Top tips for pet insurance
Insurance can be a bit of a minefield, and when it comes to our pets they’re certainly no exception. Vet bills can add up very quickly when your pet is sick or injured, and taking out an insurance policy is a great way to help put you at ease during a stressful time.
According to the Association of British Insurers, the average pet insurance claim in 2021 was £848, with treatments ranging from gastroenteritis at almost £700 to specialist treatment for hip dysplasia at over £13,000.
‘Self-insuring’ is gaining in popularity, which means setting aside some money each month into savings instead of taking out insurance. Still, unless you have a strong starting point for savings or access to a credit card in case of emergencies, we recommend carefully considering if this is the right option for you. Insurance will give you peace of mind should your pet have an expensive accident or develop a chronic illness that requires lifetime treatment.
Here are some of our other tips for taking out a pet insurance policy.
Take out a lifetime policy if possible. Annual policies may work out cheaper, but if your pet gets ill or injured during the 12-month cover period, the condition may be excluded from the next policy as it is classified as pre-existing. A lifetime policy would continue to cover this condition throughout their life as long as the policy wasn’t cancelled or lapsed.
Purchase as much cover as you can afford; with emergency surgeries or treatment for chronic illnesses easily running into the thousands, it’s best not to skimp on the cover level.
Most policies will have a 14-day cooling-off period, during which you will be unable to claim for any illness or injury.
Many reputable vets or breeders will offer four weeks’ free insurance for a puppy. This is designed to cover your puppy’s first couple weeks at home and the 14-day cooling-off period while you set up a new policy or extend the free cover.
Pre-existing conditions are often excluded from pet insurance, though more and more companies are now offering special policies for pets with pre-existing conditions. Speak with your vet and insurance company if unsure what could be classified as pre-existing.
Dental work is often only covered if it was caused by injury; teeth cleaning, or tooth removal could be excluded and may prove a costly oversight. Check your policy carefully before deciding if it’s right for your pet.
Age will affect the cost of the policy as older pets come with greater risks. Pedigree dogs and certain breeds may also cost more to insure due to their genetic disposition to certain conditions.
Always read the small print carefully to be aware of exclusions and conditions.
Once you’re happy with the policy, check the excess carefully. Fixed excess can be better than percentages due to high treatment costs. It’s worth experimenting with the excess amount as often decreasing the excess has very little effect on the overall cost of the policy.
Remember to choose your policy carefully. Unlike car or home insurance where you may be able to haggle or easily switch to a new provider, pet insurance could be a lifetime commitment that is likely to increase in price each year as the pet gets older.