Pet insurance is not mandatory. In fact, only 30% of dogs and 15% of cats are covered in the UK. But with vet bills potentially costing hundreds or even thousands of pounds if a pet is injured or falls ill, pet insurance is recommended to help reduce the financial shock of treating your pet. By following our money-saving tips you can have pet insurance for less—important, as insurance is just one of the many expenses of dog ownership.
Ways to Save Money on Pet Insurance
The average cost of pet insurance in the UK is £308 per year for a policy that covers both accidents & illnesses for dogs; cats are a bit cheaper to insure at a cost of £257 per year. Here are the primary methods of bringing this cost down:
Picking a suitable type of cover
Choosing certain types of pet insurance over others can save you 17% to 80% in premiums per year, but we recommend caution before you choose a plan that limits the types of conditions that are covered, the time a condition is covered and the cover level per condition.
The four main types of pet insurance—Accident Only, Time Limited, Max Benefit and Lifetime—vary noticeably in price but also in cover details. For instance, while Accident Only plans are typically the cheapest they won't cover any illnesses (e.g., infections, tumours, etc.). Time Limited plans reimburse for illnesses but for a maximum of 12 months usually. Lifetime plans offer the "best" cover since limits reset each year, giving you a new pot of money to draw upon if the need arises—but these are also the most expensive plans.
Choosing a plan with less cover may reduce your premiums payments but could end up costing you more in the long run, should your pet have a serious accident/illness or a recurring condition. If you can find a Lifetime pet insurance policy in your budget, a plan of this type will typically offer more comprehensive cover. The next-best alternative would be a Max Benefit plan, which you can generally secure for around 17% less than a Lifetime plan.
Making your pet insurance purchase online can often save you money. The discount varies from insurer to insurer but you'll pay 10% to 15% less with many insurers when you buy online instead of over the phone.
Additionally, how you pay (monthly or annually) can sometimes impact the cost of your premium. If your insurer charges extra for monthly payments then you can save an average of 8.5% when you pay your pet insurance upfront annually instead. While paying once per year might result in a lower all-in premium cost, it only makes sense if you can afford the payment—we generally wouldn't recommend paying an annual premium with a credit card and then carrying the balance because credit card interest rates are frequently higher than you'd pay to the insurance company for the monthly payment option. Not all insurers charge extra for monthly payments but this is a detail to look out for when you're comparison shopping.
Getting the right amount of cover
Finding the right level of insurance cover for you and your pet is a balance—generally speaking you want as much cover as you can afford but you don't want to pay for cover you don't need. While opting for a pet insurance plan with less vet cover is another way to reduce your premium, it's important to have enough cover to provide the financial support you'll need to cover unexpected vet bills. This is probably why plans with mid-level cover amounts are often the most popular.
Increasing the excess amount
Some pet insurers give you a choice of excess (the amount you pay towards a claim). Choosing a higher excess will lower your premiums, since you agree to contribute more towards any vet bills. For instance, we recently found that going with a £200 excess (instead of £60) for a Tesco pet policy could reduce your premium by 20%.
While opting for a higher excess is a way to save money on your premiums, we would caution you to consider the repercussions of a higher excess should you have to claim. You need to be sure you have enough money on hand to pay for the excess, should you ever need to claim. Also, you'll find the policy won't cover more minor incidents if the excess is too high. The typical excess amount is in the range of £100 to £120—be careful of going any higher.
Taking advantage of multi-pet discounts
Most pet insurers will offer a discount if you insure more than one pet. Common discounts are in the 5% to 15% range, although some offers are a fixed amount per month, as you can see of the sample of popular pet insurers below. If you have more than one pet, be sure to look out for multi-pet discounts.
|Insurance Company||Mulit-Pet Discount|
|Petplan||£1/month or £36 per year off your total|
|Agria||5% off of all policies|
|Asda||10% off all policies|
|Sainsbury's Bank||£1 per pet per month (max 6 pets)|
|Direct Line||Save 12.5% when you insure more than 1 pet (first 12 months only)|
For all types of insurance, comparing quotes across different policies is a key to locking in a good pet insurance price. There are dozens of pet insurers in the UK, all hoping you'll pick them to insure your pet. While you might expect that insurers price according to what's available in the rest of the market, this is not always the case. For instance, we recently found the average cost of annual dog insurance to be £245, but with a very wide range from, for instance, £133 to £733 for Lifetime cover for a healthy, young crossbreed dog. Depending on the features you're after and the age, breed and health of your pet, you may find a wide range in quotes so you can potentially save hundreds of pounds by shopping around.