Pet health insurance may be the last thing on your mind when you pick up a new pet, but ensuring there is a plan in place to cover the cost of their treatment should they need it is an important part of being a pet owner. From allergies to major surgery, a good insurance policy means you can make the most of modern veterinary care, giving your pet the healthiest life possible without the barrier of cost.
What are the main policy types?
Only covers injury and not illness; these policies often have cheaper premiums and at least do cover injury but bear in mind your pet is more likely to get sick than in an accident.
Provides cover for a 12 month period from the onset of the condition. Again, these policies are slightly cheaper and can provide cover for short term illnesses but will not cover your pet for chronic illnesses which could last a lifetime.
Each condition will be covered up to a certain amount with no time limit as long as the policy is active. These policies are typically cheaper than a lifetime policy and can provide good cover if they have a large allowance per condition. However, these policies are not good for chronic, lifetime conditions which may exceed the maximum benefit.
Covers your pet throughout their life as long as the policy is renewed each year. Typically these policies off a high amount per condition which renews each year and a good policy will cover the cost of major trauma, chronic illnesses and referrals. These will have higher premiums.
Which policy should I choose?
Ultimately this is your choice. Choose a good policy from the start and take note of your renewal date each year so that it isn’t allowed to lapse. This is especially important if your pet has ongoing health conditions covered by lifetime insurance, it may be difficult to find cover once the policy has lapsed.
Is insurance cover immediate?
When you first start a new policy there is a ‘deferment period’ of typically 10-14 days. During this period your pet may not be covered against illness, be sure to check this when you take out the policy.
Your breeder or veterinary practice may offer 4-6 weeks free insurance. You can then either continue the policy or take out new insurance. Be aware, if you claim for anything during this period of free insurance and then take out a policy with a different company, the previous conditions will most likely be excluded.
What is covered?
Preventative treatments, vaccinations and neutering will not be covered. Some policies require you to vaccinate your pets each year and dental care may only be covered if your pet’s teeth are checked at certain intervals, be sure to look over the small print.
Some policies may offer cover for third-party liability, advertising costs if your pet is lost or stolen and holiday cancellation cover if your pet is sick. We recommend you shop around and compare so as to get the best policy you can afford.
What if I decide not to insure?
If you decide you would rather not have pet health insurance, consider saving money each year towards the cost of future treatment costs. Bear in mind that chronic conditions like allergies alone could cost up to £2000 a year and a naughty puppy swallowing a sock can soon add up to bills of over £1500.