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Pet Insurance Excess

Pet insurance excess explained

Alicia Hempsted
Written by  Alicia Hempsted
5 min read
Updated: 22 Apr 2024

Adjusting your voluntary excess is one of the simplest ways to manage the cost of your pet insurance, but there’s more than just your premiums to think about when you choose an excess. Learn about the details of pet insurance excess in this guide.

What is pet insurance excess?

A pet insurance excess is an amount that you agree to contribute when making a claim to cover part of the cost of your claim.  

Most pet insurance policies will have a compulsory excess as well as a voluntary excess. Your compulsory excess is required with your policy and cannot be reduced, but your voluntary excess can be adjusted. You can either increase it or decrease it and the amount you choose can have an impact on your policy’s premiums.  

pet insurance

Why do I need to pay excess on my pet insurance? 

Most types of insurance require you to pay excess, not just pet insurance. Excess serves a number of purposes and can be useful for both insurers and policyholders.  

  • Sharing of risk: by accepting an excess you are agreeing to take on part of the insurance risk, so your insurer doesn’t have to pay as much 

  • Fewer frivolous claims: an excess can prevent policyholders from making low-value claims. Too many of these claims can come at a cost for the insurer who has to process these claims each time and they can cause your premiums to rise 

  • Deter fraudulent claims: an excess creates a financial risk for potential fraudsters and can reduce the value of the payout, which can deter people from making certain kinds of false claims 

 If you refuse to pay your excess or if you attempt to make a fraudulent claim to avoid paying the amount you owe, there can be serious consequences. Insurance fraud is no joke and serious cases can result in criminal prosecution or even a prison sentence.  

How does pet insurance excess work? 

The way most pet insurance policies work is for insurers to reimburse policyholders after they have paid the vet bills. This reimbursement payment is equal to your total vet bill (or your maximum claim limit) minus your excess. 

Here is an example: 

  • Step 1: Take your pet for treatment 
    Your dog undergoes surgery at your chosen veterinary hospital. The total fee for the surgery is £1,000 

  • Step 2: Pay the bill 
    After the surgery, you must pay the full £1,000 bill directly to your vet, usually on the same day as your visit. Alternatively, some vets may offer to set up a payment plan through a credit company 

  • Step 3: Make a claim 
    Make a claim with your insurer either over the phone or online. You’ll need to provide them with your and your pet’s details, your policy number, the details of your pet’s treatment, and the details of your bill 

  • Step 4: Your claim is processed 
    Your insurer will then verify what you are covered for and calculate your payout. With an excess of £200, your total payout will be £800 (£1,000 - £200) 

  • Step 4: Receive your payout 
    Your insurer will send you confirmation that your claim has been approved and the payout of £800 will be sent directly to the bank account associated with your policy 

With direct payments you only pay your excess 

Another method of using your pet insurance to pay your vet bills is to set up direct vet payments from your insurer. If you have set this up with your vet, then when the time comes to pay your vet bill, you only need to pay the excess to your vet.  

Unlike with reimbursement payments, you don’t have to cover the full vet bill upfront. Once you’ve covered the portion of the vet bill that you owe your insurer will pay your vet directly to cover the rest.  

Different types of pet insurance excess 

When you buy pet insurance there are different types of excess that you need to consider. Some types of excess can be adjusted to help you manage the cost of your policy while others are a requirement: 

  • Compulsory excess: This is the default excess that is set by your insurer when you apply for your policy. This excess usually cannot be adjusted and it’s only with a no-excess policy that you can get avoid paying a compulsory excess.  

  • Voluntary excess: This is the portion of your excess that you can adjust, which is usually in addition to your compulsory excess. Increasing or decreasing your voluntary excess can change the price of your pet insurance policy.  

  • Co-payments: This type of excess is implemented in many pet insurance policies once pets reach a certain age, but some apply co-payments from the start. This type of excess requires you to pay a percentage of your vet bills, usually in addition to paying compulsory and voluntary excess.  

Think carefully about your voluntary excess 

When choosing your excess, you need to decide carefully how much you can afford. Your excess will be applied each time you make a claim on your pet insurance policy, so you shouldn’t think about it as a one-off payment – it’s a payment you’ll have to make each time you take your pet to the vet.  

While it can be tempting to increase your excess to reduce your premiums, choosing a high excess could mean that you have to cover a lot of your veterinary expenses on your own, without the help of your insurance.  

Before you decide on a number, ask yourself how much you’re reasonably able to pay to cover the cost of your pet’s veterinary treatments. If your pet needed multiple trips to the vet within a short time frame, could you afford to pay your excess amount multiple times in the space of a few weeks or even a few days?  

You need to think about potentially paying this cost every time your pet takes a trip to the vet, so the amount you choose needs to be affordable several times over without putting you at risk of being unable to afford your pet’s important treatments.  

Can I get pet insurance with no excess? 

There are pet insurance policies available that advertise either a low excess or no excess at all. However, these policies can be some of the most expensive on the market and they may not be available if your pet is of a certain age or has pre-existing health problems.  

When do I not need to pay my pet insurance excess? 

You don’t normally need to pay excess when you claim additional benefits provided by your pet insurance policy outside of vet bills. These excess-free benefits can include: 

  • Benefits to cover pet funerals and cremations 

  • Benefits to recover lost or stolen pets, including advertising costs, rewards, or reimbursement for the value of your pet 

  • Benefits to cover boarding fees for kennels or catteries if you or a family member are hospitalised  

  • Certain benefits for travelling with your pet, such as cover for emergency trip cancellations and lost pet documents  

Not all pet insurance policies are the same. The benefits you get and the excess you need to pay will depend on your chosen provider and policy, so you should always check your policy documents to confirm your cover. 

If you have any questions about when you do or don’t need to cover your policy’s excess, it may be worthwhile to speak to your chosen insurance provider.  

Why compare pet insurance with MoneySuperMarket 

Adjusting your excess isn’t the only way to get cheap pet insurance. Another easy way to get a cheap policy is to shop around and compare quotes online. With MoneySuperMarket, you can compare pet insurance quotes from cheapest to most expensive, making it simple to find a great deal on a policy that’s right for you.  

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