The ManyPets guide to pet insurance for rescue dogs

4 December 2023 - 6 min read

If you’ve just picked up a dog or puppy from the local shelter or pound, you’re probably planning to spoil them rotten.

You’ve chosen a comfy bed and dozens of toys, but make sure you consider dog insurance too. It can help keep them healthy and happy for years to come.

Can I get pet insurance for a rescue dog?

Pet insurance for rescue dogs is exactly the same as pet insurance for animals from a breeder. We won’t even ask whether your dog’s a rescue animal when you get a quote with us.

That means your rescue pet won’t be any more expensive to insure, just because you’re not the first family they’ve had.

The only thing that might be slightly different when you get pet insurance quotes is that it can be a bit harder to answer some of the questions.

You might not know your dog’s exact age, or whether they’ve ever been ill before. It might even be difficult to confidently say what breed they are as you never saw their parents.

But don’t worry, we can guide you through those questions when you get a quote with us.

When should I insure my rescue dog?

When you bring your rescue dog home, they’re in a new environment, which can mean a new set of dangers and hazards. It’s surprising how many rescue dogs turn out to be skilled escape artists when they’re introduced to the garden for the first time.

Because of that, you’ll want to make sure your dog is insured from the earliest possible opportunity. Once you know what day you’ll be collecting your rescue dog, you can set up a pet insurance policy to begin on that day.

Just be aware that pet insurance policies have a ‘wait period’ at the start where you won’t be covered. For example, ManyPets policies have a wait period of 48 hours for accidents and 14 days for illnesses.

Do rescue dogs come with insurance?

Lots of dog rescues have a policy of rehoming animals with a few weeks’ insurance in place, but the insurance usually doesn’t automatically continue after the free period – you’ll need to decide whether you want to carry on with that insurer or switch to a different one.

The free policy is useful in case your new pet has a mishap or bout of illness shortly after they join your family, especially if you’re in a wait period for whatever pet insurance policy you’ve chosen to take out for them.

That means you’d have to make sure the new policy is in place two weeks before your free insurance ends.

You'll need to check with both your 'free insurance' provider and your new provider whether it’s possible to have two policies in place at the same time.

How do I get a pet insurance quote for a rescue dog?

There are a few details you need to know to get a pet insurance quote for a rescue dog.

When you get a quote from us we’ll ask:

You must answer all questions honestly and to the best of your knowledge. It’s a good idea to have things to hand like your dog’s vaccination card or any other details that the rescue centre gave you when you took your new friend home.

They’ll have recorded your dog’s approximate date of birth, breed and any previous medical problems they’ve had, or vet treatment administered while they were at the shelter.

As long as you stick to the details given to you by the rescue centre, you’re answering honestly and should have no issues if you later need to make a claim.

Insuring a foreign rescue dog

Lots of people choose to adopt dogs from countries like Spain, Bulgaria, Turkey or Romania and there are now lots of rescue organisations with good UK-based support and processes.

Insuring a rescue dog from overseas isn’t really much different to insuring one born in the UK. Insurers don’t ask where your dog’s from, just as they don’t ask whether they’re a rescue dog.

One thing that can be more challenging is finding your dog’s breed on the standard lists offered by insurers when you try to get a quote.

“Usually it’s quite straightforward with the insurance,” says Amee Townsend, president and founder of Spanish Stray Dogs UK. “Many of our dogs are crossbreeds so they get marked as a cross in their passport and that’s what the insurance takes them on as.”

Some pet insurance providers and comparison sites don’t include Bulgarian Karakachans, Romanian Miortic Shepherds or even the terrier-like Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz from Spain on their lists. But at ManyPets you can get a quote for all these exotic canines and their cross breeds.

“We have Podencos (like Otis, pictured here) but most people know this breed now,” says Amee.

Indeed, we easily found ‘Podenco’ at ManyPets, but other insurers and comparison sites have variations including ‘Portuguese Podengo’, ‘Podenco Canario’ and even ‘Andalusian Podenco’.

If you’re struggling to find your dog’s breed, check there isn’t a UK version of the name, or a slightly different spelling.

If you’re still unable to find it, don’t give up. It just means you might have to contact insurers by phone to give them an accurate description of your pet instead.

Can I insure older rescue dogs?

Some insurers will have an upper age limit for taking out a new policy, but ManyPets can insure rescue animals of any age, including insurance for older dogs.

Dogs and cats do tend to be more expensive to insure as they age. To help keep premiums more affordable you’ll pay a 20% co-payment towards each claim if your dog or cat’s nine or older and you won’t be able to choose a no-excess policy. You can choose a higher excess to lower your premium.

But our Complete policy has a £15,000 annual limit that refreshes each year and even includes dental illness to help take the best care of your pet as they age.

Insuring rescue dogs with pre-existing health conditions

Sadly, some rescue animals will have suffered health issues in the past. Some dogs are signed over to shelters simply because their previous owner couldn’t afford to pay to treat a previous health condition.

Others are older animals that have been rehomed and have had some treatment for age-related conditions.

Even puppies might have been rescued from puppy farms or backyard breeders, where inbreeding or poor nutrition have caused short or long-term health issues.

You’ll still be able to insure your rescue dog for any new conditions they develop, although most insurers won’t cover anything they’ve suffered from in the past.

But we want you to have many more happy years with your rescue pet, so at ManyPets we can cover previous conditions in two ways:

  • On all our policies you’ll be covered for any conditions your pet has had in the past, as long as the issue ended more than two years ago.

  • If you want some cover for more recent conditions, take a look at our Pre-existing policy.

ManyPets’s pre-existing policy can be a fantastic option for a rescue pet with a known potential issue,” says Sarah Dawson,  ManyPets’s vet relationship manager and a qualified veterinary nurse.

But of course, if your new friend was abandoned or found straying, you might not know much at all about their past.

“A limited medical history can be a worry for a potential new owner, but in my experience taking a rescue dog into your home doesn’t mean an increased risk of your pet developing a health issue, any more than buying a new puppy,” says Sarah.

In Sarah’s experience it’s often behaviour rather than health problems that can - unjustly - land pets in a rescue.

"A huge number of pets are handed into rescue because of behaviour issues,” she says.“But it may be unfair to call them ‘issues’ because often the pet may not have been in a suitable home. With the right training, exercise and routine they can make wonderful pets.”

Behavioural treatment covered up to your vet fee limit.

What’s the best insurance for a rescue dog?

There’s no one-size-fits-all dog that’s right for your family, and no single type of pet insurance that’s best for your rescue pup.

Don’t just look at the price when you choose your pet insurance – cheap policies could be time limited, so each condition will only be covered for 12 months and then you’ll have to pay for any more treatment yourself.

All our policies are lifetime which means they have cover that refreshes each year and you can choose a no-excess option for pets under nine. You can also pay monthly at no extra cost.

The best way to see what cover we can offer you and your rescue pet is to get some quotes.

If you're concerned about the ongoing cost of healthcare for your rescue dog, see if you can order their prescription from an online pharmacy. They're convenient, affordable and deliver quickly.

Derri Dunn
Content marketer

Derri is a personal finance and insurance writer and editor. After seven years covering all things motoring and banking at GoCompare, Derri joined ManyPets in 2021 to focus on pet health. She has fostered cats and kittens for Blue Cross and Cats Protection and is owned by tabby cat Diggory and two badly behaved dogs.