Firstly I want to start off by saying that this is not a sponsored post. I am also not promoting a certain pet insurance company over another. Over the years of working in veterinary practices I’ve found that many people have taken out insurance policies without fully understanding the cover they have. It’s only once they are having to make a claim that they discover far too late which one they have taken out. They then have the worry of finding the extra money while dealing with a sick or injured pet. There are lots of different pet insurance policies out there and it can be very confusing trying to understand what each of them cover. I thought a guide to which pet insurance to choose might be helpful to those looking to insure their pets.
To most people their pets are part of the family. If they become ill or injured we want them to have the very best treatment. Obviously this can sometimes come at a very large cost. If you are unsure if it is worth getting pet insurance, consider how you would deal with an unexpected vet bill. If you can afford to pay out without any problems, then fine you may not need it. However if you think it will be a struggle to find the money then I would suggest looking into suitable pet insurance cover.
Just like other types of insurance that are available, pet insurance policies can vary massively. It is really important to choose the right cover for your pet, so do your research and read the small print of your policy. It is usually small for a reason! As well as your vet bills, your insurance might also cover; loss and theft of your pet, behavioural issues, complementary therapies such as hydrotherapy and acupuncture, cattery or kennel fees if you have to be hospitalised for more than a few days and also third party liability.
If your pet has any conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, epilepsy prior to taking out your insurance then this will likely be seen as a pre-existing condition and you will be excluded from making any claims on it.
Symptoms that were noted before taking out your policy might also lead to an exclusion. For example don’t go to your vet because your dog is lame then go home and take out insurance as you were told they need investigations/surgery as that will likely be excluded too.
For the purpose of this post we will assume your pet is young with no clinical illness, injury or deformities. If you are unsure when taking out your insurance, honesty really is the best policy (pun intended).
This is the best one to go for. If you already have this kind of policy then here’s a high five ??. Your pet will be covered for any treatment that they may need within your policy limit providing you keep up to date with your payment. Don’t let the cover lapse as the condition will then be excluded.
This is where you are given a set amount to claim from with no time limit. The amount is dependent on which policy you take out. For example you have a £4,000 maximum benefit. This tends to mean that they will pay out for that condition up to that amount. After that you are on your own. This might be ok for some conditions such as a stitch up if your dog cut its foot while at the beach. However if your dog has taken fits by the time investigations have been done and an epilepsy diagnosis made (which will require lifelong treatment and regular blood tests) then that £4k will not last very long.
?AVOID? AVOID? AVOID?
Do not go for this cover as it’s useless! This means that you have 12 months from the time of illness or injury to claim then it’s game over and you are on your own. Again this policy is maybe fine for a stick injury. However if your pet develops arthritis, diabetes, heart problems or hyperthyroidism and will require medication for the rest of its days then you will be footing the bill long after the 12 months are up.
This is entirely up to the individual what limit you want to go for. While you may think you will never need to have a £12,000 policy limit it can sometimes happen. If your pet needs to be referred to a vet school for specialised surgery the operation itself, with intensive nursing and after care can all add up to a pretty impressive amount.
You have got a £6,000 cover for life policy. Turns out your dog has bilateral cruciate disease. The operations on both legs will cost £3,460 for each leg and you think “No problem, my insurance will cover that!” Well maybe not! Some of the less desirable pet insurances will put a financial cap on certain procedures and investigations.
Cruciate surgeries are something we do a lot of. We probably do 2 or 3 most days so it is something that is very common. Insurance companies know this and will put a cap on what they will pay out for. The example of the dog above actually happened to a client and it turned out their insurance company was only going to pay out £750. As both hind limbs were affected at the same time it was seen as one condition. So two operations that totalled over £6,920 and the insurance company only paid out £750 towards it!! I have also seen caps on the costs of CT scans and MRIs which can cost easily between £1,500-2,250. Fortunately most of the better pet insurance companies don’t put financial caps on their policies but it is worth looking to see if they do.
Just like car insurance when you make a claim, you pay an excess. You only need to pay an excess once for each condition every policy year. To explain this further if your dog broke his leg in mid-February, you paid your excess for his surgery but your policy renews at the beginning of March. As the treatment is ongoing with bandaging and x-rays you will need to pay another excess as you are now into a new policy year. Some companies will also add in a percentage excess such as 10-20%. This is ok when your vet bill is just a couple of hundred pounds but if it’s a couple of thousand then you can end up paying quite a bit. However most insurance companies will add the percentage excess once your pet is over a certain age.
I hope that you have found this which pet insurance to choose guide easy to understand and helpful. My advice for choosing the best pet insurance policy would be to shop around. Go for the highest cover that you can afford (cheaper policies don’t tend to cover very much). And double and triple check that it is a cover for life policy and not a 12 month cover. Many people think that as their policy renews every year that they have a cover for life policy when some of them don’t.
If you have any questions about your pet insurance policy I am sure your insurance company will gladly explain things in greater detail to you.