What is dog insurance?
Dog insurance helps you cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your dog falls ill or gets injured.
Some policies will also pay out if your dog is lost, stolen or needs to go to a kennel because you're in hospital.
We've analysed dog insurance policies to give you a shortcut to finding the best deal for your four-legged friend.
- Find out more: our individual pet insurer reviews
Types of dog insurance
There are three main types of policies that cover dogs:
Lifetime cover dog 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 two main types of lifetime cover: per condition per year cover, and annual lifetime cover.
Annual lifetime cover has a maximum overall limit that includes all conditions your pet may experience, which resets each year.
Per condition per year lifetime cover has a maximum limit for specific conditions that your pet may have, which reset each year. Some policies also have an overall annual limit.
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 cover, and time-limit per condition cover.
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-limited 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.
To find our more about what pet insurance covers, and what's likely to be excluded, read our guide on pet insurance explained.
Dog insurance policies compared
There is a vast array of dog insurance policies on the market, making it tough to figure out which one is right for your pooch.
Which? members can see:
- The full results from our analysis of dozens of different dog insurance policies, including our unique policy scores
- A full breakdown of how each pet insurer is rated for customer service, value for money, transparency of charges, experience with making claims and much more.
- Individual overviews of each provider, revealing everything from the deals they offer to how thousands of real customers rate different aspects of their service.
How can I save money on dog insurance?
Here's how to stop your four-legged friend from emptying your wallet:
1. Find out the needs of your dog breed
As a starting point we recommend the following cover levels
- Non-pedigree dog: at least £4,000 annual cover
- Pedigree dog: at least £7,000 of annual cover
Certain breeds are prone to particular injuries and are more expensive to insure.
For example, Labrador retrievers can be prone to cruciate ligament problems and dachshunds to back problems, both of which can set you back thousands of pounds in treatment costs.
2. Buy insurance when your dog is healthy
This might seem counterintuitive, but as most policies exclude pre-existing conditions, buying early means you're maximising the cover your pet will get.
3. Make sure your dog is up to date on its jabs
Make sure your dog gets the appropriate inoculations and injections - including boosters, to minimise its chance of getting an illness that could lead to expensive premiums.
4. Pay annually (if you can afford it)
Paying monthly usually means you're also paying interest, and this can be surprisingly expensive.
5. Haggle at renewal
If your insurer increases your dog's premiums without good reason (for instance by claiming some routine treatment was an indication of an underlying condition), seek advice from a vet and complain.
- Find out more: read our reviews of the leading pet insurers