There are four main types of pet insurance policy you can get for your dog: Accident-only, Time-limited, Maximum benefit, Lifetime (annual limit).
Accident-only insurance covers your dog for treatment needed because of an accident. It’s usually the cheapest option, but it might not be suitable if you’re concerned your dog could develop a medical condition – and want cover for it. Any pre-existing conditions are also excluded.
With a time-limited policy, you get a set amount of money towards treatment for an illness or injury, and a set time period for cover – usually 12 months.
You’ll max out the benefit when you reach either the cost limit or the time limit – whichever comes first. If your dog gets ill halfway through a policy, you’d have to renew to get the full 12 months of cover.
‘Recurring conditions’ aren’t covered. So, if your pet gets an ear infection, and then another infection in the other ear – that could be in the 12-month period, or after you renew – it won’t be covered. Any pre-existing conditions aren’t covered
These policies pay out a set amount in your dog’s lifetime for each illness or injury. When you reach the limit, the insurer won’t pay out anymore.
That means, if your pet’s issue becomes chronic, or reoccurs after you’ve reached the fixed amount of money, you’ll have to pay for any further treatment.
There’s no time limit. As long as you’ve still got your policy – and haven’t hit the maximum benefit yet – you can claim. Just like a time-limited policy, ‘recurring conditions’ aren’t covered.
Lifetime (annual limit)
Lifetime policies cover your dog for new illnesses and injuries. Any pre-existing condition they have before you take out the policy aren’t covered. But, if they develop one when you’ve got the policy in place, and you keep it, they will be covered.
This is the most extensive cover you can get, but it’s also the most expensive.
There’s a maximum benefit for each illness or injury. But, unlike maximum benefit, it resets every year you renew the policy.
For example, let’s say the limit per condition is £6,000, and your dog develops arthritis. Treatment costs £4,000, so you’re covered. If the treatment cost more than £6,000, you’d have to cover the rest.
The arthritis is a chronic condition, and your dog needs further treatment. The £6,000 limit gets reset every year you renew, so you can claim up to that amount again.