Pet insurance is for many people an essential expense of owning their dog or cat, because without it they’d be unable to fund veterinary treatment if needed in an emergency. 

However, there is no escaping the fact that pet insurance can be expensive, particularly for certain pets like very large dogs such as the Great Dane, and certain breeds of both dogs and cats that have higher risks of health problems, like French bulldogs and Persians respectively.

Whether your own pet is insured to a very high level or if you don’t think insurance makes good financial sense and prefer to self-fund any veterinary treatments that might be needed, insuring your cat or dog is certainly something that most pet owners explore when they first start researching ownership.

If you are at the research stage yourself and are trying to decide if pet insurance is a good idea or how much it might cost; and even what most other pet owners choose to do in terms of insuring or not – this article has some interesting statistics to provide guidance.

Read on to learn more from six interesting statistics about pet insurance in the UK.

What proportion of the UK’s dogs are insured?

Based on the results of a PDSA survey from 2018, 57% of dogs are insured, and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) noted in 2017 that the percentage of dog owners who were insuring their pets each year was on the rise too. In 2017, only 33% of the UK’s dogs were insured, according to the ABI.

In terms of actual figures, the ABI reckons this means that around 2.8 million of the UK’s dogs are actually insured, although of course the level of coverage for any given dog can vary widely.

However, it is important to note that the PDSA’s 57% figure from 2018 and the ABI’s 33% figure from 2017 were drawn from different methodologies, survey respondents and datasets, and so this does necessarily mean that 24% more dog owners insured their dogs between those two years; however, it would appear that more and more dog owners each year do opt to insure their pets.

This may be because the average dog owner doesn’t really know how much veterinary treatment can cost and how quickly it can all add up, but having to self-fund one incident or condition of seeing a friend need to do so soon brings this home. This means that the longer someone has been a dog owner for, the more aware they’re likely to become about the costs and so, the more likely to seek insurance as their dog gets older.

What proportion of the UK’s cats are insured?

When it comes to cats, however, the majority of the UK’s feline population are uninsured.

The ABI states the uninsured figure as around 84% as of 2017. Again, the PDSA’s 2018 survey figures look a little different, stating that 62% of cats are uninsured, which is rather lower than the ABI percentage. Once more, the different methodologies involved in the two datasets mean that these figures should not be compared like-for-like.

That said, it is certainly true that people are far less likely to insure cats than dogs; potentially because cats are wrongly seen by many as a cheap, low maintenance or largely self-sufficient pet, and also are less likely to result in the need for third party liability insurance.

Around 1.3 million of the UK’s cats are insured according to the ABI, and the PDSA puts the total number of pet cats in the UK at around 10.9 million.

What is the average annual price of a pet insurance policy?

Average prices for pet insurance policies should not be viewed as a guide of what you might need to pay to insure your own pet, because the cost of a policy can vary so wildly, and there are so many factors to consider. Species, breed, prior health, age, area of the country and other factors are all integral, and there really is no way to make a like for like comparison.

The best way to find out the average cost for a pet insurance policy for the type of pet you own is to get a theoretical quote from a number of insurers. 

That said, the across-the-board averaged price of pet insurance policies in the UK for one year is £279 as of 2018, according to the ABI. This might be the sort of annual average someone owning a domestic moggy in good health and not yet having reached old age might pay for a moderate level of coverage; but for the average owner of a large dog breed that is somewhat older, this figure might realistically reflect around the amount they pay for the policy per month, not per year!

What is the average cost of an individual pet insurance claim?

The same caveats apply to the average cost of an individual pet insurance claim too, as there really is no “average.” A one-off claim for a simple condition or minor accident might be as little as £200 or so; for a major accident or complex health condition, a claim might be over ten thousand pounds, and vet’s fees really have no potential upper ceiling other than the ability of the owner to pay, or the limit of the policy covering it.

With this in mind, what is the overall average cost of a pet insurance claim in the UK? £793, as of 2018. The average cost of claims has risen quite steeply of recent years to; the 2017 average claim value was £757, but four years prior in 2013, it was just £300.

These figures are based on data provided to the ABI by pet insurers that are members of the ABI, which does not include all pet insurance companies in the UK.

Pet insurers cite the increasing costs of veterinary treatment as the cause of the increase in claim values.

How much do pet insurers pay out each year on claims?

In terms of the total amount of money that UK pet insurance companies pay out on claims each year, the figure provided by the ABI for 2018 is a whopping £785,000,000, or £785 million pounds.

How much have pet insurance policies and pay outs increased over the last decade?

Most pet owners with insurance are used to their annual policies increasing each year, although the amount can be variable, and results from a wide range of factors, not all of which insurance companies share with their customers.

However, based on ABI member information once again, over the course of the last decade, the cost of the average pet insurance policy has risen by 50%!

Interestingly though, the cost of the average claim has gone up by 75% during the same period – and so whilst a 50% increase in policy costs might seem very steep, it still isn’t keeping pace with the like-for-like increase in average claim value during the same period of time, which as mentioned, insurance companies assign to the increasing cost of the average veterinary bill.