We’ve looked into the changing attitudes towards pet insurance and the ever evolving needs of customers across the UK. Uncovering what’s important to cat and dog owners when looking for cover for their 4-legged friends.
The facts from the
pet insurance survey 2020
Our 2,000 person survey – coupled with our own data – provides insights into the cost of pet insurance policies, cost of veterinary treatment, popularity of breeds, where our cats and dogs come from, which conditions lead to the most expensive claims, how pre-existing conditions affect pet insurance coverage and how many people would consider switching. Finally we’ve looked at satisfaction levels within pet insurance and renewal pricing – exploring at what level of increase pet owners look to shop around or even cancel cover entirely.
Cost of pet treatment
We asked 2,000 insured pet owners to estimate the cost of different veterinary treatment procedures. The responses for each condition included answers from both ends of the range offered – from the lowest (£1 – £250) to highest (£2501+).
In all instances our respondents gave answers from the lowest possible to the highest possible showing that the perception of vet costs ranges vastly, there is also a trend showing that disparity between costs increases amongst pet owners who have not needed to claim, who tend to think treatment will be cheaper than it actually is.
|Condition||Expected Ave. |
Cost of Treatment
|Actual Ave. |
Cost of Treatment
|Vomiting and Diarrhoea||£432||£618|
Pet insurance across the country
A key factor for the cost of pet insurance is postcode. Whether you live in the countryside versus bigger metropolitan cities can have a bearing upon the price that you pay.
In London our research shows that it costs on average £681 a year to insure cats and dogs. This is a whopping 92% higher than the next highest region – the West Midlands.
In part this is due to increases veterinary costs in London versus the rest of the country and the increased risk that pets are subject to in larger metropolitan cities.
Of course this price difference is not only to do with postcode, but could also be pet type, pet breed, propensity to make a claim, vet fee inflation and more.
Interestingly, there seems to be a positive relationship between more expensive average pet insurance premiums and the more people estimate how much it costs to look after their pet.
The major exception to this being the West Midlands where they pay the second highest pet insurance premiums but estimate pet care costs per year as the 4th lowest of all the regions.
Where our pets come from
The differences between cat and dog ownership when it comes to first getting a pet are interesting. Our research shows that:
- 5% of cat insurance holders are insuring pets that found them, from straying or personal rescue rather than proactively looking for a pet. Of this group, the data indicates that they spend less on average across both pet insurance policy costs (£151/year lower) and pet care generally (£275/year lower).
- 62% of only cat owners got their feline friend from either rehoming, adopting or from friends and family. While dog only owners tended to get their 4-legged friends from breeders.
- Those who got their pet from online adverts (like Pets4Homes and Gumtree) tended to spend on average 28% more on the average pet insurance policy and expected to pay on average 11% more than the average to look after their pets.
% breakdown of where cats and dogs come from
% breakdown of where cats come from
% breakdown of where dogs come from
The cost of pet ownership
Cat and dog owners estimate that it costs them an average of £1588 per year to look after their pet(s)
- 36% said £1-£1000
- 38% said £1001-£2000
- 15% said £2001-£3000
- While 12% said £3001+
They were asked to take into account food, vet bills, insurance, kennel fees, toys and other factors. Research from the PDSA indicates that the yearly cost of owning and looking after a dog can be anywhere up to £1,385 per year but without the initial cost of purchase or any costs of vet treatment.
Purchase costs can reach many thousands of pounds for more popular breeds like Cockapoos and French Bulldogs.
Our survey also found that the average cost of people’s most expensive claim was £1,532. With the average most expensive claim for a dog being £1,371 and for a cat at £1,706.
The most expensive individual claims reported were in excess of £15,000 for a Cavachon with a fluxating patella and a Rataneiro de Bodega requiring surgery on collapsed disks in its neck.
Eating a washing tablet left one dog needing £250 of vet treatment.
One cat fell through a rotten garden shed, resulting in £750 vet fees for the unfortunate owner.
Swallowing a rock from the garden left one owner with a £450 vet bill.
Stuck with providers
Once a pet suffers a condition then as an owner you will normally need to stay with your existing insurer to ensure that coverage for that condition continues. Unfortunately this can result in increased premiums each year. There are now providers, including Scratch & Patch, which look to offer consumers choice of switching pet insurance provider by covering their pet’s pre-existing conditions.
Of our respondents who didn’t have cover for their pets pre-existing conditions, 69% said they would consider taking out insurance to include this.
While 78% of respondents who were covered for pre-existing conditions said they would consider switching insurer if those conditions could be covered under their new provider.
The research also discovered that in order for cat and dog owners to consider switching pet insurance policies, the new insurance would need to be on average £47.40 less per year than their current renewal premium.
Would consider taking out insurance to include cover for pre-existing conditions
Would consider switching if pre-existing conditions could be covered
Reduction on the renewal price for people to switch
What prompts pet owners to shop around
While we identified how much of a saving people would want to see in order to switch. We also found what renewal increase would cause customers to switch or even cancel their cover altogether.
Increase upon renewal that prompts people to shop around
Increase upon renewal that prompts people to cancel and self-insure
The cancellation figure is interesting as we’ve seen that the average of most expensive claims sits at £1,532 with the average policy of £360 which – on paper – represents good value, but it shows how price sensitive pet insurance can be.
Couple this with the fact that just 22% of customers would recommend their pet insurer to a friend or colleague there are multiple reasons to switch not just for a better deal but also for better service.
The name of the UK's pets
Looking at our data and the survey responses we’ve been able to work out the most popular pet names in the UK. Using over 27,000 pet names Bella comes out as the most popular name for 2020, with Luna coming a very close second.