The UK pet insurance market is valued at around £245m, according to research carried out by market research company Mintel.

The four largest pet insurers are Petplan, Direct Line, More Th>n and Domestic & General, who together have a 70% share of the market.

There are currently around 1.85 million pet insurance policies in force in the UK.

The report said that 55% of pet owners made unplanned visits to the vet over the past two years, with around 40% of them experiencing some difficulties affording vets' fees.

Last month, a Datamonitor report said only 10% of cats and dogs in the UK were covered. The report said premiums were typically £7.50 a month for a cat and £16 a month for a dog.

Common ailments such as arthritis, broken legs and diabetes can cost up to £450 a year to treat for the duration of a pet's life, said Datamonitor.