Pet insurers pay out £1.8 million every day, new figures show

Updated: 

A record £1.8 million is being paid out in pet insurance claims every day - with the typical payout at just over £750 - according to industry figures.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said insurers paid out a record £706 million in pet insurance claims in 2016, equating to £1.8 million every day.

The cost of an average claim has topped £750 for the first time to reach £757 - up from £721 in 2015.

The increase in claims and costs reflects the ever increasing range of treatments now available as well as increasing vets' bills, according to the ABI, which released the figures as National Pet Month, which promotes responsible pet ownership, takes place. 

But the ABI said that while an estimated 40% of households have pets, the vast majority of pet owners are not insuring them. Cat owners are more likely than dog owners to risk expensive costs if their pet needs treatment.

Owners of dogs are nearly twice as likely to insure their pet than owners of cats - around 30% of the 8.5 million dog owners and 16% of the 7.5 million cat owners are thought to have pet insurance.

Some of the more unusual pet insurance claims handled include £1,600 to treat a cocker spaniel which swallowed a turkey baster on Christmas Day and £3,400 spent on treating an English springer spaniel which swallowed a grass seed. 

In another case, £366 was spent on treating a cat with lethargy.

The ABI's figures show that in 2016 the number of pet insurance claims also reached record levels, with 932,000 pet insurance claims made. The amount paid out, at £706 million, was up 7% on the previous year's figure of £657 million.

Pet insurers dealt with 708,000 claims for dogs in 2016, paying out £544 million, up 9% from 2015. Meanwhile, 193,000 claims for cats were handled, worth £112 million in total - an increase of 7% from 2015.

Rebecca Hollingsworth, general insurance policy adviser at the ABI, said: "Last year's record levels of pet claims shows that owning a pet can not only be very rewarding, but also very costly."

She continued: "There is no NHS for pets, and the cost of getting quality veterinary treatment can quickly run into thousands of pounds, particularly with rising veterinary costs and a greater range of medical treatments for pets now available. Pet insurance gives you peace of mind that you won't have to deny your pet life-saving treatment because the veterinary bills are too expensive."