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What should I look for when choosing pet insurance?

Pet insurance can cover more than just the vet bill if your pet gets sick or injured. Know what to look for before choosing which policy best meets the needs of both you and your pets.

Cat and dog
Understanding pet insurance will help you choose the most suitable cover for the needs of both you and your pet

Vet bills

Having cover for vet's fees and medical expenses tends to be our primary concern when looking to take out pet insurance, especially as the costs can run into thousands. Policies may include a limit per condition or policy year. Typically the higher the level of cover you can potentially claim for, the higher the premium. But, there's more to pet insurance than just cover for vet's fees. Good policies will tend to include some, if not all, of the following additional benefits:

Death by accident or illness

It's every pet owners' nightmare, but if the worst should happen, you may be able to claim back the cost of the pet. Policies may include an upper age limit on this cover, so a dog over 8 years or a cat over 9 years might no longer be covered, so check the details when you are comparing cover.

Theft and straying

Policies tend to contribute towards the costs of trying to find your pet if it goes missing, so things like advertising posters and paying a reward if it's found.

Third party liability

Often this is an optional cover with pet insurance, but if your dog was to injure someone or damage their property, liability cover can pick up the tab for legal costs and expenses up to a specified limit.

Cattery and kennel fees

Our pets aren't always the only ones that need medical attention. If you are hospitalised and no-one is available to look after your pets at home, you may have cover for cattery and kennel boarding fees until you're back home. Expect there to be a minimum qualifying period of at least 2 consecutive days before you can claim, so make sure you have arrangements in place should you need emergency short term help looking after your pets.

Overseas travel cover

If you like to take your pet abroad when you travel, many policies will extend cover for while you're away. Much like travel insurance for humans, the insurer will pick up vet's fees costs for illness, accident and other medical treatment needed overseas. This can tend to be an optional add-on so when comparing cover, if you think you're likely to be going abroad, consider if there are going to extra costs for this later down the line.

Dental cover

Check the wording for this when comparing cover as not all pet insurance dental cover is the same. Some will only cover dental costs relating to an injury, rather than if due to an illness and many will only honour the cover if your pet has received annual dental check-ups.

End of life expenses

The worst day ever, but your pet insurance may cover the cost of your pet being euthanised (being put to sleep), cremated or buried.

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