A Basic Guide to Insurance For Vet Fees

There are many different companies offering pet insurance. Each company and each policy will have its own Terms and Conditions. It is essential that when you take out a policy you have read these and understand exactly what your policy will do for you in the event of a claim. We do not know the exact details of your individual policy, but the guide below may help you to understand exactly what your policy offers.

Basic Terms

Policy year
This goes from a start date to an end date which will be detailed clearly on your policy schedule. Every year you will get documents confirming you policy renewal. Even if you pay monthly and have done for a long time, the policy is officially renewed every year and regarded as such by the insurers.


This is the amount you pay for your policy each year. Even if you renew with the same company each year, this amount will change (at your insurer’s discretion) depending on your pet’s age and whether or not you have made any claims.

This is the amount you pay your vet towards treatment should a claim be necessary. This amount will be clearly indicated on your policy documentation. Sometimes it will be a fixed sum, sometimes a percentage and sometimes a combination of the 2. An excess is payable per condition per insurance year. (E.g. if your pet has arthritis and a skin complaint, that will entail 2 excesses every year).

There may be specific exclusions on your policy for your individual pet. These will be clearly indicated on your schedule. But, bear in mind that all policies exclude pre existing conditions. Some companies automatically exclude all dentistry...... Read the small print.

Pre existing conditions
If an animal has suffered from a similar or related condition before this may well be excluded on your policy. It does not matter if that condition was claimed for or not, if it is documented on your pet’s record then the insurance company will note it. You are obliged to provide the insurance company with the details of all veterinary practices your pet has attended. All veterinary practices are obliged to provide a full clinical history to the insurance company when they request it.

Life policies vs. annual policies

With a ‘cover for life’ policy, you pet’s insurance will be renewed each year, but any conditions that you have needed to claim for should still be covered in the new insurance year. The policy excess and premium may well change, but your policy should still pay out for your pet’s treatment (as long as no financial limits have been reached. See below). Be aware that if your pet’s treatment falls over the policy renewal date then another excess will need to be paid.

With an ‘annual’ policy any illness recorded or claim made in 1 insurance year, will be excluded in the next, even if you continuing paying your premium as normal. Be aware that if your pet’s treatment falls over the renewal date the company may only pay costs for the first year not the total sum of treatment. New conditions should still be claimable and the appropriate excess will be applied.
Some policies have a financial limit rather than, or as well as, a time limit.

Financial limits

There are 3 common variations.
A limit on the amount the insurance will pay per condition per year, this usually applies to life long policies and the amount is ‘refreshed’ in each insurance year. E.g. £4000 per condition per year every year you are insured.

A limit on the total amount you can claim for a condition without a fixed time frame. E.g. £4000 per condition. Once this limit is reached, the condition is excluded. An excess is usually payable per insurance year.

A limit on the total amount per condition within 1 insurance year e.g. £1000 for 1 condition within 1 year after which point the condition is excluded.

Further advice
If you have any questions regarding your insurance, your insurer should be able to assist you. We will help you whenever we can, but are unable to comment on individual policies due to the laws that regulate insurance.


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