Our unique dog insurance reviews rate the quality of different types of dog insurance policy, helping you find the cover you need
What is dog insurance?
Dog insurance helps you cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your dog falls ill or gets injured.
Some policies will also pay out if your dog is lost, stolen or needs to go to a kennel because you’re in hospital.
We’ve analysed dog insurance policies to give you a shortcut to finding the best deal for your four-legged friend.
- Find out more: our individual pet insurer reviews
Types of dog insurance
There are three main types of policies that cover dogs:
Lifetime cover dog insurance
Lifetime cover is the most comprehensive pet insurance on the market and pays out for ongoing issues your pet may have throughout its lifetime.
There are two main types: per condition per year cover and annual lifetime cover.
Annual lifetime cover has a maximum overall limit that includes all conditions your pet may experience, which resets each year. Some policies also have lower annual limits within this for specific conditions.
Per condition per year lifetime cover has a maximum limit for specific conditions your pet may have, which reset each year.
Both per condition per year and annual pet insurance policies cover ongoing illnesses every year unless you cancel your policy.
Non-lifetime cover pet insurance
Non-lifetime cover is less comprehensive and excludes the conditions you’ve claimed for once you’ve hit your claims limit.
There are two main types: per condition cover and time-limit per condition cover.
Per condition pet insurance cover pays a limited amount for each condition and, once the limit has been reached, the condition is excluded from future payouts.
Time-limited per condition pet insurance cover has both a per condition limit and time limit, typically of 12 months, before the condition is excluded.
With a time limit policy, even if your limit for a particular condition wasn’t reached, the condition would eventually be excluded after 12 months.
Accident-only pet insurance
Accident-only pet insurance provides a fixed sum of money for each accidental injury to help pay for your pet’s treatment. It’s the cheapest type of pet insurance policy, but excludes cover for illness entirely.
To find our more about what pet insurance covers, and what’s likely to be excluded, read our guide on pet insurance explained.
What are the best dog insurance policies?
There is a vast array of dog insurance policies on the market, making it tough to figure out which one is right for your pooch.
Each table relates to a type of dog insurance policy (see explanations above). Policies are ranked by policy score, which is our rating of the comprehensiveness of cover offered by the policy.
For more information on how this score is put together, see our guide to the best and worst pet insurance.
How can I save money on dog insurance?
Here’s how to stop your four-legged friend from emptying your wallet:
1. Find out the needs of your dog breed
According to the Association of British Insurers, the average pet insurance claim paid in 2020 was £817. Factoring in the possibility of you needing to make multiple claims, we’d wouldn’t recommend policies that would pay less than £2,000 annually.
But all pets are different, which means it will pay to understand your dog’s needs to be sure you get adequate cover.
Dogs are generally more expensive to maintain (and insure) than cats, and certain breeds are more susceptible to chronic conditions than others. For example, Labrador retrievers can be prone to cruciate ligament problems and dachshunds to back problems, both of which can set you back thousands of pounds in treatment costs.
Talk to your vet about common conditions and what level of cover they recommend.
2. Buy insurance when your dog is healthy
This might seem counterintuitive, but as most policies exclude pre-existing conditions, buying early means you’re maximising the cover your pet will get.
3. Make sure your dog is up to date on its jabs
Make sure your dog gets the appropriate inoculations and injections, including boosters, to minimise its chance of getting an illness that could lead to expensive premiums.
4. Pay annually (if you can afford it)
Paying monthly usually means you’re also paying interest, and this can be surprisingly expensive.
5. Haggle at renewal
If your insurer increases your dog’s premiums without good reason (for instance by claiming some routine treatment was an indication of an underlying condition), seek advice from a vet and complain.
- Find out more: how to find cheap pet insurance