A new study of UK pet owners has revealed why pet insurance companies may struggle to appeal to different sectors of the market.

According to the report – which contains online survey responses of 1,008 UK pet owners with pet insurance and 504 UK pet owners without – less affluent pet owners perceive cover to be too expensive, whereas the better off often pay for operations and treatment out of their own pocket.

The research, which compares to a similar 2012 study, shows the main factors limiting the uptake of pet insurance are poor value for money (39% of pet owners without insurance) and the high cost of premiums (26% of these respondents). Both of these factors were found to be more important than research from the 2012 survey.

The survey also found words uninsured pet owners most associate with pet insurance are “expensive” (68%) and “waste of money” (30%). And even 57% of those with insurance deemed it expensive. However, pet insurance policy holders also believe such insurance gives peace of mind (78%) and is essential (49%).

It was also found there has been an increased propensity to self-finance vet bills over the past two years. Almost one in five (19%) say they can afford to pay for any treatment out of their own pockets, up 4% from 2012. 13% also said they save money each month in case they need to pay bills.

This suggests, said YouGov, self-financing of veterinary bills had become easier over the past two years.

Research director of YouGov James McCoy said: “Although social grade is important to being able to afford to take out pet insurance, our research suggests those at different ends of the financial spectrum share the opinion that cover is not necessarily always a sound financial option.

“More affluent pet owners find insurance poor value because they can afford to pay for treatment up front, and for less affluent pet owners, while pet insurance is perceived as offering good value for money, the cost of premiums is prohibitive, leading some to save money instead.”

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