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.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover in the UK?

Compare Cheap Pet Insurance

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

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Before buying a pet insurance policy, it's important to be aware of what's covered and what's NOT covered under the terms of the contract. To avoid being caught off guard by unexpected vet bills, read this guide to find out what vet bills your pet insurance will pay for, and what you'll still have to pay.

Many annual vet expenses will not be covered by your policy—no matter how good it is. For instance, expenses related to health and well being are never reimbursed—insurance won't pay for costs like neutering/spaying, vaccinations or flea/tick/wormer medication. be sure to read the wording of your specific policy terms.

Pet Insurance Coverage

At the heart of most pet insurance policies is coverage for vet bills related to accidents and illnesses that your pet may suffer. Some plans only cover accidents, but most UK pet insurance plans cover both accidents and illnesses.

Accident-only insurance helps with vet bills to treat injuries from a one-off, unexpected event like a broken leg or a torn nail. Illness pet insurance cover extends to treatment for infections or disease. Illness cover is critical because the majority of vet visits are to treat illnesses (that is, infections or disease) rather than accidental injury.

Some policies in the UK are "accident only" but most pet insurance covers both accidents and illnesses.

Examples of Common Ailments Covered by Pet Insurance

Accident ExamplesIllness Examples
Swallowing a foreign objectSkin disorders
Hit by a carEar infections
Break a boneEye illness
Cuts/lacerationsGastrointestinal ailment

Clearly one risk of not buying pet insurance is that you'll have to pay 100% of an injury or illness that occurs today. But there's an even greater risk that many pet owners are unaware of—not having pet insurance today can preclude you from certain coverage in the future, too. Pre-existing conditions are generally excluded from coverage, which means that any illness or injury that happens to your pet while uninsured will likely never be covered under future policies you may buy. Insurers will require a vet check to identify any pre-existing conditions and certify the health of your pet. That said, there are a handful of UK pet insurance companies that cover pre-existing conditions, subject to certain conditions or additional costs, of course.

Accident-Only vs. Accident & Illness

The most comprehensive and common types of pet insurance cover both accidents and illness. Aside from pre-existing conditions, most insurers will cover most injuries and ailments that may befall your pet. This type of insurance typically ranges from £5 to £75 per month (or more for some breeds). Types of pet insurance policies that cover both accident and illness include time-limited, maximum benefit and lifetime.

vet holding a cat and a dog

Some insurers also offer a cheaper accident-only cover. Since more visits to the vet are due to illness than accident, however, these accident-only policies can leave you financially vulnerable if/when your pet falls ill due to disease or infection. Beware of the cheapest policies as they may offer accident cover only. Cheapest is not always best, especially when it comes to insurance.


A big question on most pet owners' mind is, 'Does pet insurance cover dental work'? Pet insurance basically never covers routine cleaning. Pet insurance may cover dental injury and/or illness. Injury covers situations like a dog breaking a tooth while carrying a large stick. Dental illness applies to situations like gingivitis and tooth extractions. Dental illness is more rare, but can be found on many policies in the UK. Note that policies covering dental illness may include requirements such as having a vet check your pet's teeth at least once a year (and that you carry out any recommended preventative care).

Pet Insurance Exclusions

Each pet insurance company will have their own list of excluded claims. Below is a description of exclusions common to many pet insurance policies. Be sure to understand the exclusions on any policy before you buy, as they do vary from insurer to insurer.

Bilateral Conditions:

When a condition affects a body part on one side of the body of which your pet has two (e.g., ears, eyes, knees, cruciate ligaments), both body parts are essentially counted as one. This matters when it comes to insurance policies with a maximum benefit limit, which impose a maximum reimbursement amount per condition.

For example, an ear infection on the left side and another on the right side are considered to be one bilateral condition (e.g., ear infections), not two separate conditions (e.g., right ear infection and left ear infection). If your maximum benefit per condition is £1,000 then the most the insurance company will pay in reimbursements for both ear infections is £1,000 total (not £1,000 per ear).

Pre-existing conditions:

Insurers generally will not cover any pre-existing conditions—that is, any injury or illness that your pet had before the commencement date of a policy. Pre-existing conditions extend to include previous injuries or illnesses, even if your pet is healthy when the policy starts. For example, if your pet suffered an ear infection years ago, any new policy for which you apply would exclude ear infections as a pre-existing condition—even if at the commencement of the new policy your pet is infection free.

That said, we have found three pet insurance companies that cover pre-existing conditions. If your pet has been ill or injured in the past, you may want to consider a plan from one of these insurers.

Routine and preventative care:

Routine and preventative treatments are not covered under pet insurance policies. Despite being helpful in preventing future illnesses, insurance generally won't reimburse for the following:

  • Bathing/de-matting
  • Flea/tick/worm medicine

Road accidents if dog was off-lead:

Some pet insurance plans exclude cover if your dog was hit by a car when it was off lead near a road. It's always worth checking the fine print—but keep in mind that it is illegal to walk your dog off lead near a road in the UK.

Claims made in the first 5 - 14 days:

The window varies from insurer to insurer, but typically a pet insurance policy will not cover claims made during an initial waiting period, for accidents/injuries in the first 5 days or illnesses in the first 14 days of the policy commencement date. Insurance companies impose this window to prevent pet owners from taking out insurance only once their pet becomes ill or injured.

3rd Party Liability and Other Features

Pet insurance in the UK generally offers wider coverage than just health care. Most policies offer some or all of the following added features. 3rd party liability is somewhat standard, and can protect you financially against damage or injury such as a dog bite. Other features may or may not be covered on your policy, or may be available as an add on for extra cost.

  • 3rd party liability (people and property)
  • Death benefits
  • Loss of pet (theft or straying)
  • Overseas cover
  • Holiday cancellation
  • Advertising and Reward
  • Boarding fees

Before buying a policy, be sure to understand how pet insurance works. Read through the terms thoroughly to see if the offered coverage is sufficient for the needs of both you and your pet.


No, pet insurance will not cover the cost of neutering. Learn more about the cost to neuter a dog here.

Pet insurance may cover accidental damage to someone else's property (if you have "Third Party Liability" coverage) but NOT accidental damage to your own property. Your home insurance might offer some level of protection against your pet causing accidental damage, but it is unlikely.

No, pet insurance does not cover injections. Pet owners should be prepared to pay for their pet's injections out of pocket. Read about the cost of dog injections here, or click here for cats.


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.