Insuring your pet
Having an ill pet can be worry enough without the added stress of how much it will cost for the treatment your pet needs. Pet insurance can take away some of this worry but it’s important to choose the right policy to suit you.
We are not insurance brokers and are not qualified to offer financial advice so we cannot advise you which insurance company and policy you should take out. Instead, we aim to give you some basic information on the types of policies available and the main pitfalls to look out for.
Levels of cover
There are 3 main categories of cover available
These policies offer the highest level of cover usually with a “lifetime cover” plan. This means that they will continue to pay for ongoing or recurrent conditions year after year as long as you renew the policy. These policies may have a maximum yearly payout limit per condition but in most cases this will cover the costs of treatment required. At the end of the year the limit is reset and you have the full amount again for the following year for that condition. This is particularly useful for animals who require lifelong treatment i.e. skin conditions and diabetes.
These policies are considered to be the best but cost more.
These policies will have a set monetary limit per condition but no time limit on spending it. For example, your cover may be set at £4000, if your pet needs treatment i.e. for a skin condition which it will have all its life, the policy will pay for this treatment over several years until the cost of treatment reaches £4000. After this time the policy will no longer pay out on that condition.
Be aware that with larger breed dogs cost of medications will be much higher and so whereas £4000 for a cat / small breed dog may be adequate, for a Great Dane this may run out very quickly.
These are the cheapest of the policies but offer the least amount of cover. They not only have a monetary limit per condition but also a time limit – usually 12 months. This means that if you pet needed ongoing treatment for a lifelong condition, your insurance policy would only cover costs for the first 12 months, no further cover would be available then for this condition.
Third party insurance (Dog Owners only) – most dog owners are not aware that they are classed as being legally responsible for their dog and its actions. This means that if your dog should cause damage to people or property you could be liable for cost involved to a 3rd party. For example, if your dog was hit by a car, not only would you need to pay for the cost of treating your dog but you could also be legally responsible for the cost of repairs to the car. Most insurance policies will include third party cover as standard. Cat owners do not have this reponsibility and so this cover is not required.
If your pet has an ongoing illness or has had previous treatment for any condition BEFORE you take out your insurance policy then it will not be covered by the new policy. So it is advisable to:
- Take out pet insurance whilst your pet is healthy (insuring whilst a puppy/kitten is best)
- Choose the best policy to start with – if you choose a basic policy which only offers 12 months cover and your pet develops a condition needing long-term medication, even if you change to a premium policy the diagnosed condition will not be covered by the new policy.
- Take care when changing insurance policy – you may be tempted to change policy when your renewal is due but be aware that any previous conditions that have been covered by your old policy will not be covered by your new policy.
What is not covered?
You will need to check your policy to find out specificallywhat is not covered but generally the following items are not covered by insurance:
- Routine worming/ flea treatments
- Other elective procedures i.e. scale and polish of teeth