We've calculated the average cost of dog insurance in the UK and reviewed the factors that influence it. If you've spent any time looking online for dog insurance quotes, you will have noticed that the cost can vary a lot.
The best pet insurance policies for dogs with very high levels of cover and lots of extras are usually the most expensive.
What is the average cost of dog insurance?
Bought By Many's average premium based on the policies we sold between May 2019 and May 2020, came to £436.02. This works out at just over £36 per month. Our average claim amount for the same period came to £385.32.
According to their last published records, Consumer Intelligence data revealed that the average annual premium for pet insurance costs between May 2017 and May 2018 was £287 - equating to just over £23.90 per month.
Research company Mintel gives a slightly higher figure of £324 for annual premiums in 2017, based on data from the Association of British Insurers.
With more up to date figures currently unavailable, you should expect that these annual premium costs have now increased.
However, with that in mind, recent figures from the Association of British Insurers inform that in 2020 the average claim value across all pets was £817, up 2% from 2019.
You might pay much more or less than these prices but it's likely to depend upon five factors that generally influence cost.
The difference in premiums can be vast. Some companies may charge the owner of an older Great Dane over £100 a month but owners of younger crossbreeds can find accident-only cover for under £5 a month.
Prices for many policies are likely to increase as your dog gets older, whether you claim or not. Premiums for dogs over 7 can be five times more than for a dog aged one or two.
Factor 1: The type of dog insurance policy you choose
The first thing that affects the cost of dog insurance is your choice of policy. There are four main types of dog insurance:
- Accident-only dog insurance is the cheapest form of pet insurance. Often costing around £5 a month, it is designed to help if your dog needs vet treatment as a result of an accident - but it won't pay out for illnesses.
- Time-limited dog insurance is the next cheapest type of dog insurance. It's a basic policy designed to offer some financial help with vet bills if your dog needs treatment for a short-term illness. Importantly, the costs usually only cover a 12-month period, and if your dog's medical condition reoccurs, this type of insurance won't pay out. Time-limited dog insurance typically costs around £15-£20 a month on average. Time-limited policies may have names like 'Basic'.
- Per-condition dog insurance doesn't impose any time limit but instead caps the total amount you can claim for any one medical condition that affects your dog. This cap is often around £4,000 or £8,000; and the higher it is, the higher the monthly cost will be. Per-condition dog insurance usually costs more than time-limited dog insurance.
- Lifetime dog insurance is the most expensive type of dog insurance but also provides the most comprehensive cover. 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. Lifetime pet insurance covers most vet treatment your dog needs during its lifetime, up to a pre-determined amount. Lifetime pet insurance usually costs from £13 to more than £80 per month, depending on the other factors.
With all policies, it is important to note that your premiums may increase each year at renewal.
Bought By Many has created a range of products that include features no other insurers include, such as money back if you do not claim, cover for pre-existing conditions and the most comprehensive policy on the market - it includes dental cover as standard and £15,000 of lifetime vet fees cover.
Factor 2: Where you live
Your home address can have a big impact on the price you pay for dog insurance. This is to do with variations in the costs of vet treatment in different parts of the country. Typically, dog insurance is cheaper outside London and the South East of England.
This table shows the average cost of insuring your dog with Bought By Many on a lifetime policy across the UK. Prices are accurate as of January 2020.
Factor 3: Your dog's age
Generally, the cost to insure a one or two year old dog is much less than the cost of insuring an older dog. In fact, it may cost more than 10x as much, particularly if your dog is over 8 years old. It is also common practice for pet insurance companies to ask owners to pay between 20% and 35% of the cost of any claims for dogs aged over 9 years old.
Most of our policies are available for dogs of any age and we ask owners of dogs over 9 to cover 20% of any claims.
Many people see the cost of their dog insurance increasing over time, and feel that the insurance company is acting unfairly - but higher costs for older dogs reflect the fact that visits to the vet are more likely.
In these circumstances, some owners opt to 'self-insure' by paying a fixed amount into a savings account each month, so that there is a reserve to draw on if their dog gets sick, instead of continuing to pay the insurance premium. The risk is that you may need vet treatment before your savings have built up or the cost of treatment will be higher than what you've saved.
A quirk of pet insurance companies' pricing is that dogs are slightly cheaper to insure at age one than when they under the age of one. This is because the probability of making a claim for vet treatment is slightly higher in the first year of a dog's life than in the second year.
Factor 4: The breed of dog you have
General rules of thumb:
- Mixed-breed dogs are cheaper to insure than pedigree dogs.
- Smaller dogs cost less to insure than bigger dogs.
- Insurance for female dogs cost slightly less than insurance for male dogs (even if they have been neutered or spayed).
- The cost of insuring cross-breed dogs (such as Cockapoos or Labradoodles) will reflect the cost of insurance for the dominant breed.
Meanwhile, the cost of pedigree dog insurance varies significantly between breeds.
Dogs with a propensity to develop breed-specific medical conditions also tend to be more expensive to insure.
Factor 5: The dog insurance company and policy you choose
This has a big influence on the cost of dog insurance.
Obviously, if you buy a policy with higher cover limits your price will be higher. And different companies might offer additional features. For example, at Bought By Many all our vet fee policies come with unlimited free video calls with vets through the FirstVet app. These are available 24/7 and can be a valuable tool when you're worried about your dog.
John Lewis Finance and More Than's dog insurance policies offer up to £12,000 of vet bills cover, as well as enhanced cover for public liability, theft, straying, dental treatment, and even alternative therapies.
Bought By Many's Complete policy is the most comprehensive on the market and includes up to £15,000 of vet fee cover each year. Our other policies offer unique features such as money back if you do not claim and cover for pre-existing conditions. Find out more about them and get a quote here.
At the other end of the spectrum, newer pet insurance companies like Helpucover have started offering very cheap dog insurance for people whose priority is to keep costs down.
Bought By Many offers an affordable Value policy.
How can I reduce the cost of dog insurance?
One popular method to bring down the price of dog insurance quotes is to increase the policy excess. For example:
- Some Bought By Many policies include the option of a voluntary 20% co-payment, in addition to our selection of excess options of £69, £99, £130 and £160.
- More Than allows you to opt for a 10%, or 20% voluntary excess, in addition to the fixed £100 policy excess.
- With John Lewis Finance Pet Insurance, you can set the excess at £60, £80, £100, £140, £250 or £500.
- Direct Line offers a choice between an excess of £95 or £190.
But not all companies allow you to change the excess payment.
Opting for a higher excess typically reduces the cost of dog insurance by 10% to 15% - but it does mean you need to make a bigger contribution to the costs if you need to claim.
Many dog insurance companies also offer multi-pet discounts to help people who want insurance for more than one pet.
Bought By Many has a 15% discount for pets on the same policies, it's the highest multi-pet discount available (our multi-pet discount is not currently available on our Value 2k policy).
Below is a full list of Bought By Many's average yearly prices for different dog breeds. Our prices are accurate as of January 2020.
If you're looking to find out about the cost of insuring a cat, read our article on the cost of cat insurance.
All example quotes are accurate as of December 2017 and are made using an MK postcode, unless stated otherwise.