Animal Friends is a very popular pet insurance company that offers relatively cheap pet insurance for the UK market putting lifetime cover within reach of pet owners who might not otherwise be able to afford it. But there are restrictions and coverage is not as generous as you might find with more expensive companies. With a full range of 12 different plans covering each type of insurance, there may be a good Animal Friends plan for you if finding cheaper pet insurance is your priority—just make sure the limitations are acceptable to you.
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In This Review
- Overall Review
- Policy and Coverage Options
- Comparing Animal Friends to Competitors
Choosing the right 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 are important to you in order to make the best buying decision. We also advise reading through the policy wording before you buy.
Animal Friends Pet Insurance Review
Animal Friends offers a wide selection of dog and cat insurance plans at prices that are less than the average cost of pet insurance for budget-conscious dog and cat owners. In fact, their Lifetime policies start from around £130 for dogs and £110 for cats. They have a wide selection of plans to choose from:
|Animal Friends Pet Insurance Options||Outer Vet Fee Limit|
|Lifetime pet insurance||per condition per year (renews each year)||£1,000, £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000|
|Max Benefit||per condition||£1,000, £2,000 or £4,000|
|Time Limited||per condition (12 month limit)||£500, £1,000, £2,000 or £4,000|
|per year||£3,000, £4,000, £7,000 or £10,000|
|Accident Only||per condition per year (renews each year)||£2,500|
If it fits in your budget, the Prestige plan offers the highest level of cover (£6,000) for a relatively competitive price for that level of Lifetime pet insurance cover.
Claiming is relatively easy with Animal Friends. The company is big and has an efficient claims system called Pawtal, which most vets are accustomed to working with. You only have 90 days to submit claims, however.
Why is Animal Friend so Cheap? Animal Friends uses lower per condition annual limits to keep premiums affordable, especially for Lifetime cover—this setup is unusual but may suit you if price is paramount. In addition, Animal Friends can limit reimbursement to "vet fees deemed reasonable and essential by their vet advisor".
Animal Friends doesn't cover:
- Vet helpline
Animal Friends doesn't include any dental cover, even for accidental injury (e.g., a broken tooth)—most UK pet insurance cover includes at least dental injury, if not also dental illness (e.g., to treat gingivitis).
The shorter 90-day claim window means you need to stay on top of your claims, and there's no cover for euthanasia or cremation at the end of your pet's life.
What's the Animal Friends Excess?
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 the excess once per condition.
|Animal Friends Excess/Copay|
|Older Pets (dogs aged 8+, cats aged 10+)||£99 plus 20% of remaining vet bills|
For older pets (dogs aged 8+ and cats aged 10+), owners pay an additional amount towards vet bills in the form of a 20% co-payment (so the pet owner's contribution becomes £99 + 20% of the remaining vet bills for older pets).
Customer Experience Ratings
|Animal Friends Ratings|
|Defaqto||1 star (Accident Only)|
|2 star (Basic And Basic Plus time limited policies)|
|3 star (all other plans)|
|Trustpilot||4.4 out of 5 stars|
Animal Friends is rated a very solid 4.4 out of 5 stars for customer experience, according to more than 18,000 customers surveyed on Trust Pilot. Excellent customer reviews highlight good value for money, helpful customer service and prompt payment of claims. Here are some real life customer comments:
"On the two occasions I’ve needed to claim Animal Friends have paid out promptly and communicated with compassion."
"Excellent service after my dog had to have an operation."
"Very happy with level of cover and competitive premium."
Of course, not all customers write glorious reviews. A few common complaints are price rises for existing customers, the 20% copay for older pets, lack of payment for some out of hours claims and failure to pay when Animal Friends links a new condition to a pre-existing condition or a condition excluded by the terms. Here are a few more real life customer comments:
"I have not had to use my pet insurance as thankfully I have a healthy animal... I do wish that the premiums didn't go up as all the years I have paid are in your Bank account."
"I've been with this company for approximately 10 years and never had to claim, now I have I'm hit with 20% of the bill and a refusal to pay out of hours costs."
"...they didn’t pay saying it was a previous illness—it wasn’t. It was an injury. Although they payed for the X-ray initially, but not for the op."
"... the vets were very worried as his breed are prone to Pancreatitis and needed to do more tests. The results came back clear. I have now put in my claim of over £400, and it has been declined as a pre-existing condition because my dog has vomited in the past."
Animal Friends Quote Comparison
Animal Friends is relatively cheap pet insurance, but how much does it really cost and which plan fits in your budget? We gathered sample prices for dog insurance and cat insurance from Animal Friends to get a rough idea. Depending on factors like the breed (e.g., Bulldogs) and age of your pet you may be quoted more or less than these figures.
Cheap Animal Friends Premiums vs. Market Averages
It can be difficult to compare quotes across insurers, as coverage, features and excess amounts vary considerable. However, we think it is still useful to compare the average cost of Animal Friends policies to average prices in the UK market. Keeping in mind that cover amounts and excesses differ, you can see that Animal Friends polices come in cheaper which can help those not sure if they can afford pet insurance.
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.
|Animal Friends Pet Insurance Features|
|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|
|Travel||Vet fee cover for up to three trips of 30 days each for all policies except Accident Only|
|Euthanasia, cremation and burial||No cover|
Types of Animal Friends Policies
Animal Friends, through underwriter Red Sands, offers a wide array of policies from which to choose. We've broken them out according to type of policy (listed in order of least to most cover): Accident Only, Time Limited, Max Benefit and Lifetime.
Animal Friends Accident Only Cover
The simplest and least expensive cover, Accident Only policies over covers accidental injury—not for illnesses (e.g., tumours, ear infections, digestive trouble, rashes, etc.). Additionally, there's no provision for public liability, personal accident, accidental damage, etc. Accident Only is a very basic level of pet insurance.
|Policy Name:||Accident Only Cover Amounts|
|Annual Condition Limit||£2,500|
|Lifetime Condition 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|
Animal Friends Time Limited Cover
Animal Friends sells four Time Limited pet insurance products that 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.
Time Limited pet insurance policies have a significant limitation—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.
|Policy Name:||Basic Limits||Basic Plus Limits||Prime Limits||Prime Plus Limits|
|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|
Animal Friends Max Benefit Cover
Animal Friends offers three levels of Maximum Benefit pet insurance cover, with £1,000, £2,000 or £4,000 of cover per condition. You're able to claim this amount for a condition over the course of your pet's life (so long as the policy remains in force)—there is no time limit.
Max Benefit policies have the same bilateral condition limitation. 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 prescription meds, costing £450 in total. This ear infection depletes your "ear infection pot" (aka "otitis") by £450, leaving you with £550 for all future ear conditions. As your pet has two ears, ear infections are considered a bilateral condition and this remaining £550 is the amount available for treatment of both ears.
|Policy Name:||Max Value Limits||Max Plus Limits||Max Extra Limits|
|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|
Animal Friends Lifetime Cover
Broadly speaking, Lifetime policies offer the best cover because the limits reset each year when you renew, even if you have claimed. Prestige policy being Animal Friend's most premium product.
The Lifetime policies by Animal Friends work a bit differently than other Lifetime products in the UK market—specifically, there is an annual condition limit, but no annual policy limit (usually it's the other way around). 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—and this renews each year. You can claim for as many ailments in a year as necessary, however, as there is no overall annual limit.
|Policy Name:||Super Limits||Superior Limits||Superior Plus Limits||Prestige Limits|
|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|
- Illnesses after 14 days of the commencement date
- Accident or injury that occurs after 5 days of the commencement date
- Accident or injury affecting the Cruciate ligament after 14 days of the commencement date
How does Animal Friends Insurance Compare to Competitors?
To better understand the value of Animal Friends 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.
Animal Friends Insurance vs Agria Pet Insurance
Agria Pet Insurance offers comprehensive Lifetime plans for lower-than-average prices. Many features are offered as extras, which means that you don't need to pay for certain features if you don't want to—if you never take your pet abroad to Europe, then you don't need to buy the Travel cover. Another way that Agria keeps prices lower is through a 10% copay/variable excess so pet owners contribute more towards vet fees—the pet owner is responsible for the fixed excess (£95 or £160 for dogs, £85 or £160 for cats) than another 10% of vet bills. We like that Agria is a specialist pet insurer with a long history, offering some desirable features such as dental, euthanasia and cremation/burial, sensible out-of-hours reimbursement and cover for congenital conditions. 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 a relatively low annual premium, but want longer to submit claims (6+ months), higher limits and dental cover, then Agria can be a good option—but even owners of younger pets will pay a larger share of any vet bills that arise due to the standard 10% copay.
Animal Friends Insurance vs John Lewis Pet Insurance
John Lewis Pet Insurance offers solid Lifetime plans and competitive prices, good for those who value a longer time to submit claims and features like EU travel cover, dental injury (but not illness), a 24-hour vetfone, euthanasia cover, cover if your holiday is cut short due to your pet being ill and boarding cover if you are hospitalized unexpectedly. Those hoping for a lower excess can choose a fixed excess as low as £60. Like many insurers, the excess will rise for older pets, however, becoming the greater of your fixed £ excess and 20% of the vet bill for each condition each year. You can chose a Lifetime plan for which you'll pay, for instance, around £375 for £3k of cover with a £60 excess or £550 for £7.5k of cover. A higher excess can lower the premium, if that's what you want—but you'll be on the hook for the excess should you need to claim.
Bottom Line: You may have to pay a bit more for a John Lewis plan, but there are no per-condition limits, you get access to a 24-hour vetfone and you have longer (up to a year) to submit claims.
Animal Friends 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 lower-priced Lifetime plan might want to consider Pet Protect since there are no per-condition limits and wide-ranging features, but be sure you're comfortable with the copay (which rises with age up from 5% to 25%).