The 15 best pet insurance providers in 2024 – and how to find the right cover for you (2024)

I have been treating pets in my own vet clinic for nearly forty years and I’m a strong advocate for finding the best pet insurance. There’s no National Health Service for pets. If your pet has an accident or develops a serious illness, you’ll need significant sums of money to pay the vet’s fees. It makes sense to take out pet insurance early in your pet’s life.

The idea is that you budget for a relatively small monthly amount to cover the pet insurance premiums. Then, if you do need to visit the vet, you and your vet can focus solely on doing the best for your pet, with the reassurance that the pet insurance company will cover the cost.

Working out the best pet plans is a complicated business, but I review the top 15 further down this article. I also explain how to choose the best one for you. If you’re in a rush, here’s a quick look at my top five:

What is the best pet insurance in 2024? At a glance

How much is pet insurance?

Pet insurance prices depend on a complex computation of factors, which I explain in the FAQ section at the bottom of this feature. However, for most people’s needs, £25 to £40 per month for a dog, or £15 to £25 for a cat will allow you to buy comprehensive cover for your pet.

How to choose the right insurance for you

There is no shortcut to doing this: you need to put aside an hour or so to request quotes from three or four different providers. You’ll need to enter in your own details as well as your pet’s and you’ll need to make choices about many of aspects of the cover that you want. You will then be given a personal quote, usually followed up with an email. By the end of this process, you will have three or four price offers, and you can decide which company to follow up on.

There is no such thing as a ‘bad’ policy, provided – and here is a huge caveat – that you are confident that you understand the coverage you are buying. The following companies are among the most popular pet insurance providers in the UK. I’ve ranked them according to their pros and cons. (And if you’ve recently acquired a new pet, you may want to read my guides to the best dog food and the best cat food next.)

Best pet insurance

1. Agria

Agria is the world’s oldest pet insurance company, launched in Sweden in 1890. It has deservedly become one of the most popular pet insurance companies in the UK since launching here in 2009. Agria works hard to listen to stakeholders in the pet care world, and the claim that Agria is trusted and recommended by over 40,000 vets, animal rescues and breeders carries a lot of weight.

As an example of the way that Agria helps, five weeks of free cover is offered for newly rescued dogs and cats (through the rescue centres that work with Agria). Agria only offers lifetime pet insurance (which is the most sensible choice for most people), but apart from this aspect, you can tweak your policy to suit your personal needs.

All policy holders have free 24/7 access to the Pet Health Helpline, allowing immediate contact with a qualified veterinary nurse. Agria offer insurance for cats, dogs rabbits and horses.

Start a quote at Agria

2. PetPlan

PetPlan has been a main player on the UK pet insurance stage for over forty years, with an established reputation and a track record of philanthropy which includes working with more than 1,200 charities across the UK.

Petplan is a crowd favourite pet insurance provider, not only offering long windows for claim submissions but paying 90 per cent of claims within just five days. Their plans have no lifetime or ‘per condition’ claim limit and the Petplan app makes it easy to support claims via iOS and Android. Dog, cat, rabbit, equine and exotic insurance is available. Policies are underwritten by Allianz.

Start a quote at Petplan

3. The Kennel Club

The Kennel Club runs the UK’s main register for pedigree dogs, leveraging its long experience of working with dogs by offering popular pet insurance for dogs. They also offer a specialised type of pet insurance for dog breeders. The Kennel Club only offers lifetime cover, meaning that this will cover ongoing illnesses for the entire life of your pet. Their top policy includes up to £15,000 for vet’s fees cover, which renews each and every year.

As a bonus with the Lifetime Plus policy, you also get a £25 voucher towards your dog’s annual health check or vaccination. Policies are underwritten by Agria.

Start a quote at The Kennel Club

4. Many Pets

Many Pets offer good cover at competitive prices, with a number of novel offerings which may be of interest if other insurance providers do not meet your needs. The range of options include “value” insurance with a maximum of just £2000 vets’ fees per year (and much lower monthly premiums) right up to the most comprehensive pet insurance covering up to £15000 per year.

This is one of the few insurers to allow cover for pre-existing conditions, subject to certain controls. Customers have access to free vet video calls, as well as a year’s free pet sitting with TrustedHouseSitters membership worth around £100 per year. Many Pets is underwritten by Wakam SA.

Start a quote at Many Pets

5. Waggel

Waggel is a new brand of pet insurance that claims to be “fuelled by our love for pets, tech, and doing things differently”. Options are kept simple, with just one lifetime policy covering dogs and cats. It’s easy to get a quote, filling in a minimal number of fields in a short online questionnaire, and you can choose the maximum amount the policy will pay out (£1,000-£10,000), as well as the level of excess that you are prepared to pay.

Easily viewed monthly premiums for each level allow you to suit your own budget accordingly. Waggel’s policies are underwritten by Red Sands.

Start a quote at Waggel

6. Marks and Spencer Pet Insurance

M&S Bank offer a 15 per cent discount for online purchases of this pet insurance, plus £50 of M&S vouchers to spend in store with a new lifetime policy. There are four levels of care, depending on your needs and budget: essential, standard, plus and premier, with different policies offering a range of options including routine dental work, contributions to the costs of euthanasia, and vet costs if you are travelling overseas with your pet.

Cover includes access to Vetfone - a freephone 24 hour helpline if your pet has any health issue, as well as access to a range of services from information about local pet care providers to bereavement support. Policies are underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

Start a quote at Marks & Spencer

7. Argos

As you might expect, Argos’s insurance focuses on value for money. Their policies include dental cover, complementary treatment, physiotherapy, behavioural illnesses and overseas veterinary costs if you are on holiday when there is a problem. Currently, they give you £15 to spend in-store when you take out a new policy. Dogs, cats and rabbits can be insured, and policies are underwritten by Pinnacle Insurance Plc.

Start a quote at Argos

8. Everypaw

Everypaw pet insurance only offers lifetime insurance, which is the best type for most pet owners, with a range of options available depending on your needs and budget. Policy holders are given unlimited 24/7 online access to UK vet nurses and vets with Petcall. All new policy holders can avail of a free pet gift box from Love Louie worth up to £35; different types of boxes are available for dogs, cats and rabbits. Everypaw Pet Insurance is underewritten by Pinnacle Insurance plc.

Start a quote at Everypaw

9. Healthy Pets

Healthy Pets offers a 20 per cent discount online to first-time customers, plus a wide range of policies with different benefits, including particularly well-priced options (but don’t forget to read the details of precisely what is, and what is not, covered by the cheapest plans).

The Healthy Pets insurance website includes comparison quotes for typical dogs and cats, giving examples of their premium costs compared with several other pet insurance companies. Healthy Pets is a trading name of Atlanta Insurance Intermediaries Limited.

Start a quote at Healthy Pets

10. Animal Friends

Animal Friends Insurance was founded in 1998 to raise funds for animal welfare and conservation charities through pet insurance sales and to date they have donated over £7 million to more than 650 animal charities across the world. As a policy holder, you get free unlimited vet video consultations 24/7 via the Joii app (subject to a fair usage policy, which seems reasonable given that Joii vet consultations usually cost £24.) There are insurance policies for cats, dogs and horses and they are underwritten by Red Sands.

Start a quote at Animal Friends

11. More Than

More Than offer a sizeable 25 per cent off their policies when booked online and boast a number of tailored pet insurance plans. Unusually, “farewell cover” is available, paying for the vet fees associated with putting your pet to sleep, as well as burial or cremation costs.

Additional benefits include 10 per cent discounts on each pet in a multipet plan, 24/7 assistance from Vetfone to seek advice about poorly pets, and direct-to-vet payments. The company provides financial support for Dogs for Good, a life-changing charity which create partnerships between people living with disabilities and specially trained assistance dogs. Policies are underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Ltd.

Start a quote at More Than

12. Direct Line

Decision making is simplified with Direct Line, because there are fewer options to choose from compared to many other companies. The choice is either “Essential cover” which is a one-year policy for up to £4000, or “Advanced cover” which is a lifetime product with a maximum payout of £8000 per year.

Inclusion of complementary treatments like hydrotherapy, acupuncture and homeopathy, as well as up to £1000 for routine dental work, may be of particular interest for some pet owners. Policy holders have access to 24/7 free online veterinary consults with PawSquad, a video and online chat service. Policies are underwritten by UK Insurance Ltd.

Start a quote at Direct Line

13. Tesco Pet Insurance

Tesco Bank’s five-star rated premier pet insurance policy is hard to beat. With first year discounts, their cat and dog insurance plans let you choose an excess amount to suit your needs. Extra discounts are provided for Tesco Clubcard holders. Free phone and video consultations for medical, nutritional and behavioural advice are available, 24/7, via Vetfone. Policies are underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Ltd.

Start a quote at Tesco Bank

14. Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance

There are three choices of policy at Sainsbury’s: time limited (up to a year), maximum benefit or lifetime cover, with a range of maximum payouts to choose from for each. It’s claimed that it takes less than four minutes to get your quote online.

Sainsbury’s Bank offer an extra discount for Nectar card holders of up to 12.5 per cent as well as other benefits. Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance policies gives you free-of-charge 24/7 access to Sainsbury’s Bank Vet Assistance, a helpline for any non-emergency pet health queries, behavioural and nutritional advice and an opportunity to talk to someone should you sadly lose your pet. Dogs, cats and rabbits can be insured. Policies are underwritten by Pinnacle Insurance plc.

Start a quote at Sainsbury’s Bank

15. Asda Pet Insurance

Asda is known for providing good value, and this is the aim of Asda Money pet insurance. There are different types of cover, from Lifetime to Time Limited. You can choose which type of policy you prefer, as well as your excess terms, so you can get the cover your pet needs at a price that suits you. Benefits include a number of different features such as 24/7 access to vets via the Joii pet care app, tailored preventative care advice, and a free-to-use symptom checker. Asda Money Pet Insurance is underwritten and administered by Allianz Insurance Plc.

Start a quote at ASDA Money

FAQ

What makes a good pet insurance provider?

There is a great deal of variety and it can be difficult to tease out the differences. While comparing premiums and benefits is important, there are five other aspects that should not be overlooked. First, ease of claiming: what do you have to do to get your money back to cover the vet’s fees?

Second, speed of claims being paid: some companies process claims and refund you within days, while others may take months. Third, the percentage of rejected claims: some companies may reject claims based on minor details in the policy, such as a delayed vaccine date, while others are more lenient.

Fourth, customer service: how quickly and helpfully the phones are answered can make a big difference. Finally, website design: some are far easier to negotiate than others. For all of these, it can be worth seeking user reviews of pet insurance providers from sites like TrustPilot – although I have taken them all into account in my reviews below. Does everybody get pet insurance?

Not yet. The concept of pet insurance started in 1924 in Sweden, where it’s still an ingrained part of the culture with 90 per cent of the nation’s dogs insured and over 50 per cent of cats.

Pet insurance was launched in the UK in 1947, initially with more “life insurance” type products for more valuable animals. The concept of veterinary fee insurance only really started in 1976, with market penetration steadily but slowly increasing from below five per cent then to around 25 per cent today.

Arguably, it should be used by more people: pet insurance is far more likely to pay out than other types of insurance. Over 30 per cent of pet insurance policyholders submit claims each year, compared to only 15 per cent of household policies and 22 per cent of motor policies.

Do all vets accept pet insurance?

Some vets allow you to pay only the excess, and they then claim back the balance directly from the pet insurance company. Other vets ask you to pay up front, so that you need to make the claim yourself afterwards. Also, many vets charge a fee for processing pet insurance claims, and this itself may not be covered by the insurance. It’s a good idea to call your local vet and find out their policy.

Why is pet insurance getting more expensive?

Thirty years ago, pet insurance typically cost only £4 per month for the entire life of a pet. In recent years, premiums have soared, for three main reasons. First, veterinary science has followed in the footsteps of medicine, developing newer, better and more expensive ways of treating pets.

Second, pet owners have higher expectations: everyone has seen what the Supervet on TV can do, so why can’t they get this level of care for their own pet? Third, vets worry about being criticised (and possibly sued) if they don’t do everything that can be done to save a pet’s life, especially if an insurance company is covering the costs.

Which pet insurance covers dental?

Most pet insurance policies cover for dental work necessitated due to an accident (e.g. if a pet is hit by a car, or if a dog breaks a tooth when chewing a bone). However, routine dental work such as descaling and polishing under anaesthesia is excluded by many policies.

What does pet insurance actually cover?

While pet insurance covers many veterinary costs, it isn’t designed to cover the routine, predictable costs of owning a pet. Pet insurance may not cover costs such as annual health checks and vaccinations, worming treatments, anti-flea medications, routine dental care (such as descaling and polishing), whelping costs and pre-existing conditions.

These are predictable, known costs that you can budget for yourself unless you choose a policy that specifically includes them. Equally many vets offer ‘health plans’ (where you pay a monthly sum) to cover these preventive care costs, but beware, these plans aren’t substitutes for robust pet insurance in the event of a serious illness or an accident.

The key is that insurance is meant for the unexpected, unpredictable issues, and those are the costs that make up the majority of typical vet bills.

As you might expect, pet insurance products are not equal. You need to take time to read about the details of what is on offer: the so-called small print.

There’s no point in buying an ultra-cheap policy only to discover that it doesn’t cover you when your pet falls ill. Alternatively, you should not be put off from getting insurance because the priciest policies are outside your budget. You should aim to find a policy that you can afford that will cover the most likely risks faced by your pet.

Why are some policies more expensive than others?

It’s difficult to make pet insurance comparisons between rival policies and companies, because there are so many variables. Pet insurance companies will only give individualised quotes that depend on multiple factors, the most obvious of which are the species of your pet – dog, cat or rabbit and so on – and its age. Animals are more likely to need veterinary attention as they grow older and pet insurance policies reflect this increased risk.

Can you insure an elderly pet?

There are restrictions on the oldest age when insurance can start (it’s usually impossible to start to insure a pet over the age of seven), and there are altered conditions for claims if an older pet does fall ill. For example, you may have to pay a higher excess. It is also worth noting that premiums tend to increase as your pet gets older, whether you’ve claimed or not. Within their lifetime, dog insurance can be hiked five times higher than the same pet’s puppy insurance.

Does the dog breed make a difference?

Yes, whether you own a pedigree (which breed, precisely), “designer cross-breed” (i.e. a cross between two breeds), or cross bred (a cross between three or more breeds). In general, costs are higher for pedigree dogs or cats and for designer breeds, because they are more likely to develop some heritable conditions. Your pet’s lifestyle may also affect the price: indoor cats may be cheaper to insure than cats that are allowed to go outside.

Why do prices vary by location?

The price of pet insurance reflects the cost of vets’ fees in your area, so that pet insurance quotes for people living in London and the south east of the UK tend to be significantly higher than elsewhere in the country.

Eight decisions to make when choosing pet insurance

  1. Do you want accident-only cover (the cheapest policies) or do you want to cover illnesses too? Illnesses are as unpredictable and as costly as accidents, and can last your pet’s lifetime, so this type of comprehensive cover is highly recommended.
  2. Do you want “extras” to be included, such as third party liability (e.g. in case your dog or cat bites someone and they sue you)? Other extras include cover for boarding costs if you have to go into hospital yourself, cover for advertising and rewards if your pet goes missing, the cost of euthanasia, and a financial sum to be paid to you if your pet dies.
  3. Do you want lifetime cover? This means any new condition will be covered for the lifetime of the pet. Less costly “time limited cover” means that new conditions are only covered for the duration of the policy, for example 12 months. You will be unlikely to be able to buy insurance to cover for this condition subsequently.
  4. What exclusions will you accept? Exclusions are conditions which will not be covered by the insurance. Examples include routine dental care, behavioural issues and complementary care (such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, hom*oeopathy, etc). The more exclusions you accept, the cheaper the policy.
  5. What level of excess are you prepared to pay? The excess is the sum of money you cover yourself, before the insurance kicks in. It’s cheaper to buy insurance with a higher excess than a lower one.
  6. What is the maximum amount per year that you want to have covered? The cheaper policies tend to have a lower annual total (e.g. £2,000) compared to the more expensive ones (e.g. £12,000). Any treatment that exceeds the maximum yearly amount, you will have to pay for yourself.
  7. What is the maximum amount per condition that you want to have covered? Cheaper policies may state a total sum per condition (e.g. £1,000) or they may even state a total sum for a specific condition (e.g. £2,000 for ruptured cruciate ligaments). These types of issues are difficult for pet owners to negotiate: as a vet, I know that while cheaper operations can be used to treat ruptured cruciate ligaments (e.g costing less than £2,000), the optimal procedure for a large dog often costs over £4,000. Another example is the total cost covered for conditions like arthritis, skin disease or heart disease: as a vet, I know that while cheaper, less ideal treatments are possible, it could easily cost over £1,500 per year to treat these issues in the optimal way. It’s important that you choose cover that is not going to make you feel that you have a second-rate option if your pet does fall ill.
  8. Are extra discounts available with certain stipulations? You may get a cheaper quote if a pet is microchipped, or if you are insuring multiple pets with the same provider.

As a seasoned veterinarian with almost four decades of experience, I bring a wealth of knowledge to the table when it comes to pet health and care. Having run my own vet clinic, I have treated countless pets, witnessed various medical scenarios, and interacted with pet owners from diverse backgrounds. My commitment to the well-being of animals extends beyond the clinic, as I am a staunch advocate for responsible pet ownership, preventive healthcare, and, as evident in this discussion, the importance of pet insurance.

Over the years, I've seen firsthand the financial challenges that pet owners face when unexpected accidents or serious illnesses befall their beloved companions. This has fueled my passion for educating pet owners about the benefits of pet insurance, emphasizing its role in providing financial security and ensuring that pets receive the best possible care. My extensive experience positions me as a reliable source to guide pet owners in navigating the complex landscape of pet insurance, helping them make informed decisions for their furry family members.

Now, let's delve into the key concepts and information covered in the article:

  1. Importance of Pet Insurance:

    • Pet owners may need substantial funds for vet fees in case of accidents or serious illnesses.
    • Advocacy for early enrollment in pet insurance to budget for affordable monthly premiums.
  2. Factors Influencing Pet Insurance Prices:

    • Monthly premiums range from £25 to £40 for dogs and £15 to £25 for cats.
    • Pricing depends on a complex computation of factors, detailed in the FAQ section.
  3. Choosing the Right Insurance:

    • Emphasizes the need to dedicate time to request quotes from different providers.
    • Highlights the importance of understanding the coverage provided by the chosen policy.
  4. Top 5 Pet Insurance Providers in 2024:

    • Agria: Oldest pet insurance company, offers lifetime coverage, trusted by over 40,000 stakeholders.
    • PetPlan: Over 40 years of experience, quick claims processing, no lifetime or 'per condition' claim limit.
    • The Kennel Club: Specializes in dog insurance, offers lifetime cover with up to £15,000 for vet's fees.
    • Many Pets: Competitive prices, covers pre-existing conditions, offers free vet video calls.
    • Waggel: New brand, simple policies, one lifetime policy for dogs and cats, underwritten by Red Sands.
  5. Additional Pet Insurance Providers (briefly mentioned):

    • Marks and Spencer Pet Insurance
    • Argos
    • Everypaw
    • Healthy Pets
    • Animal Friends
    • More Than
    • Direct Line
    • Tesco Pet Insurance
    • Sainsbury's Pet Insurance
    • Asda Pet Insurance
  6. FAQ Section:

    • What makes a good pet insurance provider?
    • Historical background on pet insurance and its adoption.
    • Varying practices among vets regarding pet insurance claims.
    • Factors contributing to the rise in pet insurance costs.
    • Coverage for dental work in pet insurance policies.
    • Detailed information on what pet insurance covers and excludes.
  7. Choosing Pet Insurance - Eight Decisions:

    • Accident-only cover vs. covering illnesses.
    • Inclusion of extras like third-party liability.
    • Choice between lifetime cover and time-limited cover.
    • Acceptance of exclusions in the policy.
    • Decision on the level of excess to be paid.
    • Maximum annual coverage amount.
    • Maximum amount per condition covered.
    • Availability of extra discounts based on certain conditions.

My comprehensive understanding of the intricacies involved in pet care and insurance allows me to guide pet owners in making informed decisions for the well-being of their cherished companions.

The 15 best pet insurance providers in 2024 – and how to find the right cover for you (2024)

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