PDSA Pet Insurance Review: Are the Restrictions Worth it?

PDSA Pet Insurance Review: Are the Restrictions Worth it?

A short claim window, mandatory copay, no dental illness cover and extra rules make PDSA less than ideal pet insurance, but prices might be cheaper.

Good for

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

Bad for

  • 10% copay in addition to fixed excess
  • No dental illness cover
  • Only 60 days to claim
  • 12-month clock on Time Limited policies starts from when condition first noticed, not when treatment starts
  • Out-of-hours cover

Editor's Rating

3.0/5.0

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.

Is PDSA pet insurance any good? Find out if they offer good value for money and read about what PDSA could do better before you sign up. If you're happy with paying a % copay in addition to the fixed £ excess, we'd recommend also looking at Agria Pet Insurance.

Alternatively, get quick quotes from 25 pet insurance providers such as PDSA, Animal Friends and Scratch & Patch by clicking the blue "Get Quotes" button below to see how much you can save:

Compare Cheap Pet Insurance for Your Dog or Cat

Pet cover can help with vet bills. Compare quotes from 25 providers, including PDSA

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In This Review

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 Pet Insurance Review

While we love PDSA as an organization, we aren't as big fans of their pet insurance. While prices can be attractive, not everyone will like the mandatory 10% copay (in addition to the £75 fixed excess), there are some limitations and submitting claims can be problematic for some people because you only get 60 days to submit all claims forms and supporting documents (e.g., full clinical history). Plus there's no dental illness cover.

On the plus side you can now download claim forms online, which you couldn't do a few years ago.

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. However, their pricing calculator could result in a more attractive premium for your pet so it still may be worth checking.

Limitations

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 and if PDSA has agreed to getting a second opinion ahead of time. 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.

Alternative or complementary treatment must not only be recommended by your vet, it must also be approved by PDSA ahead of time. Examples include acupuncture, hydrotherapy, osteopathy, physiotherapy, chiropractic therapy, pulsed magnetic field therapy, matrix energy field therapy, the Bowen technique, Reiki massage, and faith healing.

Finally, the Time Limited policies have a 12-month cover clock that stars when a condition is first noted—not when you start treating it. That means if you wait to see if a problem will resolve on its own before you start treatment, you could get less than 12 months of vet fee cover.

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 get approval from PDSA before any complementary treatments begin
  • Only 60 days to submit claims for reimbursement
  • 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

Customer Reviews and Ratings

There are not many online customer reviews for PDSA pet insurance. PDSA the organisation is rated with 2.1 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, but this rating mostly reflects reviews left for PDSA the organisation, not pet insurance specifically.

We've read through the reviews and pulled out customer comments related to pet insurance. The most common complaint is rising premiums. It's common in the industry for pet insurance to go up each year because your dog or cat is more likely to have health problems as they age. But not all pet insurance puts up prices if you've claimed. Here's what we found:

"I have pet insurance from PDSA for my cat. Her premiums have gone up 23% each year over 4 years so far which represents a renewal quote at an 87% increase on my first year!"

"I had pet insurance through them at £22 a month my pet developed arthritis and had to put a small claim in. I had to pay the first 100 they paid the rest. All was good until it came to my renewal, they think it is quite OK to put my payments up to £48 a month."

"We have had PDSA petsurance in place for our dog for eight years now. The quote for its renewal has just come through, and the annual premium has all but doubled, to over £1000!! Rang PDSA to discuss, but was told that the quote was 'computer generated' and because we had made one minor one-off claim on the policy, for £116 after excess, in the past year (the first ever) there could be no 'good will' gesture and no referral for review to either underwriter or their 'retention' team."

Defaqto Feature Ratings (out of 5)
Accident Only2 stars
Classic3 stars
Advance and Advance PLus4 stars
Ultimate and Ultimate Plus5 stars

PDSA Quote Comparison

In order to give you a general idea of the relative cost of PDSA pet insurance, we gathered sample dog insurance quotes for each of PDSA's pet insurance products for a one-year-old male crossbreed dog. We found that prices are generally cheaper than average, but perhaps this is not surprisingly given pet owners with PDSA pay a higher portion of vet fees through the 10% copay on top of the fixed £75 excess. Their top tier Lifetime policy ("Ultimate Plus") provides £8k of vet cover and starts from around £26.50 for a young, mixed breed dog—this price is comparable to the average cost of cheap Lifetime cover for policies with half the amount of vet cover.

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

Prices might be very different for your pet, because the cost of pet insurance varies significantly depending on your pet's breed, age and other factors. For example, Bulldogs are notoriously expensive to insure.

PDSA Discount Code: PSDA occasionally offers online discounts; most recently "SAVE10" could save you 10% on your pet insurance with PSDA.

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
HelplinesYesYesYesYesYesYes

FAQs

Prescription food to dissolve bladder stones or crystals in urine is covered on PDSA accident and illness policies 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).
The excess consists of a £75 fixed excess and a 10% variable excess (copay). The fixed payment is payable each year for each illness or injury. After paying the £75 fixed excess for a condition, the pet owner is then responsible for 10% of all remaining vet bills associated with that condition. A higher excess including a copay can reduce your premium, but you'll end up paying more of your pet's vet bills. The excess stays the same as your pet ages—it does not increase for older pets.
You must submit the claim form, invoices and a full clinical history to the PDSA within 60 days of first treatment. Claims forms are now available to download online. Or you can call (0333 234 0599) or email ([email protected]) for a claim form. PDSA can pay your claim settlement directly to you vet, if your vet agrees.
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 Petsurance is underwritten by Zenith Insurance plc and/or its Co-insurers Markerstudy Insurance Company Limited, registered in Gibraltar No 84085. Registered Office: 846-848, Europort, Gibraltar. Policies are arranged and administered by Insurance Factory Limited, registered at Westerham Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 2QB.

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.

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

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the CEO, Co-founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.

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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.