We’re constantly bombarded with all sorts of insurances and plans, from Pet Insurance to Car, House and more. Before you dive into an insurance agreement it’s always a great idea to find out as much information as possible.
For some people an animal is more than just a pet, it’s a family member who contributes both love and joy to the household. Pet Insurance is there to cover the cost of any veterinary bills or treatment.
It’s also worth mentioning that Pet Insurance isn’t only for our fluffy and furry friends. Apart from Dogs, Cats and Birds, pet assurance can cover other animals such as rabbits, chinchillas, ferrets, reptiles, snakes, turtles, lizards and so on.
Veterinary medicine and treatment has developed tremendously over the past few decades. Vets now have access to a wide range of modern and sophisticated machinery. This makes it much easier for a veterinarian to detect and treat a whole range of animal symptoms.
The United Kingdom has a range of pet insurance providers who offer many different types of treatment plans. For example, some pet policies may ‘pay out’ if your pet dies, while others may ‘pay out’ if your pet is stolen or lost. Equally just like car protection, you will find that some insurers offer ‘third party’ policies.
This simply means they may pay the other party if your pet causes injury or damage to somebody else. However as mentioned each plan will offer different protection and policies so it’s always recommended to read the fine print before signing up.
When weighing up the options of animal protection, you need to think about how you would deal with an unexpected bill. Would you be able to pay out of your general savings? If the answer is ‘no’, pet cover should certainly be considered.
Unfortunately, just like humans all animals are different, while this gives them a unique personality, it also means they could have different health issues. Certain breeds of animal can be more vulnerable or prone to specific problems. For example, larger dogs such as Labradors will ‘typically’ suffer from joint problems as they age, while smaller dogs such as Bulldogs can develop respiratory complications.
What does Pet Insurance include?
Just like other forms of insurance, pet insurance plans can vary massively. Each animal policy is based on an individual basis. Prices are calculated in an array of different ways, certain elements such as your pets age, any pre-existing conditions and even your postcode, can affect your premium price.
Similar to any insurance contract, it’s extremely important that you conduct thorough research so you’re able to get the right policy for your requirements. Just like an agreement, pet insurance is a legally binding document, so it’s always recommended to read any small print and the insurers terms and conditions.
Pet policy plans cover a range of different animals; however, you can get specific insurance if needed. For example, Horse Insurance, Dog Insurance or Cat Insurance. Equally providers vary on animals they do cover, some won’t cover ‘exotic pets’ such as snakes, lizards or spiders, while others will.
The most common element for basic pet protection is to cover any illnesses, diseases or accidents during your pet’s lifetime. In particular, the cost of vet bills. Typically, an insurance plan won’t cover costs which arise from regular vet visits or vaccinations. Just like car insurance doesn’t pay for an MOT, however it would in case of an accident or collision. Pet insurance is very similar in this respect.
It’s important to note, that many plan providers don’t usually give first time cover for pets that are above a certain age. The general ‘rule of thumb’ is to seek pet cover as early as possible. As your pet ages, there’s obviously a higher chance of health problems arising. This means premiums will generally be higher and claims will also be higher too.
• Savvy Advice: When taking out a new policy, it generally doesn’t cover you for a certain number of days. Typically, this is around 14 days after the policy starts. This basically means if your policy started on the first of January you would not be covered until the 14th. So, any claims during this 14-day window would not be eligible.
The most common reason for pet insurance is to cover the cost of Vet fees. This is likely to be your ‘primary’ motive for taking out a policy.
Before entering into a pet cover agreement, you should always check whether the policy includes the cost of consultations, examinations, tests, x-rays, scans, medication, bandages, surgery, and animal hospital visits. It can also be a good idea to think about additional areas such as physiotherapy, acupuncture and hydrotherapy.
Along with the generic veterinary bills, other elements which are usually included within the policy include:
• Loss or Theft of your Pet – Yes, believe it or not, most policies will cover your pets purchase price (generally you will need to show proof). The insurer may also pay towards any ‘advertising’ costs for your lost animal, and may even pay the reward for its eventual recovery. However, this can and will vary from individual policies and providers. Always read the small print to see if your policy includes these benefits.
• Animal Death by Injury or Illness – If you have lost your pet due to an injury or illness, then your plan provider may cover the pet’s purchase price. However, you will most likely be required to organise a qualified vet to confirm the cause of death. Equally, an age limit is usually placed on this cover option, so read all documentation. If you pet has been euthanised then most ‘decent’ policies will also have something which may cover this cost.
• Pet Liability Cover – Generally, liability cover will only cover the costs you’re ‘legally accountable for’ paying a third party, if they’re injured a person or any property gets damaged by your pet. This cover amount can vary wildly however with most providers its around £1 million pounds. On a side note at the time of publication, The Dogs Trust will give you third party cover up to £1 million pounds as part of their membership.
• Behavioural Problems – Treatment for general behavioural issues can sometimes be included in a ‘good’ policy. Generally, this cover amount is around £500 pounds. Usually if a claim has been made on these grounds, the actual treatment will have to be carried out by a professional organisation or under the guidance of a vet.
• Dental Cover – Unfortunately pets will usually have an issue or two regarding their mouths during their lifetimes. After all, they love sniffing and picking things up! Dental cover varies massively from provider to provider, not all pet policies will include dental cover as standard. The cost of treating dental problems can quickly run into hundreds of pounds, especially if your pet needs anti-biotics or an anaesthetic injection. You should never ‘assume’ your policy will include dental cover.
• Animal Cremation Costs – Some insurance providers do cover the cost of having your pet cremated. This is generally only applicable if the animal died due to illness or accident. If your pet died from general ‘old age’ this wouldn’t normally be included.
• Pet Vaccinations – Generally speaking, if your beloved pet requires a vaccination this may not be included in your overall policy as standard. Some providers will include it; however, these are generally more expensive policies. Equally having your pet vaccinated before taking out a protection plan may reduce the premiums, due to the fact the animal may be seen as more ‘healthy’ and less likely to have generic health issues.
• Kennel and Boarding Fees – Once again, cover for Kennel or boarding fees will vary from each individual insurance provider. Generally speaking, most ‘good’ policies will include the cost of boarding your pet into a kennel in case you need emergency hospital treatment. However always read the small print, as this may not be included as standard.
• Overseas Pet Protection – As a pet is a member of the family, we would all want to take them on our overseas adventure! At the time of publication under the government’s ‘Pet Travel Scheme’ (Pets), your dog, cat or ferret can travel with you to certain countries without the need for quarantine, providing several conditions are met. Some policies include holiday cover, which may include the option if your pet develops a life-threatening illness while away, this obviously varies from company to company and as standard it may not be included. You can find out more about Travel Insurance for Pets by clicking on the link.
How to Get a Good Deal for Pet Cover
Everybody wants to get the best deal possible, not just for their animal but also for their wallet. If you’ve never insured a pet before then you may feel at first glance it can seem rather expensive. However, if self-funding a veterinary bill isn’t viable for you, animal insurance is the only real alternative.
Before purchasing any type of pet protection, you should consider the following points:
• It’s always recommended to buy pet insurance when your animal is ‘young and healthy’. This is because it’s simply much easier to find a provider willing to take you on. The younger a pet is, the more unlikely you are of making a claim.
• It becomes much more difficult to find an insurance provider as your pet ages. This is because of various factors including an increased chance you will make a claim, and the fact the animal may already have ‘pre-existing’ health conditions.
• At the time of publication, one should consider a policy which ‘pays out’ throughout your pet’s lifetime. This simply means it will cover conditions that require treatment ‘year after year’.
This differs from other policies which are only on a ‘yearly basis’. A generic yearly pet policy will usually be cheaper, however you will have to ‘shop around’ for the best deal each year. This means you may have to change providers several times over a pet’s lifetime. However, a lifetime agreement is simply with one provider, the only drawback is its rather expensive compared to others (and premiums may rise with inflation).
Types of Pet Insurance – Understand the Plans
There’s lots of different types of Pet Insurance on the market today. Sometimes when comparing policies, it can feel like they’re written in a completely different language!
In the United Kingdom, there’s an array of companies and animal insurance providers offering different types of services and options, it can all seem like a major headache from start to finish!
It’s essential that you understand exactly what your pet policy will do for you in the event of a claim.
Did you know? It’s stated that around 70% of all pet insurance claims in the UK are for illness, rather than accidents.
Pet Plans – Basic Terms
• Policy Year – When purchasing pet cover, the policy year simply relates to the start and end date of the agreement. This is clearly recognised on all policies and related schedules. Every year you will get documents which confirm any policy renewal. It doesn’t matter if you pay monthly or yearly, the policy agreement is ‘officially’ renewed once a year.
• Premium – Just like other insurances, this is the amount you will pay for your pet policy each year. It doesn’t matter if you renew with the same company or change to another provider. The premium amount may change depending on multiple circumstances such as your pets age, if you’ve made any claims or general inflation.
• Excess – This is the amount of money you will pay a vet towards any treatment. An excess payment is only payable if you make a claim. The amount of excess will be clearly stated on all policy documentation. Typically, it’s a ‘fixed sum’ of money, however some insurance providers may use a percentage, and others may use a combination of the two. It’s always important to read all information regarding any excess before you sign the agreement.
• Exclusions – It’s important you keep an ‘eye out’ for any exclusions on your animal policy coverage. As all insurances are individually based on your pet’s specific needs, exclusions can vary wildly. Typically, pet policies will exclude ‘pre-existing conditions’ and some even reject basic treatment like dentistry. It’s always recommended to read the small print.
• Pre-Existing Conditions – If your pet has an established medical condition before a policy has been taken out, this pre-existing ailment may be excluded from your policy. Generally, it doesn’t matter if you have ‘claimed’ for that condition or not on another insurance. You are obliged to provide an insurer with the details of all your veterinary visits you have attended. Equally all vets are obliged to provide a full clinical history to an animal insurance company if they request that information.
• Lifetime Policies vs Yearly Policies – Typically a lifetime pet policy will be valid for renewal each year, however any conditions that you have claimed for, would still normally be ‘covered’ in the new insurance year. Just like regular home or car protection, the policy premium and excess may change on a yearly basis. It’s important to note that if your pet’s treatment ‘falls’ over the policy renewal date, then another excess will usually need to be paid. A yearly pet plan (also known as an annual policy) will cover illness or treatment claimed for during the one insurance year. It will generally be excluded from the next year, even if you continue to use the same provider. Again, it’s important to note that if your pet’s treatment falls over the renewal date the pet protection company may only pay costs for the first year, not the total sum of treatment. This can vary depending on providers. Always read the small print and documentation.
• Financial Limits – Commonly there are three different types of variations you need to be aware of.Firstly, a limit on the amount the insurance company will ‘pay per condition per year’. This typically applies to lifetime pet policies and the amount will be ‘refreshed’ in each insurance year.Secondly, a limit on the total amount you can claim for a condition without a fixed time frame. For example, £3000 per condition. Once this limit has been reached, the condition is excluded from the policy. This generally means an ‘excess’ is payable per insurance year.Thirdly, a limit on the total amount per condition within one insurance year. For example, £700 for one condition within one year, after this point the condition is excluded from the policy.
As every animal protection plan is worked out on an individual ‘case by case’ basis, we cannot recommend isolated advice. This section is purely a generic guide to help you understand exactly what your policy may offer.
Things They Don’t Tell You
You’ve just bought a new pet cover insurance for your beloved animal, but have you made the correct decision? Is the policy right for you? What do you need to look out for? Just like regular insurances such as home and car, Pet insurance can seem like an obstacle, full of terms and information which can confuse the best of us.
Take a look and review some of the things you need to be aware of:
• Age of Your Pet – The general ‘rule of thumb’ is to always get your pet insurance as early as possible. Generally, pet cover for older dogs, cats and animals is much harder to find. This is for a wide range of reasons, but mainly surrounds the simple fact that an older animal is more likely to require treatment. In basic terms this means an owner is more likely to claim, and the insurance company is more likely to pay out.At the end of the day, pet insurance providers are businesses, they make money from owners not claiming. Typically, most providers will only let you take out a new policy if your pet is under eight years old. This can, and will vary depending on the type of animal and the breed. It can also depend on the company itself. It’s up to each individual provider to decide what their upper age limits are.
• 14 Day Rule – You will find that most pet insurance companies in England have a 14-day rule from when the policy commences. In simple terms this means if your pet policy starts on the 1st of September, you won’t be able to make a claim for the first 14 days. That means if your pet dies, has an injury or accident between the 1st and 14th day, you will not be covered. This ‘rule’ is pretty much standard in the United Kingdom. It’s not applicable to all companies, and there could be differences between providers. Some insurers may have lower rules, such as 7 days, some may have higher such as 30 days. While others may have none.Equally this ‘rule’ can also vary from different types of policies. For example, a lifetime policy may have no rule at all, while an annual policy will most likely have a 14-day rule. Therefore, it’s extremely important for you to read all ‘small print’, documentation and terms and conditions before agreeing to any policy agreement.
• Postcode Lottery – Increasingly over the past couple of years, your home address and postcode may affect your premiums. While this is certainly not ‘standard’ across the industry, it may apply to certain providers. The general idea of this notion, is the fact urban locations may have higher levels of ‘animal thefts’ or ‘chances of injuries’, thus a higher premium is allocated. However, on the other hand, one can also say that living in an urban location may reduce premiums as more treatments and vet practices are available.For example, a dog gets injured on a farm may only have one or two vets within a 20-mile radius. This means the price of the treatment may be higher than an urban city, because the vets have a monopoly in that location. Whereby there’s lots more vets to choose from in a city. If there’s more ‘competition’, then the prices for treatment should be lower for the animal owner. As stated this is based on a case by case basis, it may or may not affect your premiums at all.
• Lifetime Policy – Typically the most comprehensive type of pet insurance is a lifetime policy (can also be known as a lifelong policy). The easiest way to get pet insurance is by purchasing a lifetime policy when the animal is young.Generally, lifetime policies will be more expensive than ‘annual’ policies. However, let’s say your dog has an accident and requires treatment. If the annual yearly policy expires during treatment, the new plan for the next insurance year may not cover the costs. As this can sometimes be regarded as a ‘pre-existing’ condition. On the contrary, a lifetime pet policy will usually guarantee your pet is always covered, even for long term illnesses. Just like most parts of any insurance cover, this will vary from each individual provider.
How to Save Money on Pet Plans?
Learn how to save money on pet plans with our fantastic saving guide. Everybody wants to ‘cut the cost’ of pet insurance, however many different factors are included when companies calculate your premium.
This can include various elements such as your pets age, its health history and even the area you live in! While there’s no ‘definitive’ way of saving hundreds of pounds, these handy tips could potentially help to keep premiums lower for a wide range of people.
• Spayed or Neutered – Having a pet spayed or neutered shows once again you’re a responsible owner and take the health and well-being of your animal very seriously. As breeding and pregnancy carry their own health risks (as well as high costs for treatment) this cause of action may reduce your premiums in the long run. Equally it’s worth noting that some insurance companies may cover the cost of spaying or neutering. Usually this isn’t covered as standard, however it’s always recommended to read all policy documentation if your pet is under one years old.
• Higher Excess – Just like home or car insurance, if your budget allows and you can specify a high excess then naturally your premiums should decrease. This will obviously depend on the amount you specify and the course of the policy.
• Multi-Policy Protection – Again just like any other forms of insurance, you will find that good companies will provide multi-pet insurances. This simply means you may get a ‘better’ deal if you decide to insure one or more animals with the same company. Generally speaking, you should obtain some type of discount for going with the same provider. However just like generic insurance this will vary on a case by case basis.
• Home Postcode – Yes, believe it or not, your postcode can affect your premiums. This simply works in a similar way to car insurance. If you live in a ‘high crime’ area your premiums will generally be higher. Subsequently if you live in a ‘low crime’ area, your premiums will generally be lower.Pet insurance by postcode can work in a similar way, however instead of crime levels it typically works on how many vet practices are close to you, and how much ‘on average’ they charge. For example, let’s say you live in the countryside and there were only two vets within a 15-mile radius, your limited by your location. On the contrary, let’s say you live in a major city such as Manchester or Glasgow, there is going to be a much wider range of options available. It’s important to note, home postcodes are not always a factor by insurers, this will depend and vary on a case by case basis. Equally you should never state your pet lives somewhere else to get lower premiums. Lying on any legal document will most likely invalid the policy agreement.
• Compare Pet Quotes for the Best Deal – Like many things of the modern world, the best deal can only be a click or two away. It’s extremely important to ‘shop around’ and compare all the different pet policies available to you. The general advice worth considering is the fact the ‘cheaper’ the policy, the less comprehensive cover you will most likely receive.If you’re already with a pet insurance company and your renewal is due, a good idea is to compare other price policies and ask your current provider for a discount based on your loyalty to the company. This is particularly a good tactic if you haven’t made any claims. However, be warned that your provider doesn’t have to give you a discount, it’s up to their own discretion, which will usually be decided on a individual case by case basis.