Cheap Pet Insurance 2018: How Can You Insure Your Dog or Cat for Less?

We researched dozens of pet insurance plans to find the cheapest deals that afford some financial protection in case your dog or cat falls ill or is injured in an accident. Check out our recommendations, which we tailored to specific categories and consumer needs. If you're not sure where to start check out our pet insurance guide.

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

If your priority is paying less out of pocket for dog or cat insurance, we've found some plans that are the most affordable. While you may get less vet cover with some of these plans, they can still provide a decent level of financial protection in case your pet is injured or falls ill. While Accident Only plans are generally the cheapest, there are also Lifetime plans available for as little as £130 a year for dogs or £110 a year for cats. Even when price is paramount, you should be able to find a recommended plan for you and your beloved dog or cat that costs less than the average cost of pet insurance.

Cheapest Pet Insurer Overall: Animal Friends

Consider this if you want to pay a low premium

Our research showed that pet owners can buy insurance for their cat or dog from Animal Friends for the cheapest prices. Regardless of the type of policy you want, Animal Friends probably offers one of the lowest premiums. How do they do it? Lower vet fee cover. While each of their plans has a high annual or lifetime limit (anywhere from £3k to unlimited), there are further annual limits per condition. Plus there's no euthanasia cover, no vet hotline and no dental cover for injuries or illness.

chart showing price comparison of dog insurance for Animal Friends vs the market average premium
How average Animal Friends dog insurance premiums compare to the market

Animal Friends' cheapest Lifetime policy, the Super Plan, may have an unlimited annual limit, but they impose an annual per condition limit of £1,000. So you could claim for any number of conditions per year, but each condition would only be reimbursed up to £1,000 annually. This level of cover would not fully pay for very serious/complicated illnesses or injuries that require thousands of pounds in vet bills in a year. But it will provide a financial buffer, such as covering recurring conditions up to £1,000 per year since the annual condition limit resets each year when you renew your policy.

chart showing The Cheapest Animal Friends Dog Insurance Premiums
The Cheapest Animal Friends Dog Insurance Premiums
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

Cheap Pet Insurance Alternatives with More Features: M&S and Pet Protect

There are other options if you're looking for a bit more vet cover or for additional features such as dental cover or a vet hotline.

Cheap Pet Insurance with Dental, Vet Hotline and Euthanasia: M&S

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

M&S Standard Lifetime Plans cost around £240 with a £50 excess (or £200 with an excess of £150), for a healthy, young dog. That price gets you £4,000 of annual Lifetime vet cover, which they're able to offer at a cheaper price due to a further £1,000 per condition limit per year (e.g., an annual Max Benefit). M&S plans come with extra features for the added cost. Vet owners can call their vet hotline with questions and euthanasia cover, plus Lifetime plans include dental injury AND illness cover.

Pros
  • Lower premiums
  • £30 M&S voucher with new Standard/Premier policies
Cons
  • Per condition limit of £1k on Standard Lifetime plan

Cheap Pet Insurance with Dental & Euthanasia: Pet Protect

Consider this if you want a cheap pet insurance deal with more vet cover.

Pet Protect Lifelong Extra Plans are even cheaper—around £210 for £6k of vet cover with a £95 excess. Here you'll get dental illness and injury, plus euthanasia, but there's no vet hotline. But the excess steadily rises with your pets age, hitting £150 plus 25% - 30% for pets 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 in addition to fixed excess

Cheaper Premium Lifetime Pet Insurance: Agria

Consider this if you want a premium plan for less.

We really like Agria plans for getting solid Lifetime cover for reasonable premiums. They're able to do this by expecting the pet owner to contribute a bit more towards vet fees, should the need arise. In addition to a fixed excess (£85/£165 for cats or £95/£165 for dogs, your choice), you're responsible for paying 10% of vet fees after the fixed excess has been deducted. The terms and conditions feel like they were designed by real pet owners. 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 which is less than the average cost of Lifetime dog cover; the premium for a British shorthair cat would cost around £400 or £325, respectively.

Pros
  • Higher vet limits
  • Dental injury and illness
  • 6+ months to claim
Cons
  • 10% copay on top of fixed excess

How Does Cheap Pet Insurance Work?

Finding a cheap pet insurance deal might be just what you need if you can't (or don't want to) pay much out of pocket in premium. But how can one plan be so much cheaper than another? There are a few ways in which pet insurers keep prices low: lower vet cover limits, imposing "per condition" limits on Lifetime plans and limiting extra features like dental illness (e.g., decay or disease), EU travel, vet phone access, euthanasia cover, etc. In addition, you can choose a higher excess to lower your premium.

To get an indication of how much pet insurance costs on average, we've gathered quotes from dozens of policies for a young, mixed-breed dog (which you can read about in our article, Average Cost of Pet Insurance for Dogs) and a British Shorthair cat. Levels of vet cover vary from £500 up to £15,000, which accounts for the significant variation in annual premiums. Generally speaking, the cheapest premiums are for plans with the least vet cover.

How Much is Pet Insurance on Average?DogCat
LowHighLowHigh
Accident Only£45£171£36£127
Time Limited£61£296£48£322
Max Benefit£116£533£94£500
Lifetime£133£733£109£662

Older pets will cost more, as will some breeds that are renowned for congenital health problems (e.g., Bulldogs and German Shepherds).

Summary of Cheapest Pet Insurers and Plans

ProviderAnnual Dog Premium (Lowest-Tier Lifetime Plan)ExcessAnnual Vet Cover [per condition]Vet PhoneDental IllnessEU TravelTime to Claim
Animal Friends Super£133£99Unlimited [£1,000]nonoyes90d
Pet Protect Lifelong Plus£179£95 + 5% (under 1 year old)£4,000noyes31d (£1,000 max)6m
Pet Protect Lifelong Extra£210£95 + 5% (under 1 year old)£6,000noyes31d (£1,000 max)6m
M&S Standard£220£50£4,000 [£1,000]yesyes (Standard, Premier)60d (Premier)60d (3-6m ongoing treatment)
Agria £6,500£344£95 + 10%£6,500noyesoptional6+ months

How To Pick a Good Pet Insurance Deal for You

When you're on a budget, choosing pet insurance takes thought. In order to pay a lower premium, you'll probably need to give up on features, receive less vet cover and/or agree to pay a higher excess. Think about which features you truly need and why you really want pet insurance—is it to reimburse for lower-ticket items like the ear infections that cost a few hundred pounds to treat over the years, or to give you the ability to pay for a life-threatening surgery that may cost thousands of pounds, which you otherwise might not be able to afford? Do you want a vetfone to call? Do you take your pet on long trips to the EU? By narrowing down your true list of requirements, you'll be able to choose a plan the is best suited to the needs of you and your pet.

It can also be useful to have an understanding of the average cost of cat insurance and the average cost of dog insurance, so you know if you're getting a good deal or paying too much.