Skip to navigation
Skip to main content
Skip to footer

To give you the best and most secure online experience possible, our website uses cookies. Continue to use the website if you're happy with this, or find out how to manage cookies.

Pet Insurance Buying guide

Buying guide

Why do I need pet insurance?

Pet Insurance helps protect you from unexpected vet bills. Your insurance will usually pay for things like consultations, treatments, complementary therapies and even some special diets. Paying a small amount each month for vet cover means you could be protected from these expenses, while your pet is taken care of.

Injuries, accidents or damage caused by your dog

If your dog causes an accident, injures other people or damages their property, you could be responsible for any expenses. This is why your policy should include third party liability cover as standard.

John Lewis Pet Insurance covers you for up to £3 million in case of accidents and personal injuries caused by your dog.

Is there an alternative?

Some pet owners choose to self-fund vet fees, this means they save an amount of money each month to fund future vet bills. With vet bills potentially running into thousands of pounds, owners who self-fund run the risk of their savings falling short of their bills.

Dog owners should also think about the legal costs or damages they may be liable to pay if their dog bites someone or causes an accident. This could run into millions of pounds.

Although pet insurance may seem like an unnecessary expense in the short term, you should consider how much your pet could cost you throughout its life.

What affects my pet insurance premium?

There are a number of factors that will affect your premium. These could include:

  • Your pet's age: older pets are more likely to need medical treatment and very young animals may not have a fully developed immune system.
  • Your pet's breed: pedigree animals could be more likely to need treatments.
  • Where you live: vet prices may vary depending on the area you live in.

Why are pet insurance premiums rising?

With no pet NHS, the cost of visits to the vet must be covered by the owner or their insurer. As the veterinary profession improves diagnoses and treatments, more complex options have become available to customers. Tests and scans have become more high-tech, while procedures which were not available a few years ago are now routine. This means the treatments available to our valued pets are better, but they are also more expensive. Insurance premiums are rising to cover these costs.*

How can I reduce my premiums?

If you're concerned about rising premiums, there are a number of things you can do to help keep costs down:

  • Ensuring your pet stays covered, as will keeping your pet fit and healthy.
  • Increasing your excess may help to reduce your premium and insuring more than one pet on the same insurer may mean you qualify for discounts.
  • If you're choosing a new pet, research which breeds are associated with high premiums and start insuring when your pet is young.
  • Choose the right level of cover and don't be tempted to leave out important details as this could mean you aren't covered when you need it.
*Mintel Report "Pet Insurance - UK", September 2013

What is Lifetime Cover and why does John Lewis offer it?

Lifetime Cover is the most comprehensive kind of Pet Insurance as it allows owners to claim for ongoing conditions.

An ongoing condition is something that is likely to require treatment over a period of time, so conditions such as arthritis, type 1 diabetes or hip problems could be covered (always check your policy details to see what is covered).

There is no limit to how long treatment can last and we'll pay up to your chosen vet fee limit each year.*

  • Pros: Most comprehensive level of cover available. Allows you to claim for ongoing conditions. Vet fee limit "resets" each year, so you can continue to claim for the same condition.*
  • Cons: Higher monthly payments may be required due to long term treatments.
*As long as you're insured with us, your premiums are paid and the illness is covered by your policy.

What are the alternatives?


The pet owner saves money each month to cover the cost of vet bills.

  • Pros: Savings remain with the customer.
  • Cons: Owner responsible for full cost of vet bills. No Third Party Liability Cover, which could leave the owner personally liable for damages or legal costs if their dog causes injury or an accident. Rising vet bills could further widen the gap between what has been saved and what needs to be paid out in future.

Accident Only Cover:

Provides a fixed sum of money for accidental injuries only. Vet fees for illnesses would not be covered.

  • Pros: Monthly premiums may be lower.
  • Cons: Vet fees for illness or ongoing conditions would not be covered, so owner would be responsible for paying these.

Time Limited Cover:

Provides a fixed sum of money to cover a treatment/illness for 12 months. After 12 months, this condition is then considered to be pre-existing and would no longer be covered.

  • Pros: Monthly premiums may be lower, so owner makes initial savings. 
  • Cons: Owner cannot claim for ongoing conditions. After 12 months of cover for a condition, the owner would be responsible for any future vet bills for this condition.

Maximum Benefit Cover:

Provides a fixed sum of money to cover a treatment or illness. Claims can be made over more than one year, up to this total. Once the total is reached, conditions are considered pre-existing and would not be covered.

  • Pros: Monthly premiums may be lower, so owner makes initial savings.
  • Cons: Owner cannot claim for ongoing conditions. Once maximum benefit is reached for a condition, the owner would be responsible for any future vet bills for this condition.

Case Study: Sophie and her cat Archie. How do the alternatives compare?

What are Sophie's options and how do the different types of insurance affect her level of cover should Archie develop arthritis?

  • Self-funding: Sophie would need to use her savings to cover vet bills.
  • Accident Only Cover: Arthritis would not be covered. Sophie would need to cover the cost of the vet bills.
  • Time Limited Cover (if cover level is £6000**): Sophie can claim up to a total of £6000 in the first year. In the second year, Archie's arthritis would be considered pre-existing and could not be claimed for again.
  • Maximum Benefit Cover (if cover level is £6000**): Sophie might claim £2000 in the first year, £3000 in the second year and £1000 in the third year for arthritis treatments. In the fourth year, Sophie can no longer claim for Archie's arthritis as the maximum benefit of £6000 has been reached.
  • Long Term Cover (if cover level is £6000**): Sophie could claim up to a total of £6000 in the first year, up to a total of £6000 in the second year, up to a total of £6000 in the third year and up to a total of £6000 in the fourth year. Sophie could continue to claim up to her policy limit (in this case, a maximum of £6000 for vet bills), each year Archie needs treatment, for the full length of his condition.
** Sophie pays her premiums each year of her cover and arthritis is covered by her policy.

Cover for older pets

Some companies have an upper age limit on new policies – typically 9-10 years for a dog. This may make it more difficult to insure pets that come from rescue centres. John Lewis Pet Insurance covers your pet’s vet fees from eight weeks old and has no upper age limit.

It's a good idea to insure your pet from an early age.* If you insure your pet when it's older and has pre-existing medical conditions, you’re unlikely to get cover for those conditions.

*You will not be able to claim for vet fees as a result of an accident in the first 48 hours of cover or for any changes in your pet's health or behaviour in the first 14 days of cover.

Taking a pet abroad

You can take your pet abroad and they won’t need to spend time in quarantine if you’re visiting a country that's included in the Pet Travel Scheme (as long as you follow all the relevant rules).

While some companies offer travel cover as an optional extra, John Lewis Pet Insurance covers it as standard as part of our Plus and Premier Cover levels.

Does your cover include full customer support?

When choosing a pet insurance policy it's important that you select one that comes with excellent customer service. When you’re faced with the stress and expense of an ill pet, you need to know that your insurance provider will do everything they can to support you.

To help keep things simple, John Lewis Pet Insurance can pay your vet directly, rather than into your own account (provided your vet is set up to receive our payments).

Extras and add-ons

Pet Insurance covers a lot more than just vet’s fees, but some insurers may charge extra for add-ons. It's worth double checking that you are comparing like-for-like cover when you compare insurance policies.

A John Lewis Pet Insurance policy covers the following treatments for your pet:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Dental care
  • Behavioural treatment
  • Treatment food

John Lewis Pet Insurance can also help with costs if your pet goes missing or is stolen. You’re covered for up to £1,000 towards advertising and rewards. Our policy then provides compensation if you have our Plus or Premier Cover and have to cancel a holiday because of the loss or illness of a pet.

Other extras include emergency kennels and cattery care for your pets if you have to go into hospital.

What's not covered

Most policies don't cover routine check-ups and treatment for pre-existing medical conditions. You need to check your policy carefully to see what exclusions it might contain.

We have carefully selected Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc to underwrite John Lewis Pet Insurance.

Terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and eligibility criteria apply. 

John Lewis Insurance is a trading name of John Lewis plc. Registered office: 171 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5NN. Registered in England (No. 233462). John Lewis plc is an appointed representative of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. John Lewis Pet Insurance is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc (No. 93792). Registered in England and Wales at St. Mark's Court, Chart Way, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 1XL. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register No. 202323). Calls may be recorded and monitored.

John Lewis Pet Insurance homepage

Looking for more information
about Pet Insurance?
Find out more here

Get a Pet Insurance quote