A trip to the vet isn't cheap - but getting your cat or dog insured can also be pricey.
Luckily, Which? is here to help.
Here we reveal 10 top tips to help you find the best deal and cut the cost of your pet insurance.
1. Do your homework to find cheap pet insurance
It’s best to do your homework and really shop around to find cheap pet insurance.
We’ve analysed almost 70 cat insurance and dog insurance policies so you can find the perfect cover. In addition, thousands of customers have rated their pet insurance provider on customer service.
You can then go to the best insurers directly and or search price comparison sites for more pet insurance quotes.
2. Get the right level of pet insurance cover to save money
Making sure you get the right level of cover will help you find cheap pet insurance. Levels of cover on offer vary dramatically.
There's no NHS for animals, so you can't predict how expensive your pet's medical needs will be from year to year. But we can't all afford the most comprehensive insurance available for our pets.
In our most recent survey of Which? members that own pet insurance, we found that around a third of dog or cat owners that claimed in the last year had done so more than once. So as a rough starting point, we'd recommend:
- Cover that pays out for both injuries and illness
- Steering clear of policies from which you can claim less than £2,000 a year
Bear in mind these are minimum recommendations that any treatment cost above your chosen cover amount will come from your own pocket - see below for why your pet's breed could affect costs.
3. Find out the needs of your breed for a cheaper pet premium
Finding out the needs of your particular breed of pet could really help you find a cheaper premium. 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.
On the whole, cats tend to be in better health than their canine counterparts, so it's reasonable to consider a lower level of cover, although they can still be prone to chronic conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, later in life.
It’s also worth speaking to your vet about common conditions or hereditary problems. They should be able to estimate how much insurance you should get for your pet.
- Find out more: the best and worst pet insurers
4. Make sure you are up to date on your jabs
Keeping your pet as healthy as possible can really help you save money on your pet insurance. This can be done by making sure your pet gets the appropriate inoculations and injections - including boosters, regularly.
This could make all the difference, because if your pet falls ill and you need to claim, your pet insurance premium could rise sharply in subsequent years.
5. Buy pet insurance when your pet is healthy
It might seem counterintuitive but it's much better to buy pet insurance when your pets are in good health. This is because pre-existing conditions are usually excluded from new pet insurance policies.
So, if you buy pet insurance before your pet falls ill you’re maximising the number of illnesses your pet will be covered for.
- Find out more: our reviews of individual pet insurance providers
6. Get your pet micro-chipped
Microchipping your dog has been a legal requirement since April 6th 2016. Some pet insurance companies offer a discount if your cat is microchipped so be sure to ask when you’re getting quotes.
Your vet will be able to provide details on how to get it done and how much it would cost.
7. Check out multi-pet policies
If you have multiple pets it’s worth seeing if you can get a discount by insuring all of them with the same pet insurance provider.
A number of pet insurers on the market will offer you a discount – sometimes up to 10% - so check a multi-pet policy to see if you can cut your costs even further.
8. Pay annually for pet insurance (if you can afford it)
Monthly payments may seem convenient, but a monthly plan is essentially a high-interest loan and can add significantly to your costs.
You might be able to save a significant amount if you pay annually. In addition, some insurers will give you a discount if you buy cover online.
9. Read your pet insurance policy details...carefully
Always check the terms and conditions of your pet insurance policy carefully. The cheapest cover may not be enough to give your pet the right level of protection.
The most basic pet insurance may cost less, but put a time limit on the claim – usually 12 months – as well as a monetary one. Once the 12 months are up, that particular condition is excluded from the policy.
- Find out more: pet insurance explained
10. Talk to a pet insurance specialist
While cats and dogs are the most popular pets, many animal lovers have snakes, spiders and lizards.
More exotic pets, and animals with vastly different needs such as horses, birds and rabbits, may not be adequately covered under traditional policies.
Speak to pet insurance specialists to find the cover you need and, if you are still struggling, use the British Insurance Broker’s Association find a broker service for further help.
- Find out more: read our reviews of the leading pet insurers