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If you’re trying to cut costs to reach your financial goals, you’ve probably scoured your list of direct debits many times, trying to find things you can cancel to save money. Is pet insurance one of those things? Or is it a sensible long-term investment to protect yourself from future expenses?
The statistics around pet insurance in the UK are pretty mind-boggling. 3.6 million people have a pet insurance policy, and the average claim payout is £793. A staggering £2.15 million is paid out in pet insurance claims every single day in the UK.
Let’s take a closer look at what Pet Insurance is, what it covers and how you can save money on it.
What Does Pet Insurance Cover?
Pet insurance covers the costs of vets bills if your pet is injured, has an accident or falls ill. Different policies offer different amounts of cover but typically range from between £500 and £12,000 for veterinary costs.
In the case of death by accident or illness, some policies pay out the cost of what you paid for your pet, or what it could sell for. Ofen a qualified vet has to certify the cause of death first and you may also need to provide proof of purchase, or the pay-out could be based at “market rate”. Most policies will also cover euthanasia costs if your pet has to be put down, and burial or cremation costs.
In cases of a lost or stolen pet, some policies also cover the pet’s purchase price and offer missing pet cover, including the cost of putting up posters and providing a reward for the safe return of your pet.
Most policies for dogs also include third party liability cover for if your dog injures a third party or causes damage to someone else’s property. This can also include legal costs. This extra level of cover is not needed for cats, as they are legally considered to be free spirits and their owners can’t be held liable for any damage they cause.
Some policies cover any emergency treatment your pet might need while travelling abroad and also will cover kennel or cattery fees if you are hospitalised and your pet needs to be looked after.
What’s Not Covered?
You need to be aware that there are quite a lot of exclusions from most pet insurance policies. Generally speaking, pre-existing conditions or injuries are not covered when you take out a new policy.
Some insurance providers won’t offer new policies for pets beyond a certain age, usually around 7-8 years old for cats and dogs. It could be as little as five years old for a rabbit, or as old as 20 for a horse. Lifetime policies do cover older animals, but the premiums and excesses will most probably be higher.
Preventative treatments such as worming, flea and tick treatment, vaccinations, grooming and teeth maintenance are not covered by insurance plans. Many vets offer monthly payment plans to spread the cost of routine pet care.
Spaying or neutering is usually not covered by insurance, and neither are any costs relating to pregnancy, birth or treatment of offspring. It’s important to bear this in mind if you plan to use your animals for breeding purposes.
Different Types of Pet Insurance
Lifetime cover is the most comprehensive option and this is often the best long-term choice. If you can set up this kind of policy while your pet is young, they will be covered for ongoing issues as they age. Some policies have annual limits for different conditions or a ceiling for all treatments within each policy year. If costs go above these limits, you have to fund it yourself. Some providers will not then provide cover for that same condition in future years, while other policies will reset annually and provide cover within the same limitations for the next year.
Annual policies cover twelve-month periods on a rolling basis and don’t cover pre-existing conditions. While these policies tend to be cheaper, choosing this option can make it harder to insure older pets.
The cheapest type of policy is accident-only, which usually provides cover up to a fixed sum of money for accidental injury. Cover for illness of any type is excluded. With 70% of pet insurance claims being for illness rather than injury, choosing this type of policy seems like a bit of a gamble.
So, Do I Really Need Pet Insurance?
When it comes to the crunch, you have to think about how you would cover an unexpected and hefty bill from the vets if you didn’t have insurance. Costs can range from around £500 to investigate unexplained vomiting in a cat, to up to £5000 to treat a cruciate rupture in a large dog. You need to balance the risk of costs like this against the cost of premiums and how likely it is that you’ll need to make a claim.
Older pets usually need more frequent medical attention, while pedigree dogs and cats are also more likely to suffer from congenital illnesses. There is also a higher risk of pedigrees being stolen. These risks bring higher premiums, but insurance offers protection against high treatment costs.
As a general rule, I will always say Yes when someone asks me this question. In order to be a responsible pet owner you should have insurance – if anything were to happen to your pet then it’s one less thing for you to deal with (finding money for vets bills) and means you can focus on getting them better.
Some charities such as the PDSA can provide help with vets bills in certain circumstances. Assistance is generally means-tested though and may only be available to those on a low income, people who are retired or in receipt of certain state benefits.
How Can I Save Money on My Pet Insurance?
The easiest way to save money on your pet insurance is to make sure you are comparing quotes across a wide span of providers. Quidco Compare can help you find a cheap pet insurance quote by checking with 15 providers all from one screen. You could pay from as little as £3.01 per month in some cases and get up to £20 cashback!
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