These are ‘basically’
1. Basic annual cover: Per Condition, with time limit
This tends to be the cheapest cover but offers the least insurance as it puts a time bar on how long you can claim for a particular condition or ailment - usually 12 months once diagnosed and treatment started - and a cap on how much in vets' fees you can reclaim.
After the time or limit has been exceeded most insurers will refuse to let you claim for the same condition again once it's been treated - it will count as a pre-existing condition.
2. Mid level cover: Per Condition, no time limit
Like the basic cover, this policy limits vets fees for any one illness but doesn't apply any time limit on how long the treatment lasts. Here, a £3,000 vet fees policy could pay for treatment over any number of years until the point when you exhaust the financial limit.
Again, in most cases, once treated, most of these policy types won't then allow you to claim again for the same condition.
3. High level cover: Lifetime policies
These offer the most comprehensive cover. They insure your pet for illness or injury up to a maximum amount each year - or to an overall high sum, throughout its life.
Despite being 'lifetime' policies, they offer different types of cover limits (ie, the maximum you can claim) depending on the insurer, so it's vital you know which yours is.
a) Per condition per year limit
Not every lifetime policy has this. A £3,000-a-year cover limit means each individual condition or illness your pet developed would be covered, every year of its life, up to £3,000 in bills.
As long as you renew your policy annually, the £3,000 cover is rolled over, so if your pet pooch were to suffer severe arthritis, for instance, that cost £2,750 a year to treat and he lived for 10 years, you wouldn't have to pay a penny (except the excess) of the £27,500 in vet fees - just the annual cost of your premium.
b) Lifetime limit
Others instead offer an overall 'lifetime' sum per condition - £10,000, say - during the animal's life to cover treatment for it. This means that if you reach the limit before your pet died, you'd then have to start paying the bills out of your own pocket.
c) Annual catch-all limit
This is the maximum amount of money you can claim from the policy in any one year -though not many insurers have one of these. For example, if a lifetime policy offered £7,000 'catch-all' per year, you would have £7,000 for all the conditions your pet may suffer from inside 12 months, the following year, the 'catch-all' starts again for all conditions.
Ensure that you know exactly what you're paying for - pet policies can exclude all sorts of claims, impose plenty of limits and even leave you exposed unless you add extra bits on.