What is dog insurance?

Published 19th July 2021

The nation’s favourite pet, it is estimated that almost a quarter of all households play host to a dog . Dubbed man’s best friend, dogs certainly do make day-to-day life a little more fun. However, having a canine companion can be a costly affair and you may be wise to consider taking out a dog insurance policy to help towards any unexpected vet bills.

Choosing the level of cover for your dog

There are four main types of dog insurance policy to choose from. You can typically choose between accident only, time limited, maximum benefit or lifetime pet insurance policies. We’ve summarised the main differences between them below, but for more information please read our guide to the different types of pet insurance.

  • Accident only pet insurance

    Often the cheapest option, accident only dog insurance generally only offers cover in the event of an accident and will not include cover for vet fees incurred as a result of an illness or ongoing health condition.

  • Time limited pet insurance

    Another option for those on a budget, time limited pet insurance can help with accidents and short-term health issues. This policy type usually allows you to claim for eligible conditions up to a specified amount of time, normally 12 months. After this period of time is up, you can renew the policy, but that particular condition will be excluded.

  • Maximum benefit pet insurance

    A mid-range cover option, this policy type allows you to claim year after year, up to a specified financial limit. Once vet bills reach this limit, you will have to fund further treatment yourself.

  • Lifetime pet insurance

    Typically seen as a premium option, lifetime insurance offers the most comprehensive cover for your pet. As the name suggests, lifetime pet insurance should cover your dog for the duration of his or her lifetime, providing you renew year on year.

Whichever policy you opt for, we advise you to read the small print carefully to make sure you have the right level of cover.

Accident OnlyTime LimitedMaximum BenefitLifetime
Policy renewable every 12 monthsYYYY
Covers vet fees for sudden or unexpected injury or illnessYYYY
Covers vet fees for each injury or condition up to a maximum amount following initial claim YYY
Vet fees for each condition are covered for 12 months following initial claim* Y
Vet fees for each condition are covered without any time limit following initial claim* YY
Vet fees for each condition are covered up to a maximum amount, without any time limit, and the maximum amount resets every policy year** Y

*You will need to renew your policy if the condition extends beyond your current 12-month policy

**Insurance providers may refuse or limit cover to exclude existing conditions at the renewal date

What does dog insurance cover?

When you take out a dog insurance policy, some things may come as standard such as vet fees in the event of injury, accident or illness. However, it’s worth noting that dog insurance will not usually cover routine check-ups and treatments such as vaccinations, worming and neutering. Furthermore, if your pooch has a pre-existing medical condition you may find that you are not covered under your policy.

Dog insurance can sometimes offer more than you would expect, depending on the policy. This can include the likes of:

Dental cover

Covered under some policies, dental problems are fairly common in dogs and can cause other health issues such as heart and kidney disease, so ensuring your dog’s dental health is included in your pet insurance could be a smart move.

Missing or stolen pet cover

Should your dog go AWOL or is stolen, some pet insurance policies will cover the cost for advertising your missing pet and even for offering a reward for their return. While no amount of money can truly compensate for the loss of a loved family member, some providers may offer a payout to replace your pet if they’re not found. Just bear in mind, you may require proof of purchase.

Kennel fees

In the event of an unexpected stay in hospital, you may have to arrange for your dog to stay in a kennel, and this can be costly. Some insurance policies will cover you for this up to an agreed financial limit.

Liability cover

If your dog causes damage to property or injury to another person or dog, it’s possible you may find yourself facing expensive legal fees. Some policies will offer third-party liability to help towards these legal costs, as long as your dog does not have history of aggression.

Death due to an accident or illness

Although money cannot compensate for the loss of your precious pooch, should the unthinkable happen, some policies will pay out a lump sum that covers the price you paid for your pet or the current market value.

Should I get dog insurance?

Most of us consider our dogs to be part of the family, so when they get ill or hurt, it’s upsetting and often expensive too. Dog insurance can provide a safety net to protect you against unexpected bills or at least limit the cost should your furry friend need any treatment. Although there’s no law that says you must have pet insurance, with the average pet insurance claim currently at £822, perhaps it’s something worth considering.

How can I save money on pet insurance?

Here are a few things you could consider doing to lower the cost of your premiums.

Pay a higher excess

By selecting to pay a higher excess, you are committing to contribute a greater part of the bill should you need to make a claim, which could mean the insurer will charge you a lower premium. Consider what you could realistically afford though, so you don’t end up facing financial hardship.

Keep on top of vaccinations

By keeping your dog’s vaccinations up to date, not only are you helping to protect your furry friend from preventable disease, you could also be rewarded with cheaper insurance premiums. Insurers may view your pet as lower risk if their vaccinations are up to date. Furthermore, if you claim for a condition that could have been prevented with by a routine vaccination, your insurance provider may be reluctant to pay out.

Consider multi-pet insurance

If you share your home with multiple furry friends, a multi-pet insurance policy could work out cheaper than purchasing several individual policies. Always check the price of single policies too though, so you know you’re getting the best deal.

Shop around

Using a comparison site such as Compare Cover allows you to compare multiple quotes from a range of insurance providers. All you need to do is tell us a few details about your dog and we’ll show you a list of quotes, allowing you to choose the right one to suit your budget and needs.

For more information on pet insurance, take a look at our pet insurance guides.

Once you have a good idea of the cover level you require and the types of policy available, you’re ready to start comparing pet insurance quotes!


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