The last thing any pet owner needs is to find their pet in need of veterinary treatment. Around 1 in 3 cats and dogs will require vet treatment each year and with the average cost of medical treatment rising each year. Insurance could prove to be a good choice to protect against unexpected bills. There are plenty of pet insurance options, maximum benefit cover offers cover for each condition up to a limit so it can help to protect pets who haven’t developed chronic conditions. Find out more in our guide to maximum benefit pet insurance.
Contents of this guide
Maximum benefit pet insurance – sometimes known as per condition cover – covers your pet for accidents and illnesses up to a given limit. Unlike time-limited cover there’s no time limit on how long you can make claims for. This allows you to continue claiming for the same condition year after year as long as you choose to renew the policy each year.
Whilst maximum benefit policies allow you to claim for conditions without the time limit, they aren’t the most comprehensive policies you can get. If your pet has pre-existing conditions – those that existed before you take out the policy – then these won’t be covered. Also bilateral conditions tend to be excluded from cover as well. So for example if a claim is made for elbow dysplasia in the left elbow, then the same elbow dysplasia occurs in the right elbow then this usually won’t be covered.
Maximum benefit policies tend to be more popular policy types for younger pets where chronic, long term conditions are less likely.
All maximum benefit products in the market currently (as of the 7/11/2021) work in the same way. Where there are per condition limits but no annual limit to claims, so you can make an unlimited number of claims in the policy year, but each claim will have a limit. These per condition limits range from £1,000 – with EveryPaw – up to £7,500 with The Insurance Emporium.
Maximum benefit pet insurance allows you to claim the cost of veterinary treatments needed by your pet during the plan year. It aims to cover new conditions or accidents your pet has up to the per condition limits set by the policy wording.
Once you use up the limit on the condition the cover stops and the condition is classed as pre-existing, meaning you can no longer claim for it. Any further treatment for the condition will need to be funded by you.
Generally speaking most policies will offer cover for:
Whilst the general per condition limits apply for most conditions, it is worth knowing that some providers impose stricter limits on specific conditions. So if your pet needs treatment for one of those conditions you may find that the claim limit is much smaller.
Typically this can be the case with cruciate ligament treatment, but there may be others.
Other areas of the policy will have similar limits. Claims under the following policy sections might also have other lower limits:
If your pet passes away then there are elements of cover to cater for this eventuality. The coverage tends to be split into 3 categories:
Depending upon the age of your pet you might find that certain elements no longer apply in the event of your pets death. Senior pets may not receive cover for death in the case of illness. Older cats tend to be 10 years old or over, whilst older dogs are generally classed as 8 and older.
If you pet goes missing, strays or is stolen this section of the cover offers support in advertising costs and rewards to recover your furry friend.
To be able to claim under this section of the policy you’ll need to ensure that you have reported your pet’s disappearance to the police and inform your insurer as soon as possible. After 30 days of them being missing the insurer will consider claims.
As with the death of pet benefits, this part of the policy changes depending upon the age of your pet. Percentage contributions decrease the older your pet is.
Find out more about lost and found pet cover.
Third party liability applies only to dogs and provide cover in the event that they cause damage 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 there tends to be enough protection there in the very rare event that this occurs.
Maximum benefit cover tends to be the second most comprehensive cover you can find, and the price reflects this.
Our most recent price check shows the following costs of maximum benefit cover for the following pets.
|Pet Details||Monthly Price|
|Cat: 3 year old female Moggie||£5.33/month|
|Cat: 3 year old female Persian||£10.68/month|
|Dog: 3 year old medium size female Mixed Breed||£14.96/month|
|Dog: 3 year old female German Shepherd||£26.13/month|
*based on a maximum benefit policy with a minimum of £4,000 with a pet living in Loughton, Essex
Maximum benefit pet insurance is the second most comprehensive cover you can get for your pet and due to this tend to be slightly cheaper than lifetime pet insurance but more expensive that time limited plans.
It is not always easy to find the right balance between cover and cost, so it can be helpful to understand the different factors that go into determining the price of maximum benefit cover.
At renewal these factors will be re-assessed alongside any claims you may have made through the policy year. At renewal, whether you’ve had to make a claim – and the cost of the claim – will be the single biggest factor determining your renewal quote.
Now let’s look at how you can influence these factors for cheaper pet insurance premiums.
Some things in the list above you are not going to be able to impact – vet fee inflation, pet age, pet breed for example.
But there are things that you can do to impact the price of your renewal quote or if you’re thinking about bringing a new pet into your family and considering pet insurance for the first time.
The second thing you may come across is called co-insurance (aka. co-payment). These work alongside your excess and in the even of a claim you pay the excess and a percentage of the claim value – usually up to 20%.
So for example if you made a claim of £500 – there may be a compulsory excess of, for example, £99 – then you would also be required to pay 20% of the remaining claim value which would equal £80.20. In total, you would be liable for £179.20 and the insurer would pay the remaining £320.80. The benefit to a coinsurance is that because you are taking on more of the risk the initial premium price will reduce. Just be conscious that if your pet required complex treatment running into thousands of pounds your payment could be quite significant.
Co-insurances are usually optional on pet insurance policies until a certain age at which point they become compulsory, although there are some providers who don’t offer a co-insurance at all.
Find out more about how excess and coinsurance payments work by using our coinsurance calculator.
It is worth understanding the types of conditions that your pet may be more prone to and researching typical treatment costs in your area as well as whether the condition would require ongoing treatment or a one off illness.
You can find providers who offer these as add-ons should you want them or not. If you choose not to have them then it will reduce your premium.
Because claims are one of the biggest drivers of your renewal price, doing what you can to reduce the cost of treatment will have benefits when the renewal invite lands in your inbox.
In some cases, insurers have recommended vet practices for which they have negotiated specific rates for their customers, so check this with them and make your own assessment.
Of course it’s not always possible to shop around in emergencies, but if you have the time it could be beneficial.
Instead there are a number of reputable online veterinary retailers where you can opt to purchase instead. You’ll probably find this is less expensive, as the vet won’t be putting their mark-up on it.
It is important that if your pet needs medical treatment you should seek it, but taking a preventative approach to the health of your pet is the best way to make sure they don’t fall ill. Appropriate exercise, healthy diets, monitoring weight and even tracking activity through smart devices are all great ways to keep the risk of illness down.
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 surround the following:
The main alternatives to maximum benefit pet insurance are the other cover levels available, but be sure to understand their limitations too.
Accident only policies: Covering your pet against vet fees arising from accidental injury. Learn about accident only pet insurance.
Time-limited policies: You can claim up to a fixed amount per illness or injury within a certain time period, usually 12 months. When you reach the financial or time limit – whichever comes first – your pet will no longer be covered for that condition and it will be classed as pre-existing. Any further treatment your pet needs for the condition you will need to pay for yourself. Explore time limited pet insurance.
Lifetime policies: This covers your pet for illnesses and accidents throughout your pet’s life – as long as you renew the policy each year. Find out how lifetime pet insurance works.
If you choose not to opt for pet insurance then you’ll be choosing to self-insure which involves having a savings pot set aside yourself for use if your pet falls ill.
In some extreme cases you might be able to find assistance from animal charities like Blue Cross which may offer help if you are struggling to cover the costs of vet fee treatment.
What if my pet needs treatment after I’ve reached the condition limit?
Once you’ve reached the maximum limit, you’ll have to pay for any further treatment costs yourself.