Pet Insurance

The What's, the Why's and the How-to's

Although we can't help you choose a specific policy  or provider as we are not regulated by the FCA. We can explain the differences in the polices and the benefits for having a policy in place.

We would advise a lifelong or recurring policy with at least £7000 for dogs and £6000 for cats per condition, per policy year. 

What are the different types of policies?

  • Lifelong or lifetime – these policies will cover the animal for accidents or new medical conditions up to a chosen amount per condition per year, for the lifetime of that animal. For each new policy year, the financial pot refills for each condition. These tend to be the most comprehensive policies and therefore often the most expensive. 
  • Money limited – these policies will pay out a maximum amount per condition. Once that limit is reached, any further bills linked to that condition will have to be settled by the owner. However there is usually no time limit on the money available. 
  • Time limited – these policies will pay up to a set amount per condition. But only for a certain amount of time, often only for the first 12 months of the condition. Anything beyond that must be paid by the owner
  • Accident only – the most basic policy and does what it says on the tin. Only accidents and injuries are claimable, not illnesses, and often only for the first 12 months of bills.

Should I change Insurance companies yearly to get the best deal?

No, You should ideally choose a policy suitable for your needs and stick with it as when you take out a new policy any illnesses or accidents that have required treatment will generally be classed as a pre-exisiting condition.

These are things your pet may have suffered with, or that have been noted in the clinical notes in the past, before you took out the policy and are very rarely covered by insurance. This is especially something to keep in mind if you switch insurance provider during your pet’s lifetime. However, some companies place a time limit on this. So, for example, if it hasn’t been a problem for a certain amount of time, they may cover it. 

Why do I really need it?

One in three pets require non routine veterinary treatment each year, having insurance in place can relieve some of the financial stress of owning a Pet and knowing there is money available when you need it the most.

For example, if your dog has a really nasty case of haemorrhagic gastroenteritis and requires hospitalisation, fluid therapy and laboratory samples this can add up to at least £800 or if have an accident whilst chasing a squirrel and rupture their cruciate ligament this specialist operation can cost in the region of £4000 or more.

Some policies will also cover for extras. Such as kennel stays, travel costs and help if your pet is lost or stolen. For dog owners, the inclusion of third party liability insurance as mentioned above, can be vital.

I have pet insurance in place, how do I make a claim?

Here at Downwood, we do not generally accept direct claims. We would kindly ask you to settle the account first and then we will aim to submit the claim direct to your insurer's within 14 days. We do make a charge of £27.85 for the completion of insurance claims. This is applied to the initial claim, if any continuations are made within 12 months for the same condition there will not be any further administration charges made by ourselves.  

  • Paper claims:  You should be able to either download a form or phone your insurance company to ask for one to be sent. This form can then be filled in  by the policyholder, scanned and emailed to us at or posted / brought in to the surgery for us to complete our section. Once this has been completed we will email it straight back to your insurance company along with your pet's full history.

  • Portal claims:  Especially since covid more and more companies are going paper free, simply login to your account online  and head over to the "how to claim" section where it will give you directions on how to start a claim. Some companies then just email us a link to submit all the necessary information back to them. ( including Direct line, Sainsbury's bank, Argos, many pets). Petplan have a dedicated Vet portal where we can upload the information to but you will need to start the claim from their website.

For AFI (Animal friends) insurance claims, we will just need your policy number / email address / address and surname to start the claim. These can be emailed to  us at

Continuation claims

Most insurance companies (with the exception of Direct Line, who automatically send further links to submit continuation claims) will require a form / link to be given to us to complete for ongoing claims.  We are happy to submit continuation claims as often as you would like, but we would suggest you make ongoing claims monthly or every 3 months. With AFI claims, just let me know when you would like a continuation sent.

If you require any further help or guidance, please feel free to email Natalie Head RVN who is our insurance claim handler at