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Pet Insurance Glossary

Written by Assistant
Assistant is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Friday 25 February 2022
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
glossary of pet insurance
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Pet insurance is a system bought by owners to help financially support them if their dog requires medical attention. It is a great way to help aid you financially during a time of stress. However, some of the terminology used by their website and leaflets can be a little complicated. Understanding what each policy covers is important as then you can find the best deal to cover your dog’s health. Hence why we are looking into pet insurance terms.

We have created a pet insurance glossary for easy reference when choosing the correct policy. Each term will be explained thoroughly so you can identify them in a policy, or see if there are no apparent appearances of key phrases that you desire. This is an easy summary guide for those looking for a new policy and wanting help with the terminology. So let’s dive in and learn more about pet insurance terms and what they truly mean!


Here are our top twelve questioned terms concerning pet insurance. They will each be briefly explained so you have a good knowledge of pet insurance terminology.

Annual Maximum/Limit

The term annual refers to it being yearly, and the maximum and limit refer to the cover. So it is the yearly amount that the policy is willing to cover. Knowing this is very important as if you have a healthy dog, you can usually choose a smaller annual maximum. However, if your dog already has medical issues, then you may want to choose a larger limit. Especially if they are also vulnerable, for example being elderly.

Benefit Schedule

The benefit schedule refers to the amount of money a company is willing to reimburse on a certain kind of medical care. For example, if your dog is neutered, a company will offer an amount or percentage of reimbursement depending on their policy for that. This is known as the benefit schedule of the policy.

Bilateral Condition

This is a medical term that refers to a condition that affects both sides of an animal’s body. Bilateral can be broken down into bi, meaning two, and lateral, referring to sides. So if there is a bilateral condition, such as bilateral hip dysplasia, then it affects both sides of the hip. It is quite a commonly used term, hence why we have included it in our pet insurance glossary. In a policy, bilateral coverage means a policy will cover a condition if it affects both sides of your dog. Something which can increase the price in some policies.

Breed-Specific Condition

When a condition affects certain breed types more frequently than others it can be known as a breed-specific condition. These are diseases or ailments found more commonly in a type of dog, for example brachycephalic, or breeds that are susceptible to this disease. In policies, if you own a certain breed then certain premiums may be higher.


The term copay refers to a payment amount that is non-adjustable, that is paid for by the insurance company to you when your pet has a certain problem or condition. Each insurance will have its own rules regarding each of their copay so check with them about this.


As a customer, you submit an insurance claim for financial payment. This means that an agreed-upon amount or percentage of your pet’s medical aid will be paid to you by the insurance company. You submit the evidence of the treatment or aid and then the insurance will pay the amount to you that they owe you.


A condition is a broad term summarizing illness or injury. It may refer to anything from diabetes to a bone break. It is used to explain anything affecting the dog negatively that may be possible to be reimbursed. Some conditions are covered by insurance companies and some may not be, therefore this broad term can be used to explain that all potential ailments are being discussed at that moment.


With policies, an amount must be paid by the policyholder before the insurance company will reimburse. The deductible amount refers to this which is paid.


The premium refers to the amount of money a customer must pay for their pet insurance. This is a key term in any pet insurance glossary. The premium is influenced by many factors concerning your dog including their breed, age, and the policy you pick. Larger policies may refer to coverage for illness and injury, whereas smaller policies may just cover certain illness types. The smaller policies mean a smaller premium.

Policy Year/Policy Term

A pet insurance policy does not pertain to a pet’s whole life, it exists for a period of time before it requires renewal. The policy year or policy term is the amount of time a policy covers, usually, this refers to a year. You can renew your contract automatically the day after the policy ends, or call them up after the end date to cover a new policy term.


After you have submitted a claim to your insurance company you then receive a reimbursement. This is the payment given to the customer by the insurance company that has been agreed to within your policy. For example, your policy may have agreed to reimburse you £200 for a type of surgery, so this amount will be submitted to your bank.


When your policy ends you have the option to renew it. Renewal is when you agree to extend the contract for another policy year. You can have an auto-renewal or self-renewal. This means that the amount may automatically be taken out of your account, or you may need to call the company and discuss if you wish to continue with another term.

pet insurance importance
Having pet insurance allows you to choose treatments for your ailing or injured pet based on the best medical option available.

Pet Insurance Glossary: FAQ

More questions about pet insurance terms? We’ve got you covered, take a look below!

What makes pet insurance so important?

Pet insurance exists to help you financially when your pet is not well. It means that if you don’t have the funds to pay for your pet’s medical care, insurance can help. It acts as a financial support system so you know that if your dog is poorly, you can afford what they need to get better.

How many types of pet insurance are there?

There are many different pet insurance types and policies to consider, one to cater to all dogs and owners’ situations. There are more basic coverage schemes and then more comprehensive.

What species of pets are covered by pet insurance?

Pet insurance can cover all kinds of animals from the unusual to the common. Dogs, cats, reptiles, and small rodents can all be covered. However, you may not find more exotic pet policies as easily as dog and cat policies. They may be rare or more expensive so it will require a lot of research to find the best offer.

What do pet insurance companies refrain from covering?

Often insurance companies will not offer cover for anything minor, or conditions existing before agreeing to the contract. Small cuts or bruises are very rarely covered because they do not usually need vet visits. Those that do require aid will often be involved in such minor medical help that it costs a very small amount. As for pre-existing conditions, they will quickly tally up a lot of money for companies to pay back to you. Therefore, companies will rarely agree.

Will my premiums increase each year?

The premiums may not necessarily increase, but the premiums will adjust each year based on your pet’s factors such as age.

Understanding pet insurance terms is important to properly understand your pet’s policy. Hopefully, our pet insurance glossary has helped you and if there is another pet-related glossary you are interested in, let us know in the comments!

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