Animal Friends offers pet insurance for dogs, cats and horses living in the UK. Below we discuss the ins and outs of the wide array of coverage for dogs and cats—12 different plans offer cover ranging from £500 up to £6,000 per condition, with some plans imposing per year or lifetime limits as well.
Choosing the best cat or dog insurance policy for you will depend upon the individual needs of you and your pet. Use the information in this guide to help you understand which features may be important to you, in order to make the best decision. We also advise reading through the policy wording before you buy.
- Provide all 4 types of pet insurance
- Pawtal claims system can pay vet directly
- Unlimited annual cover for Lifetime and Max Benefit policies (limited condition cover)
- No upper age limit (even for lifetime policies)
- Lower than average premiums
- Travel Cover (except Accident Only policies)
- No vet line to call with queries
- No dental cover
- Food not covered
- Copay for older pets
- 90 days to submit claims for reimbursement
In This Review
- Overall Review
- Older Pets
- Animal Friends Price Comparison
- Policy and Coverage Options
- Customer Experience Ratings
Animal Friends Pet Insurance Review
Animal Friends offers one of the largest ranges of pet insurance to provide financial protection in case the unexpected happens to your pet, with 4 lifetime products, 3 max benefit products, 4 time limited products and an accident-only product. Data from our quote gathering exercise showed that Animal Friends' average premiums are noticeably lower than average.
Animal Friends policyholders should not see premiums rise as a result of claims. The Animal Friends website states they don't penalize for claims by increasing premiums upon renewal. This does not mean your premium won't rise, however—multiple factors may cause pricing changes, such as your location, the average cost of vet treatment, changes in tax rates, etc.
Should you need to visit the vet out of hours, you are advised to first call Animal Friends (0344 557 0300, option 2) if possible. Be aware of the policy exclusion stating that costs for house calls, out-of-hours fees, hospitalization and ambulance costs (where covered) are not reimbursable, unless the vet confirms it was necessary to prevent a life endangering condition.
The waiting period on new policies is a bit longer for Animal Friends than average. In rough summary, costs associated with the following are NOT covered:
- Illnesses within 14 days of the commencement date
- Accident or injury that occurs within 5 days of the commencement date
- Accident or injury affecting the Cruciate ligament within 14 days of the commencement date
For all Animal Friends policies (except Max Benefit) the policyholder pays the £99 excess once per condition per policy year. That is, you pay the excess upon a condition's first claim, and if the claim continues past the annual renewal then you pay the excess again.
On a Max Benefit policy, you only pay an excess once per condition.
|Your Contribution to Vet Bills (Excess/Copay)|
|Older Pets (dogs aged 8+, cats aged 10+)||£99 plus 20% of remaining vet bills|
For older pets, owners pay an additional amount towards vet bills in the form of a 20% co-payment (so the older pet owner's contribution becomes £99 + 20% of the remaining vet bills). Your pet counts as "older" when you renew your policy after you dog’s 8th birthday or cat's 10th birthday.
Claims: When to Submit and Payment Process Timeline
Animal Friends tries to process claims within 5-7 working days of receipt. This, of course, assumes the claim form and all necessary documents and signatures are included.
If your vet is signed up with the Pawtal claims system, they may be able to collect payment directly from Animal Friends—currently thousands of vets have signed up with Pawtal, so it may be worth asking your vet. Reimbursement time via Pawtal can be as quick as the same day.
If you decide upon an Animal Friends policy, keep in mind that claims MUST be submitted within 90 days of the first date of treatment or else they won't be paid. And if vet fees are likely to exceed £1,000 you must notify Animal Friends for pre-authorization.
Animal Friends Insurance for Older Pets
Good news for owners of older pets looking for a new policy—Animal Friends has no upper age limit for new applicants, even for lifetime policies. Be aware that any pre-existing conditions are likely to be excluded from coverage, as usual.
Owner of older pets are expected to contribute more towards vet bills, which normally rise as your pet ages. The amount you pay will increase to the fixed £99 excess PLUS 20% of the remaining vet bills. Without the addition of this copay contribution, premiums would be even higher.
We spoke to an Animal Friends customer service representative who informed us that they may provide cover for some pre-existing conditions, subject to conditions. For example, if your pet had an ear infection years ago with no sign of recurrence, they may grant coverage for ear infections going forward. Exceptions would be on a case-by-case basis and need to be agreed upon ahead of time.
Animal Friends Notable Features
Here is a brief overview of the notable features of Animal Friends dog and cat insurance. For a complete rundown of the details and exclusions, please refer to the policy documents.
- Unlimited Annual Cover: On max benefit and lifetime policies there is no annual policy cap on vet bill reimbursement; There are per condition caps, however—a lifetime condition limit for max benefit and an annual condition limit for lifetime policies; This sounds confusing at first, but means that the per condition cap resets each year on a lifetime policy, giving you a fresh pot of money from which to claim each year for each condition
- Complementary Therapy: Acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine, Chiropractic manipulation, osteopathy, physiotherapy, laser therapy and hydrotherapy (performed by a recognised party)
- Pawtal: Reimbursement times can be sped up if your vet is signed up with Animal Friends and can bill the insurance company directly
- Cover for Holiday Cut Short: Cover if you have to cancel or curtail your holiday because your pet needs emergency life-saving surgery within 14 days of departure; trips booked last minute, within 28 days of departure, are excluded.
- Emergency Boarding: Cover for boarding costs if you need to spend more than 4 days in the hospital
- Dental: No cover
- Travel: Vet fee cover for up to three trips of 30 days each for all policies except Accident Only
Animal Friends Quote Comparison
In order to give you a general idea of how prices vary across the wide array of Animal Friends pet insurance products, we gathered dog insurance quotes across the gamut. Use this to help understand what type of policy and premium fits in your budget.
Keep in mind that some breeds (e.g., bulldogs) and older pets will cost more to insure. For more information on how prices are affected by breed and age, please read our article on the Average Cost of Pet Insurance in the UK.
Animal Friends Premiums vs. the Market Average
It can be difficult to compare quotes across insurers, as coverage and excess amounts vary considerable. However, we think it is still useful to compare the average cost of various Animal Friends policies to the average of many other quotes we gathered, comparing by policy type (i.e., Accident Only, Time Limited, Max Benefit, Lifetime). Keeping in mind that cover amounts and excesses differ, you can see that Animal Friends polices come in cheaper than average.
Differences between cover can contribute to premium differences. Below we detail the average excess and vet cover amounts for better comparison.
|Policy Type||Average Annual Premium||Average Vet Cover||Average Excess|
|Accident Only||Animal Friends Accident Only||£45||£2,500 per accident (£15,000 lifetime)||£99|
|Time Limited||Basic||£61||£500 per condition (£3,000 annual)||£99|
|Basic Plus||£91||£1,000 per condition (£4,000 annual)||£99|
|Prime||£130||£2,000 per condition (£7,000 annual)||£99|
|Prime Plus||£181||£4,000 per condition (£10,000 annual)||£99|
|Market Average||£189||£2,357 per condition||£101|
|Max Benefit||Max Value||£116||£1,000 per condition (unlimited annual)||£99|
|Max Plus||£174||£2,000 per condition (unlimited annual)||£99|
|Max Extra||£290||£4,000 per condition (unlimited annual)||£99|
|Market Average||£312||£5,088 per condition||£108|
|Lifetime||Super||£133||£1,000 per condition (unlimited annual)||£99|
|Superior||£183||£2,000 per condition (unlimited annual)||£99|
|Superior Plus||£306||£4,000 per condition (unlimited annual)||£99|
|Prestige||£387||£6,000 per condition (unlimited annual)||£99|
|Market Average||£419||£6,924 annual||£135|
Types of Animal Friends Policies
Animal Friends, through underwriter Red Sands, offers pet owners a vast array of policies from which to choose. In an attempt to simplify the presentation of cover amounts by policy, we've broken them out according to type of policy (listed in order of least to most cover, subject to policy limits): Accident Only, Time Limited, Max Benefit and Lifetime. If you'd like to learn more about pet insurance in general, please read our article What Does Pet Insurance Cover in the UK.
Accident Only Cover
The simplest and least expensive cover, Accident Only policies will not reimburse for vet bills related to illnesses (e.g., tumours, ear infections, digestive trouble, rashes, etc.). Additionally, you'll notice in the table below that there is no provision for public liability, personal accident, accidental damage or many other types of cover. Accident Only is very basic level of pet insurance.
Accident Only Coverage Amounts
|Policy Name:||Accident Only|
|Annual Accident Limit||£2,500|
|Lifetime Accident Limit||£15,000|
|Theft & Straying||n/a|
|Advertising & Reward||n/a|
|Boarding Kennel / Cattery||n/a|
|Death Of Pet||n/a|
|Overseas Travel Cover||n/a|
Time Limited Cover
Animal Friends sells four Time Limited pet insurance products to cover vet bills for injuries and illnesses for up to one year per condition. Cover ranges from £500 up to £4,000 of vet bills (per condition, for up to one year of cover). The annual policy limits (which you'll notice are higher) enable you to claim on multiple conditions within the same year.
It's very important to note a limitation of Time Limited pet insurance—bilateral conditions start the 12-month clock ticking for BOTH sides of the body. For example, if your pet has an ear infection in the left year, you only have one year to claim for ear infections on BOTH ears. After a year is up, you will not be reimbursed for ear infections again, in either ear.
Time Limited Coverage Amounts
|Policy Name:||Basic||Basic Plus||Prime||Prime Plus|
|Annual Condition Limit||£500||£1,000||£2,000||£4,000|
|Annual Policy Limit||£3,000||£4,000||£7,000||£10,000|
|Theft & Straying||£350||£500||£750||£1,000|
|Advertising & Reward||£200||£200||£200||£200|
|Boarding Kennel / Cattery||£100||£500||£750||£1,000|
|Death Of Pet||£350||£500||£750||£1,000|
|Overseas Travel Cover||£500||£750||£1,000||£1,500|
Max Benefit Cover
Animal Friends offers three levels of Maximum Benefit pet insurance cover, with your choice of per condition limit of £1,000, £2,000 or £4,000. You're able to claim this amount for a given condition over the course of your pet's life (so long as the policy remains in force)—there is no time limit after which you cannot claim for reimbursement.
Like with a Time Limited policy, it's important to be aware of the concept of bilateral conditions. For example, let's say you have the £1,000 max benefit policy and your pet has a complicated ear infection requiring multiple trips to the vet and prescriptions, costing £150 in total. This ear infection depletes your "ear infection pot" by £150, leaving you with £850 for future ear conditions. As your pet has two ears, ear infections are considered a bilateral condition and this remaining £850 is the amount available for treatment of both ears. An ear infection in the other ear would further reduce the £850.
Max Benefit Coverage Amounts
|Policy Name:||Max Value||Max Plus||Max Extra|
|Annual Condition Limit||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Lifetime Condition Limit||£1,000||£2,000||£4,000|
|Theft & Straying||£500||£750||£1,000|
|Advertising & Reward||£200||£200||£200|
|Boarding Kennel / Cattery||£500||£750||£1,000|
|Death Of Pet||£500||£750||£1,000|
|Overseas Travel Cover||£1,500||£2,000||£2,000|
Broadly speaking, Lifetime policies offer the most comprehensive level of cover, with the Prestige policy being Animal Friend's most premium product. The Lifetime policies by Animal Friends work a bit differently than Lifetime products you might consider from other insurers—specifically, there is an annual condition limit, but no annual policy limit.
In other words, each year you have a certain amount (£1,000, £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000) to use for a given condition. When you renew the limits reset, even if you have claimed. You are covered if your pet has a particularly unfortunate year and you need to make claims for many ailments, as there is no overall annual maximum.
Lifetime Coverage Amounts
|Policy Name:||Super||Superior||Superior Plus||Prestige|
|Annual Condition Limit||£1,000||£2,000||£4,000||£6,000|
|Annual Policy Limit||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Theft & Straying||£500||£750||£1,000||£1,500|
|Advertising & Reward||£200||£200||£200||£1,000|
|Boarding Kennel / Cattery||£500||£750||£1,000||£1,500|
|Death Of Pet||£500||£750||£1,000||£1,500|
|Overseas Travel Cover||£1,500||£2,000||£2,000||£2,000|
Customer Experience Ratings
Animal Friends is rated a very solid 8.6 out of 10 stars for customer experience, according to more than 3,400 customers surveyed on Trust Pilot.
On reviews.co.uk, Animal Friends only received 3.1 stars out of 5. Nearly half of reviewers awarded 5 stars and the other half 1 star, so customers seem to have a varied experience. Upon review it seems most complaints focus on the lack of payout for claims.