As we are a nation of animal lovers it is no surprise that almost 2.6 million people in the UK have pet insurance. But many often complain that all is not what it seems. With rising premiums, particularly when your pet gets older, it is becoming increasingly expensive to look after our pets. We examine the pitfalls to look out for when taking out pet insurance.
Pet insurance policies do vary considerably but there are key aspects you do need to look at and compare between providers. There are roughly four different policies you can choose from-accident only, time limited policies, maximum benefit and finally, lifetime covered policies.
As the title suggests these policies are relatively cheap as they only cover help if your pet has an accident. Some policies will also include helping you if your pet gets ill as the result of an accident. These polices can be useful if you have a really limited budget but you should be aware that the cover is extremely limited and if you use this level with a young dog you may struggle to get insurance as it gets older and already has existing medical conditions.
This is also a cheaper way to get pet insurance. It is cheaper as you can only claim for certain conditions up to a set period, normally 12 months. After that you will not get a pay-out for the same condition. This type of policy can again be good if it’s all you can afford and if you are lucky that your pet has a short term health issue. The problem with them however is that a short term issue can cause complications that become long term and then you could find out that you are no longer covered.
This is not a cheap option pet insurance and is viewed as more of a mid-range cover option. These policies offer no time limit on conditions but once you have reached the amount set for your vet bills you will not get any more money. So in this sense there is a financial cap. So again this can be a useful policy for a short to medium term health issue but not for a condition that could become a long term health issue.
This is always the most expensive policy as it essentially gives you a set amount of vet fees each year but allows you to keep claiming for the same condition year after year, as long as you renew the policy. However the devil is in the detail, so do read the small print. For example, some policies set cover on a per condition per year, so the pot you can claim from is not endless.
Alongside the four main types of pet insurance there are also other considerations to make. They include vet fees, death by illness, cremation costs, third party liability, accidental damage, overseas cover, holiday cover, missing pet cover, dental cover and alternative cover. Here we look into a few of these.
This is a hugely important part of your insurance as ultimately it is the vet fees that can make up a huge chunk of your bill. But also check what is included. Are you covered for consultations, tests, X rays, MRI scans, medications, and surgery and hospital stays?
What this means is that if say your dog hurts somebody, another animal or damages property you could be liable. These costs and legal costs could get very high. Many policies will offer limits up to £1m which highlights how these costs could soar. This aspect only impacts on dogs as cats are seen as not the full responsibility of their owners. Even if your dog has never been aggressive do consider this carefully. It only needs your dog to accidently knock someone over and you could be liable.
This is one of the biggest complaints from pet owners. Owners say they often see a huge increase in their premiums, even if they have not claimed, when their pet reaches the age of 7. Another frequent complaint is that premiums can soar when it’s time for renewal. Some owners also say that they then get trapped with an insurance provider as if their dog for example develops a condition they won’t be able to get it insured elsewhere.
It is now common, in addition to you paying a large monthly premium, that on top of this you will be asked to pay a contribution towards the claim. In some examples this can be as much as 20%.
Insurers often say that as an animal ages so the chance of them developing a medical condition also increases. They also cite a large increase in the cost of veterinary treatment. This may reflect that we are more sophisticated in what we can do to treat animals now but what goes with this is higher vet fees.
Go onto comparison sights and do look at the detail. What may look like a cheap policy may not pay out on conditions that you need covered. Look for exclusions that may apply including vaccination costs, dental issues, and bilateral conditions. Know your pet’s medical history and talk to your vet about your pet and what issues could develop along the line so you know the impact this could have on premiums.