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Cheap Pet Insurance Top comparisons & hot deals

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Pet insurance for cats, dogs and moreThere's no NHS for pets so if Tiddles or Rover suffers illness or injury it can cost £100s or £1,000s in vets' bills - leaving some owners with the horrid choice of either paying out or putting your pet down.

This guide reveals how to speedily compare and find the cheapest pet insurance for pets regardless of its species, breed or age.

Pet insurance DOs and DON'Ts

Should I insure my pet?

Vets' fees are already expensive and rising year by year, making the cost of pet ownership potentially huge. If you're lucky, you won't have faced fees for out-of-the ordinary treatments, so here are some examples of what you could be looking at:

Treating a poor doggie with cataracts - £1,500
    ,Mending cat's broken leg after it DIDN'T land on its feet = £300 to £2,000! For the creaking bones of older pets, arthritis treatment can be £6,250 over five years.
    To decide whether to take out pet insurance, consider whether you could afford these unforeseen costs cropping up at an unpredictable moment - how would your finances would cope if they got ill?

To be brutal, if you don't have insurance, this means a horrible choice between finding the medical fees or putting down a cherished pet. Even if you've got the cash stashed away, in many cases insurance can work out cheaper (in the event that you actually need to claim).

Is self-insurance worth it?

Martin Lewis' Dog, SmutSelf-insurance is where, instead of paying premiums, you regularly - preferably monthly - put money into a pet fund. So if your moggie or doggie gets poorly, there's money to pay for it and it's in your hands, not the insurers'.

To earn some interest, put money aside in an easy access savings account each month to pay for any potential pet emergency, rather than getting an actual policy. Of course, if there are no problems, you get to keep the cash.

However, there are two big dangers to consider:

  • The problem strikes before you've built up cash
    Self-insurance relies on having enough cash to hand when the vet needs paying. This makes the first few months or years of self-insurance pretty precarious. Expensive treatment could mean you either go into debt or face the sad choice of putting the pet down.

    Another option is to go for a policy with a high excess - the amount you have to pay of any claim before the insurer chips in - then save to cover anything that costs less than that.
  • You get sued...

The law's different for cats and dogs

Consider 'third-party only' cover

A halfway house for dog owners is to become a member of The Dogs Trust. The charity offers third-party only cover among its perks for a £25/year membership fee (it's £750 for a life membership), or £12.50 if you're over 60. Anybody over the age of 18 can become a member.

This covers you up to £1 million for any damage or injury caused to other people, their property or pets by ALL the dogs you own (though if you own a 'dangerous dog', it's very likely to be excluded).

Bear in mind £1m is a low amount compared to most cover levels for personal liability - if people sue for loss of earnings, the amounts can snowball fast.

What type of cover should I get?

Before getting a policy, first decide what you want it to cover - there are seemingly endless options.

WARNING! The old "read the small print" adage really applies here. If you buy the wrong policy that doesn't provide the cover you thought it did, you could be faced with the awful decision of losing a pet or getting into expensive debt if you can't afford it.

Pick your policy type

Pet cover can be broken down into three different types and - in essence - simply needs you to think about the amount of cover you want for vet fees. To get past the hideously complex names and policy types, we've divided the types of insurance up as follows.

Dog in sunglasses

What to watch out for

Ensure you know exactly what you're paying for. Pet policies can exclude all sorts of claims, impose plenty of limits and even leave you exposed unless you add extras.

Here are the key pet cover checks to make.

Compare and find the cheapest

What you'll pay as a premium will vary hugely, depending on variables including your pet's age, its pedigree and where you live (vets' bills are higher in London and the south east of England). Once you've decided which cover suits you and your pet, you're ready to compare prices.

Cats and dogs

The most commonly-owned pets - there more than 8 million of each in 2014, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers' Assocition - are also the simplest to insure, with dedicated comparison sites.

Comparison sites zip your details to hosts of insurers' websites, scraping their data to report back the cheapest - though surprisingly few of the big names include pet insurance.

We've picked out the two that maximise the quotes you get in the quickest time possible. Note, all comparison sites may feed your personal info to insurers - see What insurers may do.

What they don't tell you: Some of the most competitive deals aren't available on comparison sit
Go Compare

Pros:

  • Clear display of excesses and vets fees and other benefits included.
  • Exclusive offers available.

Cons:

  • If you don't want it to contact you afterwards, ensure you click on the relevant section's link on the first and last page. Plus always check the excess quoted is correct for you.
Compare the Market

Pros:

  • You can list your quotes in order of preference, ie, accident only, lowest excess, highest vets' fee or premium.
  • Clear option to opt into having marketing calls, emails, texts.

Cons:

  • Very limited room to tailor your policy, eg, you can't choose how much vets' fees cover you want.

Avg time taken: 4 mins
Quotes returned: 86
Providers searched: 25


Avg time taken: 5 mins
Quotes returned: 72
Providers searched: 21


Compare more comparison sites

The other big players in the comparison market who can help you find that deal you're happy with, or want to push the envelope a bit more, here are extra options to try.

Confused.comIn addition to offering quotes for your cat or dog, Confused.com* also give quotes for multiple pets in your home.

MoneySupermarket MoneySupermarket.com are another comparison to add to your list and also allow you to get quotations and buy a policy for up four cats or dogs

QuotezoneQuotezone* has good editing features and provides quotes for rabbits.

The ones they miss

Many competitive insurers refuse to be included by any comparison site, and sometimes have special offers so are worth checking separately.

AvivaAviva*: Buy online and you can currently get 10% off pet cover. Insure more than one and get an extra 10%.

Direct Line Direct Line*: You won't find Direct Line* on comparison sites but insure more than one pet on the same policy and get 25% off. Also see Direct Line Together* for details of an extra discount on any other product.

Animal FriendsLeisure Guard: The insurer offers 35% off it's pet insurance as an introductory discount and a 10% multi-pet discount. The insurer also offers a 20% introductory discount on horse insurance.

Direct LineLV*: Buy online and get 10% discount and a 5% discount on each policy if you insure more than one pet.

Discounts for multiple cats and dogs

If you have cats, dogs or a combination of both there are two comparison sites that allow you to add multiple pets to one policy and add any multi-pet discounts from the providers on its site onto your premium.

Confused.com Confused.com* will allow you to get quotations for up to five pets. So if you have at least two, they are certainly worth a try.

MoneySupermarket MoneySupermarket.com will allow you to get quotations and buy a policy for up four pets.

Remember, you aren't guaranteed the cheapest premium using these sites but it will help to make life easier.

Also try Direct Line* and Aviva*, who also offer multi-pet discounts but do not appear on comparison sites.

Always get a quotation per pet, as a separate policy. Once you have the premiums, combine the premium, making sure the cover is what you want, and see how it compares for all your pets against a multi-pet policy.

If you use this multi-pet comparison, please send us your feedback. Was it easy to use? Did it give you a competitive premium? We'd like to know how you found using it.

Rabbits, budgies, guinea pigs, chinchillas...

There are no comparison sites for all of these pets, so it's a question of elbow grease and getting the quotes yourself. We've listed a number of insurers below. Please tell us about your experiences with them or other insurers.

While it's not a pleasant thought, given the type and cost of the animals in this category, it's worth considering in the cold light of day what your attitude would be if it became ill, no insurance was in place and you had to make a decision about putting the animal down. One alternative here is self-insurance.

This is why you need to carefully consider the costs involved in ensuring a pet's welfare before taking one on.

Exotic DirectExotic Direct* gives quotes for a wide range of exotic, and not-so-exotic, pets, including rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, gerbils, ferrets, birds and more.

PetPlanBig name pet insurer Petplan*, which provides cat and dog quotes, also insures rabbits - the next most popular pet - is worth a look. Buy online and you'll get a 10% discount.

QuotezoneQuotezone* features good editing features and provides comparison quotes for rabbits, cats and dogs.

Horses

There are over 600,000 horses and ponies in the UK, and given the initial cost and length of their life, insurance is definitely worth considering.

British Horse SocietyBy becoming a Gold member of The British Horse Society, you will automatically be covered for up to £20m of public liability cover and various levels of personal accident cover.

SEIBIf it's more than public liability you want, SEIB is an option as it offers quotations for horses, ponies, trailers, horseboxes, tack and riding clubs.

PetPlan EquinePetplan Equine* is a branch of the big pet insurer Petplan, focusing specifically on horses, and offers different policies for younger or 'veteran' animals.

Animal FriendsAs its logo suggests, Animal Friends* is another insurer focused on pet insurance, and offers cover that can be tailored to different circumstances. They also have a good comparison table of its products.

Animal FriendsLeisure Guard horse insurance offers public liability of £1.25m and vet’s fees up to a maximum of £5,750 per incident. There is a 20% online discount and an additional 5% off for insuring more than one horse.

NFU MutualAfter we published the first incarnation of this guide, we asked for your feedback on insurers. NFU Mutual inspired many MoneySavers to report good stories - it covers horses (including 'veterans') and is worth a check.

The following insurers have also been suggested by users. We haven't checked them out too deeply - though all are FCA-regulated. If you try them, let us know how you get on: KBIS, Stoneways Insurance, Shearwater Insurance.

Snakes, pot-bellied pigs, tarantulas: exotic pets

From skunks to sugar gliders and possums to pot-bellied pigs, you'll need to try a specialist operator - in particular, to protect against burglars targeting rare or valuable creatures.

If you've a python worth £2,000, for example, pay extra special attention to what gets paid out on death or theft. If you have a tarantula, and like to show it off, perhaps consider third party insurance in case it takes a chomp out of one of your guests. Or then again, ensure the tank is very secure (Martin's sister wishes she'd taken this advice!).

The insurer below is the only one we've seen so far offering to insure the more weird and wonderful varieties - please tell us about your experiences in the forum or let us know about other insurers.

Exotic DirectExotic Direct* offers cover for a huge array of out-of-the-ordinary critters, including parrots, cockatoos, snakes, lizards, terrapins, vultures, pot-bellied pigs and loads more.

Always keep an eye out for some of the same policy tricks as for more mainstream pets - different levels of excess, payout limits and pre-existing conditions. Read above in the guide for more details.

Always double-check the quotes

After doing the comparisons and finding the cheapest quote that suits your requirements, it's crucial you double-check the quotes directly on the insurer's own website. To speed up searches some comparison sites can make assumptions, which may not fit your profile.

Grab cashback, check special deals and haggle

Plenty of insurers pay out cashback if you sign up to them via the specialist cashback shopping sites. This means you can grab even more off the price.

These sites carry paid links from some retailers and financial services providers. In other words, if you click through them and buy a product, they get paid. They then give you some of this cash which means you get the same product, and a cut of its revenue too.Get cashback online

When we checked in October 2014, you could get the following cashback. £40 with Direct Line, £36.75 with Homebase and Argos and £31.50 with Morethan.

Yet don't choose based only on cashback, see it as a bonus once you've picked the right cover...

Those new to cashback sites should ensure they read the Top Cashback Sites guide for pros and cons before using them. Otherwise use the Cashback Sites Maximiser tool to find the highest payer for each insurer.

Things you need to know before doing this...
  • Never count the cash as yours until it's in your bank account. This cashback is never 100% guaranteed, there can be issues with tracking and allocating the payment, plus many cashback sites are small companies with limited backing, and you've no protection if anything happens to them.

  • Withdraw the cashback as soon as you're allowed. Money held in your cashback site account has no protection at all if that company went bust, so always withdraw it as soon as you're eligible.

  • Clear your cookies. While it shouldn't be a problem, if you've used comparison sites beforehand, there is a minor risk that the cashback may not track due to cookies - so it's good practice to clear those first (read About Cookies).

For more details on these sites, read the Top Cashback Sites article.

Check special deals

To tweak savings even further, you can get quotes directly from a few companies who have special deals which aren't always mentioned by comparison services.

Animal FriendsBuy any Co-Operative* pet insurance policy by 24 Dec, and get a Hoover steam mop (RRP £46.99). The mop will be received around 90 days after the policy start date.

Animal FriendsLeisure Guard offers 35% off it's pet insurance as an introductory discount and a 10% multi-pet discount. The insurer also offers a 20% introductory discount on horse insurance.

Animal FriendsBuy any Sainsbury's* pet insurance policy by 29 Dec and get £30 voucher to spend instore and 12 months cover for the price of 9. Policyholders get £5 a month for six months. The first voucher will be received within 60 days.

PetplanBig name pet insurer Petplan* is giving a 10% online discount if you insure your dog, cat or rabbit with it.

AvivaBuy online from Aviva* and you can get 10% off its pet cover. Insure more than one pet and get an extra 10% discount. You can insure as many pets as you want and they each have individual policies.

ChurchillAppropriately enough, with a nodding dog as its mascot, Churchill* is worth checking for pet insurance, offering 20% off if you buy online.

Direct Line You won't find Direct Line* on comparison sites but insure more than one pet on the same policy and get 15% off. Also see Direct Line Together* for details of an extra discount on any other Direct Line product.

Haggle

Armed with the right information, you are now in a position to ring up and haggle. Take the best quote to other insurers and brokers and haggle to see if a better price is available. You'd be surprised how often they'll reduce the price if they're about to lose a customer.

For loads of haggling tips, read the full Haggle On The High Street guide and 2013's Top 10 Firms To Haggle With.

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