Best Pet Insurance 2018: What's the Right Plan for You?

Having the right insurance is crucial to help protect your pet and your wallet from the unexpected, whether it’s a traumatic accident, a recurring condition or a life-threatening illness. With so many plans out there, it can be difficult to choose the best one. Use our guides and recommendations to help you decide which features are important to you and get the most for your money.

  • Learning
    How Does Pet Insurance Work?
  • Comparing
    Summary of the Best Pet Insurers
  • Choosing
    How To Pick a Good Pet Insurance Plan for You

After gathering data and reading through policy fine print for dozens of pet insurance plans, we've made our picks for the best pet insurance for a variety of needs. Whether your priority is price, value or finding a plan with the most cover and benefits, you should be able to find the best plan for you and your beloved dog or cat.

Best Cheap Lifetime Pet Insurance: Animal Friends & Pet Protect

In our opinion, Lifetime plans are the best type of insurance for your dog or cat. With a Lifetime plan, vet limits reset each year, providing financial protection for recurring conditions or conditions that take a long time to treat. Keep in mind that the average cost of Lifetime cover is £390 per year for a dog or £370 for a male cat/£250 for a female cat.

Best Cheap Lifetime Pet Insurance Plan: Animal Friends Super

Consider this if you want a Lifetime plan with a low premium.

Across each type of pet insurance, Animal Friends tends to offer the cheapest pet insurance. For example, their policies cost as little as £45 for an Accident Only plan, £60 for Time Limited, £115 for Max Benefit or £130 for Lifetime per year. We found that Animal Friends' cheapest policies were 40% to 65% cheaper than the average cost of insurance. With no upper age limit and unlimited annual cover for new Lifetime policies, we think Animal Friends is the best cheap pet insurance for those looking for the most affordable cover for their cats and dogs.

Be aware that these plans can afford to be cheaper because they provide less per condition vet cover that may not be enough to pay for more serious injuries or illnesses requiring extended/expensive treatment. For instance, their Super plan is their cheapest Lifetime plan, costing only £135 or so for a young, healthy dog, with a £99 excess (or an annual premium around £110 for a young, healthy cat)—despite the unlimited annual policy limit there's a £1,000 annual condition limit.

chart showing Estimated cost of the cheapest Lifetime cover available from various pet insurers
Estimated cost of the cheapest Lifetime cover available from various pet insurers
Pros
  • Low premiums
  • Open to older pets
  • Premiums may not rise if you claim
Cons
  • No vetline to call with queries
  • No dental cover
  • Prescription food not covered
  • Older pets pay a 20% copay in addition to fixed excess

Best Cheap Lifetime Pet Insurer, with Dental: Pet Protect Lifelong Plus

Consider this if you want a cheaper Lifetime plan with dental.

Pet Protect offers solid cover at prices that won't break the bank—at £180 per year for a young, healthy dog you get £4,000 of cover including both dental injury AND illness (provided your pet has a dental exam every 12 months). Another important feature, especially for some breeds, is that congenital/hereditary conditions are covered so long as there were no symptoms before your policy began. In addition, you have 6 months to submit claims, which we think is quite manageable. There's no vet fone to call with queries and EU trips are covered up to 31 days per year (£1,000 max cover). A defining feature that may not suit all pet owners is that the excess is composed of a fixed £ amount and a mandatory copay/variable excess. The variable excess starts at 5% but rises to 20% to 25% for dogs and cats over 10 years old.

Pros
  • Euthanasia cover
  • Travel cover
  • Dental cover
  • Prescription food
  • Having a longer time to claim
Cons
  • No Death Due to Illness Cover
  • No vetfone
  • No new policies for older pets (not available to dogs 6+ or 8+, breed dependent, or cats 10+)
  • Excess rises as pets age
  • Copay (variable excess) in addition to fixed excess

Best Premium Lifetime Pet Insurance with the Highest Coverage: PetPlan, Tesco & Agria

Those who want premium Lifetime plan with the highest cover levels (around £10,000 per year) should expect to pay anywhere from £350 up to £750 per year for a healthy, young dog or £250 to £650 for a cat. The premium you pay will largely dependent on the breed and age of your pet, as well as the amount you agree to pay towards any vet bills (i.e., the excess/copay level).

Best Premium Lifetime Pet Insurance Plans, with More Cover and Dental: PetPlan Classic+ or Ultimate

Consider this if you want a premium plan from the UK's largest pet insurer.

As the UK's largest dog and cat insurer, PetPlan Lifetime plans are a solid choice from a company that, in all likelihood, already has a relationship with your vet—potentially making it easier to claim. We recommend their Lifetime plans for the most comprehensive cover—including both dental illness and injury, holiday cancellation, boarding if you're unwell, congenital/hereditary conditions (that arise after the policy starts), 90 days of EU travel cover and a vetline to call with queries. One of the only features not included on PetPlan Lifetime plans is euthanasia cover. While PetPlan is not the cheapest, we find their mid-tier £7k Covered for Life Classic+ Plan offers a competitive combination of price and value. For close to £400 per year you'll get the same features as their top-tier plan, just lower levels of cover and no legal helpline.

Pros
  • Dental injury AND illness
  • Quick reimbursement
  • Long window to submit claims
Cons
  • Anyone wanting a new Lifetime policy for an older pet
  • Those wanting to pay a low excess or premium
  • Euthanasia cover
  • Addition of 20% variable excess for older pets

Best Lifetime Pet Insurance Plans, with Lots of Features: Tesco Premier

Consider this if you want a premium plan with lots of bells and whistles.

If you are relatively insensitive to price and are looking for maximum coverage and benefits, we think the Tesco Premier Plan could be a great option. As a Lifetime plan, the £10,000 of vet cover renews each year and the plan includes dental illness and injury cover, up to 12 months to submit claims, a vet phone to call with questions, euthanasia cover, boarding in you're unwell and cover for a holiday cut short. Those who travel with their pet to the EU can enjoy 3 trips up to 30 days each with the same cover as in the UK. In addition, those with older pets can take out a new policy as there is no upper age limit—even for Lifetime policies.

Pros
  • Dental cover for illness and injury
  • New policies for older pets
  • 12 months to submit claims for reimbursement
  • Choose an excess amount to suit
  • Vetfone
Cons
  • No prescription food cover

Best Lifetime Pet Insurance Plans, with More Cover and Dental: Agria £6,500 or £12,500

Consider this if you're looking for customizable features and solid value - a premium plan for less.

Cheaper Premium Lifetime Alternative: If you like the features of these premium plans but don't like the price tags, a good option may be Agria's £6,500 Lifetime Plan—a base price around £340 for healthy, young dog). Or for roughly a hundred quid more per year you can get £12,500 of Lifetime cover (a lower-than-average price for that level of cover). Agria is able to offer competitive pricing on these Premium plans because pet owners contribute more towards vet fees through the use of a standard 10% copay (in addition to a fixed £ excess) should you ever need to claim. Plus, options like Boarding if You're Unwell, EU Travel, Death and Loss and Holiday Cancellation are extra.

The terms and conditions feel like they were designed by real pet owners, as you can read about in our review. Dental illness and injury are covered, as well as euthanasia. Expect to pay around £450 for the £12,500 Lifetime Plan or £350 for the £6,500 Lifetime Plan for a young, healthy crossbreed dog; the premium for a British Shorthair cat would cost around £400 or £325, respectively. Adding the optional extras discussed above would add around £50 to a dog quote and £22 to a cat quote. Even with these additions, Agria prices are very good value compared to other premium plans.

Pros
  • Higher vet limits
  • Dental injury and illness
  • 6+ months to claim
  • Optional Extras: Boarding if You're Unwell, EU Travel, Death and Loss and Holiday Cancellation
Cons
  • 10% copay on top of fixed excess
  • Pay extra for EU travel cover

Best Accident Only Pet Insurance Cover: Animal Friends & Asda

If you don't want vet cover for any illnesses (e.g., tumour or infection) but only want cover for injury due to accidents (e.g., a broken leg), you'll pay a lot less for an Accident Only plan. Some pet owners choose this option and put aside the money they've saved on premiums, to use if their pet ever falls ill. This can be a risky move, however—the majority of vet visits are due to pets falling ill, not having an accidental injury.

Best Cheap Accident Only Pet Insurance Plans: Animal Friends

Consider this if your priority is paying a low premium for a basic Accident Only plan.

For cheap Accident Only pet insurance, you may want to check out Animal Friends, whose Accident Only Plan came out cheapest in our recent check whilst still providing an average level of cover—e.g., dog Accident Only cover for a £45 annual premium with a £99 excess and cover of £2,500 per accident a year (up to a £15,000 lifetime condition limit), which is 40% less than the average cost of Accident Only dog cover. This is a relatively high lifetime condition limit, to protect against ongoing vet fees resulting from an accident.

Dental injuries are not covered with Animal Friends plans, however, so you'd need to pay for, say, fixing a broken tooth on your own. In fact, this is a very basic plan, suitable for those who want the simplicity of a plan that literally only covers vet bills for an accident (e.g., there's no cover for Third Party Liability, Death, Travel, etc.).

chart comparing cheapest accident only pet insurance for dogs
How do the cheapest accident-only pet insurance for dogs prices compare?
Pros
  • Low premiums
  • Open to older pets
  • Premiums may not rise if you claim
Cons
  • No vetline to call with queries
  • No dental cover
  • Prescription food not covered
  • Older pets pay a 20% copay in addition to fixed excess

Best Accident Only Pet Insurance Plans: Asda

Consider this if who want an affordable Accident Only plan with more features.

Asda is another solid option offering good cover and value at —you're able to get an Accident Only Plan for only about £50 per year. We particularly like that there's no time limit on Asda Accident Only plans—so if your pet needs ongoing treatment for an injury, you'll continue to reimbursed until you've hit the £2,500 per-incident limit regardless of how much time has passed since the accident. Once you've used up the £2,500 for a given accident, you won't be able to claim for any more related vet bills. While Asda's Accident Only plan offers lower lifetime cover than the Animal Friends plan, above, it does offer other perks like

We have a key tip—if you decide on an Asda Accident Only plan, check the price for both an £85 excess and an £185 excess. During our data gathering, we noticed that the premium stayed the same regardless of excess (only for the Accident Only Plan)—if that is the case for you, definitely take the lower excess option so you'll pay less out of pocket if you ever need to claim!

Pros
  • Low premiums
  • No time limit
  • Holiday Cover if You're Unwell (£200)
  • Third Party Liability
  • Boarding Kennel Fees (£200)
  • Death from Accident (£200)
Cons
  • Only 60 days to submit claims

Here's How Pet Insurance Works

Most people buy pet insurance primarily to help pay vet bills when their pet is injured or becomes ill. For this financial protection you'll pay an annual or monthly premium, which can range from £45 up to £800 a year or more, depending on a number of factors. In return, the insurance company will partially reimburse you for vet bills incurred as the result of injury and/or illness, depending on the policy.

The insurance company won't pay all of the vet bills when your pet is injured or falls ill. You, as pet owner, are responsible for an amount called the excess. The excess is typically around £100, but can vary. Some insurers give you a choice of excess. The excess may be payable once per condition, or perhaps once per condition per year (typical on Lifetime plans). Additionally, you may also be responsible for a "copay" (also known as a "variable excess") on some plans. This copay (typically 10% to 20%) is calculated after the fixed excess is taken out, as you can see in our excess/copay example.

If you'd like more detailed information, you can read more in our article about How Pet Insurance Works.

Best Pet Insurance Summary

Best Cheaper Lifetime Pet Insurance PlansAnnual Vet CoverDental IllnessVet PhoneEuthanasiaExcess/CopaySample Quote
DogCat
Animal Friends Super£1,000 per condition (unlimited total per year)nonoyes£99£133£110
Pet Protect Lifelong Plus£4,000yesnoyesstarting at £95 plus 5%£180
Best Premium Lifetime Pet Insurance PlansAnnual Vet CoverDental IllnessVet PhoneEuthanasiaExcess/CopaySample Quote
DogCat
LV= Premier£10,000yesnono£75£402£225
Agria £12,500£12,500yesnoyes£95 dog/£85 cat, + 10%£450£400
John Lewis Premier£12,000noyesyes£100£546£605
Tesco Premier£10,000yesyesyes£120£569
PetPlan Ultimate£12,000yesyesno£120£733£410
Best Cheap Accident Only PlansVet Cover (per incident)Vet PhoneExcess (young pet)Sample Quote
DogCat
Animal Friends£2,500no£99£45£36
Asda£2,500yes£85£50

Choosing the Best Dog or Cat Insurance Plan for You

Before choosing a pet insurance plan, you'll need to consider a number of factors. First, pick what type of plan you want. Typically, you and your pet will get the broadest and longest cover with a Lifetime plan, although these subsequently cost the most.

Next, there are a few features that vary from insurer to insurer, such as euthanasia cover, dental illness, dental injury, vet line (to call with queries), travel to the EU, boarding when you're unwell, holiday cover (if you have to cut a holiday short due to a serious pet health concern). In addition, you may want to pay attention to the time to claim, which ranges from 60 days to 12 months. If you're not the most organized person, you may need the extra time to submit your claims.

Finally, there is the a choice of vet cover and excess amount. These factors have the largest bearing on premium cost, so it's a matter of deciding what best suits your individual financial situation.

Methodology

By collecting dozens of data points from various pet insurance plans around the UK, we were able to gain insight on dog and cat insurance plans offered by more than a dozen insurers. The data we collected span all types of variables such as vet cover, premium, excess, changes for older pets, pet cover for travelling abroad to the EU, euthanasia cover, dental injury and/or illness, etc. To see all of the companies we analysed, please see the table below.

Best Pet Insurance Reviews
Cheapest Lifetime Pet InsuranceAnimal Friends Super
Pet Protect Lifelong Plus
Best Accident Only Pet InsuranceAnimal Friends Accident
Asda Accident Only
Best Lifetime Pet Insurance with Max CoverAgria £12,500 Lifetime
PetPlan Ultimate+
Tesco Premier £10k
John Lewis Premier