Should your beloved pet feel out of sorts, the last thing you want to be worrying about is the cost of treatment. In the absence of a Pet National Health Service – we strongly recommend that all our clients take out pet insurance, however this can be a confusing topic.

What are the different types of pet insurance policy?

There are typically three main types of policies:

Lifetime Cover

This option tends to offer the most comprehensive level of cover. Each year that the policy is renewed, so are the Veterinary Fee benefits.

It is, however, worth noting that benefit levels will differ depending on the provider. The benefit limit may apply in any of the following two ways:

  1. Benefit limit set for ALL conditions per year – if the benefit limit is set at e.g. £6,000, then this will be the total sum for all conditions per year.
  2. Benefit limit set PER CONDITION per year – if the benefit limit is set at e.g. £6,000, this will be the total sum applied per condition per year. For example, were your pet unfortunate enough to suffer from two unrelated conditions in one year, you could benefit from up to £12,000.

Maximum Benefit

Whilst such policies tend to supply cover per condition, there is usually fixed financial support. Once a maximum sum is reached, it is impossible to claim further support for that condition.

Annual policies- Time and Benefit Limited

This type of cover is generally basic and the cheapest. There are both financial and time limits per condition. Each condition will be covered up until a predetermined maximum sum or for 12 months from commencement. This means that the condition will either be covered until the 12 months are over or until the monetary limit is reached, depending on which comes first and will not be be covered after that point.

Do not forget to check the terms and conditions of each policy to see which would best fulfil your requirements, as they will invariably differ.

When might treatment not be covered?

There are any number of reasons why a certain treatment might not be covered by your policy. However, here is a list of the most common exclusions from various pet insurance policies:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions – anything which relates to a pet’s medical history prior to the commencement of the current policy.
    • A pet’s age – once a pet has reached an age between 8 and 10 many companies are unwilling to start a new policy for them.
    • Routine, elective or preventative treatments – for example, vaccinations or flea and worm treatments.
    • Cover relating to pregnancy or birth.
    • ‘Waiting period’ – this is an illness claim exclusion period which is applicable at the start of a new policy, and normally ranges between 10 and 30 days.

What if I want to change my insurance?

Changing pet insurance provider can be tricky, and is not always a viable option. Conditions that have occurred prior to the commencement of a new policy are almost always excluded from coverage with new insurance. This is also the case even if you have not previously made a claim for it. It is therefore worth really taking the time to consider all factors when making an initial selection.

What are the costs of insurance?


Premium and policy excesses tend to increase along with a pet’s age. This is because older age can often lead to greater risk of illness. Many insurance companies offer a tiered increase in premiums for pets once they are classed as ‘senior’, though each provider’s approach differs. It is also worth noting that certain breeds can be more expensive to cover than others, as they might be more predisposed to specific medical conditions.

Excesses and co-payments

Policies normally have an excess. A policyholder must pay a specific sum, or an excess, towards the price of their insurance claim. This specific sum can differ hugely between policies, so be sure to check the terms and conditions. Most insurers will apply the excess once per year for ongoing conditions.

Providers will also commonly ask for co-payments. A co-payment is a percentage of the overall veterinary treatment bill paid by the policyholder. Though this is often asked for with senior pets, it can be be implemented earlier on in certain policies.

How do I make a claim?

Payment for treatments is normally made at the time of treatment, directly from the client to the vet. It is then possible for the client to claim back treatment costs from the insurer, the vet will need to fill in part of the form. At Churchcroft we can offer – with prior arrangement – a direct claim service whereby the insurance company pays the vet directly. With this direct claim service the client then only has to pay the vet any excess or co-payments for eligible treatments. Vets are not, however, required to offer this service, and not all do.

Key questions to ask about your Pet Insurance

Will ongoing conditions remain covered each year?
So long as you renew your policy and keep your premiums up-to-date, ongoing conditions will therefore continue to be covered each year for lifetime policies. Any deviation from this will be notified to you by your insurance provider.

How do I pay my excess and co-payment?

This is paid directly to your vet towards your pets treatment.

Always read any and all policy documentation carefully to make sure that it successfully meets your needs. Always answer the provider’s questions to the best of your knowledge.