It’s no fun leaving your dog or cat in the care of a pet-sitter or at a kennel when you go on holiday. But traveling can be full of surprises, especially if you’re heading abroad or relocating overseas with your pet (or pets). So with all the paperwork and health concerns involved, you might’ve wondered if travel insurance for pets is a good idea.

Well, in a nutshell: if you’ve invested in a solid travel insurance policy, it’s your key to 100% peace of mind when your pet’s health is involved. Your dog or cat will continue to get expert care while you travel together – without forcing you to drain your bank account to pay vet fees.

So here’s how pet travel insurance works – and why you should consider it before your next vacation. Let’s get started.

Table of contents

What’s pet travel insurance?

Pet travel insurance provides you a financial safety net if your pet is accidentally injured, goes missing, or is quarantined while you’re traveling abroad together. It’s your reassurance that your buddy will get the professional, urgent treatment they need if an accident or injury occurs when you’re both away from home.

You can’t buy stand-alone pet travel insurance. It’s usually included in your existing pet insurance policy, or purchased as an extra add-on to your policy.

Read more: How Does Pet Insurance Work? A ‘Paw by Paw’ Breakdown

A man packing his suitcase next to his dog

What does pet travel insurance cover?

Imagine you’re relaxing by the pool at your seaside villa, while your dog is exploring the garden. Suddenly, your pup is yelping in pain. Is it a bee sting? Did they eat a toxic plant? Should you rush to the local veterinarian?

With pet travel insurance, you won’t need to think twice about getting your pet the emergency care they need. You know that your pet travel insurance policy will help cover the vet fees. (Even during your extended overseas travel or holiday.)

A woman sitting by a bridge with a dog

💡With Tractive Pet Cover, your pet insurance policy includes temporary travel to countries that are included in the Pet Travel Scheme or are part of the Common Travel Area. It also includes return home without having to put your pet into quarantine. For more information, check out the official DEFRA website.

Most pet travel insurance policies cover for:

  • Overseas vet fees: Coverin the cost of treatment for illness or injury while traveling abroad.
  • Quarantine costs: In some cases, your pet may become ill and needs to be quarantined before returning home. Pet travel insurance can help cover this cost. (Which can be significant.) Even if you lose your pet’s travel documents, they might need quarantining too.
  • Loss of travel documents: If you lose or misplace your pet’s travel documents, your policy may help cover the costs to replace them.
  • Emergency expenses abroad: If your pet goes missing or is lost, your pet insurance policy may help cover these expenses and other fees, such as transportation. All this to get your pet home after an illness or injury.
  • Trip cancellation: Your pet insurance policy may reimburse some costs if you must cancel or shorten your holiday due to your pet’s illness or injury. (Especially if it’s a life-threatening case requiring treatment.)
A dog and cat sitting next to an open suitcase

💡With Tractive Pet Cover, your quarantine expenses are covered up to £1,000 each policy term. You’re also covered up to covered up to £250 for the loss of your pet’s documentation.

When might this work? Well, for example, you might need to quarantine your pet if:

  • You lose their travel documents (or they get stolen)
  • Their microchip fails
  • Your pet falls ill

And rather than finding this out the hard way, it’s always smart to plan ahead for an emergency. (The peace of mind alone is 100% worth it.)

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⚠️ Just remember: every dog insurance or cat insurance policy is different. The type of cover offered by various insurance companies can vary.

So it’s important to read your policy documents carefully, including the fine print, so you can avoid any surprises when you need to use the policy’s benefits or make a claim while traveling.

What about pet insurance for longer trips abroad?

Most pet travel insurance policies are in effect for set time periods, usually about 60 days per year. 

💡For example, with Tractive Pet Cover, your pet is covered abroad up to 30 days per trip with an overall total of 60 days a year to travel abroad.

Pet travel insurance is not a legal requirement when taking your pet abroad on holiday, or when relocating to a different country.

But as we’ve found out, pet parents around the world think it’s worth investing in. Why? Simply because of the peace of mind from knowing your dog or cat can receive the care they need should the worst happen on vacation.

A woman sitting with a cat outdoors

So just to recap: you aren’t legally obliged to have either pet travel insurance nor a pet passport for travel. In fact, you can no longer use pet passports issued in Great Britain to travel to the European Union (EU) or Northern Ireland.

But at the same time, you do want to avoid having to put your pet in quarantine when traveling between two countries.

Quarantines are enforced because your pet may be carrying a disease and authorities want to keep animal diseases out of the country you are visiting. These periods may be many days or weeks long and you must pay to have your pet quarantined.

How can I avoid quarantining my pet while traveling?

To avoid quarantine completely, you can show that your pet is healthy and up to date on vaccinations by participating in the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). This allows pet dogs, cats, and ferrets who meet certain requirements to be taken in and out of participating countries, including the UK, without having to be quarantined.

To be eligible for the Pet Travel Scheme, your pet needs:

  • A microchip
  • An up-to-date rabies vaccination
  • An Animal Health Certificate
  • To have undergone flea, tick, and tapeworm treatment with an official certificate as proof.

What is the Animal Health Certificate?

The Animal Health Certificate is a document you can acquire from your vets. It means you can take your pet into most countries in the EU and back to the UK without quarantine. Once issued, your pet’s animal health certificate will be valid after the date of issue for:

  • 10 days for entry into the EU or Northern Ireland
  • 4 months for onward travel within the EU
  • 4 months for re-entry to Great Britain
A woman discussing travel pet insurance with her vet

⚠️ Just remember: your pet will need a new animal health certificate for each trip to an EU country or Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

Talk to your veterinarian about meeting the requirements for the Pet Travel Scheme and the Animal Health Certificate. In most cases, your dog or cat will need to get their vaccinations at least 21 days prior to the start of your trip, so plan accordingly.

What affects the cost of travel insurance for pets?

Several factors can affect the cost of your pet travel insurance.

  • Some dog breeds may cost more to insure, especially if they are prone to genetic medical conditions.
  • Older pets may be more expensive to cover, or your insurer may not provide any type of cover for them due to their age. 
  • Pets with pre-existing conditions may not be covered for their medical condition. 

But depending on your insurance policy, pet travel insurance may not cost you anything extra – it may already be included in your pet health insurance policy. Make sure to read your pet health insurance policy carefully to see if pet travel cover is included.

A woman comparing pet insurance policies with her provider

💡 If your policy does not cover pet travel, you may be able to buy this as an extra add-on to your pet health insurance policy.

Just make sure to always compare pet travel insurance policies carefully to make sure they fit with your cover requirements and your budget.

What should I look for in a pet travel insurance policy?

It’s important to know exactly what’s in your pet travel insurance policy. You do want it to cover your pet’s needs and fit with your travel plans. Here are some items to check within your policy:

  • Which countries are included in the cover?
  • What is the maximum amount of money that can be paid out for a claim?
  • What type of situations are covered, such as accidents or illnesses?
  • What age will the policy cover your pet up to? 
  • Are pre-existing conditions excluded? Are there other exclusions?
  • How many weeks or months will the cover last when you are abroad?
A cat sitting inside a blue duffel bag

If you already have pet health insurance for your pet, you may already have cover for some of these situations. Read your policy carefully before you head off on your holiday.

💡For example, with Tractive Pet Cover, cover abroad is included in any country in the PETS Travel Scheme, the Channel Islands, or Isle of Man.

Does pet travel insurance cover illness?

Most pet travel insurance policies cover medical treatment for illnesses that your pet may contract while you are traveling.

But in some situations, such as if your pet becomes ill before you depart, may not be covered if you decide to cancel your trip. Each policy is different, so make sure you know exactly what is covered before you buy the policy.

A young woman wearing a mask comforting a sick puppy at home

💡With Tractive Pet Cover, your holiday cancellation cover is up to £2,000 each policy term if you cancel your holiday within 7 days of departure or come home early because your pet needs emergency lifesaving treatment or life-saving surgery.

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Should I get a single-trip or multi-trip pet travel insurance policy?

If you and your pets are frequent travelers, you might investigate buying multi-trip pet cover. This may be a cost-effective alternative to buying a one-time policy for each trip, especially if they occur within a short time period. 

A couple walking a group of dogs at a park

💡With Tractive Pet Cover, there are an unlimited amount of trips abroad you can make per year. But the trip is covered up to 30 days, and up to 60 days abroad a year in total.

Travel stress-free with a solid pet insurance policy

You want to enjoy your holiday with your pet and spend money on what brings you joy – not vet bills! Take away one source of worry by ensuring you have pet travel insurance before you leave on holiday. You’ll get to enjoy the company of your dog or cat without stressing about unexpected bills.

💡With Tractive Pet Cover, not only are you covered abroad, but you’re covered at home for vet bills up to £9k (depending on your policy limit), complementary treatments and boarding fees. Plus 24/7 vet access via video from the team at FirstVet.

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Frank Speight, Insurance

This post was written by Frank Speight, a veteran of the insurance industry, who’s worked in financial services for more than 30 years across Europe and Asia. Besides negotiating the best possible insurance products for pet parents, he’s also dad to two Golden Retrievers – who have a larger following on Instagram than him!

When he’s not busy with Tractive Pet Cover, you can find him walking his dogs on the beach, managing their social media accounts, or playing the guitar.