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M&S Pet Insurance is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance, which underwrites many other UK pet insurance brands and is also one of the UK's largest car insurance underwriters. But is M&S pet insurance any good? Find out what we think M&S could do better, how prices compare to the UK market and what customers have to say.
In This Review
- Overall M&S Pet Insurance Review
- Policy and Coverage Options
- How to Claim and Other Useful Info
- Comparing M&S Pet Insurance to the Competition
M&S Pet Insurance Review
M&S has three different pet insurance options: a time limited plan, a max benefit/Lifetime plan and a Lifetime plan. Their best offering is the "Premier" plan with up to £7,000 of Lifetime vet cover that resets each year when you renew.
How do prices compare? Our price comparison showed that M&S pet insurance premiums are quite competitive to the average cost of pet insurance in the UK. Their £4k "Standard" plan looks like it creates the most value, BUT is has a further limitation of £1,000 per condition per policy year—while this makes Lifetime cover more affordable, this limit won't be enough to cover many situations such as some surgeries or a long stay in hospital. If the Premier plan fits in your budget it can provide a lot more cover.
If you're insuring a bulldog or any other breed known for genetic/hereditary conditions, it's good to note that these issues should be covered with an M&S policy up to the policy limits (e.g., they are not specifically excluded in the Policy Wording)—so long as there was no sign of the illness either before you purchased the policy or within the first 14 days.
Dental injury is covered on all plans, but only the top two tiers (Standard & Premier) include dental injury.
We like that all policies include some cover for putting your pet to sleep, should the need arise, and cremation or burial.
Limitations of M&S Pet Insurance
- Pet owners must submit claims within 60 days of vet treatment starting—this is a very short period of time, in our opinion. Competing plans in the market such as Petplan and John Lewis give a 12 month window.
- Dental illness only covered on their top-tier "Premier" plan.
- M&S Pet Insurance will only cover the cost of vet treatment outside normal surgery hours where a vet considers your pet cannot wait until normal surgery hours.
- The mid-tier "Standard" plan may have a £4k per year limit, but they'll only pay up to £1,000 for any one condition. This won't be enough to handle a lot of situations (e.g., surgery or your pet staying in hospital for days).
- Only the top tier "Premier" plan includes dental illness.
What is the M&S Pet Insurance Excess?
The excess is the amount you pay toward a claim. With a M&S policy, you have a few options: £50, £100 or £150 for younger pets and £150, £200 or £250 for pets aged 9 or older:
|Pets less than age 9 at start of vet treatment:||£50 or £100 or £150|
|Pets aged 9 or over at start of vet treatment:||£150 or £200 or £250|
|Excess is paid for each separate illness or injury:||Yes||Yes, in each year you claim||Yes, in each year you claim|
Choosing a higher excess should reduce the premium you pay. While paying less for your pet health cover sounds like a good deal, the higher excess means you'll contribute more towards any claims. If you're trying to decide which fixed excess amount is more suitable, consider how many times you expect to claim a year and the amount you'll save in premium by choosing a higher excess amount. Generally speaking, we've found that if you'll claim once per year (or not at all) then it ends up cheaper to go for a higher fixed excess/lower premium option; if you'll claim 2 or more times per year then you'll typically save more with the lower excess/higher premium option.
There are very few customer reviews of Marks & Spencer pet insurance online. If you have experience with them, please leave your feedback in our comments section at the bottom of this review—we'd like to hear what you have to say.
We found a few comments on SmartMoneyPeople and MoneySavingExpert, but they are few and far between. We saw complaints about prices rising (this tends to happen over time as your pet gets older, even if you don't claim) and praise about how the company handled claims, in particular end of life situations. Here are some real customer comments:
"The premium has gone up year on year way above inflation. Last year she got pancreatitis. Not too serious with a cat, and the only cost has been £12 a month tablets. M & S take a £50 excess of and pay 80% of the cost, so reimbursed us about £70. Just had renewal through. Premium has gone up by 55% to £450 a year.""Easy onboarding, great policy benefits at reasonable price."
"I've spent most of the last 3 weeks being very grateful that I had M&S pet insurance. Sadly I lost my cat, after a 5-day stay in hospital which totalled £5,006. M&S covered the whole bill, and did so through a direct claim, I only had to fill in 1 form and then nothing. They also automatically cancelled my policy when they were informed of the death of my pet, and refunded me so that I only paid the premium up until her death, without my even having to ask. Yes, they are a little more expensive than some, more budget options but I would not hesitate to use them, and am recommending them to anyone looking for pet insurance. The excess was only £50 too, amazingly. Thanks M&S, you made a horrendous time easier."
"We've never had to claim yet our monthly charge goes up quite a lot every year."
M&S Pet Insurance Quote Comparison
M&S prices are roughly in line with market averages. As you can see in the chart below, it initially appears that M&S's Standard plan offers particularly good value for a £4k Lifetime product, but there's more to the story.
In addition to the annual vet cover limit of £4,000, the Standard plan also has a £1,000 per condition per policy period limit, which further restricts the amount you can claim when your pet falls ill or is injured. That's not to say the Standard plan isn't suitable for some people. The £1k/condition/year limit does reduce the price drastically, potentially bringing a Lifetime product within reach of your budget—but it will fall short if you pet racks up significant vet bills for a condition one year.
Interestingly, our price check showed higher prices at a comparison site, versus buying direct from the M&S Pet Insurance site, although not by much for the £4k plan. We'd recommend checking prices at both places to ensure you're getting the best deal available.
M&S Pet Insurance Notable Features
Below is a brief overview of the more notable features of M&S dog and cat insurance. For a complete rundown of the details and exclusions, please refer to the policy documents.
|M&S Pet Insurance Features|
|Dental Cover||For Essential policies, M&S will not pay any treatment caused by, relating from or relating to teeth or gums unless caused by an injury that was insured by this policy; For Standard and Premier policies, they will not pay the cost of treating a dental condition unless your pet has had its teeth checked in the 12 months before the condition that you are claiming for started and your pet has had all the vet treatment recommended during that check carried out.|
|Holiday Cancellation||Premier policies only include cover up to £3,000 for lost travel and accommodation expenses if you have to cut short/cancel a trip because you pet goes missing in UK during your trip, or is ill or injured while you are away or in the 9 days before your trip starts and your pet needs emergency vet treatment; Covers up to three trips in any period of insurance; No trip can last longer than 60 days.|
|Boarding Fees if You're Unwell||For Standard and Premier policies only; If you or a member of your family is hospitalised and no other member of your family is able to look after your pet, they will pay for the cost of the pet minder/boarding fees for the whole of your hospital stay; They'll pay the cost of an inpatient medical certificate or treating doctor/hospital letter to support your claim, excluding Hospitalisation that: |
|Death and Loss||Cover for the purchase price up to £600 or £1,500, depending on plan, if your pet strays or is lost, stolen or sadly dies from illness or injury; Claims due to illness only valid for pets less than age 9 only.|
|Travel||Premier policies only; Cover for up to 60 days per trip, up to 3 trips per policy year when travelling to member countries in the EU through the PETS travel scheme|
|Congenital & Hereditary Diseases||These are not specifically excluded, so long as your pet showed no signs before your policy started or in the first 14 days of the policy|
|Prescription Diets||Cover for food recommended by your vet in order to treat a condition including when the pet is hospitalised; excluding obesity and oral hygiene diets|
|Putting your pet to sleep and Cremation or Burial||Up to £100 (Essential and Standard) or £200 (Premier)|
|vetfone Vet Nurse Advice Helpline||M&S Pet Insurance's 24-hour vetline can be reached at 0800 980 5583 when you need advice regarding your pet's health|
Types of M&S Pet Insurance Policies
M&S offers three types of pet insurance plans—lifetime, max benefit and a combined 12 month/max benefit plan. Generally speaking, Lifetime policies offer the most comprehensive cover, which can be especially useful for younger pets to protect the owner against the financial strain of recurring/chronic injuries/illnesses over the course of the pet's life.
M&S Pet Insurance Essential Plan
The Essential plan is essentially a Time Limited plan, so is the most restrictive and least beneficial of all of M&S's plans. Vet treatment is covered for each new illness or injury up to a maximum claim period of 12 months, up to £3,000. The claim period starts from the date of the first vet treatment and can continue until either limit is reached provided your policy remains in force. Once you reach the 12 month or £3,000 limit, you can't claim for the same illness or injury in future or continue to receive payment for existing treatment—even if you renew the policy.
This type of cover is risky due to bilateral conditions—illnesses that can affect both sides of the body. If, for example, your dog has an ear infection in the left ear when they turn two years old, the 12 month clock starts for ear infections for BOTH ears and neither ear would be covered for subsequent ear infections from when they turn three years old.
M&S Pet Insurance Standard Plan
A Maximum Benefit-style plan, the Standard plan provides vet treatment for all illnesses and injuries up to a total limit of £4,000 each year, with a total limit of £1,000 for each separate illness or injury claim a year. You can claim for ongoing illness or injuries, provided you continue to renew your policy, with no time limit on how long vet treatment can last, up to these limits.
M&S Pet Insurance Premier Plan
The Premier plan is M&S's Lifetime pet insurance plan—their best and highest level of cover. It provides vet treatment for all illnesses and injuries up to a total limit of £7,000 each year, a pot that resets each year when you renew. You can claim for ongoing illness or injuries, so long as you continue to renew your policy, with no time limit on how long vet treatment can last, up to this limit.
M&S Coverage Amounts
|Veterinary fees and treatment period up to, per period of insurance:||£7,000 in total in each period of insurance (12 months). No separate limit on each illness or injury||£4,000 in total in each period of insurance (12 months). £1,000 maximum each illness or injury in each period of insurance||£3,000 each illness or injury or a maximum claim period of 12 months (whichever is reached first). Claim period starts from the first date of vet treatment|
|Complementary treatment including hydrotherapy up to:||£1,000||£500||£500|
|Treatment food up to:||£200||Not covered||Not covered|
|Behavioural disorder up to:||£250||Not covered||Not covered|
|Dental treatment:||Injury and illness||Injury and illness||Injury only|
|Travel expenses no excess applies) up to:||30p a mile||Not covered||Not covered|
|Third party liability dogs only) up to:||£2,000,000||£1,000,000||£1,000,000|
|Death from injury up to:||£1,500||£600||£600|
|Death from illness less than age 9 only) up to:||£1,500||£600||£600|
|Putting your pet to sleep and cremation or burial no excess applies) up to:||£200||£100||£100|
|Advertising for missing pet up to:||£1,250||£600||£600|
|Reward for missing pet up to:||£750||£600||£600|
|Stolen or missing pet up to:||£1,500||£600||£600|
|Emergency boarding or daily minding up to:||£70 per week, £750 in total||£60 per week, £600 in total||Not covered|
|Pets abroad cover includes the following number of trips, of up to 60 days each:||3||0||0|
|Pets abroad cover:||£2,000||Not covered||Not covered|
|Holiday cancellation/cutting your trip short:||£3,000||Not covered||Not covered|
How does M&S Pet Insurance Compare to Competitors?
To better understand the value of M&S pet insurance you need to look at it in the context of other available options. We compared it to other plans in the market so you can see which may be more suitable for you.
M&S Pet Insurance vs PetPlan Pet Insurance
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 might make getting reimbursed a bit easier. 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.
Bottom Line: If you want a lower upfront premium, M&S can be an attractive option, but you have less time to submit claims.
M&S Pet Insurance vs John Lewis Pet Insurance
John Lewis Pet Insurance offers comprehensive Lifetime plans with £3,000, £7,500 or £12,000 of vet cover. Pet owners have a long time to submit claims and have their choice of excess—so those hoping for a lower excess can choose one as low as £60. The excess will rise for older pets, however, becoming the higher of your fixed £ excess and 20% of the vet bill for each condition each year. Other features include travel for up to 3 trips up to 60 days each with your pet to EU countries that are part of the PETS scheme, dental injury (but not illness), a 24-hour vetfone, euthanasia cover, cover if your holiday is cut short due to your pet being ill and boarding cover if you are hospitalized unexpectedly. Expect to pay around £375 for £3k of cover with a £60 excess or £550 for £7.5k of cover. A higher excess will bring the price down.
Bottom Line: John Lewis is another solid option to consider for pet insurance, especially if you want a higher vet limit.
M&S Pet Insurance vs Animal Friends Pet Insurance
Animal Friends Pet Insurance is another 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 cats and dogs, as there is no upper age limit for new policies, even Lifetime cover. They don't have dental cover or a vet line to call with queries, however, plus claims need to be submitted more quickly, 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: Those looking for a lower-priced Lifetime plan might also want to consider Animal Friends, or those looking to insure an older pet—if you're comfortable with per-condition annual limits on Lifetime plans.
How to Claim and Other Useful Information
If you need to make a claim, you should call M&S pet insurance as soon as possible on 0800 980 8750. Please have your policy number or claim number when you call. Also, there is a link to a claim form below, which can be scanned and emailed or posted to M&S Pet Insurance.