Record £785m paid out in 2018 by pet insurers, says ABI

Pet insurers paid out a record-breaking £785 million in 2018 to cover the unexpected costs of owning a pet, figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show.

The jump in the cost was driven by a significant increase in the average claim size as veterinary treatment becomes increasingly sophisticated, the ABI said.

The average claim cost climbed by £36 year-on-year to £793 in 2018.

But average premiums were down slightly for the first time in eight years, at £279 in 2018 compared to £281 a year earlier.

Over the past 10 years, the average claim has increased by 75%, while the average premium has increased by 50%, according to the ABI’s data.

The ABI also said more pets were covered by insurance last year than it has seen ever before – with nearly 4.3 million pets being protected.

Despite more pets being insured, there is still a “worrying level” of under-insurance among cat owners, the ABI said.

Only 1.3 million cats are insured compared with 2.8 million dogs – potentially leaving the owners of 6.3 million cats at risk of having to foot expensive vet bills out of their own pockets.

The ABI said some examples of claims include PetPlan paying out more than £40,000 for a terrier since its “covered for life” policy started in 2010.

The terrier has had several treatments for a serious congenital lung disorder, the ABI said.

It said Direct Line Group recently helped a French bulldog that had fractured its leg, with the claim costing £7,300 in total.

The ABI’s senior policy adviser for pet insurance, Joe Ahern, said: “There is no NHS for animals, so if you’ve not got a pet policy in place – you risk having to foot veterinary bills out of your own pocket.

“These can often be in the thousands of pounds and vet treatment is only getting more expensive, not less.

“It’s promising to see the average premium coming down regardless of this trend and I’m pleased to see our members paying out more than ever before to protect the wellbeing of pets across the country.”