Unlike humans, our four-legged friends don’t have the NHS to rely on should they be struck down by illness or injury. They can only turn to a vet for treatment which often results in a hefty bill. Investing in pet insurance can put your mind at ease – here’s the low-down on pet policies for your dog or cat.
TYPES OF POLICIES:
– Accident only
The most low-cost type of policy available – as the name suggests it only covers accidents that befall your pet. There is usually a fixed time limit and fee for each accidental injury. Some policies also cover emergency illnesses and those that result from an accident – make sure you do your research!
Best for: daredevil and accident-prone pets.
– Per condition with a time limit
One of the most inexpensive types of pet insurance – a maximum fee will be set, and this will cover accidents and illnesses for 12 months after your furry friend has been diagnosed. If the cost of the treatment reaches the limit or continues over 12 months, you will then have to pay the extra. Should your pet suffer from a different condition, they will then be eligible for a new course of treatment for 12 months.
Best for: pets with short-term illnesses, one-off injuries and minor operations after an accident.
– Per condition, no time limit
Cover will be provided for one condition for a set fee limit – for example, £3,000 – however there is no time limit on how long the treatment lasts. So £3,000 could pay for treatment over a number of years. If the illness or injury reoccurs after treatment or if you change insurers to claim for the same condition, your pet will not be covered.
Best for: pets with short to medium-term illnesses, one-off injuries and operations.
– Lifetime cover
The most comprehensive type of pet insurance, a maximum amount will be set per year – for example, £10,000 – to cover your four-legged friend for illness or injury throughout its life, provided you renew the policy each year. However, some insurers can refuse to renew it. Lifetime policies can sometimes cover extras, such as dental fees, behaviour cover, cremation or burial expenses.
Best for: pets with long-term illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis and cancers that need regular treatment.
PET INSURANCE PEEVES:
The golden age
Dogs and cats over the age of eight are typically classed by insurance companies as ‘older pets.’ Whilst cover is still readily available – premiums are usually higher due to older pets being more at risk of illness, particularly those associated with old age.
Insurance companies will also often charge higher premiums for pedigree pets. Unlike crossbreeds, they are more prone to long-term hereditary illnesses due to their inbreeding. Pedigrees are also at a higher risk of being stolen.
Location, location, location
Where you live can also pay a part in how much your four-legged friend’s insurance cover will cost. If you live in London – for example – your pet’s insurance may cost a little more, simply because vet fees are higher in the city.
Most insurance providers will exclude pre-existing conditions and will not let you claim for an illness – such as cancer, arthritis and diabetes – more than once. Even if you change providers, you will not be able to get cover for that condition again.
The majority of policies will not cover routine healthcare treatments – such as vaccinations, spaying/neutering and flea control. Pet insurance is largely for covering the unpredictable!
If your pooch is listed under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, you will not be able to find insurance for him or her – breeds included are Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosas, Dogo Argentinos and Fila Brasileiros.
Working 9 to 5 dogs
It is also more difficult to get insurance cover for working dogs – racing, hunting, service, military and sheep dogs, are all at a greater risk of illness, injury and public liability.
TOP TIPS FOR REDUCING PET INSURANCE COSTS:
Have your pet microchipped – not only could this help reunite you with your beloved pet should the worst happen – it will also show insurance providers you take security seriously and many now offer discounts on premiums for chipped pets.
Be wise and sterilise
Having your furry friend spayed or neutered will also help lower insurance costs. Sterilised pets are at less risk of contracting various diseases than entire pets.
Buy more pets
If you have more than one pet, insuring them with the same provider can save you money – even if they are different species. Many insurers offer a 5-10% discount on multi-pet polices and will allow you to add new pets onto your existing policy.
Insure early on
Insure your pet when they are young and healthy! If you wait until they are older and have suffered from illness or injury, you will have to disclose this information and this will increase costs.
HOLIDAY INSURANCE FOR PETS:
It’s easier now than ever to travel abroad with your pet thanks to the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) but even our furry friends’ need holiday insurance should anything unexpected happen…
Some pet insurance policies include overseas pet travel as standard, however some will need you to add in an extra clause to cover the trip.
Long haul vs short haul
Depending on your chosen insurance provider, there can also be cover restrictions for some destinations. Some policies will only cover vet fees in EU countries, so if you’re travelling further afield, it’s best to double check.
If you are travelling abroad with your pet, they will need their own passport – and it’s a good idea to have cover for this too, especially if you’re a frequent traveller. If you lose your pet’s passport it will cost you a lot of money. Not only does a PETS passport cost £150-£250, your furry friend may have to stay in a kennel or cattery, and receive extra health checks and vaccinations before they can return to the UK – all of which have fees.