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Choose the best way to protect your pet

Information and advice

Provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc

Pet insurance vs self-insuring

If your pet gets injured or falls ill, an unexpected trip to the vet can be super stressful – and can hit you hard in the pocket. So what’s the best way to cover what could be expensive vet fees?

Should you take out a pet insurance policy and get the reassurance that comes with it? Or would you be better off self-insuring and putting your money away in a savings account each month?

What is pet insurance?

Like any other type of insurance, pet insurance is a policy that helps protect and cover you against unexpected costs.

There’s no legal requirement to have pet insurance, but the most common reason people protect their pet is to cover the cost of expensive vet fees.

You’ll pay a monthly or annual premium, and if your pet gets injured or falls ill, your pet insurer will help cover the costs.

What is self-insuring?

Self-insuring your pet is when you put money away each week or month to build up a savings pot to pay for potential vet bills.

If you don’t want traditional pet insurance, or feel that it’s too expensive, self-insuring may be something to consider. But you’ll need to be serious about your savings – and think about how much you can afford to put away.

Could self-insuring cover the cost of vet care?

Whether you could afford expensive vet fees without pet insurance will depend on your financial situation and costs of your pet’s treatments.

If your pet suffers a serious injury which requires surgery, X-rays or continuous treatment, your vet’s fees could add up to thousands of pounds. It’s not to say that your pet will get injured or fall ill, but it is always sensible to be prepared for the financial costs if this should happen.

If your pet has an ongoing, terminal or critical condition, you’ll have to pay for regular treatment and medication over your pet’s lifetime.

Pet insurance may help you cover these costs. But if you choose to self-insure, you’ll have to pick up the tab on your own.

What type of pet insurance should you get?

If you decide that self-insuring doesn't give you the peace of mind you need, purchasing a pet insurance policy is a popular alternative. But with so many options available, how do you know which one to choose?

Our guide to pet insurance sheds some light on the typical types of pet insurance cover and provides a few pointers on what to consider when choosing a policy.

To make your life easier, we’ve also summarised the different types of pet policies below. Remember that all pet insurances will offer different levels of cover and benefits as well as restrictions, so it is important to look into this and find the right policy for you and your pet.

Lifetime pet insurance

This is the most comprehensive pet insurance available. When you take out a lifetime policy, your pet is covered up to a set amount each year. And as long as you renew your policy without a break in cover, the full amount resets every year and becomes available again.

Time limited pet insurance

With this policy, each condition is covered for 12 months from the first date of treatment or until the maximum benefit is paid for that condition – whichever comes first. After this, you’ll need to pay for any ongoing treatment yourself.

Accident only pet insurance

Accident only policies are typically the least expensive pet insurance available. They help cover the cost of vet fees if your pet’s injured as a result of being involved in an accident or being attacked by another animal.

Maximum benefit cover

With maximum benefit insurance, you can claim vet fees per condition during the lifetime of your policy, up to the policy limit. If you reach the limit for one condition you will still be covered for any different conditions that your pet may develop over the course of your policy.


What else does pet insurance cover?

While the most common reason for getting pet insurance is to help cover the costs of vet fees, there are a number of additional benefits available.

And of course, if you choose to self-insure, you’ll have to pay for it all out of your own pocket.

When it comes to our pet insurance, we’ll also cover you for:

Please note that we won't cover the cost of any pre-existing conditions and that terms, conditions, excesses, exclusions and limitations apply. You can find out more about the terms of our cover in our policy documents.

Other helpful guides

Our handy pet guides can help you make an informed choice on the best way to protect your pet.

Do you need pet insurance for a rabbit?

When it comes to pet insurance, most people probably think of cover for cats and dogs. But many pet owners choose to insure their rabbits too.

While rabbits don’t cost as much as cats and dogs to buy, they can end up being just as expensive over their lifetime.

One of the reasons for this is that rabbits can suffer from some pretty common health problems. And these problems can often lead to hefty medical costs and vet fees.

Of course, pet insurance isn’t a legal requirement for rabbits (or cats and dogs). But it can help cover the costs of vet fees – and give you some extra reassurance and peace of mind.

You can learn more about rabbit insurance and some of the most common rabbit health problems in our rabbit health and insurance guide.

What am I covered for?

See what you’ve got in your insurance cover

Pet insurance explained

We’ve shed some light on the typical types of pet insurance

Pet insurance glossary

Cut through the jargon and understand your cover.

Any other questions?

If you want to know more about pet insurance, we may have the answer for you in our frequently asked questions.


Ready to protect your pet?

If you’ve decided that pet insurance is the right plan for you, you can go ahead and protect your pet now.

With cover for vet fees and 24/7 Vet Assistance as standard, we’ll help give you the support you need.


Need to talk to us?

Find the details you need on our help and support page.

Other contact details

Terms and conditions

Important information

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). Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd is an appointed representative of Sainsbury's Bank plc.

Sainsbury's Bank plc acts as an introducer to Pinnacle Insurance plc who is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (register number 110866). Registered Office: Pinnacle House, A1 Barnet Way, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6 2XX. Sainsbury’s Bank plc and Pinnacle Insurance plc are not part of the same corporate group.