Accident only pet insurance explained

The cheapest and simplest of all pet insurance policies, accident only policies do exactly what the name suggests.

How accident only cover works

Pets, particularly when they’re young, are fearless explorers and while 95% of the time this is why we love them, in rare occasions it can lead to accidents. If that does happen, accident only pet insurance is there to help protect them. 

Contents of this guide

What is accident only pet insurance?

Accident only cover is the cheapest but also the least comprehensive available. As the name suggests accident only covers your pet from treatment resulting from accidents they may have, such as road traffic incidents.

These policies won’t cover your pet against treatment for illnesses, so if your pet has conditions like diabetes or hip dysplasia then you won’t be covered for that and would need to fund the treatment yourself.

Accident only pet insurance are 12 month policies and will have a cover limit for treatment per injury. Because of the limitations of this policy type there are fewer providers offering this.

What is covered by an accident only policy?

Vet fees

Vet fees arising from accidents is the key benefit of accident only cover and it pays up to 12 months from first date of treatment. Cover limits apply per accident.

Once the cover limit is reached per injury then you can no longer claim, but you will be able to claim for any new accidents that occur.

Inner limits

With some pet insurers there are inner limits meaning depending upon what you claim for there may be lower limits that apply. Insurers do this to limit their claims costs. Typical inner limits tend to be placed on:

  • Dental treatment arising from accidents
  • Alternative treatments
  • Cruciate ligament treatment

Death of pet 

In the sad event that your pet passes away then there are elements of cover to cater for this eventuality. The coverage tends to be split into 3 categories:

  • If the pet is euthanised
  • If the pet dies from an illness
  • If the pet dies from an accident or injury

For accident only policies you’ll only be covered in the event that the pet dies from an accident.

It is also worth understanding that the death of pet (often known as farewell cover) is not covered once the pet reaches a senior age, this is generally accepted at over 8 years old for dogs, and 10 years for cats. Some providers offer farewell cover as an optional bolt on and the coverage is dependent upon the age of your pet and the cost of the pet when you purchased them.

Lost and found cover

If you pet goes missing, strays or is stolen this section of the cover offers support in advertising costs and rewards if the pet is found. The ability to claim under this section of the policy is dependent upon you reporting your pet is lost to the police and informing your insurer as soon as possible. Typically the insurer will consider paying out after 30 days of the pet being missing. You might find that as your pet gets older – and is classed as senior – then this element of cover is removed.

Explore lost and found cover in more details.

Third party liability 

Third party liability applies only to dogs and provide cover in the event that your dog damages someone else’s property or causes someone to be injured or even killed.

If this occurs and a court case ensues from there, costs can escalate into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Most policies offer cover into the millions of pounds so generally speaking there’s enough protection there in the rare event of this happening.

Explore more about third party liability.

Advantages of accident only pet insurance

The main advantage of accident only pet insurance is the price. It is the cheapest cover on offer so if you need some protection on a tight budget then this could be a good option.

Disadvantages of accident only pet insurance

The key drawback is that the policy will only cover accidents, not illnesses. As such you might find yourself needing to cover treatment costs yourself if your pet develops an illnesses which needs a vet to look at.

How much does accident only pet insurance cost?

Being the cheapest cover available prices will be much lower than all other cover types. 

What affects the cost?

Due to the limited protection that accident only pet insurance offers and the restrictions on what you can claim, there’s only so much that you can do to affect the price. The main factors that affect the price are:

  • Pet type – whether you’re looking to insure a dog, cat, rabbit, horse or exotic animal the range of pricing will be different. Rabbits and cats tend to be cheaper to insure than dogs and horses. 
  • Pet age – the age of your pet will be a key factor, older pets are more expensive to insure as – like humans – the older we get the more likely we are to get ill and require treatments. It’s generally recommended that insurance is taken out when your pet is young as there’ll be less likely to have any pre-existing conditions and the premiums will be cheaper.
  • Pedigree or non-pedigree – different breeds are naturally more prone to illness than others. For example, pedigree breeds by their nature will be more risky than crossbreed pets because the likelihood of hereditary conditions. 
  • Pet breed – even within pedigree pets there’ll be variation too, for example French Bulldogs tend to be much more expensive to insure than Dachshunds. This is because of known conditions within the pet such as BOAS, luxating patella and eye conditions like corneal ulcers and cataracts. 
  • Vet fee inflation – this is the cost of vet fee treatment across the country. This typically is something that most people don’t consider but – alongside pet age – it is the primary reason why your renewal price increases every year.

At renewal these factors will be re-assessed alongside any claims you may have made through the policy year. At renewal, claims will be the single biggest factor determining your renewal quote. 

Common exclusions with accident only pet insurance?

Each provider will have their own lists of exclusions so to be completely sure you should check the policy wording which will be publicly available on their websites prior to purchasing. 

The most common exclusions, apart from the obvious exclusion of illness and disease claims, are: 

  • Pre-existing conditions – this is any condition where the pet has shown signs of having before starting the policy. There are specific policies available where you can look to cover pre-existing conditions but by default on normal policies these will be excluded.  
  • Waiting period – most providers impose a 14-day period in which claims for illnesses cannot be made. This is to protect against pet owners taking out coverage knowing that their pet needs treatment. It also allows customers a cooling off period where they can cancel their insurance policy at no cost. Find out more about how long until you can claim on pet insurance.
  • Preventative treatment – this relates to regular treatment such as vaccinations, flea and worming treatment, grooming and other activities which are an element of general healthy pet ownership. In regards to vaccinations, you might find that cover will not be offered if your pet is not up to date with vaccinations and then they become ill with a condition that could have been avoided by an inoculation.
  • Pregnancy – usually anything related to pregnancy or complications arising from giving birth are not covered. 
  • Dangerous dogs – there are a number of dogs listed in the UK governments Dangerous Dogs Act, insurers will not cover these. In the case of crossbreeds where the cross is one of the dogs in the Dangerous Dogs Act you’ll likely find that claims will be rejected and cover cancelled. There may also be other breeds that aren’t on the list that some insurers won’t cover. These lists are determined by the underwriter of the insurance policy and it is all dependent upon what type of insurance risks they wish to write. This is why you’ll find some providers covering certain breeds that others do not.

Alternatives to accident only pet insurance?

There’s no opportunity to downgrade from accident only cover, that’s the lowest level of cover on offer, so the main alternative will be to self insure. This means setting a savings pot set aside yourself for use if your pet needs treatment.

In some cases there are charities like Blue Cross that you might find can help if you are struggling to cover the costs of vet fee treatment. 

Accident only pet insurance FAQs?

Is there an age limit to accident only cover?

Not usually, some providers will not offer cover for pets over a certain age, but most will. The definition of senior pets will be different for different providers, with cats it is usually 10 years old and for dogs it is 8 years.

It’s worth remembering that the older your pet, the more expensive the cover will be. Pets normally need to be around 6 weeks old at the start of the policy. This changes depending upon your provider.

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