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When to get pet insurance?

Knowing when to get pet insurance can be tricky, and the answer isn’t always obvious. To help you answer some of the big questions, we’ll go over the basics, take a look at the benefits and explore what affects the cost of pet insurance.

Provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc.

When should you get pet insurance?

Ideally, the best time to get pet insurance is as soon as you bring your new pet home. Whether you’re picking up your new pet from a breeder, a rescue centre, or a pet shop, it’s important you’re financially protected from the get-go – both for your wallet and your new furry friend. Trips to the vets can be costly, and getting a new pet can be a challenging time before you factor in unexpected vet bills. 

While it’s best to insure pets as soon you bring them home, you can’t insure an animal with us that’s under eight weeks old. 

Find out more about insuring older cats  and dogs, as well the different types of pet insurance  that are available to you. 

Whether adopting an older cat or picking up a puppy, if your pet develops a health condition after you’ve insured them, the condition will be covered by your insurance. However, if your pet has conditions that have developed prior to insuring them, the cost of treatment can’t be covered by your insurance. Because of this, it can be sensible to insure your pets straight away. 

Please note terms, conditions, excesses, exclusions and limitations may apply, view our policy documents here.

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The benefits of pet insurance for life

Insuring your pet for life is one of the best ways to look after both your pet and your bank balance. Lifetime cover with Sainsbury’s Bank comes with a range of benefits. 

  • Annual cover up to £10,000 and no limitations on when your pet can get treatment.
  • Access to a vet nurse 24/7, either online or over the phone.
  • Multi-pet insurance cover for homes filled with furry friends.
  • Holiday cover in case your pet falls ill while you’re abroad.
  • An easy-to-manage policy that you can access at any time.

While lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive option for your pet and your wallet, we appreciate it might not suit every situation. For those pets with short-term health issues, we offer time-limited pet insurance, and maximum benefit cover, both with a range of benefits. 

Can I get pet insurance before surgery?

Unfortunately, we don’t offer pet insurance that covers pre-existing conditions, and we won’t be able to cover treatment for the same health issue in the future. You can read more about the conditions in our policy documents.

Can I get pet insurance after a diagnosis?

You may be able to get pet insurance after diagnosis but unfortunately Sainsbury's Bank does not cover pre-existing conditions.

There are also some limits on the age of the pet we’ll insure. While we can insure pets once they’re over eight weeks old, the upper limit changes depending on the pet and breed. For most breeds of dogs, it’s their 8th birthday, though some breeds can’t be insured after their 5th birthday. Cats, however, can be insured up to their 10th birthday, but they are considered senior cats from age seven. Once you’ve insured your pet, the cover will continue beyond any upper age limits.  

Can I get pet insurance after injury?

Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance doesn’t cover existing conditions, if your pet’s injury results in an ongoing condition or disability, we won’t be able to help with payments for treatment. 

Likewise, if your pet needs treatment for an injury that occurred before your policy’s start date, or occurs within three days of the start date, we won’t be able to cover the cost of treatment.

Can I get dog insurance for a pre-existing condition? 

Sainsbury’s Bank won’t be able to cover the costs of treating the existing condition and will only be able to help with any new conditions that may occur. 

Find out more about our dog insurance here

Frequently asked questions

At what age can you insure a puppy, kitten or rabbit?

You can insure your puppy, kitten or rabbit once it reaches the age of eight weeks, any younger than that and it will be considered too young. You can insure most dog breeds before their eight birthday, though for some breeds it has to be before their fifth. For cats they must be insured before their 10th birthday, and rabbits can be insured until their 5th birthday.

How long do you need pet insurance before using it?

We won’t be able to cover treatment costs for injuries or illnesses that start before your cover. We also won’t be able to cover the cost of treatment for any illness that occurs within 14 days of your policy’s start date. Similarly, we can’t cover treatment costs for any injuries that happen within three days of the start date.  

At what age is pet insurance cheapest?

In theory, the cheapest age to insure your pet is when they’re eight weeks old. The younger your pet is, the less likely it is to have any pre-existing conditions. While you can’t predict how healthy or accident prone your pet will be, lifetime cover gives you the most comprehensive cover. 


Terms and conditions

† Multi-pet discount is a minimum of £24 when insuring more than one pet as this is worked out at £1 per pet per month for each pet on a policy. Pets can have different cover levels. Discount deducted separately from any other offer.

* The discount is based on information related to you and the Sainsbury’s and Sainsbury’s Bank transactions linked to your Nectar account. For more information on how we use your data, go to