Choosing the best pet insurance for your dog

Choosing the best pet insurance for your dog

There’s no denying that pets bring immense joy to our lives, but they can also face unexpected health issues leaving us feeling worried and stressed about their wellbeing and our finances. That's where pet insurance becomes invaluable. Yet, navigating the options can be overwhelming. 

In this article, we'll explore the importance of pet insurance, decode confusing terminology and guide you through choosing the best policy for your dog to help you protect their health and well-being at all times.

Coverage: Know Your Limits

Understanding pet insurance coverage involves familiarising yourself with various aspects such as the maximum coverage amount.

Maximum coverage amount refers to the highest sum an insurance policy will pay out for covered expenses within a specified period. This limit can vary depending on the policy, insurer and the level of coverage chosen. It's crucial for pet owners to assess their pet's healthcare needs, considering factors like breed-specific considerations, inherited breed conditions and chronic conditions. 

Certain breeds are predisposed to specific health issues, such as hip dysplasia in larger dogs or respiratory problems in brachycephalic breeds like French Bulldogs and Pugs. Inherited breed conditions, such as heart disease in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels or progressive retinal atrophy in certain dog breeds, may require more comprehensive coverage. Chronic conditions, like diabetes or arthritis, may require ongoing treatment, making it essential to ensure your pet insurance policy provides adequate coverage for such expenses over time.


The purpose of pet insurance is to provide financial protection and peace of mind to pet owners, enabling you to afford necessary veterinary care without hesitation. By paying a monthly or yearly premium, you can mitigate the financial burden of unexpected medical expenses, ensuring your furry companions receive prompt and appropriate healthcare. 


Pet insurance coverage typically encompasses various veterinary services, including consultations, diagnostics, surgeries, medications and even alternative therapies like acupuncture or hydrotherapy. However, the extent of coverage and reimbursement rates can vary between policies and insurers. Therefore, pet owners should carefully review policy details, considering their pet's specific healthcare needs, any potential hereditary or chronic conditions and pre-existing conditions which can limit what you can claim for. Ultimately, pet insurance serves as a valuable tool in safeguarding the health and well-being of beloved pets, providing reassurance to owners during challenging times.


Some insurers like our friends over at Waggel, provide extra protection for owners by offering expert guidance and professional advice through online veterinary platform, Joii, allowing all policyholders to book virtual appointments any time of day. Dog owners can also benefit from free and unlimited access to behaviour and nutrition consultations with canine behaviour and wellness practitioner Junior Hudson of Heal The Dog. If this is something that’s important to you as a pet owner, it’s worth doing your research to see what insurers are offering as added bonuses. 

Type of Policies

The four main types of pet insurance policies are accident-only, time-limited, maximum benefit and lifetime coverage.

Accident-only: This policy typically covers only injuries resulting from accidents, such as broken bones or ingestion of foreign objects. It doesn't cover illnesses or pre-existing conditions.

Time-limited: These policies provide coverage for a specific period, often 12 months, for both accidents and illnesses. Once the policy period ends or the maximum benefit amount is reached, coverage for that condition ends meaning you’ll be unable to claim for it again.

Maximum benefit: With this policy, there's a maximum amount of money allocated for each condition or illness. Once that limit is reached, the condition is no longer covered, even if the policy is still active.

Lifetime coverage: This is the most comprehensive type of policy, providing coverage for ongoing conditions throughout your pet's life, as long as the policy is renewed each year. There's usually a maximum benefit amount per year, but it resets annually at renewal.

Selecting the right pet insurance policy is crucial as it directly impacts the level of financial protection for your pet's healthcare needs. Factors to consider include your pet's age, breed, predisposition to certain health issues, pre-existing conditions, your budget and your own personal preferences regarding coverage. 

As a pet owner, it’s essential to carefully review policy details, including coverage limits, exclusions, waiting periods and any additional benefits or add-ons offered by the insurer. By selecting a policy that aligns with your pet's specific needs and your financial situation, you can ensure adequate coverage and peace of mind in managing your pet's healthcare costs should you need to claim.

Per Conditions vs. Annual Limit

Per-condition coverage refers to a type of pet insurance policy where there's a set limit for each specific condition or illness that your pet may experience. Unlike other types of policies that might have a maximum annual benefit, per-condition policies allocate a fixed amount of money for each illness or injury. 

For example, if your pet develops arthritis, the insurance will cover expenses related to that condition up to the predetermined limit. Once that limit is reached, coverage for that particular condition ceases, even if the policy is still active. This approach provides a clear understanding of the financial protection available for individual health issues your pet may face, allowing you to budget accordingly.

The advantage of per-condition coverage is that it offers transparency and predictability regarding the financial coverage for specific health concerns. Pet owners can better manage their expenses by knowing exactly how much the insurance will pay for each condition. However, a limitation of this type of policy is that if your pet develops multiple chronic or recurring conditions, you may quickly exhaust the coverage limits for each condition, leaving you with potentially significant out-of-pocket expenses that require personal funding to cover.

Annual amount coverage, on the other hand, sets a total limit on reimbursement for all conditions within a single policy year. To understand the cost-effectiveness of a per-condition policy or an annual amount coverage policy, it's essential to consider your pet's health history, breed predispositions, potential for chronic conditions and the overall cost of veterinary care in your area. By evaluating these factors and comparing them with the premiums and coverage limits of different policies, you can make an informed decision on which type of coverage best suits your pet's needs and your budget.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Pre-existing conditions in pet insurance refer to any health issues or illnesses that your pet has before the start date of the insurance policy or during the waiting period. These conditions are typically not covered by pet insurance because they are considered pre-existing meaning they existed before the insurance coverage began. Insurance companies often exclude pre-existing conditions from coverage to prevent individuals from purchasing insurance only after their pet develops a health problem, which would be financially unsustainable for the insurer.

As a general rule, pre-existing conditions are not covered by pet insurance policies. This means that any medical expenses related to a pre-existing condition, such as treatment, medication, or surgery would need to be paid out of pocket by you, the pet owner. It's important for pet owners to understand the implications of pre-existing conditions when purchasing pet insurance and to carefully review policy terms and conditions before making a decision. Some insurers may have different definitions or exclusions regarding pre-existing conditions, so it's crucial to clarify any concerns with your chosen insurance provider directly.

Co-payments: What Does It Mean?

In pet insurance, a co-payment, or co-pay, is the portion of covered veterinary expenses that the policyholder is responsible for paying out of pocket. It's usually a fixed amount or a percentage of the total veterinary bill, with the remainder covered by the insurance provider. Co-payments can help share the cost of veterinary care between the pet owner and the insurer, making it more affordable for the policyholder to access necessary healthcare services for their pet.

Some pet insurance providers in the UK have now scrapped co-payment meaning you’ll only pay your chosen amount of excess and any remaining vet fees if treatment surpasses your annual limit.

Excess, also known as a deductible, is the initial amount of money that the policyholder must pay out of pocket before the insurance coverage kicks in. Once the excess amount is met for a claim, the insurance company will cover the remaining eligible expenses, up to the policy's limits. The excess helps to keep insurance premiums affordable by reducing the number of small claims and encouraging responsible use of insurance coverage.

Why Waggel Pet Insurance?

Waggel is a UK-based pet insurance provider shaking up the industry by offering accessible policies for a new generation of pet owners. By providing only lifetime policies they make insurance easy to navigate whilst ensuring your pet is protected at all times, even when you’re not claiming.


Waggel’s customer service team is based in the UK meaning if you’ve got a question about your policy, you can get an answer fast. When submitting a claim, you’ll be assigned a Customer Champion, every Customer Champion is a registered vet nurse meaning they’ll have all the information you need, whenever you need it. 


Waggel’s policies include cover for dental, cancer and even complementary treatments such as hydrotherapy making them inclusive for a wide range of health conditions. 


As mentioned above, Waggel offers many exclusive member-only perks to help you reach peak pet parent status whether that's through a vet consultation for peace of mind or an appointment with an expert canine behaviourist to get your dog feeling like their best self. They also provide a membership platform where you can secure deals and discounts on UK-based pet products any time you need them.


In conclusion, pet insurance plays a crucial role in safeguarding both your pet's health and your wallet. By providing financial protection for unexpected veterinary expenses, pet insurance ensures that your furry companion receives timely and necessary healthcare without imposing a significant financial burden and unnecessary stress. 


However, making an informed decision when selecting a pet insurance policy is paramount. Understanding the intricacies of different coverage options, including deductibles, co-payments, and coverage limits can empower pet owners to choose a policy that best suits their pet's needs and their budget. 


Armed with a clear understanding of policy terms and conditions, pet owners can confidently navigate the world of pet insurance, securing comprehensive coverage for their beloved pets while maintaining financial peace of mind.


For expert guidance we recommend Waggel and their lifetime policies, ensuring your pet is protected against accidents, illnesses and ongoing conditions throughout their entire life. For more information, secure a free, no-strings-attached quote todayAnd if you’re new to the pet ownership journey, why not take a look at our sustainable pet products to help you on your way?



Do I need pet insurance?

Pet insurance is a vital aspect of pet ownership and can protect you from hefty vet bills. Whether you need pet insurance is entirely your choice and depends on various factors, including your financial situation, your pet's health, breed, and predisposition to certain conditions, as well as your willingness and ability to pay for unexpected veterinary expenses out of pocket which can quickly add up. 


What can pet insurance cover?

Pet insurance can cover a range of veterinary expenses, including consultations, diagnostics, surgeries, medications and sometimes even alternative therapies like acupuncture or hydrotherapy.


Why do vet bills vary?

Vet bills can vary due to factors such as the type and severity of the medical condition, the specific treatment required, the geographic location of the veterinary clinic, the experience and expertise of the veterinarian and any additional services or medications provided.

How can I choose the right policy for my pet?

To choose the right policy for your pet, consider factors such as your pet's age, breed, pre-existing conditions, anticipated healthcare needs, your budget, coverage options including limits and excesses, customer reviews and the reputation of the insurance provider.


What are five benefits of pet insurance?

Pet insurance offers financial protection, peace of mind, access to quality care, budget-friendly options and flexibility in tailoring coverage to your pet's needs and your budget.


What things should I be aware of before purchasing a policy?

Before purchasing a pet insurance policy, it's important to be aware of factors such as coverage exclusions, pre-existing condition policies, waiting periods, limits and any additional fees or restrictions.

Are there any alternatives to pet insurance?

Alternatives to pet insurance include setting up a dedicated savings account for veterinary expenses and considering self-insuring by setting aside funds each month for potential future medical expenses.

Some veterinary clinics offer wellness plans or preventive care packages that cover routine veterinary services at a fixed monthly or annual cost, though these won’t provide cover for accidents, illnesses and ongoing conditions making insurance an important consideration.