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 UK Pet Insurance Companies for Dogs 2018.
- More Than - Classic or Premier
- Direct Line - Advanced Cover
- M&S Bank - Premier
- John Lewis Finance Pet Insurance - Plus or Premier
- LV= - Premier
- Petplan - Ultimate
- Animal Friends - Prestige
- Tesco Bank - Premier
- John Lewis Finance Pet Insurance - Essential
- Sainsburys Bank - Premier Plus
***Update*** We've launched our own unique pet insurance policies! You can choose between policies that never increase in price, offer money back if you do not claim, cover pre-existing conditions and more.
They are not included in the above list of the best pet insurers because they are new products and have not yet been rated by the independent financial review firms we use to create the top 10.
However, thousands of customers have given us 5-star reviews and we received Feefo's 2018 Gold Trusted Service award.
You can see what customers think about our insurance on our testimonials page.
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.
We used research from independent financial services review firms and awards given to the companies.
If you want to dive into the detail, you can read our pet insurance reviews for the top companies.
The rest of this article focuses on explaining how to find the best policy for your needs, for example, why the cheapest policy 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"!
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
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 cheaper 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’ Basic pet insurance policy is available for dogs for under £5 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, after that you'll have to pay for treatment for that condition yourself.
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. With Helpucover’s Vital pet insurance there is no time limit on the pay out but 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, More Than, and John Lewis Finance Insurance offer up to £12,000 of vet fees cover with no time limit or condition-related caps.
Some policies even include 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.
Bought By Many's Complete cover is a lifetime policy that includes up to £15,000 of vet fees and dental work as standard. It's the most comprehensive policy on the market.
Lifetime (or ‘yearly limit’) insurance covers vet fees up to the stated limit every year. This can be a good option if you worry about your pet developing a long-term or recurring illness. So long as you renew a lifetime policy each year, the level of vet fees will reset to the full stated limits that you started with.
With a lifetime product, it is important to note that your premiums will increase each year at renewal. This is different to a “Per Condition” policy, where a particular condition can become excluded once the condition limit is reached. Your excess will likely increase as your dog gets older. With our lifetime products, when your pet turns 9, a fixed excess of £69 plus 20% of each claim will apply.
It's worth bearing in mind that many vets believe 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?
Independent reviewers like Which and Defaqto look at cover levels and the quality of a policy when putting together their research on the best dog insurance.
Which carries out a survey 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 also conducts a separate review of pet insurance customer satisfaction. For this, they rate pet insurance companies on six dimensions: customer service, handling of complaints, transparency of charges, the clarity of the pet insurance policy, the experience of making a claim, and regular communication.
NFU Mutual scores well across all of Which's criteria but we have not included it in our top 10 because you can only get its cover if you are a customer of its bank.
Meanwhile, an independent financial review company 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.
All of the policies in our top 10 are rated 5 Star, apart from John Lewis Finance Essentials, which has 4 Stars. There are dozens of 5 Star pet insurance policies listed by the review company, so we’ve combined them with the Which review ratings to create our Top 10 candidates for the title Best Pet Insurance for Dogs 2018.
We've given bonus points to insurers that have won awards for their policies.
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 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.
Brands can put their own spin on cover levels and customer service, although it's not uncommon for companies with the same provider to offer similar policies.
- Provided by RSA: John Lewis Finance Plus, John Lewis Finance 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: 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, making a claim may involve a similar process with John Lewis Finance as it does with MORE TH>N (as they are both provided by RSA).
Pet Insurance Reviews
Learn more about the best 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 and our own perspective.
If you'd like to see reviews of Bought By Many's insurance and groups check out our testimonials page of Bought By Many customer reviews.
Follow these links to read more:
- John Lewis Finance Pet Insurance Review
- Petplan Pet Insurance Review
- Argos Pet Insurance Review
- MoreThan Pet Insurance Review
- LV= Pet Insurance Review
- Insurance Emporium 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
- Aviva Pet Insurance Review
- Admiral 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
- Healthy Pets Insurance Review
- Paws and Claws Pet Insurance Review
- Purely Pets Insurance Review
- UIS Pet Insurance Review
- Sun Life Pet Insurance Review
- Sainsbury's Bank Pet Insurance Review
- Asda Pet Insurance Review
- VetsMediCover Pet Insurance Review
- Pets at Home Pet Insurance Review
- Surewise Pet Insurance Review
- Perfect Pet Insurance Review
- Petpals Direct Pet Insurance Review
- Computerquote Pet Insurance Review
- Pets in a Pickle 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.
Dogs and pet insurance in the news
- Out-of-hours and emergency vet bills: why do they cost so much and will pet insurance cover them?
- Pet insurance claims payouts hit £2m a day record
- Pet vaccines: what owners need to know
- Putting down a pet: five pet owners tell us their stories
- Claims that next flu pandemic will come from dogs have been refuted
Update, April 2018
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.
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).
In February 2017 The Kennel Club was included in our Top 10 for the first time after it received a 5 Star rating from an independent financial review firm. One of Tesco's policies and an M&S policy left the list. John Lewis's Essential policy crept in.
In April 2018 The Kennel Club lost its rating from Which?, and Fairer Finance added more pet insurance providers to its pet insurance ratings causing M&S to gain a position within out top 10 again. Fairer Finance are an indepentant financial expert. We've now taking their customer satisfaction ratings into account when updating our Top 10 Best Dog insurance list. All the insurers in our top 10 have over 50% customer satisfaction, apart from Animal Friends who has 49%.
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.
We also have guides in Swedish for anyone living in Sweden who wants to find out about pet insurance.