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Sainsbury's offers pet owners very good value Maximum Benefit cover for their cats and dogs, complete with dental illness & injury and EU cover. Their Time Limited pet insurance isn't bad value either, and offers a massive perk due to how Sainsbury's starts the 12-month clock ticking compared to the competition (however, the Time Limited type of pet insurance is not as beneficial no matter which insurer you consider.)
Unfortunately Sainsbury's doesn't offer Lifetime cover. If you want Lifetime cover, you'll need to look elsewhere: Agria Pet Insurance, Pet Protect Pet Insurance and Animal Friends Pet Insurance for cheaper, better value dog and cat insurance; or PetPlan Pet Insurance if you feel safer with the UK's largest pet insurer.
In This Review
- Overall Review
- Policy and Coverage Options
- Customer Experience Ratings
- Comparing Sainsbury's to the Competition
Choosing the best insurance policy for you and your dogs or cats will depend on your individual situation. There may be other pet insurance policies with better features available in the marketplace, such as those highlighted in our Best Pet Insurance article. Please be sure to read the terms and conditions before buying.
Sainsbury's Pet Insurance Review
Sainsbury's is a good option for those wanting a Maximum Benefit plan, as their prices are competitive and you get features like dental injury & illness and cover in the EU. Max Benefit plans are the next best option after Lifetime plans, which are generally considered to have the best cover.
Policyholders have the choice of two type of pet insurance—Time Limited pet insurance plans in which each illness or injury is covered for up to 12 months or up to the vet fee limit of £3,000 (whichever comes first) and two Maximum Benefit plans which provide up to £7,500 or $13,000 of cover per condition (with no time limits). Policyholders of the Time Limited plan get up to £3,000 of vet cover per condition (for up to 12-months of treatment); Max Benefit policyholders can choose £7,500 or £13,000 of vet cover per condition (with no time limit on treatment).
If you're in the market for a Time Limited plan (which do have significant limitations), the Sainsbury's plans stand out from the competition with a massive benefit to pet owners. Most Time Limited policies start the 12-month cover clock ticking from the time the condition was first noticed by you or a vet. Sainsbury's delays the start of the clock, essentially giving the pet owner longer cover, by instead starting the 12-month clock when your pet is first treated (as in, seen by the vet). Treatment is defined by Sainsbury's as "any examination, consultation, advice, test, x-ray, diagnostic procedure, surgery and nursing." If you delay between noticing a condition and seeing the vet for treatment, this seemingly-small detail can provide months of extra cover.
Sainsbury's Pet Insurance Discounts
- 12 months for the price of 9: Available to new pet insurance customers who purchase online
- Up to 12.5% discount for Nectar card holders: Rate may be less and depends on previous transactions made at Sainsbury's supermarkets
- Multi-pet discount: For up to 6 pets, receive £1 per pet per month discount (so a minimum discount of £24 per year for two insured pets)
- Double Nectar points on Sainsbury's shopping and fuel: Receive double base points at Sainsbury's while your insurance policy is in force (max of 20,000 points per month)
Time Limit to Claim: Policyholders have up to 12 months after treatment date to submit all claim forms and accompanying documentation. Claims submitted after 12 months will not be reimbursed.
Excess: Pet owners of younger pets will pay a £99 excess towards each new condition. Those with older pets (aged 9+ years, or 5+ years for some select breeds) pay £99 PLUS 20% of all remaining vet fees.
|Under 9 years old (or 5 for some breeds)||£99|
|9 years of age or more||£99 + 20% of remaining vet bills|
Sainsbury's Insurance for Older Pets: Death Due to Illness claims are not covered for pets aged 9+ years (or 5+ years for some select breeds). Additionally, at 9 years of age the amount you pay towards vet bills goes up—you'll pay £99 plus 20% of all remaining vet fees.
Owners of pets already 9 years of age or older looking for new insurance will have to look for pet insurance elsewhere—new Sainsbury's pet insurance policies are only open to pets under 9 years old. Older pets that are already covered by a Sainsbury's policy are not booted out once they turn 9, however, but be aware that premiums may increase as your pet ages due to higher expected vet costs.
Out of Hours/Second Opinions: Cover of fees for visiting a surgery out of regular hours is covered only if the vet confirms an emergency consultation was necessary. If you ever decide to take your pet to another vet for a second opinion, be sure to contact Sainsbury's Bank before you make the appointment—otherwise they won't cover any related costs. Furthermore, if Sainsbury's decides that the original diagnosis or treatment was correct, they won't pay any costs related to the second opinion.
Sainsbury's Pet Insurance Key Facts
- EU Travel cover (max of 90 days for all trips per policy year)
- Dental (cover for both injuries and illness is contingent upon annual vet dental exams)
- Prescription food
- Holiday cancellation and unwell boarding cover available as extras
- One year to make claims
- Time Limited policies: 12-month clock starts from first treatment (e.g., exam, consultation, test, etc.)
- New policies open to pets under 9 years of age
- Euthanasia not covered
- No vetfone to call with queries
- Excess increases at 9 years of age (through addition of 20% vet bill copay)
Sainsbury's Quote Comparison
Sainsbury's is offering an initial discount of 12 months for the price of 9 months, which certainly makes their premiums more attractive in the first year. Keep in mind that when you renew you will not receive this discount so your premium would jump by 33% the second year, all else equal.
The exclusion of pre-existing conditions from new pet insurance policies means switching pet insurance companies can be impractical if your pet suffers an illness. Because of this you are more likely to stay with the same insurer year after year. Given this, how competitive are Sainsbury's pet insurance premiums, not just in the first year where you benefit from a heavy discount (3 months free) but in subsequent years where you pay the full 12 months?
As comparing prices for pet insurance can be quite difficult due to differences in vet cover amounts and excesses, we've developed a methodology to standardize across products by calculating a value ratio of Vet Cover/(Annual Premium + One Excess Payment). Then we calculated Sainsbury's value ratio and compared to average market values (obtained from dozens of quotes from other insurers), for a healthy, young, medium-sized crossbreed dog.
As you can see from the data above, Sainsbury's Max Benefit prices compare favourably to market averages, even after the first year when you no longer receive the 3-month-free discount. (Assuming no other rise in premium.) For more information on market prices, please see our article on the average price of pet insurance.
Sainsbury's Notable Features
Here are some highlights of features available on Sainsbury's pet insurance policies. For more complete details and exclusions, please see the policy documents.
|Sainsbury's Pet Insurance Features|
|Dental||Sainsbury's pet insurance policies cover dental treatment of injury or illness, provided your pet had a dental exam in the 12 months before clinical signs of the injury or illness were noticed|
|Prescription Food||Food is only covered if used to dissolve bladder stones and crystals (max cover is 40% of the cost of the food for up to 6 months); Also covered is liquid food determined by the vet as necessary to keep your pet alive (up to 5 days)|
|Complementary Therapy||Vet recommended acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine, Chiropractic manipulation, physiotherapy, osteopathy and hydrotherapy|
|Boarding Cover When You're Unwell||Cover for boarding fees when you're an inpatient at hospital for at least 4 days (max £100/week, total £1,000)|
|Death due to Illness||Reimbursement of purchase price of your pet (up to £1,000), if he/she dies due to illness. Only available for dogs and cats up to 9 years old (or 5 years old for some select breeds). You must provide a purchase receipt for your pet and a copy of the pedigree certificate, if applicable|
|Death due to Accident||Reimbursement of purchase price of your pet (up to £1,000), if he/she dies due to accident. You must provide a purchase receipt for your pet and a copy of the pedigree certificate, if applicable|
|Cover for Holiday Cut Short||(optional) Cover if you have to cancel (less than 7 days before you were due to leave) or curtail your holiday because your pet needs emergency life-saving treatment or goes missing (max £1,000 per policy period)|
|Travel Cover||Sainsbury's policies provide cover in the EU (Pet Travel Scheme) with a 90-day limit for all trips in a policy year; vet limits are the same as in the UK; Quarantine, loss of travel documents and emergency repatriation are extra|
Types of Sainsbury's Dog and Cat Insurance Policies
Sainsbury's Bank offers pet owners the choice of one Time Limited pet insurance plan and two Maximum Benefit plans, with vet cover of £3,000, £7,500 or £13,000.
Sainsbury's Time Limited Pet Insurance (Standard)
Sainsbury's "Standard" plan is Time Limited in nature, providing up to £3,000 of cover for up to 12 months of treatment for any condition. Once either the vet fee limit has been used up or 12 months have passed since the first treatment, you can no longer claim for that condition (or any injuries or illnesses that are caused by, related to, or resulting from that condition).
Before choosing a Time Limited plan it's important to understand the repercussions of the treatment of bilateral conditions. Bilateral conditions are conditions affecting a body part of which your pet has two (e.g., ears, eyes, ligaments, etc.). For insurance purposes, bilateral conditions are treated as one condition—meaning if you pet has an infection in one eye, then both eyes are excluded from cover of that condition in 12 months after the first treatment of the infected eye.
Sainsbury's Max Benefit Pet Insurance (Premier and Premier Plus)
Sainsbury's offers two levels of Maximum Benefit pet insurance, with vet cover levels of £7,500 or £13,000 per condition. With a Maximum Benefit plan, the "per condition" vet fee limit is available for treatment of chronic and recurring conditions, as there is no time limit imposed.
Sainsbury's Coverage Amounts
|Benefit Limits||Standard||Premier||Premier Plus|
|Type of Plan||Time Limited (12 months of cover per condition)||Maximum Benefit||Maximum Benefit|
|Veterinary Fees (for each injury or illness)||£3,000||£7,500||£13,000|
|The Veterinary Fees limit above includes:|
|Overseas veterinary treatment (for each injury or illness)||£3,000||£7,500||£13,000|
|Complementary Treatment (for each injury or illness)||£500||£1,000||£1,500|
|Physiotherapy (for each injury or illness)||£500||£1,000||£1,500|
|Treatment for behavioural illness (for each injury or illness)||£250||£250||£400|
|Personal Liability - dogs only (for each incident)||£1,000,000||£2,000,000||£2,000,000|
|Death from Injury||£1,000||£1,500||£1,500|
|Death from Illness||£1,000||£1,500||£1,500|
|Theft or Straying||£1,000||£1,500||£1,500|
|Advertising and Reward (per policy year)||£1,000||£1,500||£1,500|
|Emergency Boarding Fees (per policy year)||£1,000||£1,500||£1,500|
|Trip Cancellation (per policy year)||£1,000||£1,500||£1,500|
|Quarantine and Loss of Travel Documents (per policy year)||£1,000||£1,500||£1,500|
|Emergency Repatriation (per policy year)||£1,000||£1,500||£1,500|
Sainsbury's Pet Insurance Customer Experience Ratings
143 customer reviews at reviewcentre.com rank Sainsbury's pet insurance 1.8 out of 5 stars, with most complaints about difficulty having claims approved and premium increases.
How does Sainsbury's Pet Insurance Compare to Competitors?
To better understand the value of Sainsbury's 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.
Sainsbury's Pet Insurance vs PetPlan
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 can save you a lot of hassle—plus you get a full 12 months to submit claims for reimbursement. PetPlan is reliable but you may pay a bit more for their insurance. 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. Additionally, owners of older pets must contribute more towards vet bills, through the addition of a 20% copay.
Quick Takeaway: Sainsbury's doesn't offer Lifetime cover. If you want this type—arguably the best type of cover—then PetPlan has some very solid plans Their mid-range Classic+ plan with £7k of cover is their most competitive offer.
Sainsbury's Pet Insurance vs Tesco Pet Insurance
Tesco offers quite comprehensive cover, but you'll have to pay up for their Premier Plan if you want dental illness cover (e.g., tooth decay or gum disease). Lifetime plans provide £7.5k or £10k of vet cover a year; there's no low-tier Lifetime offering (e.g., around £3k of vet cover each year) so Lifetime prices start around £500 for a healthy, young dog. Tesco features include access to a vetfone, no upper age limit for new policies, no change in excess for older pets and 12 months to submit claims.
Quick Takeaway: Tesco can be a good option for comprehensive Lifetime cover, but for full features including dental illness you'll need to spring for their Premier Plan.
Sainsbury's 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.
Quick Takeaway: Agria can be a sensible way to get comprehensive Lifetime cover from a specialist for a lower premium, but be aware that you'll have a 10% copay in addition to the £95 fixed excess.
Sainsbury's Pet Insurance vs Argos Pet Insurance
Argos Pet Insurance is a good option for those with older pets. Not only are older pets eligible for Lifetime cover regardless of age, but there’s no change to excess when your pet ages. You’ll get euthanasia cover and there’s a 24/7 vet helpline to call with questions, but you don’t get vet cover for the treatment of tooth decay or tooth/gum disease. To get an idea of price, our sample quote for a young, healthy dog showed a cost of £360 for £7,000 of Lifetime cover with a £135 fixed excess.
Bottom Line: If you need a new Lifetime policy for your older pet, Argos plans may be a more viable option.