Review: Animal Friends Pet Insurance

Dan Woolley
27 September 2021 - 7 min read

Key policy details for Animal Friends

Animal Friends actively supports animal welfare causes, and they have helped donate over £4m of donations to animal charities across the UK.

  • 12 policies available under four pet insurance categories that include: (Accident only, time limited, maximum benefit and lifetime)
  • Up to £6,000 vet fee cover on their Lifetime Prestige policy.

How Animal Friends compares to ManyPets

All ManyPets policies are lifetime, which means the vet fee cover level resets every year you renew so it can cover ongoing illness and conditions throughout the lifetime of your pet.

Animal Friends offers two lifetime policies. The maximum vet fee cover available is £6,000. This is lower than the £15,000 cover fee available with ManyPets Complete policy.

Animal Friends' lifetime policies fall under two policy types. The first has a vet fee limit for each condition. Once the fee limit has been reached, you cannot claim for that condition again until you renew your policy and the fee limit is reset. The second policy type has a yearly limit of either £3,000 or £5,000 for all vet fee claims.

ManyPets lifetime policies have an annual vet fee limit that resets each year you renew.

Unlike Animal Friends and many other pet insurers, all ManyPets policies cover conditions that ended more than two years ago. They also offer a policy that can cover more recent pre-existing conditions that ended at least three months ago.

ManyPetsalso provides a 15% multi-pet discount (Our multi-pet discount is not currently available on our Value 2k policy) but Animal Friends does not offer one.

If you're worried about your pet and need quick advice, Animal Friends customers can access their free video vet consultation service, Joii. Any questions or concerns can be discussed with a veterinary professional who will be available to help.

ManyPets also has a 24/7 free video consultation service available for customers. Through their partnership with FirstVet, pet owners can speak with a qualified vet through the FirstVet app.

We've compared the top levels of cover that ManyPets and Animal Friends offer. The table uses our Complete policy.

ManyPetsAnimal Friends
Maximum vet fee cover£15,000 (Lifetime)£6,000 (Lifetime)
Video vet calls as standardYesYes
Claims waiting period is removed if you switch to the providerYesYes
Lifetime coverYesVaries (2 types of lifetime policies available)
Excess payableOnce per yearPer new claim
Multi-pet discount15% discount for pets insured on the same policyNo
Cover for dental accidents and illnessYesYes (only available on Prestige Lifetime policy)

Animal Friends on Watchdog, 15th October 2015

BBC Watchdog featured three customers of Animal Friends who were unhappy with their experience of claiming on their pet insurance.

The first case centred around a term in Animal Friends' policy stating that out-of-hours vet treatment is only covered in life-threatening circumstances. The owner had been concerned that her dog had developed a serious medical condition called Alabama Rot, and had therefore gone to the vet out of hours at the weekend. Thankfully it turned out that the dog's symptoms were related to a less serious condition, and with medication, he made a full recovery. Animal Friends would not pay the full amount of the claim, however, as the condition had not in fact been life-threatening - despite the owner's fears.

The second case involved another technicality, where a dog was receiving vet treatment at the exact moment when the pet insurance policy renewed. Animal Friends paid the customer's claim, but charged the policy excess twice, arguing that the claim had spanned two policy years.

The main implication, if you are considering buying pet insurance from any insurer, is to make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully to know what is and isn't covered. In both these cases, Animal Friends was acting in line with the contract they had with their customers.

The third case Watchdog presented was of a different nature. Another dog owner had bought a lifetime pet insurance policy. Her dog subsequently developed several long-term medical conditions, which Animal Friends paid out for over a number of years. However, the cost of the insurance increased very substantially each year, with the most recent annual renewal coming in at a cost of several thousand pounds - so much that the customer felt she needed to cancel her policy.

Below is Animal Friends' statement in response to the Watchdog programme, which they have also published on their website. According to Animal Friends, the BBC declined to read the statement in full.

Sarah Duncan

Sarah’s claim was presented to us as a skin lesion. She thought that her dog Daisy might have had Alabama Rot and went to her vet out of hours. Whilst we do respect Sarah’s decision to take Daisy to the vet, it is evident from the supporting clinical notes that Sarah’s vets were not concerned about Alabama Rot and conservatively treated the lesion with cream. The vet did however still charge an out of hours fee uplift which we do make very clear is only covered where treatment is required as a result of a life endangering condition. This is in common with industry-wide practice. Our underwriters were happy to settle the treatment fees and a standard consultation fee after the deduction of the policy excess.

Elaine McGregor

Elaine first told us that her dog had escaped through an open gate onto the road directly outside her home. We therefore had no option but to conclude, on her own evidence, that her dog had not been kept securely. This would not be covered under the policy. Elaine then gave us a far more detailed explanation which we reviewed with our underwriters. As a result, we were able to overturn the original decision and pay her claim which also included paying for ongoing subsequent treatment.

As to the excess point, an excess is applied to an ongoing claim in each policy year. Had Elaine’s dog’s treatment started a few days before and continued a week later for example she would have paid two excesses. It has only come into the spotlight here because of the coincidence that treatment passed the midnight of her policy anniversary. The crucial point to make here is that her policy benefits – £2,000 for vets’ fee cover per year – also reinstated as midnight passed so she had a further £2,000 of cover for that same condition. Indeed Animal Friends did continue to pay treatment costs for this very condition well into the following period of insurance.

Samantha Mossman

Samantha’s premium reflected a very unique set of circumstances. Our underwriters’ systems automatically apply premium adjustments given certain factual inputs, such as exceptional claims frequency. Very occasionally, in rare cases, this can result in a substantial premium. In light of Samantha’s case we have discussed underwriters’ processes with them and have put in place new checks and balances to ensure that even rare and unusual cases can be dealt with more sympathetically in the future. To this end we shall be in contact with Samantha shortly.

We deal with hundreds of thousands of claims a year so feedback is always important to us as we are constantly seeking ways to provide the best service to our customers. We are proud to consistently achieve leading customer review ratings and to have won a number of awards, voted for by our customers, for claims handling and customer service. This has included two awards for Best Pet Insurance Provider this year alone. Your viewers will be able to find details of our consumer-led awards and links to independent customer review sites showing an overwhelmingly positive response from our customers at www.animalfriends.co.uk. This is further underlined by the fact that in the last 6 months alone we have paid over £28 million in claims payments.

Our ethical position

We understand that you have retained an expert who may say on your programme that our decisions in the three highlighted cases were legally correct but ‘morally very doubtful’ and that they question our ethical policy. Such a view would be seriously misguided. As an insurance business, we are required to make decisions in accordance with the terms and conditions of our underwriters’ policy and we strive to do so fairly. Animal Friends will not insure risks we consider unethical and we continue to donate large amounts of own profits to animal charities worldwide, to date in excess of £2.28m, so it would be quite wrong to suggest we are not an ethical company or that it is wrong to promote ourselves as such.