When it comes to selecting the perfect pet insurance for your four-legged friend, peace of mind comes from knowing you’ve chosen the full coverage your beloved animal deserves. Keeping our pets happy and healthy relies on providing a supportive medical and financial framework covering any eventuality, however unforeseen, should a pet owner sadly have to make a claim.
With a range of pet insurance options on the market, all with tiered pricing structures, it can be difficult for first-timers to decide which one will suit their pet – and the various jargon terms don’t help – lifetime cover, pre-existing conditions, variable excess, co-payment and so on. And, with clever marketing communications and promotions designed to accelerate the decision-making process, you can be rushed into making hasty choices. All insurances have a cooling off period – if you do decide too change your mind in that period then you can cancel without any financial penalty.
So which policy should you go for? And how do you know what’s best for your pet? Naturally, we believe Emerald Life Pet Insurance to be an excellent option, with a range of flexible policies and a strong customer focus should you need to make a claim, talk to a vet or any other way that we can help.
But there are other companies out there. In this article, we’ll be providing an Animal Friends Pet Insurance review, weighing up the pros and cons of their product offering, as well as providing an insight into their customer journey.
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Animal Friends Pet Insurance – their policies
Animal Friends Pet Insurance offers several policy tiers for pets – in this case dogs, cats, and horses. For adult dogs and cats, the main policies provided currently include Accident Only, Time Limited, Max Benefit, and Lifetime.
As always, it is important for consumers to understand the limitations of each policy and what is the cover available. For example, at the time of writing, the listed options are not available to all dog and cat breeds, even though they are all your pets. While most other providers will generally quote higher for such breeds, Animal Friends Pet Insurance includes an ‘excluded breeds’ list on its product page, showing those it outright proscribes from its policies. There is also an obligation to disclose pre-existing conditions, as if you fail to disclose pre-existing conditions, then your cover might be void.
Each policy includes a detailed description of its coverage, with a comprehensive policy document available to download from its website. These documents provide a full list of conditions, providing a detailed summary of its key points and procedures and details how how to make a claim and how claims are handled, how to use a vet, treatment options etc.
Before deciding on a policy, customers would be well advised to read these documents thoroughly. There’s a lot of terms, conditions, and exclusions here, so it’s well worth making sure the coverage is what you’re looking for, particularly if there are special conditions that you want covered.
In terms of its website, while presented in a clean, user-friendly manner, its product breakdown could be a little bit clearer. For first time users, sifting through their pricing structures and timeframes could present a challenge. A simple, bulleted list of key features that cover pets would, in our opinion, help users better understand which option suits them. On the plus side though, their quote process is beautifully mapped out, and the process is very clear and to-the-point.
As the cheapest option on offer, the Accident Only policy provided by Animal Friends only covers vet fees for injuries and complications arising from accidents. It does not, as its website makes clear, cover ‘illnesses or diseases, nor provide any other benefit’.
Ongoing accident-only cover of £2,500 per accident per year is available up to a lifetime limit of £15,000 for each accident, as long as the policy is active. This policy also includes a vet excess of £99, which is a reasonable excess when looking at the fees that you might incur with a vet. The final thing customers should consider is that a co-payment is currently payable on claims if you renew your policy after cat turns 10, and after your dog turns 8.
This option provides cover for accidents, illnesses and conditions up to a maximum of 365 days from onset or until the individual condition limit is reached. In contrast to the accident-only policy, the time-limited option does provide protection against acute illnesses and conditions, and other short-term health issues.
The time limited policy also provides a host of other benefits for its customers. These include:
- Public Liability
- Theft & Straying
- Advertising & Reward
- Boarding Kennel
- Death of Pet cover
- Overseas Travel Cover
- Holiday Cancellation
Max benefit policy
The Max benefit policy provides cover for accidents, illnesses and conditions up to the cover limit with no time restrictions. Within this policy, there are three extra options: Max Value, Max Plus, and Max Extra. These all vary by lifetime condition limit, and currently represent the most flexible policy type available through Animal Friends. Also included is the full list of supplementary benefits listed for the time-limited policy above, such as public liability.
Providing the most comprehensive coverage of them all, the Lifetime Policy provided by Animal Friends offers ongoing cover for vets fees arising from long-term, chronic or recurring conditions, as well as short term illness and injury. Applying to both cats and dogs, the policy also provides cover for conditions such as diabetes or arthritis which require treatment over a long period of time, as well as public liability.
Animal Friends Pet Insurance – our verdict
Pet owners will find a lot to love about Animal Friends Pet Insurance and their policies. While policies vary in terms of length, cost, premium and type of cover offered, there are plenty of packages to suit everyone’s requirements with differing levels of premium to suit most pockets.
With over 20 years experience as pet insurance experts, its service seems well suited to address the primary requirements of pet owners. Not only do they offer a basic healthcare package, but they include bonus services also, including protection against theft, travel cover, and public liability.
In addition, its charitable work is clearly a huge focus for the company, with policyholders helping to donate over £5.6 million to over 500 charities worldwide, according to its online website. This all helps to establish their trusted, value-oriented business that customers can feel good about choosing.
In terms of customer handling, it provides numerous options to get in touch, including telephone (Mon- Sat), email, and a live chat function. One common gripe with pet insurance companies is a lack of transparency when it comes to handling complaints and addressing customer concerns.
While the complaints procedure featured on its website seems thorough enough, it is the adequacy of the customer team itself which is the primary issue. As we’ll touch on later – a fair few have voiced their concerns online about the difficulty in getting through to a responsive member of the team.
In identifying the root cause of such complaints, perhaps a criticism could be made of the clarity and simplicity of the producing offering itself, which – while comprehensive and detail-oriented – could confuse people about what they’re getting themselves into. In particular, a lack of clarity over what constitutes an existing condition has led to a number of users becoming upset over the company’s refusal to cover specific health complaints. Having such information inserted more prominently into its product page and within the insurance policy wording will help ensure customers have a clear idea about what their plan covers, and what it doesn’t.
What people are saying
As it currently stands, Animal Friends Pet Insurance has a Trustpilot score of 4.3, left by cat dog and horse owners we presume! Amassing over 22 thousand reviews, its customer service team appears adept at addressing some of the key concerns voiced by some of its reviewers. Most of the issues raised by customers concern a perceived unwillingness to pay out for certain issues, particularly relating to what qualifies under the accident and emergency category. Overall, it appears that the company take a firm line on identifying long-running health problems, and refusing to pay out when they deem an issue to fall under that category.
In a few more egregious examples, people have alleged that the company went against the opinion of a professional vet, to rule that a condition is classed as long-term, rather than something which could be claimed for. Whatever the truth of the matter, it seems some of the loose definitions around the accident-only policy has led to some tricky situations for pet owners and the insurance provider itself. Perhaps Animal Friends Pet Insurance could make these terms a bit clearer for people in their pet insurance policy wording, and help them understand some of their restrictions a bit clearer.
Another issue relates to the availability of its customer service team, with a few people claiming they have been forced to wait an unnecessary amount of time to hear back about a claim dispute. One user complains of having to wait 15-20 minutes on-hold while their concern was being addressed. While it is preferable of course not to have to spend any time on hold, sometimes the more complex questions do take a bit of time to discuss and resolve.
While it appears the Animal Friends Pet Insurance reviews are predominantly positive (although no cats, dogs or horses were interviewed!), with no problems reported by many, it seems that one area that could be lacking relates to customer service enquiries, and managing issues quickly and effectively. With their increased customer numbers, perhaps further investment in infrastructure is required in order to keep their full client base happy.
So is it worth it?
We’re pretty impressed by Animal Friends Pet Insurance. With a wealth of positive reviews from owners of cats, dogs – and horses – it seems like many customers have had a great experience with this company, while a number of issues still need ironing out.
Their website contains all the information you’ll need to make an informed decision about their products, which is particularly important when lockdown restrictions make it more difficult for face-to-face consultations. They also do a good job of supplying some extra benefits, which for many window shoppers might tip the balance when they see what is covered. Their commitment to charitable donations, for example, is a great incentive for those looking to make a decision using their heart, as well as their head.
Many potential customers will be attracted to the company, due to its recent streak of victories at the annual Personal Finance Awards, winning the Best Pet Insurance accolade two years running. One of the perceived drawbacks to the company though, is its relatively high excess amount, compared to other companies, as well as the issues with covering existing health conditions, which has been touched on earlier. All in all, the average pet-owner will find a lot to love in the policies that are currently available, with a range of policies varying by time, and the amount of coverage available.
As always, it is best to shop around thoroughly to determine which offer is right for you. When it comes to achieving that peace of mind every pet insurance claimant requires, there are a range of packages provided by Animal Friends Pet Insurance which will tick a lot of boxes. But a few boxes are still left unticked, and it is up to the consumer to make an informed decision based on their own needs. Worried about the existing health conditions issue? Or looking for a cheaper option? Perhaps you’d rather opt for another pet insurance provider, who sell a similarly comprehensive range of policies, but who provide a simpler service without the drawbacks of arguing back and forth with customer service about a potential payout.
At Emerald Life Pet insurance, we believe everyone deserves effortless access to expert pet care through excellent pet insurance policies. With a simplified range of policies available, alongside a clearly delineated product list, consumers would be well minded to include Emerald on their list of potential suppliers. Not only will users enjoy a well-rounded user experience, but they’ll also have instant, stress-free access to a range of support options, if and when further information is required. We pride ourselves on delivering the best overall service for existing and potential customers, and our friendly and accessible team are always on hand to provide high quality expertise and recommendations based upon your pet’s needs.
Is there something you’re not quite sure about in the world of pet insurance? Don’t worry – we were all there at one point – our qualified experts are ready and willing to guide you through the entire process, explaining all the key terms in a way well suited to beginners and experienced pet insurance shoppers alike. And if you’re looking to switch from your current provider, we have a competitive pricing list that we’re confident will suit your needs.
Who are Animal Friends underwritten by?
Animal Friends Pet Insurance are underwritten by Red Sands Insurance Company (Europe) Limited (RSE). RSE are members of the Association of British Insurers, in addition to the protection provided by the Financial Ombudsman Scheme and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. RSE were Licensed by the Gibraltar Financial Service Commission in January 2004.
Do Animal Friends pay the vet directly?
According to their website, Animal Friends Pet Insurance can pay your vet directly at their discretion. This can be done by ticking the ‘Pay my vet directly’ box on the claim form. Alternatively, your vet can claim directly by using Pawtal, the company’s online claim system for vets only.
Classification: Animal Friends Insurance Policy Review/Animal Friends Offers/Animal Friends Insurance Cover/Pet Insurance Policies/Pet Insurance Policy/Pet Insurance Review.
Emerald Life is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.