We've looked at the latest independent research and reviews on UK pet insurance for dogs to bring you our candidates for the title Best Pet Insurance for Dogs 2016. They are as follows:
- John Lewis Insurance Premier
- Petplan Ultimate
- More Than Premier
- Animal Friends Insurance Prestige
- John Lewis Insurance Plus
- Sainsburys Bank Premier Plus
- More Than Classic £8,000
- M&S Bank Premier
- Tesco Bank Extra (£7,000)
- Animal Friends Insurance Superior Plus
Read on to learn more about:
- How we came up with our Top 10 Dog Insurance list
- Why "Best Dog Insurance" is not the same as "Cheapest Dog Insurance"
- Pros and cons of pet insurance comparison sites for dogs
- How cheap dog insurance plans compare to the best policies
- What makes a great dog insurance policy?
- Which companies provide which brands of dog insurance
- Pet Insurance Reviews
- Dogs and pet insurance in the news
- What happened in the latest update to our Top 10
How we came up with our Top 10 Dog Insurance list
To create this list, instead of comparing dog insurance costs, we reviewed expert research into the quality of dog insurance policies in the UK. If you want to dive into the detail, you can read our pet insurance reviews for the top companies. The rest of this article, meanwhile, focuses on helping explain why cheapest isn’t always best when it comes to pet insurance for dogs.
(Don't forget we have a separate review covering the Best Pet Insurance for Cats, a review for people with multiple pets that looks at the different Multi Pet Insurance policies available, and comparisons of the pet insurance options for Rabbits and Exotic Pets.)
"Best Dog Insurance" is not the same as "Cheapest Dog Insurance"!
Many dog owners who haven’t bought pet insurance before understandably opt for the cheapest price they can find. While this approach offers the promise of short-term savings on the cost of dog insurance, price is not the same as value, and it can lead to nasty surprises when the time comes to make a claim.
Pros and cons of pet insurance comparison sites for dogs
To put this in context, a word about pet insurance comparison websites. In general, services like Moneysupermarket, Go Compare, and Compare The Market have been great for consumers. They’ve encouraged competition between pet insurance companies, made customer reviews and recommendations of pet insurance policies more transparent, and brought prices down for dog owners.
However, there have also been some negative consequences of their popularity. In particular, insurance companies are now creating dog insurance policies that have very low levels of cover, with the objective of appearing at the top of pet insurance comparison tables.
Comparing "cheapest" with "best"
For example, Animal Friends’ comparison table-topping Basic pet insurance policy is available for dogs for as little as £5.40 a month. But it provides just £3,000 of cover for vet bills – and as it’s a “time-limited” pet insurance policy, it will only pay out for any illness for a period of 12 months . What’s more, it has a relatively high excess of £99 (the excess is the amount that a dog owner is required to pay towards any claim they make on their pet insurance).
There are similar limitations with cheap lifetime dog insurance policies, such as Helpucover’s Vital pet insurance, which costs as little as £10.41 a month for a dog. Although there is no time limit on the pay out, its £2,000 of vet bills cover is subject to a limit of £500 per condition per year.
By contrast, comprehensive lifetime dog insurance policies from established market leaders, such as Petplan Ultimate, More Than Premier, and John Lewis Insurance Premier offer £12,000 of vet fees cover with no time limit or condition-related caps. This even includes added value features such as dental treatment, and complementary medicine. Insurance cover for other benefits such as liability insurance, and help with costs if dogs are lost or stolen, is also significantly higher.
It's worth bearing in mind that many vets take the view that lifetime pet insurance cover is the best option for dogs. Here's what vet Rory Cusack recommends: "Good quality means lifelong cover. Any of these policies that run year to year are hardly worth having, because you'll get an incident, there'll be an exclusion put on that for life and nobody else will touch it." (taken from the BBC story, Pet Insurance - Best Friend or will it bite you?).
What makes a great dog insurance policy?
It’s these aspects of dog insurance that independent reviewers like Which and Defaqto have in mind when putting together their research on the best dog insurance. In 2015, Which set out to find “the best pet insurance policies on the market”. In addition to vet fees cover for dogs, they reviewed end of life cover, third party liability, kennel fees, cover abroad, and dental cover, giving each pet insurance policy for dogs a score out of 100. Which? doesn't specifiy Recommended Providers for pet insurance, but the five highest-scoring policies were from John Lewis Insurance Premier (96%), More Than Premier (94%), The Kennel Club (94%), Animal Friends Insurance Prestige (91%), and Petplan Ultimate (90%).
Which also conducted a separate review of pet insurance customer satisfaction. For this, they rated pet insurance companies on six dimensions: customer service; handling of complaints; transparency of charges; the clarity of the pet insurance policy; experience of making a claim; and regular communication. The highest-scoring providers were Petplan (59%), John Lewis Insurance (57%), and Animal Friends (55%). NFU Mutual (80%) and LV= (67%) also scored well, but not enough customers responded to Which's survey for them to be rated across all of the dimensions.
Meanwhile, Defaqto has developed a star ratings system for reviewing pet insurance. "A basic product, with a low level of features and benefits” scores 1 star, while “An excellent product with a comprehensive range of features and benefits" would score 5 stars. For context, Animal Friends Basic scores 2 stars, while Helpucover Vital scores 3 stars. At the time of writing, there are 56 dog insurance policies with a 5 star rating, from 39 different pet insurance providers, so we’ve combined them with the Which review ratings to create our Top 10 candidates for the title Best Pet Insurance for Dogs 2016.
(Important Note: As The Kennel Club pet insurance has not been rated by Defaqto, we haven't included it in our Top 10. The Kennel Club's policy was rated 94% by Which?, while their customer satisfaction score was 49%).
Which companies provide which brands of dog insurance?
If you feel like you've got too many dog insurance options to choose from, you're not alone. The explosion in the number of Defaqto 5-Star rated Pet Insurance policies reflects both increasing competition in the market, and a focus by pet insurance companies on features, benefits, and overall value as well as cost.
While this means more choice for dog owners, it might also make the decision about which dog insurance policy to opt for more complicated. So, we've grouped the policies here based on the insurance company who is providing the insurance cover for your dog, rather than just the brand they are marketed and sold under.
- Provided by RSA: John Lewis Plus, John Lewis Premier, More Than Classic £8,000, More Than Premier, Argos Platinum, Homebase Plus, M&S Bank Premier
- Provided by Allianz: Petplan Ultimate, Petplan Classic, Sainsburys Premier, Sainsburys Premier Plus, KBIS Select Plus, Pet ID Select Plus, Scottish Pet Insurance Select Plus, The Co-op Insurance Select Plus, Animalcare Select Plus
- Provided by BDML Connect: Aviva Platinum, Masterquote Gold, PDSA Premier, Petwise Health Insurance Gold, Protect Your Bubble Premier, LV= Premier
- Provided by Zenith Insurance: esure Pet Plus, Pets At Home Premier Plus, Debenhams Gold, Buddies Premier Plus, Asda Money Superior
- Provided by U K Insurance Limited: Direct Line Pet Insurance, NatWest Private Pet Insurance, RBS Private Pet Insurance, Confidas Pet Insurance
- Provided by Pinnacle: American Express Premier, Helpucover Premier, Motability Premier, Pet Life Cover Premier, Post Office Money Premium Plus
- Provided by other insurance companies: Animal Friends Insurance Prestige, Healthy Pets Insurance Gold, NFU Mutual Perm Health, Agria Pet Insurance, Green Insurance Company Platinum, Adrian Flux Insurance - Standard Plus, Avid Pet Insurance, Kwik-fit Insurance Services Platinum, PetGuard, NCI Pet Insurance, Bloomhill Insurance Solutions, Costco, Caravan Club
You might have noticed some similarity in the policy names! But the similarities go deeper than that, and as a general rule, you can expect a similar experience from brands who share the same provider. For example, your renewal price on American Express pet insurance might well be similar to Helpucover (as they are both provided by Pinnacle); and making a claim may involve a similar process with John Lewis as it does with MORE TH>N (as they are both provided by RSA).
Pet Insurance Reviews
Learn more about the Top 20 pet insurance companies and find out what their customers think by reading our expert reviews.
Ranging from big names like Petplan to newer companies like Pet-Insurance.co.uk, these reviews give an overview of the cover available for each of the policies on offer, some examples of the costs for dogs, feedback from the companies' customers, our own perspective - as well as a full breakdown of the Which? and other financial services review firm scores. Follow these links to read more:
- John Lewis Pet Insurance Review
- Petplan Pet Insurance Review
- Argos Pet Insurance Review
- MoreThan Pet Insurance Review
- Helpucover Pet Insurance Review
- Animal Friends Insurance Review
- Protect Your Bubble Pet Insurance Review
- Co Op Pet Insurance Review
- Direct Line Pet Insurance Review
- Debenhams Pet Insurance Review
- American Express Pet Insurance Review
- Aviva Pet Insurance Review
- NCI Pet Insurance Review
- Homebase Pet Insurance Review
- Pet-insurance.co.uk Review
- Lifetime Pet Cover Review
- Legal & General Pet Insurance Review
- E&L Pet Insurance Review
- PDSA Pet Insurance Review
- M&S Pet Insurance Review
- Churchill Pet Insurance Review
- Post Office Pet Insurance Review
- Kwik Fit Pet Insurance Review
- Tesco Pet Insurance Review
We intend to keep writing dog insurance reviews like these, so please let us know via the pet insurance group forum if there are particular companies you would like us to prioritise.
Similarly, we'd love to hear from you about the pet insurance companies you recommend for dogs. We're working with Smart Money People to collate information from Bought By Many members about their experience of pet insurance - not just at the point of purchase, but throughout the whole lifetime of the policy, including making a claim. Here are recent reviews by our members:
You can contribute your own review at the Smart Money People website.
Dogs and pet insurance in the news
- Brits spend over £678m a year on bills for uninsured pets
- Alternative therapies for pets could be pushing up insurance premiums
- 19 dogs have been stolen in five months in Shropshire
- The best dog Instagram accounts to follow
- We reveal the unluckiest dog and cat names in the UK
Update, March 2016
Since we first researched this review in 2013, both Which? and Defaqto have updated their ratings to reflect the latest changes pet insurance companies have made to their policies. This resulted in a number of movements in our rankings.
Green Insurance Platinum, Computerquote Ultimate, Helpucover Premier, and Argos Platinum, all dropped out of our Top 10 in April 2015, having been excluded from Which's February 2015 review. Petplan Classic also dropped out at as its rating was reduced by Which? to 69%.
They were replaced by Sainsbury's Bank Premier Plus, M&S Bank Premier, and Tesco Bank Extra £7,500. Meanwhile, the Prestige policy from Animal Friends Insurance rose up the Top 10, moving from 9th to 3rd as it is now rated 5-star by Defaqto.
In October 2015, we included the Which? customer satisfaction scores for the first time. This resulted in Animal Friends Prestige, John Lewis Insurance Plus, and Petplan Ultimate all gaining positions based on the strength of their customer service.
Which's February 2016 update saw just one change in the Top 10, with Petplan Ultimate climbing from 4th to 2nd place on the strength of its customer service score. February has also seen some new pet insurance companies win 5 Star ratings by Defaqto (Bloomhill Insurance Solutions, Confidas, NCI, Costco, Post Office Money, and Caravan Club).
Want to learn more about pet insurance?
This is article is just one of the range of pet insurance reviews and articles we've written.