
  • Eye and ear problems
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Poisoning

The FirstVet service is completely free and doesn’t affect your cover with 4Paws—that is, calling the vet line doesn't use up any of your vet fee limits, nor would using it increase your premium at renewal.

Customer Experience Ratings

4Paws is rated "Excellent" by customers, achieving 4.3 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot from over 400 policyholders. Customers praised the company for competitive prices offering good value for money, quick claims processing and helpful customer service. Negative reviews included some customers experiencing problems with having claims denied due to pre-existing conditions (that sometimes were not obvious to the customer, like an ear infection implying skin allergies so an eye ulcer was not covered) and premium hikes. However, rising premiums are common across the UK pet insurance industry as pets age, because medical treatment usually costs more for older pets. Here are some real customer comments:

"Unfortunately, I have had to claim a few times for both of my dogs. One of my dogs was diagnosed with CKD at the age of just 2.5 years old and my other dog diagnosed with a compressed spinal cord at the age of 1 year old. Both devastating and completely unexpected at such a young age but they are both still with me which is a blessing. This insurance policy has helped by settling my claims quickly and efficiently with me completing my part of the claim form and my vets completing their part with no further questions asked. I have obviously seen my premium increase at renewal which is to be expected. It is only when you need to make a claim you find out if the policy is any good. I have found out that this policy is excellent and will be insuring any future dogs with them also."

"I’ve claimed quiet a few times as my girl had a long term condition. She is through it now so I hope we don’t have to claim again but I know If i do it will be drama and issue free. Always kept up to date with progress which is quick and hassle free. I recommend this company for pet insurance."

"Due to my dogs on going health condition I have had to submit a number of claims. The claim form is easy and simple to complete. I receive text and email notifications on the progress of my claims. Clear communications. On the occasions I've needed help and advice and have contacted by e-mail and phone I've always received prompt response, friendly service. Excellent."

"First time I've had to put a claim through on our pet insurance & in simple terms it couldn't have been easier."

"The service from 4Paws has been a great experience. From pre authorisation to payment for an operation direct with my vet has made what has been a worrying time easier by knowing that 4Paws quickly dealt with any inquiry and refunded any payments I had to make during the claim."

"...Within 3 weeks of the new pups arrival she fractured her leg which involved surgery and multiple visits to the vets. 4paws insurance covered all the cost without any hassles and 4paws update us frequently on the progress of all the claims and Reimbursement was prompt..."

Some customers have left low ratings and complaints. We have read these and in most cases 4Paws has said it's a matter of a claim not being covered by the terms and conditions of the policy. So, as always, read the policy documents before you sign up!

4Paws Quote Comparison

According to our research, 4Paws plans range from around £8 to £39 a month for a one-year-old, medium-size, mixed-breed dog. The cheapest plans are the Time Limited offerings, since these only cover a condition for 12 months. Max Benefit is a bit more expensive, and Lifetime plans are the most expensive. Prices will vary depending on many factors, like the breed, size and age of your pet, as we discuss in our article on the cost of pet insurance. The prices below are meant to give a general idea of sample costs; your quotes may vary considerably.

But, compared to costs in the market, we think that 4Paws offers pretty competitive prices. For example, our market test showed that Lifetime cover with £3-5k of vet limit protection costs from around £26 per month. In our tests, 4Paws came in slightly cheaper at £24 per month—and those willing/able to cover 30% of vet bills could pay around half that premium.

Monthly Quotes for a one-Year-Old, Spayed, Medium-Sized, Male Crossbreed Dog

Sample costsVet limitStandard fixed excessStandard fixed excess and 30% voluntary contribution
Time Limited£1,000£10.03£7.02
Max Benefit£1,000£10.92£7.64

Types of 4Paws Policies

4Paws offers three types of policies—Lifetime, Time Limited 12 month and Max Benefit. Generally speaking, Lifetime policies are best for younger pets to protect the owner against the financial strain of recurring/chronic injuries/illnesses over the course of the pet's life. Time Limited cover can be purchased for a lower price, but will only cover any illness or accident for up to one year. Max Benefit will cover a condition up to the limit, regardless of time.

4Paws Lifetime Cover: £1,000, £2,000, £4,000, £7,000 or £12,000

Lifetime pet insurance is considered the best type of cover, because there are no time limits on treatment and your limits reset each year. 4Paws offers Lifetime cover between £1,000 and £12,000.

4Paws Time Limited Cover: £1,000, £2,000 or £3,000

Time Limited cover is available with up to £3,000 of cover for each accidental injury or illness, with the limit to be used within 12 months for each condition. Be aware that claiming for a condition that affects one side of the body will start the clock ticking for both sides. For instance, claiming for an ear infection in the left ear means you only have 12 months of cover for ear infections in both ears. Time Limited cover is not great for covering bilateral conditions or recurring/chronic illnesses.

4Paws Max Benefit Cover: £1,000, £2,000, £4,000 or £7,000

Max Benefit plans are available with £1,000 to £7,000 of cover to treat each accidental injury or illness, with no time limit. Each year, the plan could cover multiple injuries, providing up to the limit of cover for each condition. Keep in mind that there is only one pot of money for a condition that can affect both sides of the body. For instance, on a £2,000 policy, claiming £100 for an ear infection in the left ear means you only have £1,900 limit left to cover ear infections in both ears over the course of your pet's life (while you hold the policy, of course).

4Paws Coverage Amounts

Other than the vet fee coverages discussed above, 4Paws policies offer the following features:

LifetimeTime LimitedMaximum Benefit
Death up to£500n/a£350
Theft/Straying Limit£500n/a£350
Advertising & Reward Limit£500n/a£300
Third Party Liability Limit£2,000,000£1,000,000£1,000,000
Boarding Fees Limit£500n/a£250
Holiday Cancellation Limit£1,000n/a£350
Emergency Repatriation up to£500n/a£150
Quarantine / Loss of Documents up to£1,500n/a£250

Other Useful Information

To access 4Paws policy wording and information documents, you'll need to get a quote. They are available as part of the quote process.

How does 4Paws Insurance Compare to Competitors?

To better understand the value of 4Paws pet insurance you need to look at it in the context of other available options. We compared it to other plans in the market so you can see which may be more suitable for you.

4Paws Insurance vs Agria Pet Insurance

Agria Pet Insurance offers comprehensive Lifetime plans for lower-than-average prices. They're able to charge lower premiums by having the pet owner pay a 10% copay in addition to the fixed excess (of £95 or £160 for dogs, £85 or £160 for cats). We like that Agria is a specialist pet insurer with a long history. Agria plans offer some desirable features, such as dental, euthanasia and cremation/burial, plus congenital conditions are not specifically excluded from cover. The cost for a young, healthy crossbreed dog is around £350 per year for a plan with £6,500 of vet cover and a £95 fixed excess + 10% copay; a British shorthair with an £85 excess + 10% copay would cost around £325 for the same level of cover.

Bottom Line: If you want cover for a pet insurance specialist with a long history, Agria can be a good option—be aware that you'll have to pay a larger share of any vet bills that arise due to the variable excess.

4Paws Insurance vs Pet Protect Pet Insurance

Pet Protect Pet Insurance is another specialist pet insurer whose low-priced plans offer a host of features such as euthanasia cover, travel cover, dental illness and injury, prescription food and cover for congenital & hereditary conditions (e.g, heart murmur or hip dysplasia), plus owners have up to 6 months to submit claims. There are no per-condition limits. Owners of older pets should be aware that new policies are not available to dogs 6+ or 8+ (breed dependent) or cats 10+, plus the fixed excess and copay amount rise steadily as your pet ages. Our price check showed a range of £180 to £210 for £4k to £6k of Lifetime cover, respectively, for a healthy, young crossbreed dog, significantly lower than average.

Bottom Line: Those looking for a cost-effective Lifetime plan might want to consider Pet Protect as well, but be sure you're comfortable with the copay they have as well (which rises with age up from 5% to 25%).

4Paws Pet Insurance vs Animal Friends Pet Insurance

Animal Friends Pet Insurance is a specialist pet insurer, whose plans stand out for lower-than-average premiums (partially achieved through per condition limits, even on Lifetime plans) and they publicly state on their website that they don't penalize for claims by increasing premiums upon renewal. Those with older pets can buy new policies with Animal Friends, as there is no upper age limit for new policies, even Lifetime cover. They don't have dental cover or a vet line to call with queries, however, plus claims need to be submitted within 90 days. Our price check showed a range of £130 to £390 for Lifetime cover for a healthy, young crossbreed dog, significantly lower than average.

Bottom Line: Those looking for a lower-priced Lifetime plan can probably find suitable cover with Animal Friends, but those looking for dental illness and fewer inner limits might prefer 4Paws.

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the Founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.


The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.