Animal Friends actively supports animal welfare causes, and have made over £3m of donations to animal charities. Its Prestige pet insurance policy has been awarded 5-Stars by Defaqto.
You can get a quote at Animal Friends' website.
Background to Animal Friends
Animal Friends sets itself apart with its mission statement of being an "ethical pet insurance company". It does this primarily by supporting and donating money to various animal welfare charities. Animal Friends has won a number of awards, and was named "best buy" in a survey of pet insurance companies by Ethical Consumer magazine.
Overview of the cover provided by Animal Friends Pet Insurance policies
Animal Friends offers a total of 12 policies, across 4 "categories" (or types) of pet insurance: Accident-Only, Time-Limited, Max Benefit and Lifetime. One interesting point to note about the Lifetime policies is that they have no total annual policy limit – only an annual per condition limit.
So if your pet has a number of different illnesses, the amount you can claim for each illness will be limited – but there will not be a separate limit on the total combined amount. This is different from many Lifetime insurance policies offered by Animal Friends’ competitors, which limit both the annual amount per condition and the total annual amount.
Excluding Accident-Only, all of Animal Friends' policies offer cover for: Public Liability, Death through Accident or Illness, Boarding (kennel or cattery fees), Theft & Straying, and Overseas Travel. Additional features, such as Holiday Cancellation, are available with its more premium policies.
How much does pet insurance from Animal Friends cost?
Pet insurance from Animal Friends for a two-year-old Labrador Retriever using an MK postcode will cost £33.71 per month on the company's Prestige insurance product.
The prices for the other policies are as follows:
- Accident Only £3.73 per month
- Basic £5.30 per month
- Basic Plus £7.90 per month
- Prime £11.33 per month
- Prime Plus £15.77 per month
- Max Value £10.06 per month
- Max Plus £15.13 per month
- Max Extra £25.26 per month
- Super £9.77 per month
- Superior £15.93 per month
- Superior Plus £26.59 per month
Quotes are accurate as of June 2017.
Bear in mind that the price you pay for pet insurance will depend on a variety of factors, including the breed of your pet, your pet's age, where you live, and which policy you choose. As such the above figures are for guidance only. Check out our article on the cost of dog insurance for more information.
What Animal Friends Insurance Customers Say
On Trustpilot, Animal Friends have been awarded 8.5 out of 10 based on over 5,000 customer reviews. Over on Reviews.co.uk, Animal Friends' pet insurance has been awarded 2.64 out of 5 based on over 150 reviews.
How does Animal Friends Pet Insurance compare to other pet insurance policies?
For both dog and cat insurance, Animal Friends' Prestige policy was given 5 stars by Defaqto (an independent researcher of financial products); the same policy also scored highly amongst other financial reviewers, putting them ahead of many competitors. However, overall on its customer score, the company did not rank as highly and was listed below the likes of Direct Line, LV, Petplan and John Lewis Finance.
See our article top ten pet insurance for more information on how Animal Friends compare against their competitors.
What the Expert Reviews Say
ANIMAL FRIENDS DOG INSURANCE: INDEPENDENT REVIEWS
Fairer Finance (2019) Prestige: 4 Stars Superior Plus: 3 Stars
Defaqto Review (2018) Prestige: 5 Stars Superior Plus: 3 Stars
ANIMAL FRIENDS CAT INSURANCE: INDEPENDENT REVIEWS
Fairer Finance (2019) Prestige: 4 Stars Superior Plus: 3 Stars
Defaqto Review (2015) Prestige: 5 Stars Superior Plus: 3 Stars
Animal Friends on Watchdog, 15th October 2015
BBC Watchdog featured three customers of Animal Friends who were unhappy with their experience of claiming on their pet insurance.
The first case centred around a term in Animal Friends' policy stating that out-of-hours vet treatment is only covered in life-threatening circumstances. The owner had been concerned that her dog had developed a serious medical condition called Alabama Rot, and had therefore gone to the vet out of hours at the weekend. Thankfully it turned out that the dog's symptoms were related to a less serious condition, and with medication, he made a full recovery. Animal Friends would not pay the full amount of the claim, however, as the condition had not in fact been life-threatening - despite the owner's fears.
The second case involved another technicality, where a dog was receiving vet treatment at the exact moment when the pet insurance policy renewed. Animal Friends paid the customer's claim, but charged the policy excess twice, arguing that the claim had spanned two policy years.
The main implication, if you are considering buying pet insurance from any insurer, is to make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully to know what is and isn't covered. In both these cases, Animal Friends was acting in line with the contract they had with their customers.
The third case Watchdog presented was of a different nature. Another dog owner had bought a lifetime pet insurance policy. Her dog subsequently developed several long-term medical conditions, which Animal Friends paid out for over a number of years. However, the cost of the insurance increased very substantially each year, with the most recent annual renewal coming in at a cost of several thousand pounds - so much that the customer felt she needed to cancel her policy.
Below is Animal Friends' statement in response to the Watchdog programme, which they have also published on their website. According to Animal Friends, the BBC declined to read the statement in full.
Sarah’s claim was presented to us as a skin lesion. She thought that her dog Daisy might have had Alabama Rot and went to her vet out of hours. Whilst we do respect Sarah’s decision to take Daisy to the vet, it is evident from the supporting clinical notes that Sarah’s vets were not concerned about Alabama Rot and conservatively treated the lesion with cream. The vet did however still charge an out of hours fee uplift which we do make very clear is only covered where treatment is required as a result of a life endangering condition. This is in common with industry wide practice. Our underwriters were happy to settle the treatment fees and a standard consultation fee after the deduction of the policy excess.
Elaine first told us that her dog had escaped through an open gate onto the road directly outside her home. We therefore had no option but to conclude, on her own evidence, that her dog had not been kept securely. This would not be covered under the policy. Elaine then gave us a far more detailed explanation which we reviewed with our underwriters. As a result, we were able to overturn the original decision and pay her claim which also included paying for ongoing subsequent treatment.
As to the excess point, an excess is applied to an ongoing claim in each policy year. Had Elaine’s dog’s treatment started a few days before and continued a week later for example she would have paid two excesses. It has only come into the spotlight here because of the coincidence that treatment passed the midnight of her policy anniversary. The crucial point to make here is that her policy benefits – £2,000 for vets’ fee cover per year – also reinstated as midnight passed so she had a further £2,000 of cover for that same condition. Indeed Animal Friends did continue to pay treatment costs for this very condition well into the following period of insurance.
Samantha’s premium reflected a very unique set of circumstances. Our underwriters’ systems automatically apply premium adjustments given certain factual inputs, such as exceptional claims frequency. Very occasionally, in rare cases, this can result in a substantial premium. In light of Samantha’s case we have discussed underwriters’ processes with them and have put in place new checks and balances to ensure that even rare and unusual cases can be dealt with more sympathetically in the future. To this end we shall be in contact with Samantha shortly.
We deal with hundreds of thousands of claims a year so feedback is always important to us as we are constantly seeking ways to provide the best service to our customers. We are proud to consistently achieve leading customer review ratings and to have won a number of awards, voted for by our customers, for claims handling and customer service. This has included two awards for Best Pet Insurance Provider this year alone. Your viewers will be able to find details of our consumer-led awards and links to independent customer review sites showing an overwhelmingly positive response from our customers at www.animalfriends.co.uk. This is further underlined by the fact that in the last 6 months alone we have paid over £28 million in claims payments.
Our ethical position
We understand that you have retained an expert who may say on your programme that our decisions in the three highlighted cases were legally correct but ‘morally very doubtful’ and that they question our ethical policy. Such a view would be seriously misguided. As an insurance business, we are required to make decisions in accordance with the terms and conditions of our underwriters’ policy and we strive to do so fairly. Animal Friends will not insure risks we consider unethical and we continue to donate large amounts of own profits to animal charities worldwide, to date in excess of £2.28m, so it would be quite wrong to suggest we are not an ethical company or that it is wrong to promote ourselves as such.