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Pet cover can help with vet bills. Protect your dog or cat today.
Direct Line is a household name for car and home insurance, but is their pet insurance any good? Their customer reviews highlight a few issues and whilst you can add some nice-to-have features, there are some drawbacks to learn about before you decide if Direct Line is the best pet insurance for you.
In This Review
- Overall Review
- Policy and Coverage Options
- Comparing Direct Line to the Competition
Direct Line Pet Insurance Review
Direct Line two types of accident & illness pet insurance: Time Limited and Maximum Benefit. They don't sell Lifetime or Accident Only cover. If you want a Lifetime plan, you'll need to look elsewhere. Here are the two Direct Line policies on offer:
- Essential: £4,000 of 12-month vet cover per condition
- Advanced: £8,000 of max benefit vet cover per condition.
Pet owners have a is choice of a £95 fixed excess or £190 for dogs (£80 or £160 for cats).
Direct Line policies are relatively stripped back, which can help to lower the premium for pet owners who really just want vet health cover. For those wanting extra features, here is the list of optional extras you can add for an additional premium.
- 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)
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.
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.
Direct Line Pet Insurance Key Facts
- Euthanasia cover (Advanced plans only)
- Dental accident on both plans
- Dental illness only on the 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
Customer Reviews and Ratings
User reviews for Direct Line insurance are generally strong. More than 2,000 customers have left reviews via Reevo, giving the company a solid 8.9 out of 5 stars. Here is a sample of real customer comments so you can get an idea of a representative customer experience:
"Never had to make a claim before until just recently and direct line made it so stress free and dealt directly with our vet leaving us to spend the time looking after our dog whilst she recovered.""Was no fuss, sent off claim form and received payment, within two weeks."
"Price hikes following claims and pet turning 10 yrs old."
"... been trying to ring them on the 0800 number for THREE days now, on hold on hold on hold..."
"Comprehensive cover. Never had a claim quibbled."
"My dog had a trauma to a tooth, Direct Line wouldn't pay out anything towards my £3,000 bill."
"Insurance double in price in a year."
"3 lumps removed from pet and 3 lots of excess removed from claim"
|Direct Line Customer Reviews and Ratings|
|Trustpilot customer reviews||8.9 out of 10|
|Defaqto Feature Ratings (out of 5)|
|Essential (no options)||2 stars|
|Advanced (no options)||2 stars|
|Essential (all options)||3 stars|
|Advanced (all options)||5 stars|
Direct Line Quote Comparison
According to the data, Direct Line prices seem to be roughly in line with the average cost of pet insurance in the UK market. We gathered sample prices for a young, health, medium-sized, crossbreed dog to see how prices vary between the Essential and Advanced policies, as well as by choice of excess.
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.
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 Name||Policy Type||Excess||Monthly Premium||Annual Premium|
|Essential Policy||Time Limited||£95||£18||£221|
|Advanced Policy||Max Benefit||£95||£31||£368|
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|
|Dental||Essential (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.)|
|Pawsquad||Access to fully qualified veterinary professionals via video chat or web chat at any time|
|Cover for Holiday Cut Short||Cover 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 Unwell||Cover 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 Cover||Cover in the EU (Pet Travel Scheme) with a 30 day limit per trip, max 3 trips per policy period. The amount of vet cover while travelling is the same as if you were in the UK|
|Death due to Illness||Reimbursement 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 Accident||Reimbursement 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 Therapy||Acupuncture, 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. They do not sell a Lifetime pet insurance plan.
Essential (Time Limited)
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 (Max Benefit)
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
|Type of policy||Time Limited (12 months of cover per condition)||Maximum Benefit (no time limit)|
|Vet fees per condition - up to||£4,000||£8,000|
|Dental illness||Not covered||Up to £1,000 (included in the overall vet fee limit)|
|Euthanasia||Not covered||Up to £100 (included in the overall vet fee limit)|
|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 cover||Extends 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|
In addition to the above mentioned features, Direct Line imposes certain "inner limits" that fall within the vet fee limits. That is, they will pay a maximum amount for certain procedures or tests. If your vet charges more, you might get less back from a claim than you expect.
|Consultation fees for each separate visit to the vet||Up to £45|
|Additional out of hours fees for each separate out of hours visit||Up to £110|
|Histology fees including any handling and interpretation fees||Up to £70|
|Cytology fees, including any handling and interpretation fees||Up 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|
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), you might want to consider PetPlan, the biggest UK pet insurance brand. But you'll pay a higher excess once your pet hits a certain age.
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 due to the copay.
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 with the option of Lifetime cover.