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Best and worst pet insurance

Our expert analysis rates the best and worst pet insurance policies - and tells you which pet insurance companies provide the best customer service.

In this article
How do I find the best pet insurance? What are the best pet insurance policies? Who are best pet insurance companies?
What does pet insurance cover? What types of pet insurance are there? Get top money-saving tips from Which?

How do I find the best pet insurance?

With a huge variety of pet insurance policies on the market that pay out in different ways, finding the right cover for your four-legged friend can be difficult.

We've analysed over a hundred policies for cats and dogs to pick our Best Buy policies.

We've also surveyed pet insurance customers - including those who've made a claim - to compare pet insurance providers.

What are the best pet insurance policies?

We've analysed over 80 cat insurance policies and 90 dog insurance policies to help you find the best cover. 

The policies in the tables below are our Best Buys. These are lifetime policies that offer high levels of cover and meet our minimum cover criteria.

We've not been able to rate all of the insurers for their levels of service, but we've shown the scores of those we were able to test.

Which? members can log-in to see the results of our analysis. If you're not already a member, join Which? and get full access to these results and all our reviews.

 

How did we choose our Best Buys for cats?

 

In November 2021, we analysed 84 pet insurance policies covering cats, examining the amounts they paid out in vets fees, and other benefits they provide, including costs for holiday cancellation, dental cover, and advertising and reward costs to help find your cat if it goes missing. 

We compared 21 features of cat insurance policies, plus the amount each pays in vet fees - to create a policy score. The higher the score, the more comprehensive the policy's cover.

Policies that we've named as Best Buys are all lifetime policies that did well in our analysis of cover - scoring at least 64%. In addition:

  • Each will pay out a minimum of £2,000 per year in vet fees
  • Each will pay out a minimum of £1,000 for any single condition in a year, if a condition limit applies.
  • They all also provide dental cover for both accidents and illnesses

Customer service

We didn't receive enough respondents in our customer survey to provide customer or claims scores for each brand considered. This means we can't speak to the levels of service for each Best Buy provider. However, we've not included providers that we were able to rate and received poorer than average customer or claims scores. We've additionally not included other providers that, at the time of the analysis, had a poorer than average complaints record with the Financial Ombudsman Service. 

 

How did we choose our Best Buys for dogs?

 

In November 2021, we analysed 92 pet insurance policies covering dogs, examining the amounts they paid out in vets fees, and other benefits they provide, including costs for holiday cancellation, dental cover, and liability costs if your dog causes injury or damage to property. 

We compared 24 features of dog insurance policies, plus the amount each pays in vet fees - to create a policy score. The higher the score, the more comprehensive the policy's cover.

Policies that we've named as Best Buys are all lifetime policies that did well in our analysis of cover - scoring at least 63%. In addition:

  • Each will pay out a minimum of £2,000 per year in vet fees
  • Each will pay out a minimum of £1,000 for any single condition in a year, if a condition limit applies.
  • They all also provide dental cover for both accidents and illnesses

Customer service

We didn't receive enough respondents in our customer survey to provide customer or claims scores for each brand considered. This means we can't speak to the levels of service for each Best Buy provider. However, we've not included providers that we were able to rate and received poorer than average customer or claims scores. We've additionally not included other providers that, at the time of the analysis, had a poorer than average complaints record with the Financial Ombudsman Service. 

    Who are best pet insurance companies?

    In November 2021 we surveyed 1,342 Which? members who have pet insurance. 

    The table below shows which of the nine pet insurance providers had the most - and least - satisfied customers, as well as how they score for seven different aspects of their service.

    You can also see how pet insurers performed when it came to claims, and clicking on an insurer name will take you to our in-depth review.

    Which? members can log-in to see the results of our analysis. If you're not already a member, join Which? and get full access to these results and all our reviews.

     

    How we calculate the best pet insurance

     

    In November 2021, we carried out a survey of 1,342 Which? members that own pet insurance. Customers were asked how satisfied they were with their provider, and how likely they would be to recommend it. We used answers to these questions to generate our Customer Score.

    Claims scores are based on responses from 784 Which? members that have claimed on pet insurance in the past 5 years (survey carried out in November 2021). Respondents were asked how satisfied they were with their most recent claim and how likely they would be to recommend their provider based on its claims service. 

    Customer Score sample sizes: Animal Friends (171), Bought by many (140), Direct Line (47), John Lewis (44), LV (71), Petplan (395), Sainsbury's Bank (34), Tesco Bank (83), The Kennel Club (37)

    Claims Score sample sizes: Animal Friends (103), Bought by many (53), Direct Line (34), John Lewis (37), LV (33) Petplan (301), Tesco Bank (49). Where '-' given in Customer or Claims score columns, we didn't receive enough responses in our survey (30) to generate the scores.

    What does pet insurance cover?

    Not all policies will include all of these types of cover, and limits and exclusions may apply - see our individual insurer reviews for more details.

     

    Death by accident or illness

     

    If your pet dies you can get back the cost of what you paid for it or what it could sell for. 

    Most pet insurance policies have an age limit - typically of seven to 10 years for a cat and seven to eight years for a dog - after which insurers will not pay out, or you'll have to make a contribution to costs. 

     

    Missing pet cover

     

    Most pet insurance providers cover the cost of putting up posters and paying a reward if your pet goes missing.

     

    Third-party liability (dog only policies)

     

    If you have a dog, your pet insurance policy should pay out if your dog injures a third party or damages their property. 

    This covers legal costs, expenses and the claimant’s expenses. Cats don’t need third-party cover as legally they are considered ‘free spirits’.

     

    Overseas travel cover

     

    Most pet insurance policies will provide cover if your pet falls ill, is involved in an accident, or needs veterinary treatment when abroad.

     

    Cattery and kennel fees

     

    If you are hospitalised and there is no one else to look after your pet, your pet insurance provider will pay out for your pet to be put in a cattery or a kennel. You usually have to be in hospital for at least two to four consecutive days.

     

    Dental cover

     

    Most pet insurers offer cover if your pet needs dental work. Some policies only cover treatment needed from either injuries or illnesses. However, some won't cover illness.

    Policies aren't likely to cover routine treatments, or expenses connected with pregnancy and giving birth.

    Find out more: pet insurance explained

    What types of pet insurance are there?

    Just as car insurance can be divided up into comprehensive and third-party cover, there are various types of pet insurance policies:

    Lifetime cover pet insurance

    Lifetime cover is the most comprehensive pet insurance on the market and pays out for ongoing issues your pet may have throughout its lifetime. 

    There are three main types of lifetime cover:

    • Annual cover has a maximum overall limit that includes all conditions your pet may experience, which resets each year.
    • Per condition per year has a maximum limit for specific conditions that your pet may have, which resets each year.
    • Per-condition lifetime cover (overall annual limit) these policies have annual individual condition limits and a maximum overall annual limit across all conditions, ie up to £4k per condition, and £12k across all conditions per year.

    Both per condition per year and annual pet insurance policies cover ongoing illnesses every year unless you cancel your policy.

    Non-lifetime cover pet insurance

    Non-lifetime cover is less comprehensive and excludes certain conditions after you hit your claims limit. 

    There are two main types of non-lifetime insurance:

    • Per condition pet insurance cover pays a limited amount for each condition and, once the limit has been reached, the condition is excluded from future payouts.
    • Time-limit per condition pet insurance cover has both a per condition limit and time limit, typically of 12 months, before the condition is excluded.

    With a time limit policy, even if your limit for a particular condition wasn’t reached, the condition would eventually be excluded after 12 months.

    Accident-only pet insurance

    Accident-only pet insurance provides a fixed sum of money for each accidental injury to help pay for your pet’s treatment. It is the cheapest type of pet insurance policy but excludes cover for illness entirely.

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