Pet insurance excess and co-insurance explained

Understand how your costs are structured on your pet cover. Find the right balance between lower premiums and higher excess and coinsurance.

How pet excess and coinsurance work together

Most car or home owners will be familiar with excess payments as part of insurance policies and in that respect pet insurance tends to be pretty similar. However, pet insurance differs from other types of insurance with something call co-insurance. Our guide below explains everything you need to know about both pet insurance excess and co-insurance payments and our handy calculator helps you to work out how much you could be paying when claiming for vet treatment.

Contents of this guide

Excess

What is an excess payment? 

An excess payment within pet cover is very similar to the compulsory excess you’ll find on car or home insurance policies. It’s a single, fixed amount, that you – the policyholder – pays when making a claim under the policy. Most pet policies define their excess as being per condition per year. So you’ll need to pay the excess each time a new condition is claimed for – and if the claim spans over 2 policy years – then you’ll also need to pay the excess each year.

Typical excesses are between £75 and £160 depending upon the insurer you select. With some providers, but not all, you can choose to increase your compulsory excess payment to impact your total premium price.

Are there different excesses for different types of claim?

As you read more in depth to your policy wording you’ll notice the different sections of cover. These sections have their own limits (known as inner limits) and sometimes have their own excess payments.

Usually you’ll see increased excess payments for third party liability claims and pre-existing condition claims. With Bought By Many for example; claims for third party liability will have a compulsory excess of £250 rather than the typical £99 for vet fee claims.

Similarly, with Bought By Many claims for pre-existing conditions still have a £99 excess payment, but instead of it being paid on each new condition, it is paid every time a claim for that condition is made.

Take a close look at your policy wording to understand exactly what you’re liable to pay and when.

How excesses change as pets get older

Excess payments tend to increase when we consider older cats and older dogs. The age at which insurers define cats as being ‘older’ is usually at 10 years old, while it is 8 years old for dogs. After your pet reaches this threshold you may find changes are made to your fixed excess.

With some providers excess payments increase from £100 on younger pets to £250 when they become a senior pet. With a recent price comparison we saw that senior pet excess payments range from £75 with a compulsory co-insurance to £250 per condition per year.

Co-insurance

What is a co-insurance payment?

A co-insurance payment (sometimes called co-pay) is an additional amount that your insurer may make you pay when you make a claim. They work as a percentage of the claim value and because of that the co-insurance amount is a variable amount as it depends upon the amount you are claiming for.

Excesses and co-insurance payments are separate to each other but often used together.

How does a co-insurance payment work?

Co-insurance payments range from 10-20% of the claim value depending upon the pet insurance provider that you choose. This means that the bigger your claim the more you’ll be paying.

It is in addition to the excess on your policy, but the excess is removed from the claim value before the co-insurance is calculated.

You can calculate your co-insurance payment (and total payment including excess) by using our co-insurance calculator below. Simply update the details with your claim amount, excess value and co-insurance percentage.

Calculate your co-insurance and excess payments

 

Why do pet insurance companies use co-insurance payments?

Co-insurance payments are valuable tools from an insurers perspective as they help with something called cost containment and they can help with providing a competitive price.

Pet insurers price based on risk, the higher the risk the higher the price they will charge to cover it. With a co-insurance pet insurers can make the initial premium price cheaper because they know that if there is a claim made, then the policyholder will be liable for a larger proportion of the claim cost, than they would be if they solely charged excess.

Are co-insurance payments good or bad for pet owners?

This depends upon your appetite to risk, or how much value you place on cheaper premium prices versus the security of knowing your costs should you claim.

There are a number of factors you might want to explore when deciding whether a co-insurance is right for you. The age of your pet is one, generally speaking younger pets are less likely to need to claim than older pets. In this case you might want to look at a co-insurance as you will get cheaper premiums, whilst being more unlikely to make a claim.

On the other side of the coin, older pets or those with pre-existing conditions, will be more likely to make a claim so if you can find cover without a compulsory co-insurance payment – instead looking for a fixed excess only – then this may prove cheaper for you should you need to make multiple claims.

The most important thing is to understand if you do have a co-insurance on your policy is to look beyond the initial premium price to understand the common conditions your pet my suffer from and try to understand how much treatment for these conditions may cost. From there you can use our co-insurance calculator to work out your potential payments. The average claim paid out by insurers in 2020 according to the ABI (Association of British Insurers) was £817.

Is co-insurance compulsory?

Not always, but with some providers you are able to select whether you want to add a co-insurance to provide some flexibility over the premium cost. You can with some providers like Bought By Many and Waggel, choose the level of co-insurance you would like.

Other insurers will impose compulsory co-insurances on their plans particularly for older pets.

How co-insurance payments change as pets get older

As mentioned above, when pets reach the senior age range, many providers introduce a compulsory co-insurance for claims made. This tends to be a newer approach for providers over and above – or sometimes in addition to – increases in excess amounts.

Which insurers have which co-insurance and excess levels?

The table below was based on a review of the pet insurance providers in the UK on the 28th January 2022. You can see the level of excess charged by each provider, and what, if any, co-insurance they offer.

Provider Vet Fee Excess Voluntary Co-Insurance Compulsory Co-Insurance Age When Co-Insurance Becomes Compulsory
4Paws £85 Cats
£105 Dogs

£125 Senior Pets

N/A 10% – 30% 10% at 4 Years (Maximum Benefit and Standard Policies)
15% at 7 Years (Life, Life Plus and Life Premium Policies)
30% from 0 Years (Life30, Life 30 Plus and Life30 Premium Policies)
Admiral £100 N/A 20% 6 Years
Ageas £90 – £215 N/A 20% Cats at 8 Years
Dogs at 6 Years
Agria £95 Cats
£105 Dogs

£170 Senior Pets

10% – 20% 20% Cats at 7 Years
Dogs at 5 Years
Animal Friends £99 N/A 20% Cats at 10 Years
Dogs at 8 Years
Argos £99 N/A 20% Cats at 10 Years
Dogs at 8 Years
Asda Money £100 – £250 N/A 10% 5 Years
Bought By Many £0 – £99

Senior Pets £130 – £160

20% 20%
40% (Pre-Existing Policy)
9 Years
Churchill £55 Cats
£65 Dogs

Senior Pets
£110 – £130

10% 20% 7 Years
Co-op Insurance £99 N/A 20% 10 Years
Cover My £50

Senior Pets £100

15% 15% Cats at 10 Years
Dogs at 8 Years
Direct Line Cats £75 – £225

Dogs £100 – £250

N/A 20% 7 Years
Everypaw Cats £80 – £125
Dogs £110 – £125
N/A 20% Cats at 10 Years
Dogs at 8 Years
Frank £99

Senior Pets £200

N/A N/A
Geoffrey Insurance £85 N/A 10% 7 Years
Healthy Pets £99 N/A 20% 5 Years
Insureyourpaws.co.uk £99 – £125

Senior Pets £125

N/A 10% 5 Years
Itch Insure £100 – £250 N/A 20% Cats at 10 Years
Dogs at 8 Years
John Lewis £60 – £250 N/A 20% 9 Years
Lifetime Pet Cover £99 N/A 25% 4 Years
LV= £75 – £200

Senior Pets £150 – £200

N/A 20% Cats at 10 Years
Dogs at 8 Years
M&S Bank £50 – £250 N/A N/A
More Than £100 10%-20% 20% 9 Years
Napo £75% N/A 20% 9 Years
NFU Mutual Cats £50 – £100
Dogs £50 – £120
N/A N/A
PDSA £75 – £120 N/A 20% Cats at 10 Years
Dogs at 8 Years
Perfect Pet £90 N/A 15% Cats at 10 Years
Dogs at 8 Years
Pet Protect £60 – £100 N/A 15% – 25% 25% Applies To Condition Care – Dog Policies at 5 Years

20% Applies To Condition Care – Cat Policies at 5 Years

15% Applies To All Other Policies Start From 0 Years

Petguard £150 N/A 20% 8 Years
Petinsurance.co.uk £135 N/A 25% 0 Years
Petplan Cats £75 – £85
Dogs £85 – £100
N/A 20% 8 Years For Essential Policies
10 Years For Classic, Classic+ and Ultimate Policies
Petsure £0 – £500 10%-30% N/A
Petwise £149 – £199 N/A N/A
Puffin Insurance £99 N/A 25% 7 Years
Purely Pets £60 – £160 20% 20% 6 Years
RSPCA £100 N/A 10% 7 Years
Sainsbury’s Bank £99 10%-20% 20% Cats at 10 Years
Dogs at 8 Years
Scratch & Patch £125

Senior Pets £275

N/A N/A
Tesco Bank £60 – £200 N/A N/A
The Insurance Emporium Cats £75 – £125
Dogs £85 – £155
N/A 15% Cat Policies
25% Dog Policies
8 Years
VetsMediCover £90 N/A 20% 4 Years
Vetsure £69 – £149 N/A 15% 8 Years
Waggel £0 – £250 N/A N/A