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Does Pet Insurance Start Immediately?

Compare Cheap Pet Insurance

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

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Wondering how soon you can take your dog or cat to the vet after getting pet insurance? It depends on the pet insurance company and whether your pet is suffering from an accidental injury or an illness. We've gathered waiting period data for dozens of popular UK pet insurance providers so you can compare plans and pick one that starts as quickly as possible, if that's important to you.

When Does Pet Insurance Take Effect?

You pet isn't covered on a new pet insurance policy until an initial waiting period has passed. Any illnesses or injuries that occur or show signs during the waiting period will not be covered by insurance at any point.

The waiting period for illnesses is typically between 10 days and 15 days, with most plans imposing a 14 day waiting period for illnesses. The wait period for injuries due to accidents is nearly always shorter. Around half of the plans we studied had an immediate start for accidents, with no waiting period at all. The waiting period for accidents on the other plans ranged from 24 hours up to 15 days.

To help you see how pet insurance companies compare in terms of when they are effective, we've gathered data from over two dozen popular UK pet insurance companies. As you can see in the table below, Agria and Healthy Pets (available from our partner Compare Cover) arguably have the best cover in terms of a quick start. Both companies cover illnesses after just 10 days and injuries immediately.

When Pet Insurance StartsIllness Waiting PeriodInjury Waiting Period
Agria10 daysimmediate cover
Healthy Pets10 daysimmediate cover
Argos10 days48 hours
Debenhams14 daysimmediate cover
Direct Line14 daysimmediate cover
e&l14 daysimmediate cover
M&S Bank14 daysimmediate cover
Paws & Claws14 daysimmediate cover
Pet Insurance Emporium14 daysimmediate cover
petinsurance.co.uk14 daysimmediate cover
Petplan14 daysimmediate cover
Sainsbury's14 daysimmediate cover
Scratch & Patch14 daysimmediate cover
4Paws14 days24 hours
UIS Pet14 days24 hours
Asda14 days48 hours
John Lewis14 days48 hours
LV=14 days48 hours
More Than14 days48 hours^
PDSA14 days72 hours
everypaw14 days3 days
Animal Friends14 days5 days
Puffin14 days5 days
VetsMediCover14 days5 days
Lifetime Pet Cover14 days5 days^
SunLife14 days14 days
Pet Protect15 days15 days

^Waiting period is 14 days for cruciate ligament problems.

Why is there a waiting period? Pet insurance companies use a waiting period to help prevent pet owners from waiting to buy pet insurance until their pet becomes ill. Without a waiting period, pet owners might be tempted to keep their pet uninsured until an injury or illness occurred. If pet owners did that, however, insurance companies would surely suffer financially and premiums would likely rise significantly for all pet owners. By imposing a waiting period, pet insurance premiums are kept lower for everyone.

Pet Insurance with an Immediate Cover Start

If you've just bought a new pet insurance policy, your dog or cat generally won't be protected until a waiting period has passed. There are two circumstances under which your pet insurance can have an immediate cover start date, however.

First, if you choose a policy with an immediate start for accidents, then your pet will be protected immediately against any injuries. For example, if today you buy a pet insurance policy with an immediate start for accidents, then if your dog is hit by a car tomorrow you can make a valid claim for the vet fees to treat the injury (subject to other conditions, of course).

Second, we have found one pet insurance company that offers immediate cover for illnesses—under one condition. Scratch & Patch (available through our partner Compare Cover) will waive the waiting periods altogether to give you immediate cover for both accidents and illnesses if your pet was insured for veterinary fees under another policy of insurance up to the start date (inception) of the first period of insurance with them, and you provide proof to Scratch & Patch. If you're thinking of switching pet insurance companies, this may be something to keep in mind so that your pet has consistent cover.

If your pet is not currently covered by a pet insurance policy, then the plans with the most immediate start dates we found are Agria and Healthy Pets (available from our partner Compare Cover), as discussed above.

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