Pet insurance made simple

Pets are our close companions. That's why they are worth protecting and taking care of.

Whether you're looking for pet insurance to help provide cover for accident and injuries or general health and wellbeing, a policy could help you to keep them bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

For pet owners (and pets themselves) it's impossible to know what's round the next corner. With this in mind, it helps to be covered for the inevitable – vet bills. These can be expensive, with some emergency procedures costing significant amounts of money. Policies may cover the cost of treating unexpected illnesses or injuries, helping you to give your pet a longer, healthier life.

This guide is intended to shed light on typical types of pet insurance cover and provide points on what to consider when choosing a policy.

Accident and injury

Cats and dogs have a nose for adventure, and are renowned for getting into the odd scrape along the way. Pet insurance policies with accident and injury cover can typically cover vet fees on a time limited / 12 month basis if the pet is:

1. Injured as a direct result of involvement in an accident
2. Injured as a direct result of being attacked by another animal.

Key benefits:

  • Dog insurance policies typically include a third party liability cover section, which offers basic protection should the dog damage property or injure somebody
  • Could be suitable for those not interested in purchasing a more comprehensive option
  • These policies are some of the lowest priced on the market meaning it can be a suitable option for those looking for a low-cost insurance plan

Time limited / 12 month

Being a pet owner is about more than just owning a cat or dog; it's about taking ownership of their welfare. Time limited / 12 month cover is typically an entry level product. It can cover both illness and injury for 12 months only, or up to a set monetary amount, whichever is reached first. Typically, the 12 months start on the date the injury happened or when the illness was first diagnosed by a vet. Once the maximum benefit amount has been reached or the 12 months has expired, no further claims for that or any related illness or injury will usually be covered.

Key benefits:

  • Can be a lower cost option for customers needing to cover both illness and injury for their pets
  • Could be suitable for pet owners with concerns about the immediate high cost of treatment after an injury, such as a road accident, or an illness
  • Provides protection and peace of mind for short-term injury, for example a cut or scrape, or illness, such as a stomach upset, which requires one-off treatment

Maximum benefit

What is a maximum benefit? According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), this is the maximum amount of money which is available to cover the cost of treatment for each illness and injury your pet may suffer. For example, this could be £7,500 or £13,000 depending on the insurer.

Key benefits:

  • Ideal for pet owners concerned about long term illness or injury
  • No time limit so provides greater peace of mind

Lifetime or lifelong

With a lifetime pet insurance policy, vet fees are covered continuously throughout the pet’s life for ongoing or long-term illnesses or injuries stated in the policy. Cover is ongoing, providing the customer renews their policy each year, without a break in cover.

Key benefits:

  • As the name suggests, it can provide cover throughout the pet's life
  • May appeal to a pet owner who is concerned about their pet developing a long-term, chronic or recurring illness such as arthritis or eczema
  • Depending on the policy and assuming there is no break in cover, there are usually no exclusions for illnesses or injuries, providing the policy documents don’t state otherwise
  • Maximum benefit amount is not per condition, but instead applies per year for all conditions. For example, the policyholder may be able to claim a maximum amount in each policy year.
  • Thorough cover with fewer restrictions, mostly notably the period of cover; check with the individual provider

Questions to ask when choosing a policy:

Are there additional cover options so you can build a policy that’s right for you and your pet?

Find out if plans are simple and transparent; are they easy to understand so you can decide on the right cover for you and your pet?

Is cover flexible and can it be tailored to suit you and your pet?

Are the staff you deal with pet experts; do they show you that they love pets and are passionate about your pets welfare?

How much is the excess? Is it fixed, such as at £75, or is it possible for me to change the excess amount if I'm willing to adjust my premium?

Are discounts available for:

  • Multi-pet policies?
  • Buying online?
  • Buying through a loyalty scheme?
  • Existing customers?


  • Can you track your claim online for regular progress updates?
  • Are there penalties for making a claim?
  • Can the insurer pay vets directly?
  • Is there a dedicated claims handler?
  • How quickly do the company settle claims?

Sainsbury’s Finance is a trading name of Sainsbury’s Bank plc. Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd is an appointed representative of Sainsbury’s Bank plc. Sainsbury’s Bank plc, Registered Office, 33 Holborn, London EC1N 2HT (registered in England and Wales, no. 3279730) is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (register no. 184514).

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