Affordable dog insurance

Dogs are our best friends, their friendly and loyal companionship has made them Britain's most favourite pet. With that in mind you will want to make sure they have all the protection they need. Choosing a suitable dog insurance policy is key to making sure they are covered against unforeseen accidents and illnesses, and we've looked at the top providers of insurance for dogs and what to look out for when choosing cover.

Why dog insurance?

Dogs are used to getting in all kinds of mischief and scrapes, whether swallowing things they shouldn’t, to getting injured while exercising there are plenty of things that can leave you with some unexpected medical bills. 

That’s exactly what dog insurance is there to do. The cost of vet treatment is increasing year on year, so to save yourself from potentially expensive costs, dog insurance could be a great way to do just that.

Types of dog insurance

Accident only

If your dog suffers from an accident, this level of protection will help to pay for the vet treatment that arise from the accident. In some cases treatment can add up quickly, so protection could be worthwhile.

About accident only cover >

Time limited

Time limited dog insurance offer protection against accidents and illnesses for either a specific time period – this is normally 12 months – or up to a limited amount. Cover stops for the condition when either the 12 month time limited expires or the cover limit is reached. Time limited policies provide cover for the essentials. 

About time limited cover >

Maximum benefit

Maximum benefit dog insurance provides cover against both accidents and illnesses up to a defined limit. This allows you to claim for the same condition year after year until that limit is reached. 

About maximum benefit cover >

Lifetime

The most comprehensive cover you can buy is lifetime dog insurance. Like other policies it covers you against vet fees arising from accidents and illnesses up to a specific limit. Where this cover differs is that the limit is reset and reinstated if you renew the policy. It’s the best option particularly in treating ongoing or chronic conditions.

About lifetime cover >

Pre-existing conditions

Cover is now available through some providers for dogs with pre-existing medical conditions. With this cover you can seek cover for existing conditions that your dog has and opens up the opportunity to switch providers and continue to have your dog fully protected. 

About pre-existing conditions cover >

What to consider when buying dog insurance?

Your pet’s circumstances will determine the best dog insurance policy for you but many of the key features your should be aware of are:

  • Cover type – Accident only cover will be the cheapest cover you can buy with Lifetime being the most comprehensive and most expensive on offer.
  • Vet fee cover – Different providers offer cover up to different limits. It depends upon your pets needs, but it is not always the case that cheaper is better – as you may not get the cover you need – or that the highest cover level is the best – as you might not ever need to claim up to that full amount. Also, beware of per condition limits and inner limits for specific conditions which could impact a claim pay out.
  • Pre-existing conditions – On standard policies your dog won’t be covered for pre-existing conditions, so if your dpg suffers from one of these, and you would like to be able to cover the treatment of these then you might be better placed looking for a specific policy .
  • The excess – The excess is the amount that you need to pay each time you make a claim on your policy. Typically this is around £99 per claims, but this can change depending upon providers and even the age of your pet. It’s well worth knowing this excess payment before you take out your policy.
  • Coinsurance – In addition to your excess payment, some pet insurers also ask you to pay a percentage of the claim value. Coinsurance payments may be up to 20% of the claim amount, which can be a lot of money if the treatment needed is expensive.
  • Claims record – The purpose of insurance is to cover vet fee treatment that your dog may need through its life. As such, it is useful to know the likelihood of your claim being accepted and how long it takes to be settled. Usually anything from 95% upwards with the average claim being settled within 7 working days is seen as good. This information can be found on providers websites, if it isn’t you can ask them to share this. You can also find out if insurers can pay your vet directly, this saves you paying out and waiting for the claim to be accepted.  
  • Optional extras – You should also think about extras when choosing the best pet insurance for dogs. As well as cover for vet bills, some policies give you the option to offer cover in the event of:
    • Your dog being lost or stolen – This works as a one-off payment to you if your dog isn’t found, it can also cover any costs involved in advertising or a reward to help find your dog. Find out more about lost and found cover.
    • Your dog passing away by illness or injury – In the unfortunate event where your dog is put to sleep some providers offer cover for this. You can also get bereavement counselling as part of some policies which is run by Blue Cross and other pet experts.
    • Needing vet advice – Most providers will offer you free access to a vet advice line or access to an app like FirstVet. This allows you to get professional vet advice over the phone without needing to go to your local vet and without incurring a cost.  

What's not covered by dog insurance?

Routine treatment

Routine and preventative treatment, such as vaccinations, castration, flea and worm treatments, aren’t usually covered by pet insurance.

 

Vaccinations

Dogs will need routine vaccinations through their lives to protect against diseases such as canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies. Most pet insurance providers won’t cover these vaccinations as they come under routine treatment and something that is part of being a responsible pet owner. 

In fact, you might find that conditions which are preventable will be declined. For example, if your dog does not have up to date vaccinations and then suffers from a condition that could have been prevented by the routine vaccine, then the claim for that condition may be declined.

Understand the routine vaccinations needed for cats and dogs

Pregnancy

If your dog falls pregnant then most insurers will not cover related treatments or conditions that arise from the pregnancy as part of your dog insurance policy.

Waiting period

When you take out dog insurance there’ll be a waiting period in which you won’t be able to claim. This is usually the first 14 days and is there to protect the insurer and its customers from people taking out insurance knowing their pet requires treatment.

Find out more about pet insurance waiting periods.

Dangerous dogs

The UK Government’s Dangerous Dogs Act will govern the breed of dog that insurers are able to cover. There will also be other dogs that certain insurers cannot cover, the list of breeds shown (or breeds missing) are normally decided by the underwriter of the policy based on the types of risks they wish to write. 

Pre-existing conditions

Any conditions that your dog has suffered from before your take out your insurance policy will be excluded from cover as they’ll be classed as pre-existing. This can also be the case for conditions which require regular treatment or recur sporadically like joint pain for example.

Explore pre-existing conditions pet insurance.

How much does dog insurance cost?

Our most recent price review (10/05/2021) revealed the cheapest cover for a dog you can get is with Animal Friends for £4.48/month*.

  • Cheapest accident only cover: £4.48/month – Animal Friends
  • Cheapest time limited cover: £5.53/month – Animal Friends
  • Cheapest maximum benefit cover: £6.34/month – Animal Friends
  • Cheapest lifetime cover: £6.64/month – Animal Friends

Obviously, dog insurance costs in the UK will depend on the type of policy that you opt for. For example, accident only cat insurance will be much cheaper than comprehensive lifetime cover.

Although there are other factors that determine your price, which are explained below.

 

*This is based on a 42 month old female crossbreed living in Kendal, Cumbria. Cover on an accident only policy with cover of at least £1,000.

Where you live

The cost of vet fee treatment, and the risk of illness and accidents is different across the country. If you live in an area prone to more accidents or in a place where vet treatment is more expensive then your dog insurance premium will be more expensive as a result.

Age of your dog

As your dog gets older the more expensive your insurance premium will be. This is because as dogs age, the likelihood that they will develop health issues will increase. It is generally recommended to insure your dog whilst they are puppies, although you can find cover for senior dogs.

Your dog's breed

Pedigree dogs are more expensive to insure than crosses because they are more susceptible to developing health conditions or having hereditary conditions passed down from their parents.

Pedigree dog insurance

Pedigree dogs are more expensive that crossbreeds, that is because they are more likely to suffer from health conditions passed down from their parents and with that being the case the potential for a claim increases, and insurers increase your premium to cater for this. 

Even within breeds the prices will vary. Typically breeds like Pugs and French Bulldogs are the most expensive to insure because the treatment they tend to need. Breathing difficulties, skin and eye conditions tend to be common, but critically expensive to treat as well.

Keep up to date

Latest dog news and views

Old dog

Some insurers have an upper age limit for their dog insurance, but you can still find the cover you want from some specialist providers. Bear in mind though the older your pet, the more expensive insurance will be.

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Insuring your dog whilst they are a puppy has the benefit of being cheaper. Plus, if you choose lifetime cover then you can get ongoing cover for all conditions they develop through their lives as long as you keep renewing.

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Insuring more than one pet with the same provider could save you both time and money. Find out more about how multi-pet insurance works.

Dog insurance FAQs

Can I get insurance for more than 1 dog on the same policy?

Yes, most providers offer multi-pet policies allowing you to insure more than one dog on the same policy, which saves time and effort in taking out different policies as you only need to keep one set of documents and manage one set of payments.

The other good news is that often you can receive a discount for insuring more than one pet with the same insurer. 

Can I get cover for pre-existing conditions?

On typical pet insurance plans pre-existing medical conditions are excluded from cover.

There are a few specialist providers who do offer cover for pre-existing conditions should you need them.

You won’t find these policies on price comparison sites so take a look at our guide to pre-existing pet insurance for the full details of available policies.

What's the best policy for your dog?

The right policy is something only you can decide, but if you can afford it then lifetime cover offers the most comprehensive and long term cover. This allows you to cover chronic and ongoing conditions your dog may suffer from through their lives. 

Can I get insurance for my older dog?

Some insurers have upper age limits for cover, but most do not. You should be able to find cover for senior dogs (typically over 8 years old) but be aware that the older your dog, the more expensive your premium will be. 

Does my dog need to be microchipped?

It is a legal requirement for dogs in the UK to be microchipped and registered before they are 8 weeks old.