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Best in show – insurers pay out a record £706m in pet claims

  • A record £1.8 million being paid out in pet insurance claims every day as insurers received and paid out more claims in 2016 than ever before – over 2,500 claims every day.
  • Cost of average claim tops £750 for the first time, up from £720 in 2015.
  • Some animals appear to be more equal than others: owners of dogs are almost twice as likely to insure their pet as owners of cats.

Pet insurers paid out a record £706 million in pet insurance claims in 2016 – the equivalent of £1.8 million every day - to help the UK’s pet owners cope with the unexpected costs of owning their pet, such as vet’s bills, according to figures published during National Pet Month* by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) today.

The increase in claims and costs reflects the ever increasing range of veterinary treatments now available, as well as increasing vet bills. For example, £366 to treat a cat with lethargy and £3,400 to treat an English springer spaniel who swallowed a grass seed. However, despite rising claims, the vast majority of pet owners are not insuring their pets.

The figures show that in 2016:

  • The number and cost of claims reached record levels: 932,000 pet insurance claims were made. The amount paid out, at £706 million, was up 7% on the previous year’s figure of £657m.
  • The average claim was £757- up from £721 in 2015 - a 5% increase.
  • Pet insurers dealt with 708,000 claims for dogs, paying out £544m, up 9% from 2015 where insurers paid out £501m. For cats, 193,000 claims were handled, worth £112 million – a rise of 7% from 2015, in which insurers paid out £105m.
  • Owners of dogs are nearly twice as likely to insure their pet than owners of cats: 30% of the 8.5 million dog owners and just 16% of the 7.5 million cat owners are thought to have pet insurance.
  • The pet population stands at around 57 million, with an estimated 40% of households owning a pet.

Some of the more unusual pet insurance claims handled include:

  • Treating a Cocker Spaniel who swallowed a turkey baster on Christmas day. The total cost of treatment came to over £1,600.
  • Treating a Bearded Dragon with a jaw abscess, costing £410**
  • A white cockatoo with respiratory problems, cost of treatment came to £468**
  • A Burmese python who needed treatment for anorexia - £790**
  • An English springer spaniel needed treatment for falling ill from swallowing one tiny grass seed at a cost of £3,400.
  • The average cost of treating a cat with diabetes is £1,060. The average cost of treating a tumour for a cat is £687.

Rebecca Hollingsworth, General Insurance Policy Adviser at the ABI, said:

“Last year’s record levels of pet claims shows that owning a pet can not only be very rewarding, but also very costly. While it is good to see more pet policies in force, 70% of dogs and 85% of cats are not covered, this difference of 30% and 15% means that cat owners are twice as likely to risk expensive costs if their pet needs vet treatment.

“There is no NHS for pets, and the cost of getting quality veterinary treatment can quickly run into thousands of pounds, particularly with rising veterinary costs and a greater range of medical treatments for pets now available. Pet insurance gives you peace of mind that you won’t have to deny your pet life-saving treatment because the veterinary bills are too expensive.

“Pet insurance remains very competitive, so you can choose from a wide range of products depending on your pet’s needs.”


  - Ends –

Notes for Editors

*National Pet Month http://www.nationalpetmonth.org.uk/

**Exotic Direct Pet insurers https://www.exoticdirect.co.uk/


1. Enquiries to:
Malcolm Tarling            020 7216 7410    Mobile: 07776 147 667
Zoe Russell                  020 7216 7642    Mobile: 07540 203494
Sarah Cordey               020 7216 7375    Mobile: 07860 189071


2. The Association of British Insurers is the leading trade association for insurers and providers of long term savings. Our 250 members include most household names and specialist providers who contribute £12bn in taxes and manage investments of £1.9trillion.

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4. More news and information from the ABI is available on our web site, www.abi.org.uk.

Last updated 14/04/2017