Direct Line Pet Insurance Review: In Line with Market Prices

Direct Line Pet Insurance Review: In Line with Market Prices

Get 3 months free, but there's no Lifetime plan.

Good for

  • Higher upper age limits for new policies
  • Having longer to claim
  • Euthanasia and dental (Advanced Plan)

Bad for

  • Those wanting prescription food cover

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.

Compare Cheap Pet Insurance

Pet cover can help with vet bills. Protect your dog or cat today.

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Direct Line offers two types of pet insurance: Time Limited and Maximum Benefit, with £4,000 and £8,000 of vet cover, respectively. Both plans cover accidents and illnesses. If you want a Lifetime plan, you'll need to look elsewhere.

Direct Line Pet Insurance Key Facts

  • Euthanasia cover (Advanced plans only)
  • Dental (accident only on Essential plan; accident and illness on Advanced subject to regular dental maintenance)
  • EU Travel cover (30 day maximum trip duration, max 3 journeys per period)
  • Holiday cancellation and unwell boarding cover available
  • Complementary treatments (e.g., hydrotherapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, etc.)
  • Upper age limit for new policies of 10 yrs, 11 months
  • 12 months to make claims
  • Direct Line can pay vet directly (vet willing)
  • Prescription food not covered
  • Dental cover doesn't include disease/decay on Essential (Time Limited) plans

In This Review

Direct Line Pet Insurance Review

Direct Line offers Time Limited and Maximum Benefit pet insurance policies—they do not offer any Lifetime cover or Accident Only. Customers can choose £4,000 of 12-month vet cover per condition or £8,000 of max benefit vet cover per condition. Furthermore, there is choice of a £95 fixed excess or £190.

Before deciding upon a Direct Line policy, be aware that Third Party Liability for dogs does not come as standard but may be added to your policy for an additional fee. When we recently price checked the additional cost of Third Party Liability cover with Direct Line, we found it added about £8 per year to a policy for a young, male crossbreed dog. Depending on factors including where you live and the type of dog you may be quoted a higher or lower cost for Third Party Liability.

Third Party Liability is not the only extra available for purchase. Here is the list of additional cover options that Direct Line offers on their pet insurance plans:

  • Third Party Liability (dogs only)
  • Overseas Travel
  • 5 extras in 1 package (Cover for death by accident or illness, Lost Pet Cover, Advertising and Reward, Pet Boarding Fees if you're in hospital and Holiday Cancellation)

Our price checks also showed that the Overseas Travel package added around £13 per year and the 5 in 1 package added around £110 per year to the young, crossbreed dog's insurance quote.

Time Limit to Claim: Policyholders have up to 12 months from the first treatment of a condition in which to submit claim forms and supporting documents.

Excess: Policyholders have their choice of a £95 or £190 fixed excess. You pay this excess once for every new condition.

Choosing the higher excess will reduce your premium, but keep in mind that you will pay more (and Direct Line will in turn pay less) towards your vet bills. For a more detailed analysis of how excess affects the premium, please see our price comp section.

Direct Line Insurance for Older Pets: Death Due to Illness cover stops once your dog turns 9 or your cat turns 11. There is no excess increase for older pets.

Referral or Emergency Vet Cover: Should your pet be referred by your regular vet to a specialist vet (e.g., cardiology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, etc.), you must get in touch with Direct Line to receive their approval before your appointment. Any house calls, out-of-hours calls or stays at the vet must be absolutely essential—and the vet must confirm that such action was necessary to prevent your pet’s condition from seriously worsening. In that case, up to £110 towards out of hours fees would be covered.

Inner Vet Fee Limits: Within the vet fee limits, Direct Line imposes certain limits for the following:

CategoryMax Cover
Consultation fees for each separate visit to the vetUp to £45
Additional out of hours fees for each separate out of hours visitUp to £110
Histology fees including any handling and interpretation feesUp to £70
Cytology fees, including any handling and interpretation feesUp to £70
Hydrotherapy and physiotherapy (no "per session" limit on other complementary therapies)Up to £35 per session (max 15 sessions)
Euthanasia (Advanced plans only)Up to £100
Treatment of tooth and gum disease (Advanced plans only)Up to £1,000

Direct Line Quote Comparison

According to the data, Direct Line prices are in line with market averages. Comparing prices for pet insurance can be quite difficult, however, due to differences in vet cover amounts and excesses. As a result we've developed a methodology to standardize a measure of value across products.

Since you would need to pay both the annual premium and at least one excess in order to claim and access the vet cover, we've calculated a ratio of Vet Cover/(Annual Premium + One Excess Payment) to give an estimate of value. Then we compared the average value of each type of Direct Line product (i.e., Time Limited and Max Benefit) with £95 and £190 excess amounts to average market values (obtained from dozens of quotes from other insurers), for a healthy, young, medium-sized crossbreed dog.

You'll notice that prices of policies with the extras included seem to be in line with the market. Unsurprisingly, the stripped-back, basic policies offer more "value" in terms of the vet cover for the premium paid because you're not paying for extras like 3rd party liability, overseas cover, death due to illness/accident, lost pet cover, holiday cancellation or boarding cover—think carefully about what type of cover is best for you and your pet as it's not worth saving a few quid is you don't have the cover you need.

chart comparing pet insurance quotes by policy type for Direct Line vs the market average
How Do Direct Line's Prices Compare?

Below you can see how insurance premiums can change with a higher excess. While a lower premium is certainly attractive, remember that you'll pay more towards vet fees (and Direct Line will pay less) if you opt for a higher excess.

Policy NamePolicy TypeExcessMonthly PremiumAnnual Premium
Essential PolicyTime Limited£95£18£221
£190£15£176
Difference£95-£4-£45
Advanced PolicyMax Benefit£95£31£368
£190£24£293
Difference£95-£6-£76

As you can see in the table above, by claiming once per year a policyholder would be better off with the lower excess—the additional amount paid per claim through a higher excess more than offsets the savings achieved from a lower premium.

Direct Line Notable Features

Direct Line Pet Insurance Features
DentalEssential (Time Limited) policies cover dental injury due to accident, but not illness; Advanced (Max Benefit) policies also cover dental injury due to accident, plus other tooth and gum disease cover up to £1,000, provided your pet has an annual dental exam and recommended treatments were carried out within three months. (Root canals and crowns not covered.)
PawsquadAccess to fully qualified veterinary professionals via video chat or web chat at any time
Cover for Holiday Cut ShortCover if you have to cancel (less than 7 days before you were due to leave) or curtail your holiday because your pet needs emergency life-saving surgery or goes missing (full details can be found in the Policy Wording
Boarding Cover When You're UnwellCover for boarding fees when you're an inpatient at hospital for at least 4 days (full details can be found in the Policy Wording
Travel CoverCover in the EU (Pet Travel Scheme) with a 30 day limit per trip, max 3 trips per policy period. rip length; The amount of vet cover while travelling is the same as if you were in the UK
Death due to IllnessReimbursement of purchase price of your pet (up to £1,500), if he/she dies due to illness. Only available for dogs up to 9 years old and cats up to 11 years old; You must provide evidence of the amount you paid/donated for your pet or else you will only get £35 for a cat or £70 for a dog
Death due to AccidentReimbursement of purchase price of your pet (up to £1,500), if he/she dies due to accident. You must provide evidence of the amount you paid/donated for your pet or else you will only get £35 for a cat or £70 for a dog
Complementary TherapyAcupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine, Chiropractic manipulation, physiotherapy, osteopathy, hydrotherapy, etc. Hydrotherapy and physiotherapy are subject to £35/session limits, max of 15 sessions. Other complementary therapies have no specific limits, but just come out of the overall vet fee limit.

Types of Direct Line Dog and Cat Insurance Policies

Direct Line offers two pet insurance policies: one Time Limited and one Maximum Benefit, offering £4,000 and £8,000 of cover, respectively.

Essential Cover (a Time Limited plan)

Direct Line's Essential cover will cover new conditions for up to 12 months from the first date of treatment, with a vet fee limit of £4,000. For every condition, once the vet fees have reached £4,000 of reimbursement or 12 months have passed since the beginning of your pet's treatment, you can no longer receive any cover for that condition.

Keep in mind that bilateral conditions are conditions that affect a body part of which your pet has two (e.g., ears, eyes, ligaments, etc.) and are considered as one condition—for example, if your pet has an ailment with one eye, then after 12 months NEITHER eye will be covered for that ailment.

Advanced Cover (a Max Benefit plan)

Direct Line's Advanced plans offer a Maximum Benefit per condition of £8,000. There is no time limit for claims on a max benefit plan. For example, if your pet incurs £300 of vet bills for an ear infection at age 2, they still have £7,700 of vet cover left over to treat another ear infection, regardless of when it occurs—even years later.

Direct Line Coverage Amounts

Policy NameEssentialAdvanced
Type of policyTime Limited (12 months of cover per condition)Maximum Benefit (no time limit)
Vet fees per condition - up to£4,000£8,000
Dental illnessNot coveredUp to £1,000 (included in the overall vet fee limit)
EuthanasiaNot coveredUp to £100 (included in the overall vet fee limit)
Optional Benefits:
Death from accidental injury or illness – up to£1,500£1,500
Advertising & reward – up to£1,000 (inc. of a £500 reward)£1,000 (inc. of a £500 reward)
Loss of pet from theft or straying – up to£1,500£1,500
Boarding fees if you have to stay in hospital – up to£1,000£1,000
Holiday cancellation – up to£5,000£5,000
(The above optional benefits are only available as a bundle)
Third Party Liability (dogs only) – up to£2,500,000£2,500,000
Overseas travel coverExtends cover if you take a trip overseas to one of the countries included in the Pet Travel Scheme
Quarantine costs up to – £1,500
Loss of pet passport – up to £250
Repeat Tapeworm treatment – reasonable costs
Emergency expenses abroad – up to £300

Direct Line Pet Insurance Customer Experience Ratings

Direct Line pet insurance was ranked 8.7 out of 10 by 705 reviewers at reevoo. According to trustpilot.com, 381 customers ranked Direct Line insurance (all types) with 1.6 out of 10.

How does Direct Line Pet Insurance Compare to Competitors?

To better understand the value of Direct Line Pet Insurance you need to look at it in the context of other available options. We compared this insurer to other similar insurers so you can see which may be more suitable for you.

Direct Line Pet Insurance vs PetPlan

PetPlan Pet Insurance is the largest insurer of dogs and cats in the UK. Due to this, many vets are accustomed to submitting claims on behalf of pet owners, which can save you a lot of hassle—plus you get a full 12 months to submit claims for reimbursement. PetPlan policies include dental illness and injury but don't cover euthanasia. However, older pets (i.e., dogs aged 5 or 8 depending on breed, cats aged 10) are not eligible for new Lifetime policies and can only sign up for a Time Limited policy. Additionally, owners of older pets must contribute more towards vet bills, through the addition of a 20% copay.

Quick Takeaway: If you want a Lifetime plan (not available from Direct Line), then PetPlan is the most prolific in the market—it depends on the needs of you and your pet.

Direct Line Insurance vs Agria Pet Insurance

Agria Pet Insurance offers comprehensive Lifetime plans for lower-than-average prices. They're able to charge lower premiums by having the pet owner pay a 10% copay in addition to the fixed excess (of £95 or £160 for dogs, £85 or £160 for cats). We like that Agria is a specialist pet insurer with a long history. Agria plans offer some desirable features, such as dental, euthanasia and cremation/burial, plus congenital conditions are not specifically excluded from cover. 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 Lifetime plan but are worried about the cost of the premium, Agria can be a good option—but you'll have to pay a larger share of any vet bills that arise.

Direct Line Pet Insurance vs Animal Friends Pet Insurance

Animal Friends Pet Insurance is a specialist pet insurer, whose plans stand out for lower-than-average premiums (partially achieved through per condition limits, even on Lifetime plans) and they publicly state on their website that they don't penalize for claims by increasing premiums upon renewal. Those with older pets can insure their dogs and cats with Animal Friends, as there is no upper age limit for new policies, even Lifetime cover—but there is a 20% copay (in addition to the £99 fixed excess) for dogs aged 8+ and cats aged 10+. Animal Friends doesn't have dental cover or a vet line to call with queries, however, plus claims need to be submitted within 90 days. Our price check showed a range of £130 to £390 for Lifetime cover for a healthy, young crossbreed dog, significantly lower than average.

Bottom Line: If you're very price conscious, you'll probably find a lower premium and better value with Animal Friends plans.

Other Useful Information

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