Do I need pet insurance?
In the UK, there is no legal requirement to have pet insurance. So why do more than six million pet owners choose to buy it?
What does pet insurance cover?
Most people who decide to get pet insurance do it to get help with unexpected vet bills. By paying a pet insurance company a set amount monthly or yearly, you don’t have to worry about covering the costs of vet treatment yourself if your pet becomes unwell or is in an accident.
Most vet fee policies also include other types of cover, such as liability insurance.
Check out all our unique pet insurance policies.
Pet liability insurance for dogs
But there is another important reason to consider pet insurance if you have a dog - liability cover.
As a dog owner, you are legally responsible for anything that your dog does. So if your dog bites someone, harms livestock, damages property, or runs out into the road and causes a traffic accident, you are liable for all the costs and will need to find a way of paying for them.
Pet insurance helps with this by providing a type of insurance called public liability insurance (also known as third-party liability insurance), which can pay out if these sorts of incidents occur. In the most extreme cases, these costs could run to millions of pounds when you take into account damages and costly legal fees.
This isn’t a factor for cats, as the law sees them as free spirits and doesn’t hold owners responsible for as much of their behaviour.
If your main concern is public liability insurance for a dog, we've created a Liability Only policy that starts at a little over £10 a year.
Pet insurance with third-party cover only
There are companies that offer pet insurance policies focused on liability.
We have created cover that is priced on the size of your dog and starts at just over £10 a year. And all our vet fee policies include liability cover as standard.
Can visits to the vet really cost that much?
If a pet needs major surgery or develops an ongoing condition that requires vet treatment and medication over many years, vet costs can run to thousands of pounds. For example:
- Luxating patella – if your pet needed surgery on both knees this could cost around £1,500
- Heart problems – operations to deal with congenital heart defects in pets can cost up to £6,000
- Hip dysplasia – if your pet needed both hips replaced, it could cost £7,000
These are the kinds of situations where pet insurance proves its value.
Ok, so how much does pet insurance cost?
Basic pet insurance can be as little as £3 a month, but the costs vary enormously based on the type and breed of your pet, where you live, how old your pet is, and how much financial protection you want.
For more on average prices, read our article on the cost of pet insurance.
Pet liability insurance is usually included in the cost of policies aimed at covering vet fees.
However, we've created a separate policy that only covers public liability claims up to £3m, which makes it much cheaper. Prices are £11.20, £15.68 or £22.40 a year depending on the size of your dog. Find out more and get a Liability Only quote here.
It is designed for people who do not want to pay monthly or annual premiums for pet insurance with vet fee cover but understand that liability claims can cost much more than most people are able to save.
We have a £250 excess for Liability Only claims. The excess for liability claims can sound expensive but it's important to remember they may be much higher than standard vet fee claims.
How can I get cheaper pet insurance?
There are a number of options available that can help reduce the cost of pet insurance.
- Multi-pet insurance - where you insure more than one pet on the same pet insurance policy is usually cheaper than insuring pets individually, as pet insurance companies offer discounts. Bought By Many offers and a 15% multi-pet discount.
- Be savvy and shop around to compare pet insurance prices and find the best deal for your pet.
Check out our guide to cheap pet insurance for older dogs.
What else does pet insurance give me?
Pet insurance can also provide help with costs if your pet is lost or stolen, or needs to be unexpectedly put in kennels.
Our cover also offers unlimited video calls with UK vets. They don't cost anything, are available 24/7 and don't count as a claim. Find out more about getting free access to the FirstVet service through our cover.
Insurers offer a range of features that they should highlight on their websites on in their policy documents.
Bought By Many's policy documents are designed to be easy to understand for all customers.
What isn’t covered by pet insurance?
It’s important to remember that pet insurance is designed to give you financial protection from unexpected costs.
For this reason, it doesn’t cover the costs of routine vet treatment such as neutering or jabs. Most pet insurance also doesn’t cover any medical conditions already affecting your pet at the time you buy the insurance (known by pet insurance companies as a pre-existing condition).
However, we've launched a policy that does offer a limited amount of cover for existing medical conditions.
In addition, there are some treatments that are covered by more expensive lifetime pet insurance policies, but not cheaper basic pet insurance policies. These include:
- Dental treatment for a pet
- Alternative treatments, such as dog hydrotherapy
- Pet diet food costs
- End of life costs (that is, the cost of having a pet put down)
Learn more with our guide to surprising pet insurance exclusions.
What are the alternatives to pet insurance?
The most common alternative is just to take a risk and pay vet bills as and when they arise. Some people choose to self-insure by putting a fixed amount of money into a savings account each month that they can then use if their pet needs treatment. The main downsides of this approach are:
- If you need to pay for expensive treatment early in your pet’s life, you may not have built up enough funds in your savings account to cover the costs
- You won’t be covered for public liability if you have a dog.
Membership of the Dogs Trust provides a number of benefits including public liability insurance for your dog. Membership costs £25 a year, so it can be a cost-effective way of getting cover for public liability if you need it.