Overseas travel cover with pet insurance

Travelling abroad with your pets comes with some additional support from your insurer. Find out how pets are covered outside of the UK

Travelling abroad with your pets

There’s a lot to think about when travelling abroad with your pets. Most pet insurance policies come with some degree of cover for complications whilst you’re out of the country, but be aware of the pitfalls and exclusions, which might come back to bite.

Contents of this guide

What is overseas travel cover? 

One of the key additional benefits that comes with pet insurance is cover for when you’re out of the country with your pets. Different insurers have different names for this type of cover but usually it’s overseas travel or holiday cover.

Typically it covers things like emergency treatment abroad, emergency repatriation, replacement pet passports and holiday cancellation cover but in some cases you may find not all these features are included or in fact that some providers offer additional benefits.

  • Holiday cancellation cover is a payment your insurer provides in the event that your trip needs to be cut short by an illness to your pet. It may also pay out if you need to cancel your trip before you’re able to go, usually if the cancellation occurs within 14 days before you travel. Should you re-book your holiday, then the insurer may also be able to help with any price differences if the holiday is more expensive than when you were due to go.
  • Replacement document cover is support for you if you need to request a new pet passport.
  • Repatriation cover provides support if your pet has passed away whilst you’ve been abroad and needs to be returned to the UK. It also covers situations where your pet is unable to return to the UK in the same way that they left the UK.
  • Quarantine cover allows you to claim if there are delays caused by your pet and it is placed into quarantine. This also extends to your own circumstances so if you need extra accommodation whilst your pet is quarantined, some insurers will pay for this as well.
  • Repeat tapeworm treatment is as what it says but if you pet requires tapeworm treatment whilst either in quaratine or whilst your away then you insurers may cover the cost of this also.

Do all pet insurers offer cover?

Current 80% of policies available in the UK offer a degree of cover for overseas travel cover. Bought By Many is probably one of the most comprehensive on the market in regards to the number of issues they’ll pay out for, however, the highest limits can be found with The Kennel Club and Purely Pets – who offer £15,000 worth of cover. The overseas travel cover limits start at £250 ranging up to the £15,000.

Can it be added and removed when I need it?

This is an area that we believe that pet insurers can be more flexible.

When you purchase pet insurance you’re buying into a 12 month policy. The overseas travel cover is – in most cases – built into the price of the policy. So as a consumer you’re paying 12 months worth of cover for something that you may only need for 3 or 4 weeks.

As an insurer, it’s a good way for them to add perceived value and earn a little extra premium without extra risk.

Now, however, there are some providers that are looking at offering flexibility. One is Bought By Many who, instead of including cover by default in all their policies, they give customers the choice about whether they want the cover or not. For those customers who aren’t planning on travelling abroad with their pets, or for example cat owners who are more unlikely to take them away with them, this provides more control over their policy and therefore price.

However, this is a decision that still needs to be made by the pet owner when taking out their policy, and provides cover across the year.

We wonder whether there could be even further enhancements to allow pet owners to buy overseas travel cover mid term when they decide they wish to go abroad, much like typical travel insurance policies.

What areas are covered…and which aren’t?

Travel cover tends be provide support worldwide, but there are certain exclusions in place that means you still need to be aware of where you travel in order to ensure you will be covered.

These locations are generally determined by advice issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). If you choose to take your pet to a country that is against this advice then expect your claim to be rejected.

What exclusions are there?

Exclusions under the overseas travel sections of policies can vary but generally speaking the most common things to be aware of relate to the length of time you travel, where you’re travelling to and the reason you’re travelling.

  • Length of trip – Insurers ususally have a limit on the time that you are away on holiday. We checked PurelyPets who’ll cover you for a length of time equal to 180 days out of the year, while for Bought By Many it is 90 days per calendar year.
  • Travelling to restricted countries – If you plan to take your pet to a country that the FCDO has not recommended, then you’ll likely find that your cover will not apply.
  • If your travelling for treatment or if you knew your pet needed treatment before leaving – both these circumstances may mean you will not be covered.

Always check your policy wording for the exact restrictions and exclusions your current provider imposes.

The Brexit effect

If you are travelling to the EU then you can no longer use a pet passport that has been issued in Great Britain, though if you have a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland then you will be fine.

Importantly when you are travelling to an EU country or Northern Ireland your pet must:

  • Be micro-chipped
  • Have a valid rabies vaccination
  • Have an animal health certificate unless you have a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland
  • Be up to date with tapeworm treatment for dogs if you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta

More information can be found on the FCDO website or the government website of the country where you intend to travel. It’s important that you take care to ensure that you comply with the rules as this could invalidate your insurance cover and lead to a claim being rejected if you don’t follow all the official advice.