PDSA Pet Insurance Review: Are the Restrictions Worth it?

PDSA Pet Insurance Review: Are the Restrictions Worth it?

A short claim window, higher premiums and extra rules make PDSA less desirable for pet insurance.

Good for

  • Older pets (no excess increase plus no age limit on new policies)
  • Euthanasia cover
  • Prescription food cover

Bad for

  • Value
  • Dental illness
  • Those wanting a long time to claim
  • Downloading claim forms online (have to call or email)
  • Waiting to treat on Time Limited policies (12-month clock starts from when condition first noticed, not when treatment starts)
  • Out-of-hours cover

Editor's Rating


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.

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

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According to our research, PDSA pet insurance prices are quite high, offering relatively poor value for your money. Plus, claiming conditions are less than ideal (i.e., only 60 days to submit claims and claim forms can't be conveniently downloaded online). We'd recommend looking at Agria Pet Insurance, Pet Protect Pet Insurance and Animal Friends Pet Insurance for better value dog and cat insurance; or PetPlan Pet Insurance if you feel safer with the UK's largest pet insurer.

Choosing the right cat or dog insurance policy for you will depend upon the individual needs of you and your pet. Use the information in this guide to help you understand which features are important to you in order to make the best buying decision. We also advise reading through the policy wording before you buy.

PDSA Key Points

  • Choice of Accident Only, Time Limited or Lifetime
  • Dental cover for accidents only
  • Reimbursement of medicines limited to 100% mark up on the manufacturer’s or wholesaler’s price
  • Must notify PDSA before any complementary treatments begin
  • Only 60 days to submit claims for reimbursement
  • Must call or email PDSA for a claim form (not available online)
  • Time Limited policies: 12-month clock starts from when condition first noticed (not when treatment starts)
  • Out-of-hours charges not covered unless life threatening or changing
  • Excess/copay doesn't increase for older pets
  • No upper age limit (even for new lifetime policies)
  • Prescription food covered
  • Euthanasia cover

In This Review

PDSA Pet Insurance Review

While we love PDSA as an organization, we aren't big fans of their pet insurance. Price are high for what you get and submitting claims can be problematic (e.g., only 60 days to submit and you can't download claim forms online).

In terms of pricing, PDSA's accident & illness policies came out more expensive than average in our recent survey of a dozen popular UK insurers. While the PDSA Accident Only premium was around 20% cheaper than average, the accident & illness Time Limited and Lifetime policy premiums were roughly 20% higher than average.

Some Notable Exclusions: There are a few specific exclusions that you should be aware of as they may limit your ability to claim successfully. For instance, in order for your policy to remain valid and for your claims to be reimbursed, pets must have a regular annual check-up with the vet, including vaccinations against the following:

  • Dogs: distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parvovirus
  • Cats: feline infectious enteritis, feline influenza, feline herpes virus, feline calicivirus and feline leukaemia

We should note also that vet referrals are only reimbursable if the second vet disagrees with the first. If the two vets come to the same conclusion on diagnosis or treatment, then PDSA will only pay for one claim. Additionally, diagnosis procedures performed for a second time by the referral vet are not covered.

Prescription Food Prescription food to dissolve bladder stones or crystals in urine is covered up to a maximum of £100 per period of insurance, as long as it's prescribed by the vet (and can only be bought from your vet or an online pharmacy).

Excess: The excess is payable each year for each illness or injury, and consists of a £75 fixed excess and a 10% variable excess (copay). After paying the £75 fixed excess for a condition, the petowner is then responsible for 10% of all remaining vet bills associated with that condition. To learn more about the potential repercussions of raising your excess, see our article on the trade offs of choosing a higher excess/lower premium. The excess stays the same as your pet ages; the excess does not increase for older pets.

Claims—When to Submit: In order to be reimbursed, you must submit the claim form, invoices and a full clinical history to the PDSA within 60 days of first treatment. Separately, you must notify PDSA within 60 days of discovering the incident. By missing the 60-day window, your claim may not be paid. Claims forms are not available online. To receive a claim form, you must either call (0333 234 0599) or email ([email protected]). PDSA can pay your claim settlement directly to you vet. It may be worth asking your vet if they will accept payment from PDSA and/or send in claims forms on your behalf.

PDSA Insurance for Older Pets: Once your pet transitions into the "older" category—9 years for dogs and 11 years old for cats—you are not longer able to claim under Death Due to Illness. This is the only change to policy cover for older pets. There is no change to the excess as your pet ages, nor are there any upper age restrictions for new policies. A new PDSA policy can be taken out regardless of your pet's age. Older pets are welcome to sign up to new policies (even Lifetime), although owners of older pets are likely to pay higher premiums.

PDSA Quote Comparison

In order to give you a general idea of how prices vary by features, we gathered dog insurance quotes for each of PDSA's pet insurance products for a three-month-old male cockapoo. Use this information to help decide what type of policy and premium fits in your budget.

chart showing price comparison of dog insurance for PDSA
How Prices Vary Across PDSA Dog Insurance Policies

Keep in mind that some breeds (e.g., Bulldogs) and older pets will cost more to insure. For more information on how prices are affected by breed and age, please read our article on the Average Cost of Pet Insurance.

PDSA Premiums vs. the Market Average

In our recent study PDSA quotes were 15% - 20% more expensive than average, with the exception of Accident Only cover which was 24% cheaper than average. While comparing pet insurance quotes can be difficult due to significant variation in excess and coverage amounts, we think it is still useful to have a rough idea of how prices compare. As you can see below, with the exception of Accident Only, PDSA does not offer very good value—average PDSA premiums were higher for less average vet cover.

chart showing price comparison of dog insurance for Animal Friends vs the market average premium
How Animal Friends Dog Insurance Premiums Compare to the Market
Policy TypeAverage Annual PremiumAverage Vet CoverAverage Excess
Accident OnlyPDSA (Accident Only)£68£2,000£75 + 10%
Market Average£89£2,286£104
Time LimitedPDSA (Classic)£231£2,000£75 + 10%
Market Average£189£2,357£101
LifetimePDSA (average of Advance, Advance Plus, Ultimate, Ultimate Plus)£482£4,250£75 + 10%
Market Average£419£6,924£135

PDSA Notable Features

Here is a brief overview of the notable features of Argos dog and cat insurance. For a complete rundown of the details and exclusions, please refer to the policy documents.

PDSA Pet Insurance Features
ExcessPDSA imposes both a fixed AND a variable excess on vet bills—£75 and 10%, respectively.
Older PetsPets of any age can sign up for new PDSA insurance policies (even Lifetime). Additionally, the excess does not rise for older pets.
ClaimingYou must call (0333 234 0599) or email ([email protected]) for a claims form. All claims must be submitted within just 60 days.
PetanswerPDSA policyholders can call the petanswer helpline with queries 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Petanswer telephone: 0303 334 0611.
Cover for Holiday Cut ShortCover if you have to cancel or curtail your holiday because your pet needs emergency life-saving surgery within 7 days of departure
Boarding Cover When You're UnwellBoarding fees when you're at hospital for more than 96 hours
DentalCover for dental treatment resulting from accidents only (illnesses like decay or infection not covered)
TravelCover for up to 30 days in each policy year for travel in EU PETS scheme countries on Classic, Advance, Advance Plus and Ultimate cover (or 90 days on Ultimate Plus)
Euthanasiaup to £100

Types of PDSA Policies

PDSA offers pet owners the choice between an Accident-Only plan, a 12-month Time Limited plan and four Lifetime pet insurance plans. Generally speaking, Lifetime policies are the most comprehensive type of pet insurance. If you'd like to learn more about what's covered by pet insurance in general, please read our article cover.

Accident Only Cover

PDSA's Accident Only pet insurance does not provide any reimbursement for vet bills related to illness, such as infections or tumours. As a maximum benefit plan, each accident is entitled to £2,000 of cover. After an accident, this level of cover goes down as you claim, and does not reset when you renew your policy. For example, if your pet had multiple injuries like a broken leg and internal bleeding from a traffic accident, you would pay one excess (£75 plus 10% of remaining vet bills) for the treatment of all related injuries; vet bills for the treatment of both the broken leg and the internal bleeding would be covered up to £2,000.

You would, however, have a separate £2,000 of cover for a separate accident since the policy limits are "per incident."

Time Limited Cover

PDSA's Classic pet insurance products cover up to £2,000 per incident (illness or accident), for treatment expenses lasting up to 12 months from the time first noticed by you or your vet—NOT when treatment starts. This is an important point, as the clock may start ticking sooner than you expect, especially if treatment is delayed for any reason. If you opt for a PDSA Time Limited plan, it's probably best to start your dog or cat's recommended treatment ASAP.

You may claim for many treatments related to any one incident until you've reached £2,000 of reimbursement or 12 months have passed (whichever comes first). After that time, you can never claim for that incident again. You are able to claim on multiple, unrelated incidents at the same time, however.

One of the largest drawbacks of time-limited policies is that bilateral conditions are counted as one condition—conditions that affect one part of your pet's body of which it has more (e.g., ears or eyes). For example, an infection in one ear would start the 12-month clock ticking for BOTH ears.

Keep in mind that you may end up paying the fixed £75 excess twice for one incident. Claims related to that incident that spread over the full 12-months probably fall in two different policy years. You pay the excess once per incident, per year.

Lifetime Cover

PDSA offers four levels of Lifetime insurance, ranging from £1,500 to £8,000 of vet bill cover per year. As lifetime policies, the level of cover resets each year when you renew. Also, there is no time limit on how long you can claim (in contrast to the Time Limited policy), which is useful for treatment costs associated with recurring or chronic conditions.

PDSA Pet Insurance Coverage Amounts

BenefitAccident OnlyClassicAdvanceAdvance PlusUltimateUltimate Plus
Product typeMaximum benefit12 monthLifetimeLifetimeLifetimeLifetime
Veterinary fees£2,000£2,000£1,500£3,000£4,500£8,000
per incidentper incidentper yearper yearper yearper year
Fixed excess (per incident, per year)£74£75£75£75£75£75
Variable excess (per incident, per year)10%10%10%10%10%10%
Inner limit MRI costn/a£1,000£1,500£1,500£1,500£1,500
Inner limit CT scan costn/a£600£900£900£900£900
Death of your pet (illness) - dogs under aged 9 & cats under aged 11n/a£500£500£700£1,000£1,500
Death of your pet (injury)£200£500£500£700£1,000£1,500
Advertising costsn/a£250£250£250£250£250
Reward costsn/a£250£250£450£750£1,250
Theft and strayingn/a£500£500£700£1,000£1,500
Boarding feesn/a£500£500£700£1,000£1,500
Third party legal liability (dogs only)£1M£1M£1M£1M£1M£1M
Third party legal liability excess£249£250£250£250£250£250
Holiday cancellation/curtailment£250£500£500£700£1,000£1,500
Quarantine costs£150£150£150£150£150£150
Overseas cover30 days30 days30 days30 days30 days90 days
Loss of PETS passport£250£250£250£250£250£250
Emergency expenses cover abroad£150£150£150£150£150£150

PDSA Customer Experience Ratings

PDSA only ranks 3 out of 5 stars on Trust Pilot, but the data may not be reliable—only 12 reviews were posted, many of which are for PDSA generally not PDSA insurance specifically.

Defaqto has awarded a 5 Star rating to PDSA'a Ultimate and Ultimate Plus policies.

How does PDSA Pet Insurance Compare to Competitors?

To better understand the value of PDSA 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.

PDSA Pet Insurance vs Agria Pet Insurance

Agria Pet Insurance offers comprehensive Lifetime plans for lower-than-average prices and is one of our favourite pet insurers. Many features are offered as extras, which means that you don't need to pay for certain features if you don't want to—if you never take your pet abroad to Europe, then you don't need to buy the Travel cover. Another way that Agria keeps prices lower is through a 10% copay/variable excess so pet owners contribute more towards vet fees—the pet owner is responsible for the fixed excess (£95 or £160 for dogs, £85 or £160 for cats) than another 10% of vet bills. We like that Agria is a specialist pet insurer with a long history, offering some desirable features such as dental, euthanasia and cremation/burial, sensible out-of-hours reimbursement and cover for congenital conditions. 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 dental illness cover, better out-of-hours reimbursement and a longer time to submit claims, Agria Plans can be a good option, but you'll have a copay.

PDSA 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.

PDSA Pet Insurance vs Asda Pet Insurance

Asda Pet Insurance can be a good option for those with older pets as they're eligible for Lifetime cover with Asda, regardless of age. The excess increases with a 10% copay when dogs turn 5/cats turn 7 (but this is lower than the 20% copay imposed by many insurers). There's a 24/7 vet helpline but no vet cover for tooth decay or tooth/gum disease. Our price check for a young, healthy dog showed a range of £275 for £2,000 of Lifetime cover with a £135 copay up to £490 for £7,500 of cover with a lower £85 excess.

Bottom Line: If you're attracted to PDSA for a new Lifetime policy for your older pet, Asda plans can be another good option.

Other Useful Information

Comments and Questions

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.