Animal Friends Pet Insurance Review: Are You After Low Prices?

Animal Friends Pet Insurance Review: Are You After Low Prices?

Some very affordable pet insurance plans, but be aware of vet fee limits.

Good for

  • Lower-than-average premiums
  • Premiums not rising due to claims
  • Pawtal claims system can pay vet directly
  • No upper age limit (even for lifetime policies)

Bad for

  • There's no vet line to call with queries
  • No dental cover
  • No vet line to call with queries
  • Prescription food not covered
  • Only 90 days to submit claims
  • Lifetime and and Max Benefit policies have annual limits per condition
  • May limit reimbursement to vet fees deemed reasonable and essential by their vet advisor

Editor's Rating

3.5/5.0

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.

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.

Compare Cheap Pet Insurance for Your Dog or Cat

Pet cover can help with vet bills. Compare quotes from 25 providers, including Animal Friends

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When you're ready, compare pet insurance quotes from Animal Friends against 25 providers by clicking the blue "Get Quotes" button above to see how much you can save.

In This Review

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 OptionsOuter Vet Fee Limit
Lifetime pet insuranceper condition per year (renews each year)£1,000, £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000
Max Benefitper condition£1,000, £2,000 or £4,000
Time Limitedper condition (12 month limit)£500, £1,000, £2,000 or £4,000
per year£3,000, £4,000, £7,000 or £10,000
Accident Onlyper condition per year (renews each year)£2,500
lifetime limit£15,000

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.

Limitations

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:

  • Dental
  • Euthanasia
  • Vet helpline
  • Cremation

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
Younger Pets£99
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
Defaqto1 star (Accident Only)
2 star (Basic And Basic Plus time limited policies)
3 star (all other plans)
Trustpilot4.4 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.

chart showing price comparison of dog insurance for Animal Friends
How prices vary across Animal Friends dog insurance policies
chart showing price comparison of cat insurance for Animal Friends
How prices vary across Animal Friends cat insurance policies

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.

chart showing price comparison of dog insurance for Animal Friends vs the market average premium
How Animal Friends Dog Insurance Premiums Compare to the Market

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 CoverOn 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 TherapyAcupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine, Chiropractic manipulation, osteopathy, physiotherapy, laser therapy and hydrotherapy (performed by a recognised party)
PawtalReimbursement 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 ShortCover 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 BoardingCover for boarding costs if you need to spend more than 4 days in the hospital
DentalNo cover
TravelVet fee cover for up to three trips of 30 days each for all policies except Accident Only
Euthanasia, cremation and burialNo 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
Vets Excess£99
Public Liabilityn/a
Transport Costsn/a
Personal Accidentn/a
Accidental Damagen/a
Theft & Strayingn/a
Advertising & Rewardn/a
Holiday Cancellationn/a
Boarding Kennel / Catteryn/a
Death Of Petn/a
Overseas Travel Covern/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 LimitsBasic Plus LimitsPrime LimitsPrime Plus Limits
Annual Condition Limit£500£1,000£2,000£4,000
Annual Policy Limit£3,000£4,000£7,000£10,000
Vets Excess£99£99£99£99
Public Liability£1m£1m£1.5m£1.75m
Transport Costsn/an/an/an/a
Personal Accidentn/an/an/an/a
Accidental Damagen/an/an/an/a
Theft & Straying£350£500£750£1,000
Advertising & Reward£200£200£200£200
Holiday Cancellationn/an/a£1,000£1,500
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 LimitsMax Plus LimitsMax Extra Limits
Annual Condition Limitn/an/an/a
Lifetime Condition Limit£1,000£2,000£4,000
Vets Excess£99£99£99
Public Liability£1.5m£1.5m£1.75m
Transport Costsn/an/an/a
Personal Accidentn/an/an/a
Accidental Damagen/an/an/a
Theft & Straying£500£750£1,000
Advertising & Reward£200£200£200
Holiday Cancellation£1,000£1,000£1,500
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 LimitsSuperior LimitsSuperior Plus LimitsPrestige Limits
Annual Condition Limit£1,000£2,000£4,000£6,000
Annual Policy Limitn/an/an/an/a
Vets Excess£99£99£99£99
Public Liability£1.5m£1.5m£1.75m£2m
Transport Costsn/an/an/a£200
Personal Accidentn/an/an/a£200
Accidental Damagen/an/an/a£750
Theft & Straying£500£750£1,000£1,500
Advertising & Reward£200£200£200£1,000
Holiday Cancellation£1,000£1,000£1,500£2,500
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

FAQs

The Animal Friends website now states that claim history can affect your renewal price. In addition, keep in mind that it's pretty common for pet insurance premiums to rise every year as your pet gets older.
You can buy Animal Friends plans from a comparison site like Compare Cover or direct from the Animal Friends website. When we checked, prices were the same from both websites.
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. Some other pet insurance providers such as Agria Pet Insurance have more lenient out-of-hours reimbursement rules.
The waiting periods on new pet insurance policies are a bit longer for Animal Friends than average. Here are the Animal Friends waiting times:
  • 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
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 via Pawtal can be as quick as the same day.
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 immediately for pre-authorization.
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. You may want to consider other pet insurance companies that cover pre-existing conditions.
No, Animal Friends does not cover cremation or euthanasia. Click here to find out how much pet euthanasia and cremation might cost.
No, Animal Friends does not cover dental of any kind (e.g., having teeth removed). To find some alternative plans that do, click here.
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. Owners of older pets are expected to contribute more towards vet bills—which is quite common—a fixed £99 excess PLUS 20% of the remaining vet bills.
No, Animal Friends does not have a vet helpline.
Animal Friends dog and cat insurance is underwritten by Red Sands Insurance Company (Europe) Limited, which is registered in Gibraltar under company number 87598; their registered office is Level 3, Ocean Village Business Centre, 23 Ocean Village Promenade, Gibraltar.
Animal Friends has great customer reviews and comparatively cheap prices, but there are some limitations to be aware of.
Animal Friends can pay your vet directly, if they're set up on the Pawtal payment system.
You can call Animal Friends at 0344 557 0300 to discuss claims, amendments, general queries or to cancel your policy.

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%).

Other Useful Information

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the CEO, Co-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.

Comments

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.