What is cat insurance and where can you get the best deals?
If your feline friend became ill or was injured, would you be able to afford the vet bills for the treatment it needed? Taking out cat insurance gives you peace of mind that you would be covered if this were to happen to your cat or kitten.
What is cat insurance?
Cat insurance pays out to cover the vet bills you need to pay if your cat is ill or injured, to avoid you having to stump up the hundreds or even thousands of pounds they could cost. You can choose to take out an accident-only policy or cover for illnesses as well, which is more expensive.
Depending on the policy, it can also cover advertising to help you find your cat if it’s lost or stolen, or compensation if it isn’t found, cattery fees if you can’t look after it for any reason, third-party liability if your cat causes damage to property or injury to others, the cost of putting your cat to sleep if necessary, and compensation if it dies.
You can also add cover for taking your cat abroad with you on holiday or if you need to cancel your holiday because something happens to your cat.
How does cat insurance work?
As with other types of insurance, you pay a monthly or annual premium to an insurer in return for financial protection if you need to pay for veterinary treatment for your cat if it’s ill or injured. All policies have annual limits on how much you can claim and sometimes limits for each condition as well or instead.
If you choose to take out cover for illnesses as well as accidents, there are three options:
- Time limited – you can claim for a particular condition for a limited period, such as 12 months, up to the cover limit, but can’t claim for it again after that.
- Maximum benefit – you can claim for a particular condition up to a certain amount of money but there’s no time limit. Once you’ve reached the limit, you won’t be able to claim for the condition again, even if you renew your policy with the same insurer.
- Lifetime – this is the most expensive and covers you for any condition throughout your cat’s life, so you can claim for it again if the condition recurs. There will be an overall annual limit or per-condition limit, which means you won’t be able to claim for more money than this each year, but the limit will reset when you renew the policy.
Cat insurance pros and cons
- Cat insurance covers you if you need to get veterinary treatment for your cat so you don’t have to find large sums to pay vet bills unexpectedly.
- You can choose to have less cover, such as for accidents only, to keep costs down if necessary.
- If you need to claim, you’ll have to pay a certain amount of it yourself, known as the excess. This helps to reduce the cost of your policy and could apply to each claim or just once a year if you claim more than once. With some policies, you also have to make a co-payment, which is a percentage of the remaining claim once the excess has been deducted. So if the treatment is expensive, you could have to pay a significant amount.
- Pre-existing conditions – anything that occurred before you took the policy out – aren’t covered but you can pay more for a policy from a specialist insurer if you do want to cover any.
Which cat insurance comparison site can save you the most?
We gathered cat insurance quotes from the four biggest price comparison sites – Compare the Market, Confused.com, GoCompare and MoneySuperMarket – for three different scenarios to give you an idea of how much you might pay and how quotes differ.
The quotes below are the lowest on each comparison site for lifetime cover for accident and illness for a 2-month-old, 3-year-old and 6-year-old male British shorthair bought for £800. Policies have at least £3,000 of cover per year, with either no per-condition limit or one that is the same as the annual limit.
Prices are per year. The cheapest quotes for each scenario are shown in bold.
Some comparison sites offer rewards when you take out certain types of insurance with them. Compare the Market is the only one of the four we looked at to give you rewards for taking out cat insurance. Details are included below.
Cat insurance comparison site costs compared:
|Comparison site||2-month-old||3-year-old||6-year-old||Comparison site rewards|
|Compare the Market||£142.14 (Pet-insurance.co.uk), excess £130 per condition per year plus 5% of the remaining amount of each claim, £3,500 annual limit||£131.62 (Pet-insurance.co.uk), excess £130 per condition per year plus 5% of the remaining amount of each claim, £3,500 annual limit||£157.24 (4Paws), excess £85 per condition per year plus 30% of the remaining amount of each claim, £4,000 annual limit||2 for 1 cinema tickets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; discounts on takeaway food and eating out|
|Confused.com||£152.99 (4Paws), excess £85 per condition per year, £4,000 annual limit||£150.77 (Bought by Many), excess £99 per year plus 20% of the remaining amount of each claim, £3,000 annual limit||£174.46 (Bought by Many), excess £99 per year plus 20% of the remaining amount of each claim, £3,000 annual limit||None|
|GoCompare||£152.99 (4Paws), excess £85 per condition per year, £4,000 annual limit||£146.18 (4Paws), excess £85 per condition per year, £4,000 annual limit||£157.24 (4Paws), excess £85 per condition per year, £4,000 annual limit||None|
|MoneySuperMarket||£152.99 (4Paws), excess £85 per condition per year, £4,000 annual limit||£152.99 (4Paws), excess £85 per condition per year, £4,000 annual limit||£196.58 (4Paws), excess £85 per condition per year, £4,000 annual limit||None|
Notes: Quotes gathered on 24 June 2021 for a policy starting on 1 July 2021.
As you can see in the table above, quotes can vary widely from different comparison sites for the same scenario. This could be because of the different deals they have with insurers or because they’re quoting you for a slightly different policy.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to use more than one comparison site to find the best price for you. The site that gives you the cheapest quote one day also won’t necessarily give you the cheapest on another as prices can change frequently.
Cat insurance FAQs:
How can you get the best cat insurance quotes?
You should use two or three comparison sites to get the full picture, and make sure you’re comparing like for like in terms of what’s covered, the excess, cover limits and any extras that are included.
Before you take a policy out, make sure it suits your needs rather than choosing one based on price alone or any rewards you’ll get from the comparison site.
Which comparison site works with the most cat insurance providers?
Compare the Market works with the most pet insurers at 32, while MoneySuperMarket works with 24, Confused.com works with 23, and GoCompare works with 21. A comparison site being able to gather quotes from more insurers doesn’t mean they’ll offer you the cheapest price though.
How much does cat insurance cost?
Based on our scenarios above, you can get insurance for a 3-year-old cat for less than £132 a year. You would pay even less if you took out time-limited or maximum-benefit cover instead of a lifetime policy.
According to Compare the Market data from November 2020, you could pay as little as £81, based on 50% of customers being able to achieve a quote of £80.76 per year across all types of cat insurance.
How can I reduce the cost of cat insurance?
Aspects that affect the price of your policy include your cat’s age, its breed – as some are more prone to falling ill with certain conditions than others – and where you live, but these are things you can’t change.
You can choose to pay a higher excess or make a co-payment, take out a policy with lower per-condition or annual limits, or take out accident-only cover to reduce the price you pay. If you have more than one pet, you can also save money by taking out multi-pet insurance rather than a separate policy for each one.
Making sure your cat’s vaccinations are up to date and that it’s microchipped is also likely to give you cheaper insurance.
What does cat insurance cover?
Cat insurance is designed to cover unexpected injuries or illnesses that occur after you take the policy out. It doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions as standard, routine or preventative treatment, such as vaccinations, or pregnancy and birth.
What alternatives are there to cat insurance?
Instead of paying premiums to an insurer, you could save money into a savings account to help you pay for vet treatment if your cat needs it, but there’s a risk you won’t have enough money to cover the bills.
If you’re on a low income and on certain benefits, you may be able to get free or low-cost treatment for your cat through animal charities such as Blue Cross and the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA).
Is cat insurance worth it?
Yes – cat insurance is affordable and means you won’t have to cover huge vet bills yourself if your cat is ill or injured. Just make sure you get a policy that suits your needs and shop around to get the best price.