ABI puts the continued increase down to rising vet bills

Pet insurers paid out a record-breaking £785m in 2018 to cover the unexpected costs of owning a pet, according to the ABI.

The ABI says the figure is driven by a significant increase in average claim size, as a likely result of ever-increasing veterinary costs as the sophistication and cost of treatment rises.

Cover growing

In 2018, more pets were covered than ever before – with nearly 4.3 million pets being protected.

However, despite the average claim in 2018 increasing by £36 on the year before to £793, premiums are down for the first time in eight years.

The average premium was £2 cheaper in 2018 (£279) than the year before (£281). Over the past 10 years, the average claim has increased by 75%, while the average premium has only increased by 50%.

Case studies

There have been large claims in the past year for pet owners and insurers.

PetPlan was involved in a claim for a terrier that it has been insuring since 2010. It has paid out more than £40,000 for treatments for a serious congenital lung disorder.

And Direct Line Group recently paid out £7,300 in a claim for a French bulldog which had fractured its leg.


Underinsurance of pets is still a problem, with cats appearing to be the least covered.

It is estimated that there are 7.5 million cats in UK households, but only 1.3 million are insured. This leaves a huge 6.2 million cats uninsured in the UK, potentially leaving owners at risk of fooing expensive vet bills out of their own pockets.

The ABI’s senior policy adviser for pet insurance Joe Ahern, said: “There is no NHS for animals, so if you’ve not got a pet policy in place, you risk having to foot veterinary bills out of your own pocket. These can often be in the thousands of pounds and vet treatment is only getting more expensive, not less.

“It’s promising to see the average premium coming down regardless of this trend and I’m pleased to see our members paying out more than ever before to protect the wellbeing of pets across the country.”