Animal Friends Prestige was rated highly by Which? in its 2015 review of pet insurance, as and has been awarded 5-Stars by Defaqto. Animal Friends actively support animal welfare causes, and have made over £2m of donations to animal charities.
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 7 policies, across 3 "categories" (or types) of pet insurance: Accident-Only, Time-Limited and Lifetime. One interesting point to note about the Lifetime policies is that 2 out of the 3 (Superior Plus and Prestige) 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, Overseas Travel. Additional features, such as Holiday Cancellation, are available with their more premium policies.
How much does pet insurance from Animal Friends cost?
With almost all pet insurance companies, the cost of pet insurance varies widely depending on factors like the age and breed of your pet, and which part of the UK you live in. But to give you an indication, Which? obtained the following quotes from Animal Friends as part of their review:
- 5 year old mixed breed dog: £505 per year (Prestige); £302 per year (Superior Plus)
- 5 year old Labrador Retriever: £853 per year (Prestige); £302 per year (Superior Plus)
- 6 year old mixed breed cat (moggy): £162 per year (Prestige); £148 per year (Superior Plus)
You can compare prices for Animal Friends Pet Insurance at Go Compare.
What Animal Friends Insurance Customers Say
@FeelGoodPark have been absolutely amazing - genuinely a pet insurance that actively care about the pets & their owners. Thanks, all.— Shauna Madden (@Shauna_Madden) November 13, 2014
In Money.co.uk's Consumer Finance Awards and Reviews, Animal Friends' Customers gave them an overall rating of 3.5 out of 5. Customers were asked for their feedback in four categories: they gave Animal Friends 3.4 for customer service, 3.3 for flexibility & fairness, 3.4 for product features, and 3.5 for value for money.
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 scored a respectable 78% in a survey by Which.co.uk, putting them ahead of many competitors, but behind the likes of John Lewis and MORE TH>N.
Animal Friends' other policies, including Superior Plus, were given 3 stars by Defaqto.
See our article Top Ten Pet Insurance 2014 for more information on how Animal Friends compare against their competitors.
What the Expert Reviews Say
ANIMAL FRIENDS DOG INSURANCE: INDEPENDENT REVIEWS
Which? Review (Updated March 2015)
Superior Plus: 71%
Defaqto Review (2015)
Prestige: 5 stars
Superior Plus: 3 stars
ANIMAL FRIENDS CAT INSURANCE: INDEPENDENT REVIEWS
Which? Review (Updated March 2015)
Superior Plus: 74%
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 Dog 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 – £2000 for vets’ fee cover per year – also reinstated as midnight passed so she had a further £2000 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.