Pet Insurance Jargon

Pet Insurance Jargon

Pet insurance is an integral part of the process of buying a new pet. The excitement of bringing your new family member home means that purchasing pet insurance can sometimes be overlooked.

Purchasing pet insurance can often be confusing and it is tempting to buy the cheapest option available; nevertheless, it is of paramount importance that you get the right cover to suit both yourself and your pet.

To help make the decision a little easier, we’ve collated 10 of the most commonly used pet insurance terms* and explained them for your ease:

  1. Types Of Cover: For many pet owners, this is often the most confusing of all pet

I. Accident Only – Covers vets fees following an accident/injury only (but not illness) up to the policy benefit/limit per condition

II. 12 Month / Time Limited – Covers vets fees following an accident, injury & illness up to the policy benefit/limit per condition for the first 12 months from the on-set of the condition

III. Maximum Benefit / Benefit Limited – Covers vets fees following an accident, injury & illness up to the policy benefit/limit per condition with no onward time limit

IV. Lifetime – Covers vets fees following an accident, injury & illness up to the policy benefit/limit per condition with no onward time limit – the policy benefit re-loads at each annual renewal date of the policy. You are not fixing the rate of the policy by purchasing a lifetime cover; it may rise or fall in line with costs of different policies. 

  1. Complementary/Alternative Medicine: This is the name given to treatment which may not be considered to be part of stereotypical medical care; in short, this may be used alongside conventional health care treatments, and thus be complementing the treatment that your pet is currently undergoing. This often refers to ‘natural’ treatments, e.g. homeopathy. 
  1. Accidental Damage: If your pet damages someone else’s property, your insurer will compensate the third party for any accidental losses. This often does NOT cover the personal property of yourself, any family member, anybody lives in your home, works for you, or looks after your pet. 
  1. Dentistry: This may be covered in your policy, although will not be covered as a result of illness. Some providers only cover dentistry of milk teeth, but check the terms and conditions as it can cover all teeth in certain circumstances. 
  1. Pre-existing medical conditions: If your pet has previously had an ear infection, or something that required a similar level of treatment, this must be declared – no matter how benign. Even if your pet has not suffered from this again since the previous treatment, it needs to be stated and if it is not, your insurance company may not be willing to pay out should your pet need future treatment. 
  1. Co-Payment: The excess is your contribution to the costs of treating your pet. The fixed excess is an amount that you are required to pay towards the cost of any veterinary fees. Some providers may apply an additional percentage deduction on claims if the pet is above a certain age or in the terms of insurance this is known as a Co-Payment. This is charged as a percentage of the remaining veterinary fees after the fixed excess has been deducted. The percentage can vary from policy to policy, but 10% or 20% is common. The insurance firm meet the majority of the costs subjects to the claim being accepted. 
  1. Emergency boarding: Your insurer may reimburse you boarding fees up to a certain amount in a licensed boarding establishment. This could apply if during your insurance period, you fall ill and need to stay in hospital for a period of time, or a family member that lives with you falls ill over a continuous period. If there is someone available to tend to your pet that would be preferable, but in the case that this is not achievable the emergency boarding may be of use.
  1. Pet travel scheme costs: Often referred to as ‘PETS’ this government scheme allows you to take your pet abroad to specified countries and re-enter the UK without your pet needing to go into quarantine, on the condition that certain criteria has been adhered to. 
  1. Cremation/Burial costs: Your insurer will pay up to the maximum amount payable towards costs to bury or cremate your pet if your pet dies, or is put to sleep by a vet as a result of any illness or injury. 
  1. Advertising/Reward costs: If your pet is lost, stolen or missing, insurers will often reimburse the costs of advertising in your local paper/newsletter and give you the choice of offering a suitable reward for recovery of the pet which must be confirmed with your insurer prior to being advertised.


Always check the full policy details for the level of cover you are interested in purchasing, whether you purchase online, or via the telephone.

*Exact definition of terms will differ depending on your insurance provider.  The above definitions are sourced from a variety of different insurance providers.