Animal Friends Review

Cat, Dog and Horse Insurance
Animal Friends Logo

Animal Friends offer a number of cat and dog insurance policies at very competitive prices. They are nearly always one of the cheapest on price comparison sites, but beware of the limitations that come with their cover. We’ll explore their offering in detail below.

If there’s anything else you think we can add to improve this review, please contact us on hello@gathercover.co.uk.

Positives

  • + Cheaper than average cover
  • + Simple claims submission through Pawtal platform
  • + No upper age limits

Negatives

  • - Dental cover is limited to few plans
  • - No dental cover for illness
  • - Lower annual limits can be prohibitive
  • - Small timeframe in which to submit claims
  • - No multi-pet discount

Overview

If you’re looking for cheap pet insurance then it’s almost inevitable that Animal Friends will be pretty high on the list of providers to consider. They nearly always have a level of cover that presents a relatively cheap price even for the most comprehensive lifetime cover. Animal Friends is a particularly popular insurer for UK pet owners working to support pet owners through affordable cover, and wider animal well-being through their relationships with pet charities. 

Pet insurance cover types

Animals Friends provide 13 different levels of cover across 4 different cover types. 

  • Accident Only – There is one accident only policy offered by Animal Friends which provides cover for accidents up to a lifetime limit of £15,000 with an annual limit of £2,500. Find out more about how accident only pet insurance works.
  • Time Limited – Animal Friends offer 3 levels of time limited policies. Basic Plus, Prime and Prime Plus policies cover you against vet fees arising from accidents and illnesses up to a maximum of 12 months from the first treatment or until the condition limit is reached. Read more about time-limited pet insurance
  • Maximum Benefit – There are also 3 levels of maximum benefit cover. These are the Max Value, Max Plus and Max Extra plan offering cover up to a condition limit. Once that specific per condition limit is reached then cover for that condition stops. Explore maximum benefit pet insurance
  • Lifetime – Animal Friends policies are mainly made up of Lifetime pet insurance. They are reinstatement policies, structured in 2 different ways. Lifetime Assure and Lifetime Assure Plus policies have an annual policy limit for all claims reinstated each year assuming that they renew. They also have Super, Superior, Superior Plus and Prestige policies which do not have an annual limit, but instead a per condition limit which is reinstated each year at renewal. More information on lifetime pet insurance

Vet fee limits

The full list of 13 policies that Animal Friends provide are shown below, broken down by the annual and per condition limits.

Cover name Maximum Vet Fees Per Condition in 12 Months Total Vet Fees Payable in a 12 Month Period Maximum Vet Fees Per Condition For Life of Pet
Accident Only £2,500 Unlimited 15,000
Basic Plus £1,000 £4,000 1,000
Prime £2,000 £7,000 2,000
Prime Plus £4,000 £10,000 4,000
Max Value £1,000 Unlimited 1,000
Max Plus £2,000 Unlimited 2,000
Max Extra £4,000 Unlimited 4,000
Lifetime Assure £3,000 £3,000 Unlimited
Lifetime Assure Plus £5,000 £5,000 Unlimited
Super £1,000 Unlimited Unlimited
Superior £2,000 Unlimited Unlimited
Superior Plus £4,000 Unlimited Unlimited
Prestige £6,000 Unlimited Unlimited

 

Inner Limits

The main drawback to Animal Friend’s policies are the lower limits and specifics on inner limits, which we’ll be exploring below. As they offer accident only, time limited, maximum benefit and lifetime policies, these limits are variable across the full 13 policies they currently offer.

Dental Cover

You can only be covered for dental on just 2 Animal Friends policies, so if this is important to you then you’ll need to be looking at Assure Plus or Prestige policies. 

Even with these policies you’ll only be able to claim for dental cover as a result of accident or injury, it also requires your pet to have had a dental exam by a vet in the 12 month prior to the accident or injury.

Assuming that you qualify then you are able to claim under the limits of the vet fee cover, so on Assure Plus that would be up to £5,000, and on Prestige cover it will be up to £6,000.

Find out more about pet dental cover and who provides comprehensive cover.

Behavioural treatment

Animal Friends’ definition of behavioural problems is a change in the normal behaviour of your pet that signals your pet is experiencing a negative emotional state. 

If you should need to provide behavioural assistance to your pet and wish to claim for this, then this can be covered only on the Prestige policy. Any behavioural conditions must be diagnosed by a vet and the treatment – which can include up to 6 months worth of training, administration of pheromone products or medication for your pet – must be carried out by a vet, a certified clinical animal behaviourist (CCAB), a member of the Association of Pet Behavioural Counsellors (APBC) or a member of the Canine and Feline Behaviour Association (CFBA).

Should your pet develop any behavioural problems during your policy you’re obliged to inform Animal Friends about these as it may affect your cover or the success of any future claims. 

Find out more about how behavioural treatment works.

Complementary Treatment Cover

Animal Friends offer pretty comprehensive cover for complementary treatment so long as your vet has recommended the treatment and that it is carried out by a licensed professional. By a licensed professional Animal Friends mean a member of one of the following accredited organisations: 

  • Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy
  • National Association of Vet Physiotherapists
  • The Institute of Registered Veterinary and Animal Physiotherapists (IRVAP)
  • The International Association of Animal Therapists
  • Canine Hydrotherapy Association International Vet Acupuncture Society (IVAS)
  • The Association of British Vet Acupuncturists (ABVA)
  • National Association of Registered Canine Hydrotherapists (NARCH)

You are able to claim up to £500 for 7 types of complementary treatment, the most by any pet insurer. These include; Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Herbal Medicine, Physiotherapy, Hydrotherapy, Osteopathy, Chiropractic Treatment and Laser Treatment.

The £500 pound limit is in place for all cover levels, although remember for accident only policies the claim is only valid if the complementary treatment is needed to help with pain as a result of an accident your pet has had. 

Accidental Damage Cover

Accidental damage protection can cover you in the event that your pet causes damage to your, or someone else’s, property.

There are no policies that Animal Friends offer which will provide cover for accidental damage to your own property. This is pretty common, most providers won’t offer cover for damage caused to your own property, in fact NFU Mutual and Saga do provide this protection. 

When it comes to accidental damage to other people’s property there are more providers that will cover this. For Animal Friends, you can only get cover on the highest level Prestige cover. On Prestige you’ll be covered up to £750 for accidental damage caused by your pet to someone else’s property. 

Find out more by reading our guide to accidental damage cover.

Public Liability

Third party death, injury or property damage as a result of an accident involving your pet where you are found legally responsible. When you make a claim for public liability your excess will be £250.

Where Animal Friends is concerned they extend public liability cover to cats, rather than just dogs – which is the case with every other UK insurer – and cover ranges from £1,500,000 up to £2,000,000 with Assure Plus and Prestige plans. 

Important exclusions to public liability claims include:

  • If the claimant is a person who lives with you or is an immediate family member or your employee.
  • If the incident is caused by signs of aggression, and your pet has shown previous aggressive tendencies or has previously attacked, bitten or injured someone.
  • Claims arising from any aggressive tendencies or behavioural problems shown by your pet and you have not followed a behaviour modification programme.
  • Loss or damage to property as a result of your pet’s interaction with other animals or worrying livestock.

Pre-Existing Condition Cover

Animal Friends do not cover pre-existing conditions as part of any of their policies. Pre-existing conditions are those that your pet suffers from before your pet insurance policy starts. Animal Friends’ specific definition is: 

  • Any condition, symptom or sign of a condition occurring or existing in any form and at any time prior to the commencement date; or
  • Any illness, symptom or sign of an illness occurring or existing in any form during the first 14 days of the commencement date.

For more information on pre-existing conditions and how they work, take a look at our pre-existing conditions pet insurance guide.

Holiday Cover

Holiday cover is included as standard on all Animal Friends policies (except accident only). But it is by no means the most comprehensive travel cover available in the market. 

It protects you in the event that your pet requires emergency vet treatment abroad, and cover ranges from £750 up to £2,000.

This will only apply to a maximum of 3 trips per policy period, where no single trip can exceed 30 days.

Importantly the holiday cover only applies if you were not pre-planning a trip to get pet treatment abroad and that you’re not planning to travel to a country outside of the UK Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). 

If you are planning to make a claim that exceeds £1,000 then give Animal Friends a call before approving the treatment to get a view on pre-authorisation of the claim. 

Holiday cancellation

Animal Friends will cover you in the event that you need to cancel your holiday in the 14 days before you depart, or reasonable travel and accommodation costs if you need to cut your holiday short because your pet requires life-saving treatment.

Make sure that you keep all the receipts for costs that you incur due to cancelling or cutting short your holiday. These can be either from your travel company, tour operator, flight provider or others. 

What’s not covered?

Animal Friends won’t provide protection for aspects of travel cover that you may well find with other providers, this includes: 

  • Quarantine costs
  • Repeat Worming Treatment
  • Loss of Animal Travel Documents
  • Emergency Expenses Abroad
  • Repatriation costs
  • Overseas Third Party Liability

Find out more about how overseas travel works for pets.

Death of Pet

In the unfortunate event that your pet passes away, either from an accident, illness or being put down then Animal Friends will be able to support you by covering the purchase price or – if you don’t have proof of purchase – a percentage of your pet’s market value. 

The limits of payouts for death by illness or accident range from £500 to £1,500 and are included as standard on all policies except accident only.

Costs associated with cremation or burial expenses will not be covered. Equally any claims submitted for pets passing away due to pre-existing conditions, any illness when the pet is over 8 years or older or your pet being put down due to behavioural or monetary reasons will not be covered either.

Loss and Recovery

Animal Friends policies include cover for theft and straying as standard on all policies (except Accident Only) it provides cover in the event that your pet goes missing and cannot be found within 45 days. If this does occur then they will pay a percentage of your pet’s market value, purchase price or the amount specified in the policy documents up to the maximum limits on your policy.

Similarly, you’ll be able to claim for the cost of advertising and offering a reward to find your pet. Each of these areas come with their own specific limits which are shown below.

Cover Level Loss or Theft Limit Advertising Limit Reward Limit
Accident Only £0 £0 £0
Basic Plus £600 £200 £200
Prime £500 £200 £200
Prime Plus £1,000 £200 £200
Max Value £750 £200 £200
Max Plus £500 £200 £200
Max Extra £750 £200 £200
Lifetime Assure £1,000 £200 £200
Lifetime Assure Plus £500 £200 £200
Super £750 £200 £200
Superior £1,000 £200 £200
Superior Plus £1,200 £600 £600
Prestige £1,500 £1,000 £1,000

When claiming under the theft and straying section of the policy just make sure that you make a claim after your pet has been missing for 45 days or more. Plus, make sure that you don’t fall victim to certain exclusions such as any theft that didn’t involve forced entry to a secured area or that your dog wasn’t microchipped with up to date information.

Finally, be aware that once you make a successful claim under this section of the policy then your cover will be terminated from the day that the claim is paid and any premiums paid will not be refunded to you.

If you are looking to claim for the advertising and/or reward section of the cover then again your pet must be microchipped with the up to date information on record, the loss or theft cannot be caused by a family member or someone you know, and you must have receipts for any advertising costs you wish to claim for.

Explore more about lost and found cover

Excess and coinsurance

Excess

For all of Animal Friends policies except the Max Value, Max Plus and Max Extra plans the excess is paid once per policy year for each separate condition you claim for. 

On the maximum benefit policies this changes as you only need to pay the excess once for each condition no matter how long you claim the condition for. 

Equally, if you choose the Lifetime Assure or Lifetime Assure Plus policies the £99 excess is paid per year regardless of how many conditions you claim for. 

The excess payment remains at £99 no matter how old your pet is, however there is a coinsurance payment to be aware of, which is explained below. 

 

Find out more about how pet insurance excess works.

Coinsurance

When your cat reaches 10 years old or dogs reach 8 years old they will be classed as a senior pet by Animal Friends (and most other insurers too). As older pets, you’ll be required to pay, in addition to the £99 excess payment, a 20% coinsurance. 

Animal Friends do not allow you to choose an optional excess on policies for younger pets, so you won’t be able to use a coinsurance to bring your initial policy premium down. 

Find out more about how pet insurance coinsurance works.

Claim stats

Animal Friends have a long history of paying claims, and they sit pretty well among other providers in regards to the percentage of claims they pay out. In 2020 they paid out 94% of claims submitted to them.

Importantly, there is a section in Animal Friends policy wording which implies that Animal Friends may limit claim payouts to “vet fees deemed reasonable and essential by our vet advisor”. This could mean you may receive a lower payout than you might expect. You should also be aware that there is a relatively short time to claim, just 90 days. 

Most claims are assessed within 7 working days from the receipt of all the necessary information and medical history, however the Pawtal claims system, which allows your vet to submit, manage and receive direct payment for claim, can see this reduced to 24 hours.  

Find out how direct vet payment works.

FEES AND COSTS

Some pet insurance companies impose charges when setting up, changing, cancelling or renewing your policy. This is usually charged to cover the costs of administration or to cover additional risks that changes may pose, such as moving address. 

Animal Friends’s charges and fees are shown below: 

  • Cancellation fee: £0
  • Adjustment fee: £0
  • Replacement policy documents fee: £0
  • Set up fee: £0
  • Renewal fee: £0

EXCLUSIONS AND WHAT'S NOT COVERED

Above we’ve taken a look at specific exclusions to parts of the policies, but alongside these you should also be aware of general exclusions that Animal Friends policies have.

Policyholder Requirements

Animal Friends policyholders must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Live in the United Kingdom
  • Be the registered owner of the pet
  • Have the pet living with you at your address

Age Limits

Animal Friends will not be able to insure any pet less than 4 weeks old.

Pre-existing conditions 

Animal Friends do not offer cover for pre-existing conditions so any costs resulting from a pre-existing illness or injury will not be covered. 

Waiting period

You will not be covered for costs resulting from an illness that displays clinical signs in the first 14 days or any accident or injury occurring within 5 days of your policy starting.

Nor will they consider any claim for the cruciate ligament within 14 days of the commencement date.

Excluded pets

Cover will not be applicable to:

  • The following dogs, as outlined in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, are specifically excluded from cover under any section of this policy:
    • Pit Bull Terrier
    • Japanese Tosa / Tosa Inus
    • Dogo Argentino (also referred to as Argentine Dogo and Argentinian Mastiff)
    • Fila Brasileiro

Including any “type”, as defined in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, considered to match the description of a prohibited “type”; any breed crossed with the above; and any other breed or type deemed be dangerous by the
Secretary of State and subsequently added to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

  • Any dogs used for trade, business, commercial or working purposes;
  • Any dogs who are used or trained for purposes other than as a domestic or household pet
  • Any dogs used for breeding
  • Any dogs used as gundogs, or used for or in connection with shooting, pointing, field work or for the purposes of hunting of any kind
  • Any claims where your pet has been used for or in connection with a trade, profession, breeding (whether as a business or not) or where your pet has been bred for monetary gain or reward, unless we have agreed in writing to cover such use.
  • We shall not be liable for any claims of any kind which are caused by your pet straying, escaping, damaging property, or attacking persons or pets if your pet has done this before.
  • Any cats used for trade, business, commercial or working purposes
  • Any cats used for breeding

Routine and preventative care

  • Any costs involved in your pet undergoing treatment for; and/or the fitting of; prosthetic and artificial limbs including the actual cost of the prosthetics and/or artificial limbs themselves and any associated costs involved in the rehabilitation of your pet after such a procedure.
  • Any costs involved in any organ transplants or your pet being a blood donor including any loss or damage as a result of your pet undergoing organ transplants or blood donation.
  • Any costs involved in your pet under-going stem cell and/or gene therapy treatment including any loss or damage as a result of your pet undergoing such treatment.

Pregnancy

  • Any claims as a result of your pet being neutered or spayed.

Bi-lateral conditions

Bi-lateral conditions are those that affect parts of your pets body which exist on both sides of your pet’s body, such as knees, eyes, ears, front legs, hind legs, hips and elbows – plus many more. If you claim for one of these conditions then the limit applies to both body parts rather than a separate limit for each.

Claims

Any claims that fall beyond 90 days from the treatment starting or the end of the policy will be declined. 

Customer Reviews

We’ve taken a detailed look into Animal Friends policies throughout, but it’s also worth considering what actual policyholders think about them and what they’re like to deal with. It’s a generally positive picture with a 4.3/5 rating on Trustpilot, with most customers highlighting swift claim payouts and helpful staff. However, this picture is altered by looking at Reviews.io where we presume Animal Friends are not actively requesting feedback. Reviews.io shows a rating of just 1.72/5.  

Below we’ve taken the latest 4 reviews from Trustpilot. These were created on 8th November 2021.

Animal Friends ratings and reviews

Animal Friends has a 4.3/5 rating from their customers on Trustpilot and has been calculated from around 25,000 reviews. This places their rating as 'Excellent' with many reviews highlighting value for money, speedy claims processing and helpful customer service team.
  • Great cover for my dog, added 2 kittens to policy recently no issues, easy to use website, good prices and level of cover is exactly what I need.

    Samantha B
    Customer
  • I can only say positive things about Animal Friends. My pets have been with them for years and they have been great. I would recommend this company to all.

    Karen
    Customer
  • I have used animal “friends” for all 4 of my cats for 15 years but will be moving them. Not only have premiums increased massively their appalling customer service has meant the last year of one of my cats life was fraught with money difficulties when they refused to pay. They kept saying the condition was purely behavioural. Despite his weight loss, reduced kidney function and gut mobility issues the fact that he was spraying in the house means it was all behavioural. The idea that a sick cat might be showing the behaviour because he was ill not vica versa was not possible according to them. So my cat died today, having reduced to just 2kg in weight and incontinent. But no, of course his death will be ruled behavioural. Complete con. Avoid at all costs.

    Nadine C
    Customer
  • It was very easy to make a claim when I needed to with Animal Friends. My vet sent the account to them and I just paid the excess to the vet. Extremely easy process.

    Kept me well informed, checked that it was me making the claim. Highly recommend this company.

    Diane G
    Customer

Animal Friends contact Info

Animal Friends contact page

Phone

0344 557 0300 (Customer services and Claims)

Email

info@animalfriends.co.uk
claims@animalfriends.co.uk

Post

Animal Friends Insurance
No.1 The Crescent
Solstice Park
Amesbury
SP4 7QA