Which? finds big variations in pet insurance cost


Pet insurance costs can vary by hundreds of pounds depending on the breed of the animal, Which? has found.

A survey of over 1,300 Which? members found the average price for an annual lifetime policy has reached £472 for a dog and £285 for a cat.

Six in 10 (60%) policyholders saw a rise since their last renewal - on average £123 for dogs and £57 for cats.

Which? found the breed of pet you own can make a difference to how much it costs to insure a cat or dog.

It averaged the five cheapest quotes for eight popular dog and seven cat breeds on a comparison website for lifetime policies with a Cambridge postcode.

French Bulldogs (£358) were the most expensive of eight popular breeds of dogs compared - costing over £200 more to cover than a Jack Russell Terrier (£133).

For cats, a Maine Coon (£114) was the most costly followed by Bengal (£105).

One in five (21%) people in the survey had had a problem with their pet insurance, Which? found.

In one case seen by Which? a pet owner had to cancel her policy after being quoted nearly £1,700 to insure her 11-year-old dogs.

Nearly a third (32%) of people with insurance for a dog or cat have put the policy to use - making at least one claim over the past year, the survey found.

Harry Rose, Which? Money editor, said: "While rising premiums have left many feeling squeezed, there are a few things you can do to help rein in the cost of insuring your pets.

"The earlier you get cover the better. Not only will premiums be cheaper, a younger animal will have fewer pre-existing conditions, making for fewer exclusions and greater choice between policies.

"Always shop around for insurance, and if you want to switch, check which conditions the new insurer will and won't cover.

"Unfortunately, it's likely that the new insurer will exclude all of your pet's current and pre-existing conditions, which could make switching for a lower premium a false economy."

If insurance is not an option, Which? also suggested people consider putting aside specific savings to cover future vet costs - although they will take on all the risk of their savings not being enough to cover vet bills.

Some animal charities will also provide vet services either free or at a reduced cost.

Malcolm Tarling, a spokesman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI), said: "Owning a pet can be expensive as well as rewarding.

"There is no NHS for pets, and with veterinary bills rising and a wider range of treatments becoming available, pet insurance is something every pet owner needs to seriously consider.

"Pet insurance is a competitive market, with a variety of policies available to cover dogs and cats to the more unusual pets, so shop around and check the cover carefully to ensure that it reflects your needs."

Here are the average insurance costs for different dog breeds for a lifetime policy, based on someone with a Cambridge postcode and a three-year-old pet (Which? averaged the cheapest five quotes for each breed):

- French Bulldog, £358
- Golden Retriever, £187
- Labrador Retriever, £182
- Cockapoo, £141
- Cocker Spaniel, £141
- Crossbreed, £139
- Border Collie, £134
- Jack Russell Terrier, £133

And here are the findings for cats, according to Which?

- Maine Coon, £114
- Bengal, £105
- Domestic Long Hair, £86
- British Short Hair, £85
- Tabby, £85
- Domestic Short Hair, £82
- Crossbreed, £81