Published by Joe Davine on
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What is lifetime pet insurance?

Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive form of pet insurance you can get. Unlike other policies which have a set time limit after which they expire, a lifetime policy keeps renewing every year to cover your pet for life, as long as you keep paying the premiums.

Lifetime pet insurance policies are particularly useful for ensuring your pet is insured for any chronic conditions they may develop later in life. As lifetime pet insurance renews each year, rather than requiring you to take out a different policy, long-term illnesses that your pet develops while they are protected by a lifetime policy won’t be excluded from their cover (as often is the case with other policies).

What does it cover?

Lifetime pet insurance commonly provides a set level of cover for each condition your pet could develop (for instance, allowing £10,000 of vet bills to cover broken bones, £10,000 to cover any cancer treatments etc.). Typically you will find that lifetime pet insurance polices provide coverage for:

  • Vet fees. On either an annual or overall basis, lifetime pet insurance policies provide a set level of cover for each condition for which your pet will need treatment at the vet.
  • Third party cover. Should your pet cause injury to someone, or cause damage to other peoples’ property, most lifetime pet insurance will provide cover for any compensation.
  • Theft and loss. If your pet is lost or stolen, your policy will aid you in trying to recover them.
  • Travel cover. Many lifetime policies will provide cover for when you are travelling abroad, either in the form of paying the kennel costs or providing emergency vet cover for while your pet is with you on holiday.
  • Behaviour therapy. This isn’t offered by all insurers, but it is a useful extra - especially if your pet is a rescue dog. Some insurers will provide cover to help with your dog’s behaviour.
  • Death and cremation. Most insurers will provide cover for the costs associated with the death of a beloved pet.

Are there different types of lifetime pet insurance policies?

Yes, there are two types of lifetime pet insurance policies: those that provide a coverage limit that renews each year, and policies that have a maximum lifetime limit you can claim for each condition. Here’s a summary of what you can expect from each one:

Lifetime pet insurance - annual cover per condition

These policies have an annual limit for what can be claimed for each condition over the course of a year, with this amount resetting annually when you renew the policy. The amount you’re covered for is typically in the range of £10,000 for each illness/injury.

For instance, using the example above, if your dog were to require £1,500 for a broken leg and £9,500 for cancer treatments over the course of a year, your insurance would cover everything. Even though the overall amount you would claim is £11,000, the amount you’re claiming for each condition is still below the £10,000 limit. If all £11,000 you claimed was for cancer treatments, then you would have to pay the additional £1,000 yourself.

With this form of lifetime pet insurance, you renew your policy each year and the level of coverage for each condition resets back to the level agreed in the policy. So, even if you have claimed all the allowance for cancer treatments in one year, that money will also be available to you next year. One of the central benefits of lifetime pet insurance is that it covers long-term conditions in this way.

Lifetime pet insurance - overall cover per condition

Lifetime pet insurance with an overall limit works very similarly to maximum benefit pet insurance, except these policies do not expire. Instead of having an annual limit you can claim per condition that refreshes each year, lifetime policies with overall cover have a set amount for each condition that can be claimed across your pet’s life. These policies continue indefinitely as long as you keep paying the monthly premiums.

Looking again at the example above, if the lifetime limit for broken bone coverage was £15,000, and the limit for cancer treatments was set at £40,000, then after claiming £1,500 for a broken bone and £9,500 for cancer cover you would still have £13,500 and £30,500 of cover remaining for each condition respectively. Once all this money has been claimed, however, your policy will provide no additional coverage.

This type of cover is still very comprehensive, but it is important to bear in mind that ongoing health conditions can have very expensive treatments. If your pet gets seriously ill and claims a lot of the lifetime benefit in the course of just one year, this amount won’t refresh and once it is gone you will have to cover all treatments yourself.

Are there any exclusions?

As with any type of insurance, yes there are some exclusions with lifetime pet insurance policies. For instance, it is hard to find pet insurance policies that provide coverage for the following:

  • Older animals (including some breeds of dog aged 6 or over)
  • Grooming costs
  • Treatment for parasites
  • Spaying and neutering
  • Dental treatment
  • Vaccinations
  • X-rays or tests that haven’t been specifically ordered by a vet

Any new policy you take out will also typically exclude any pre-existing conditions your pet has. However, if you take ut a lifetime pet insurance policy while your pet is healthy, they will continue to be covered if they develop a long-term condition such as arthritis or cancer. This is because you renew the policy each year rather than taking out a new policy, and is one of the primary benefits of lifetime cover as opposed to other forms of pet insurance.

Which animals are eligible for lifetime pet insurance?

It is most common to find lifetime pet insurance policies for only for the following three types of animals:

  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Rabbits

However, there are many other options for insuring exotic pets if you can’t find a lifetime policy.

What if I have multiple pets?

If you want lifetime insurance for more than one pet, then you will often find you get a better deal if you take out more than one policy with the same insurer.

However, if you want to get coverage for all of your pets under one policy, you will want to have a look into multi-pet insurance. These policies are the most cost-effective way to insure many different animals and usually cover between 2 and 10 pets under one plan, but they don’t have as comprehensive cover as lifetime pet insurance policies.

How much does lifetime pet insurance cost?

There are many factors that make it difficult to give a precise answer to this question. Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive type of policy and you can therefore expect premiums to reflect this, with payments typically falling somewhere between £20 and £75 per month. Here’s a summary of things that will have an effect on your quote:

  • The level of cover. This is the most central factor: the more your pet is covered for, the higher the premiums will be.
  • Breed. Especially important when insuring dogs, the breed of your pet will have an impact on the amount your policy will cost, with pedigree purebred dogs having higher premiums.
  • How much your pet cost. Insurers will ask you how much you originally paid for your pet, and the more expensive your furry best friend is, the higher your insurance premiums will be.
  • Where you live. Because of varying vet fees across the UK (with London and the South East being the most expensive), where you live can affect your premiums. This is also true if your pet lives in a premises where alcohol is served
  • Age. Younger pets are cheaper to insure as they are less likely to have complicated health problems.
  • Whether your pet has been spayed/neutered. If your pet has been neutered, it will be less expensive to insure.
  • If their vaccines are up to date. Insurers will usually require your pet to have had all the relevant vaccines to protect against common illnesses. If your pet gets an illness that a vaccine would have prevented, it’s common for your insurer not to pay out to cover the vet fees.
  • If they have a history of violent behaviour. As lifetime pet insurance commonly provides coverage for third party damage, if your pet has a history of violent behaviour it will lead to increased premiums.

With a lifetime pet insurance policy, your premiums are likely to increase each year when you renew the policy. However, with other types of pet insurance, you will need to get a new policy every time the cover expires, and this can get very expensive and also exclude any chronic conditions they have developed.

How do I make a claim?

To make a claim on your lifetime pet insurance policy you’ll need to contact your insurer either over the phone or online (depending on the company). When it comes to vet bills, your insurer will usually pay the vet directly, so it’s a good idea to take your insurance details to the vet with you when you go.

You should check what the exact procedure is with your insurer to make sure that, when you need to make a claim, you know exactly what you need to do to make it as seamless as possible.

What other pet insurance options are available?

If you’re considering which type of insurance is best for your pet, these are your other options:

Time-limited pet insurance

Time limited pet insurance policies are similar to lifetime cover, but they do not allow you to renew the policy annually. Instead, you take out a policy for a set period of time (usually 12 months) and then at the end of that time you have to take out a new policy. During the term of the policy, your pet will be covered up to a set limit for each condition they may need to see the vet for, plus extras such as third party cover.

As you need to keep taking out new policies each year, your premiums can rise substantially as your pet gets older. Also, if your pet develops a long-term condition such as cancer, this will be counted as a pre-existing condition when the cover expired and usually will not be covered by a new policy.

Maximum benefit pet insurance

Maximum benefit policies work similarly to lifetime insurance with an overall amount of cover per condition. Your pet will be covered for a range of illnesses and injuries for up to a certain amount. After you have claimed all that is provided by the policy, it will stop paying out for that condition and you will have to fund additional treatments yourself.

Unlike with lifetime policies, maximum benefit pet insurance expires after a set period of time, after which you have to get a new policy.

Accident only pet insurance

The most basic form of pet insurance, accident only policies only cover your pet for treatment required as a result of an accident. These are the cheapest pet insurance policies on the market, but also offer the lowest amount of cover.

Like the other policies listed here, accident only pet insurance expire and will need replacing by taking out a new policy.

Is lifetime pet insurance right for my pet?

If you’re looking to get the most comprehensive cover possible, then a lifetime policy is where you’ll find it. Taking out a lifetime policy for your pet at a young age can also ensure coverage for any long-term conditions they develop later in life, as these will be excluded as pre-existing conditions if trying to take out a policy when you pet is already ill.

Overall, it depends on your situation and what needs your pet is likely to have. Lifetime pet insurance is the most expensive form of pet insurance, but it backs this up by having the best cover.

How can I find the best lifetime pet insurance policy?

We have reviewed all the major providers of lifetime pet insurance in order to help you find the best policy for your pet. Have a look through our reviews and see which company offers the best policy for your situation.

Where can I get a quote now?

Right here. If you’re ready to get a quote to see how much a lifetime policy would cost you then simply click the button below, fill out our very short form, and one of our trained brokers will find you a policy in minutes.