Pet insurers paid out £602m in claims in 2014 – the equivalent of £1.65m a day and an increase of nearly 15% on the previous year – according to the latest figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

Despite 3.5m UK pets being covered by insurance policies, a far greater proportion are not covered.

The good news is the number of UK animals covered by pet insurance policies is rising and has, for the first time, passed the 3.5 million mark. But this still leaves a far greater proportion not covered.

ABI says out of an estimated dog population of nine million, approximately 2.4 million are covered by pet insurance, leaving nearly 75% of dog owners without it.

For cats, 15% benefit from pet insurance – around 1.2 million out of an estimated population of 7.9 million.

Insurers are also providing cover for more than 250,000 other pets, such as horses, rabbits and exotic animals including snakes.

The average cost of a claim also rose by 7% between 2013 and 2014, according to the latest ABI data. It says a typical claim now costs £679, while for dogs it’s slightly higher at £683.

Mark Shepherd, general insurance manager at ABI – which does not sell insurance, but speaks on behalf of UK insurers – said: “It’s good to see an increase in the number of animals and their owners now benefiting from the protection offered by pet insurance. However, it remains a concern the majority of pet owners in the UK don’t have any cover in place.”

Despite this, he said there was a “highly competitive market for pet insurance”, meaning customers can choose from a wide range of products that offer different levels of cover depending on their needs.

He said: “It’s encouraging to see more consumers taking advantage of this, and the hope is other owners will give thought to how they would cope if their pet fell dangerously ill or had a serious accident.”

  • For the full article by David Woodmansey, see this week’s Veterinary Times (Vol 45, No 36).
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