Knowing you’re supported if and when your pet gets ill takes a huge weight off your shoulders. But finding a policy that is best for you can depend upon your pet, how old they are, the breed they have and much more. In this guide we take a closer look at just one of the many policy types on offer – time limited pet insurance, which provides cover for accidents and illnesses up to either a condition limit or time limit.
Contents of this guide
Time limited pet insurance operates a per condition limit in the same way that maximum benefit policies do. However, the difference between the two is the ‘time limited’ part.
The time limit element of the policy provides a deadline – usually 12 months – on how long claims can be submitted. This works together with the per condition limit and whichever is reached first will determine when cover for the condition ends. Once cover for the condition ends then it will be classed as pre-existing.
Time limited cover gives you the ability to claim for conditions up to 12 months, this can overlap policy years as long as you keep the policy active by renewing annually.
You might be wondering how insurers determine the 12 month time period, and the truth is that is changes depending upon your insurer. We’ve checked the main providers in the UK and their definitions are:
|Pet insurer||Definition of when 12 month limit starts|
|Asda||First clinical signs of injury/illness.|
|Animal Friends||When the condition is first noted by yourself or your vet.|
|Argos||The start of treatment, where treatment is any examination, consultation, tests, x-rays, surgery or prescription medication.|
|Insurance Emporium||Up to 365 days from the date each injury, illness or
condition first showed clinical signs.
|LV=||The first date of treatment, where treatment is defined as necessary consultations, examinations, advice, tests, x-rays, drugs, medication, surgery, nursing or care.|
|More Than||The date the condition was first treated.|
|PDSA||When condition first noticed (not when treatment starts).|
|petinsurance.co.uk||The date when your pet first displayed clinical signs.|
|PetPlan||365 days from and including the date an injury happened or the first clinical signs of an illness were noticed.|
|Sainsbury’s||The date your pet first received treatment, where treatment is defined as any examination, consultation, advice, test, x-ray, diagnostic procedure, surgery and nursing.|
|Scratch & Patch||12 months from the date of the
|Tesco||When treatment begins, but if your vet gives advice but carries out no treatment, the 12 months period doesn’t start.|
Like most other policies they will not cover pre-existing conditions, those that your pet had prior to the policy starting. Similarly, conditions linked to other parts of the body (known as bilateral conditions) will usually be excluded from cover as well. So if your pet has claimed for treatment in their left hip, then you might find that cover won’t be offered if the same treatment is required in the right hip in future.
Time limited pet insurance policies tend to be a popular option with owners of younger pets, where they don’t have long term or chronic conditions needing ongoing care.
Currently (as of 7-11-2021), time limited products offer you a range of cover levels from £1,000 with Animal Friends, PetProtect, Insurance Emporium and Everypaw up to £5,000 with Asda and The Insurance Emporium.
Most policies don’t impose an annual limit although you may find one or two which do. Without the annual limit means you can claim for as many conditions as you want in the policy year, but each condition will have a limit.
With those that do, currently PetInsurance.co.uk (as of 21/05/2021) there’s an annual limit of £3,500 but they don’t have a limit on the amount of conditions you can claim for. So that £3,500 limit could be made up of 1 large claim or 10+ smaller value claims.
In some cases (Animal Friends Basic Plus policy as of 21/05/2021) there is both a per condition limit of £1,000 and an annual limit of £4,000 imposed on the policy.
Time limited pet insurance allows you to claim the cost of veterinary treatments needed by your pet during the plan year. It aims to cover new illnesses or injuries your pet has up to the per condition and/or annual limit set by the policy wording.
Once you use up the limit on the condition or the 12 month time limit expires then 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.
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. Claims made 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.
Learn more about lost and found 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.
Because time limited plans are subject to both the time and per condition limits there are typically priced towards the cheaper end of the cover available. Maximum benefit plans are the next most comprehensive, while accident only policies are the plan below.
Our most recent price check shows the following costs of time limited cover for the following pets.
|Pet Details||Monthly Price|
|Cat: 3 year old female Moggie||£5.57/month|
|Cat: 3 year old male Persian||£9.20/month|
|Dog: 3 year old medium size male Mixed Breed||£9.71/month|
|Dog: 3 year old female German Shepherd||£14.40/month|
*based on a time limited policy with a minimum of £2,000 limit with a pet living in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
Time limited pet insurance is one of the most basic levels of cover you can get for your pet and due to this tend to be slightly cheaper than maximum benefit policies but more expensive than accident only 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 time limited 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’re 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 time limited pet insurance for the first time.
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 time limited 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.
Maximum benefit policies: You can claim up to a fixed amount per illness or injury. When you reach the financial limit 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.
Lifetime policies: This covers your pet for illnesses and accidents throughout your pet’s life – as long as you renew the policy each year.
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 or time limit?
Once you’ve reached the per condition limit or the 12 month time limit expires, you’ll have to pay for any further treatment costs yourself.