Which pet insurance companies offer lifetime cover? Compare lifetime pet insurance providers

Font size

11
0
0
0

If you want a pet insurance policy that will continue to pay out if your pet develops a long term condition, you need lifetime cover. Read on to compare lifetime pet insurance companies.

Which pet insurance companies offer lifetime cover?

Lifetime pet insurance means that if you take out pet insurance and your pet develops an ongoing condition, such as arthritis or diabetes, the policy will continue to pay for treatment throughout the pet’s life. It’s a bit more complicated than that because each policy will have its own limits on how much it will pay out, either per year or for each condition.

SAVVY TIP: The advantage of getting an insurance policy that offers lifetime cover is that you should be able to continue claiming for longer than if you had a policy that didn’t include lifetime cover. The disadvantage is that these pet insurance policies tend to be more expensive than others.

There are several pet insurance companies that offer lifetime cover. I’ve listed pet insurance companies that offer lifetime cover, and some of the big pet insurers that don’t offer lifetime cover (in alphabetical order):

Argos Pet Insurance

Argos Pet Insurance offers lifetime cover through its Platinum policy.

Level of vet fees cover offered: The Platinum lifetime policy covers vet’s fees of up to £7,000. There are two other levels of cover up to £2,500 and up to £4,000. These vet fee limits work on a ‘per year’ basis, which means you can claim for treatment within a 12-month period.

Do your premiums rise after a claim? Argos Pet Insurance says as with any other insurance, when claims are paid it will lead to a higher renewal premium because they base it on your pet’s claim history, amongst other things. They say that their experience tells them that pets with previous claims are more likely to claim again in the future.

If they rise, are certain conditions more likely to trigger this? Argos Pet Insurance says there are no set rules as to how much the price increase. Generally if any claims are made the price is going to increases. However, it will also be based on rating factors such as age, breed, gender and vet fees in your post code area.

Do you let customers choose their own referral centre? Argos Pet Insurance uses a list of referral centres. If a customer wants to go to a different referral centre, they’d have to pay £200 of the bill themselves (on top of any excess).

SAVVY TIP: A referral centre is where your pet would go if the vet couldn’t sort out the problem. So if, for example, your pet needs intensive care or an operation that isn’t minor, it will go to an animal hospital, or referral centre.

Do referral centres let your customers settle bills directly, or do they ask for payment direct from the client? Argos says that they can pay you back, or the referral centre. The decision is up to the individual referral centres, which can vary.

SAVVY TIP: Talking to vets, my understanding is that some referral centres will insist that you pay for any treatment in advance if you’re with a pet insurer that has a reputation for slow payment or turning down claims.

Do you use external underwriters and, if so, do you shop around for underwriters? It uses Royal & Sun Alliance as its underwriter.

SAVVY TIP: The underwriter is the person who decides how risky offering insurance is and therefore what the insurer should charge for it. Some insurers shop around for a new underwriter every few years. That can result in lower premiums one year and higher the next, as a new underwriter may assess the risk differently.

Lifetime Pet Cover

Lifetime Pet Cover have won several awards and, as their name implies, they only offer lifetime pet cover. They told us that they believe that this is the only form of cover that can give pet owners real peace of mind. And with so many different policy types on the market, they wanted to simplify the process of choosing a pet insurance policy.

Level of vet fees cover offered: All of their policies offer cover for unlimited claims subject to an annual cover limit. There are five levels of cover: £2,000, £3,000, £4,000, £6,000 and £10,000. The cover levels are then reinstated year after year for as long as the policy is in force.

Do your premiums rise after a claim: Lifetime Pet Cover told us that premiums may change at the policy’s renewal date. The main reasons premiums increase upon renewal are taxation changes, veterinary procedure advancement, inflation and an increase in the probability of future claims. They told us that they continually assess their pricing to ensure they are giving their customers competitive cover.

If they rise, are certain conditions more likely to trigger this? If a pet develops a long-term chronic condition, premiums are very likely to increase. However, as they only offer lifetime cover, all of their policies will continue to pay for veterinary bills incurred and medication costs year after year (subject to cover limit).

Do you let customers choose their own referral centres? They do not limit the referral centres, but your vet should refer them.

Do you settle bills direct with referral centres or do customers have to pay first and claim it back? They work with your vet/referral centre directly so you are not left out of pocket. However it depends on the vet/referral centre.

Do you use external underwriters and, if so, do you shop around for underwriters? Their policies are underwritten by one of two Underwriters.

LV=

LV= offers a lifetime pet insurance policy.

Level of vet fees cover offered: Up to £10,000 per year. This vet fee limit works on a ‘per year’ basis.

Do your premiums rise after a claim? The company told me that customers would typically see the cost of their insurance increase after making a claim because their pet is more at risk of needing future treatment.

If they rise, are certain conditions more likely to trigger this? They wouldn’t say as it’s ‘commercially sensitive’.

Do you let customers choose their own referral centres? Customers can choose their own referral centre.

Do you settle bills direct with referral centres or do customers have to pay first and claim it back? It depends on the referral centre. LV= says it settles direct with many referral centres.

Do you use external underwriters and, if so, do you shop around for underwriters? No, LV= uses its own in house underwriters.

M&S Bank Pet Insurance 

M&S Bank Pet Insurance offers lifetime cover policies.

Level of vet fees cover offered: You can choose up to £4,000 or £7,000 of cover with its lifetime policies (Standard or Premier). There’s no separate limit for illness or injury on the Premier policy, but there’s a limit of £1,000 for each illness on the Standard policy. The Essential policy covers up to £3,000 of vet’s fees over a 12-month period.

Do your premiums rise after a claim? Claims history is taken into account, as well as age and breed of your pet.

If they rise, are certain conditions more likely to trigger this? See above.

Do you let customers choose their own referral centres? Customers can use any referral centre.

Do you settle bills direct with referral centres or do customers have to pay first and claim it back?It depends on the referral centre.

Do you use external underwriters and, if so, do you shop around for underwriters? M&S Pet Insurance is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance.

More Than 

More Than offers a lifetime pet insurance policy called ‘Premier’.

Level of vet fees covered: For its lifetime cover policies, you can choose up to either £4,000 (with each injury or illness limited to £1,000 of vet treatment) or £12,000 (with each injury or illness limited to £4,000 of vet treatment) in total of vet fees cover, per year.

Cover is available for injury or illness and you can continue to claim for an insured condition up to the chosen vet fee limit, each year.

Its cheaper policies, which aren’t lifetime cover, offer up to £1,500 or £3,000 of vet fee cover per year, or you can take out a policy that gives you £4,000 or £8,000 of vet fee cover for each illness. They also have an accident only policy which gives you up to £2,500 of vet fee cover for 12 months – but only for accident claims.

Do your premiums rise after a claim? Yes. More Than says that your price will increase at renewal if you make a claim. And your excess will increase when your pet turns nine.

If they rise, are certain conditions more likely to trigger this? More Than says that cats and dogs are more prone to illness and ailments as they get older. Your price will increase at renewal, because of this likelihood. They also said that claims experience will be one factor in working out premium levels at renewal.

Do you let customers choose their own referral centres? More Than has its own network of referral centres. If there isn’t a referral vet in your area at the current time or if for any reason you wish to use a vet that isn’t in their network, you need to contact them. Otherwise you’ll pay £200 of the referral vet bill yourself on top of the excess.

Do you settle bills direct with referral centres or do customers have to pay first and claim it back? More Than pay most of the vets in their network directly for the treatment costs removing the need for you to claim the costs back (subject to vet agreement and excess applies).

Do you use external underwriters and, if so, do you shop around for underwriters? They have their own in house underwriters and pricing teams.

Petplan

Petplan has its own lifetime policy called Covered for Life.

Level of vet fees cover offered: Petplan told us that lifetime cover should always be on a per year ‘annual’ basis. If it is ‘per condition’ it’s not true Lifetime cover, it’s a Maximum Benefit policy which means cover stops once the claims limit is reached. Petplan’s Covered For Life policies are on an annual basis meaning each time you renew your policy the veterinary fee benefit is refreshed, giving a new pot of money each year for the life of the pet. There are different Covered For Life policies with £4,000, £7,000 or £12,000 a year in vet’s fees. The excess levels vary depending on the policy you choose.

Do your premiums rise after a claim? Petplan says that they don’t increase premiums as a direct result of making a claim.

If they rise, are certain conditions more likely to trigger this? While it is unavoidable that policy premiums will increase in-line with vets fee inflation and the increasing risk and cost of illness as a pet gets older, Petplan does not directly increase your premiums just because you have made a claim.

Do you let customers choose their own referral centres? No, Petplan does not operate Preferred Supplier Networks.

Do you settle bills direct with referral centres or do customers have to pay first and claim it back? Petplan can settle bills directly to the vet as long as the vet and customer are happy for them to do so, or to the customer if they have paid their vet directly.

Do you use external underwriters and, if so, do you shop around for underwriters? No, Petplan does not use external underwriters for its pet insurance. Petplan has been insuring pets and only pets for the past 40 years giving us unrivalled knowledge of pet health and allowing us to create the right cover priced correctly for the life of the pet.

Tesco Bank 

Tesco Bank offers lifetime cover through its Premier Policy.

Level of vet fees cover offered:  Tesco Bank offers four levels of vet fee cover:

  • Their lifetime policy offers either £7,500 or £10,000 of cover for all conditions, each year, without time limit.
  • Their Extra policy offers £4,000 or £7,500 of cover for each illness or accident with no time limit.

They also offer:

  • Up to £3,000 per accident for Accident & Injury cover.
  • Up to £3,000 per accident or illness on Standard cover.

On both the Accident & Injury and Standard Cover, customers can claim for up to 12 months of treatment.

Do your premiums rise after a claim? Tesco Bank told us that cats and dogs are more prone to illness and ailments as they get older. Your renewal price may increase if you have a paid claim.

Even if you haven’t made a claim on your policy, new developments in diagnosis and treatments have meant that vets can give even better care, which is great news for your family pet but does sometimes mean that vet costs increase.

If they rise, are certain conditions more likely to trigger this? Tesco Bank told us that they do not disclose this information.

Do you let customers choose their own referral centres? If a customer chooses to use a vet out of their Referral Network for non-emergency treatments, an additional excess of £200 would apply. The network only relates to non-emergency referred treatment and customers will never pay the policy excess for emergency treatment. They will always pay valid claims from any vet in the UK.

Do you settle bills direct with referral centres or do customers have to pay first and claim it back? Yes, they will settle bills directly with any UK vet. It is the vet’s decision whether to wait for payment until the claim is paid, or whether they want immediate payment from the customer. All referral vets in their network accept settlement from Tesco Bank Pet Insurance.

Do you use external underwriters and, if so, do you shop around for underwriters? All Tesco Bank Pet Insurance policies are underwritten by Royal and Sun Alliance.

Which insurers do not offer lifetime cover?

Direct Line

Direct Line does not offer lifetime cover.

Level of vet fees cover offered: Direct Line has two products; one covers up to £4,000 vet fees for each illness or injury in a 12-month period. The other policy covers up to £8,000 vet fees for each illness or injury and there’s no time limit to claim.

Do your premiums rise after a claim? Direct Line says claims history is taken into account when you renew your policy.

If they rise, are certain conditions more likely to trigger this? Direct Line didn’t directly answer this question, but said it looked at overall claims experience. It said that vet fees were the main driver of the rising cost of claims. Advances in veterinary science means vets can offer more complex and expensive treatments.

Do you let customers choose their own referral centres? Customers have complete freedom of choice.

Do you settle bills direct with referral centres or do customers have to pay first and claim it back? Direct Line can pay referral centres direct or customers can pay the bill and reclaim it.

Do you use external underwriters and, if so, do you shop around for underwriters? Direct Line uses its own underwriting.

Sainsbury’s Bank

Sainsbury’s Bank does not offer a lifetime pet insurance policy.

Level of vet fees cover offered: There are three levels of vet’s fees covered and two different ways the cover is offered. The cheapest policy offers vet’s fee cover of up to £3,000 for each condition, with a 12-month limit on claims. Sainsbury’s Bank also has two ‘Maximum Benefit’ policies, with either £7,500 or £13,000 of cover for each illness or injury. Here you can claim for ongoing illnesses until you’ve reached the limit of the vet’s fee cover (there’s no time limit).

Do your premiums rise after a claim? Claims are taken into account at renewal, as well as the age and breed of the pet.

If they rise, are certain conditions more likely to trigger this? Any increase in premium would depend on the level of claim(s).

Do you let customers choose their own referral centres? Customers can choose their own referral centre.

Do you settle bills direct with referral centres or do customers have to pay first and claim it back?Sainsbury’s Bank says it can pay the vet directly if required.

Do you use external underwriters and, if so, do you shop around for underwriters? Allianz is Sainsbury’s Bank’s current underwriter.

Virgin Money

Virgin Money no longer offers new pet insurance policies.

Related articles: 

Saving money on pet insurance; how to get the right cover

Not happy with your financial provider? Complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service; it’s free

What can you do to make sure your pet is looked after when you die?

SavvyWoman email newsletters: If you found this information useful why not sign up now to receive free fortnightly email newsletters with money saving tips and help? You can sign up at the top of any page on the website and your details won’t be passed to any other company for marketing purposes.