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Being a pet owner comes with a lot of responsibilities. All of a sudden, you have an extra member of the family to look after. Naturally, pets produce numerous concerns that can cost a lot of money. As a result, the topic of pet insurance will often come up.

What is pet insurance and do you need it? You should understand more about this topic before you decide to take out a policy. So, here’s everything you need to know:

What is pet insurance?

Effectively, it’s a safety net to protect your finances in situations where you might be forced to pay a lot of money because of your pet. This includes instances where your pet gets sick and requires expensive veterinary treatment. Pet insurance is in place to give you a financial buffer, ensuring that you get the services you need without harming your bank account.


What does pet insurance cover?

Most pet owners are unaware of just how much coverage you can get out of pet insurance. Obviously, this varies from provider to provider. However, most standard insurance policies will cover the following things:

Vet Fees

This is the most common reason for taking out a pet insurance policy. If your pet gets injured or falls ill, then they might incur massive veterinary fees. Insurance comes into play to cover these costs. The amount of coverage you get can vary, but it typically starts at around £500 and can increase over £10,000.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t include your standard vet fees. You still have to pay for them out of your own pocket. Regular checkups and jabs fall into this bracket, so your pet insurance doesn’t cover them!

Unexpected Death

It’s not something any pet owner wants to think about, but your pet could die unexpectedly. Normally, this happens after they’re in an accident - or if they fall ill out of the blue. Pet insurance can cover the cost of what you paid for your pet, which can give you money to buy a new one.

Some pet insurance policies will also provide coverage for funeral costs as well. This may include compensation to go towards paying for cremation or burial.

Missing or Stolen Pets

The majority of pet insurance policies cover you if your pet gets stolen or goes missing. For stolen pets, you will need evidence that somebody has taken them away against their will. Then, you will receive compensation that equates to the value of your pet.

For missing pets, you can often get compensation to help pay for posters or rewards as you search for your pet.

Liability

This coverage is for dogs only. Essentially, it provides cover in cases where your dog might injure someone or damage their property. Even if you have a well-trained dog, this can happen by accident.

In effect, it protects you if somebody makes a claim against your dog. Coverage is typically for £1 million or more. There’s third-party liability coverage that’s available as a standalone pet insurance policy. R, you can add it to an overall policy.

Travel Cover

If you go abroad with your pet, then your insurance may cover them if they fall ill, get lost, or are involved in an accident. Obviously, if you never go away with your pet, then this is pointless coverage to have. Also, it may be possible to take out pet travel insurance on its own before going away.

Dental Treatment

Pets need dental treatment just as much as humans do. While regular checkups aren’t covered, the cost of any extensive dental treatment will be.

Kennel or Cattery Fees

In situations where you’re incapacitated - and unable to find someone to look after your pets - your insurance may cover the fees to put your pet in a kennel or cattery. This coverage usually only kicks in if you have been hospitalised for more than two days in a row.


What types of pet insurance are available?

Along with the different coverage options, there are different types of pet insurance policies to choose from:

Lifetime

This is the best coverage you can get as it covers your pet for life. Premiums tend to start off low and get higher as your pet ages. This is simply because there are more health risks to older pets.

Annual

Here, you get 12 months of coverage that automatically renews every year. The benefit of this option is that you can switch providers at the end of each year. So, it opens the door to perhaps find cheaper pet insurance year after year. The drawback is that you don’t get the full-scale cover that lifetime offers.

Accident-Only

If you really want cheap pet insurance, then this is the option for you. It only covers accidents, so you get no coverage for illnesses.


How To Compare Pet Insurance Quotes

There are lots of expensive and cheap pet insurance providers out there. It’s important to compare pet insurance policies as this helps you find the best deal for you. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Assess the needs of your pet: What type of coverage does your pet actually need? Not getting illness cover can save money, but it’s a big risk. However, do you really need overseas cover or kennel cover? Think about your needs and this helps you decide what coverage options to choose.
  • Pick a type of insurance: Will you opt for lifetime, annual, or accident-only? Only compare the insurance types against one another. This gives you the best comparison between options that suit you best.
  • Look at the level of coverage: How much coverage are you offered by the different providers? In some cases, the more the better. However, it could save money if you’re given the option to choose low amounts of coverage.

After looking at these things, you should have a selection of pet insurance quotes to look at. Now, compare them against one another to see which one is the most affordable while ticking all of your boxes.

In summary, this is everything you need to know about pet insurance. It’s not technically essential, but it can give you some financial security and offer protection against unexpected events. Understand what coverage you can get, choose a polity type that suits your needs, then compare cheap pet insurance quotes!

At some point in your pet’s life you may need to seek veterinary care. can easily get illnesses or injuries that need medical attention. Some issues can be minor and some can be life threatening. The costs can really begin to mount up and you can end up paying out a lot of money.

Many of us consider our pets as a treasured part of our family, if anything happened to them we would be extremely upset. Some treatments and life-saving operations can cost thousands, no one wants to have to make the heartbreaking decision not to pay for treatment because the price is just too high. Insurance covers your pet for circumstances like this, so that you can feel safe in the knowledge that your pet is protected. Pet insurance provides peace of mind, so that you know that no matter what your pet gets up to they can get their treatment paid for. It’s a sensible way to manage the costs of veterinary bills and other things that pets need to be insured for.

How to Get the best deal on Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance companies are up there with estate agents in the popularity stakes! If you are already forking out for policies on your car and your home, you may not be feeling inclined to contribute any more to the coffers of the insurance companies. Particularly if you have struggled to get them to pay out on a claim in the past. However, insurance could prove crucial if your pet has an accident or falls ill. Without decent cover, you may not be able to afford the treatment that your animal needs. Would you want to take that risk?

The Potential Costs

Medical treatment for your pet can prove very costly indeed. The most recent statistics released by the insurance industry indicate that the value of the average claim in 2016 was £757. Treatment for a serious condition could run into the £thousands. But only 25% of pet owners in the UK currently insure their animal.

There were a total of 932,000 claims in 2016 with pay outs totalling £706milllion. Some of the more unusual claims made were for the treatment of an anorexic Burmese python, a spaniel who had swallowed a turkey baster and a cockatoo with respiratory problems.

Pet insurance can be expensive and so you might feel that you would struggle to afford the monthly premiums. You may never need to make a claim. But at least you will have the peace of mind of knowing that you will never have to face an enormous veterinary bill.

An Alternative to Pet Insurance

You do have the alternative of simply saving money every month to build up a safety net to cover your costs should the worse happen. But saving requires a great deal of discipline. Many a pet owner has started out with every intention of putting money aside but has then failed to actually save much if anything at all.

How to Make Savings

If you are going to insure your pet, there are ways to save at least a little of your hard-earned cash.

  1. Decide from the outset whether you are going to insure your pet or not. The younger your pet is when you first approach the insurers, the cheaper your policy will be initially and the lower the cost is likely to be over the lifetime of your pet.
    • Choose lifetime cover rather than a 12-month renewable policy. Lifetime cover can look more expensive at first but you are less likely to have trouble getting your insurer to continue to cover your pet if they do experience health issues. If you find yourself unable to renew a 12-month policy, this can result in a massive increase in cost when you have to move to a different insurer.
    • Check the terms of the various policies carefully. Certain policies may not be appropriate for your pet because they do not cover existing conditions or animals over a certain age. Some policies will offer more comprehensive cover than others. Be sure that you are comfortable with the quoted excess and read every clause so you know exactly what your animal is covered for. The cheapest policy may not be the best value overall.
    • You may be able to get a better deal if you microchip your cat. Dogs must be microchipped and so this process will not improve your premiums.
    • It can be worth accepting a higher excess to get a lower premium.
    • If you have more than one pet, look for multi-pet deals.

    Pet insurance isn’t the best choice for everyone but it is certainly worth considering. If you do decide to go ahead, it pays to do your homework!

    Benefits of pet insurance


    The main benefits of pet insurance are:

    • It gives you peace of mind
    • You know how much you are spending
    • Your pet will get the care they need
    • Some policies include third party cover in case your pet damages property or injures people
    • Piece of mind
    • Optional cover for loss or stolen dogs, death and advertising if your pet is missing

    Policies vary


    One of the most important things about pet insurance is that policies vary hugely. There are so many different options and things you may or may not want to include on your policy. Have a think about the most important things you want your pet to be insured for and keep these in mind when looking for don’t simply look at the cost. Different insurers have different rules and clauses, so make sure your chosen insurance company ticks all the boxes before you sign up.

    Excess


    Excess also varies greatly between different insurers. Be sure to watch out for the excess on insurance policies, especially for older dogs. The monthly cost might be fairly cheap but if you have to keep paying out a large excess then it will end up costing you more. Find a policy with an excess that you think you can realistically pay each time your pet gets sick. Pet insurance excess can vary from under £50 to £500 or more depending on what pet you have and their circumstances.

    Cost Influences


    Why do some pets cost so much more to insurance than others, when they are the same animal with similar characteristics? There are some common cost influences when it comes to pet insurance. The main things that influence cost include:

    Location - vet practice costs vary throughout the country depending on location so your insurance company will factor this in.

    • Age
    • Breed
    • General health

    Cheap or premium cover?


    Make sure you don’t simply go for the cheapest possible cover, it may not be suitable for your dog. The cheapest options are not necessarily the best. Review insurance policies not just on price but on the things that are included in different policies. You want to ensure your dog is covered for anything they might need. Comparison sites are quite useful for finding the best deals and can help you to easily compare what is offered in different policies.

    Exclusions


    When you are searching for the right insurance you need to be aware of the main policy exclusions. Once you have found a company you are happy with check to see what their exclusions are. There are some general exclusions that most companies tend to agree on for example:

    • Dental treatment
    • Vaccinations are not included
    • Pre-existing conditions
    • Neutering

    Lifetime or Annual cover?


    Generally there are two types of cover when it comes to pet insurance. Lifetime cover is as the name suggests, cover for life. If you keep paying your premiums and stay with the same insurance company your dog should be covered for life. Not all pet insurance companies offer this so this is something to look out for when comparing policies. If your dog gets an illness or condition that returns then you should be covered.

    If you don’t want to stay with the same company and want to be able to compare deals each year then you may prefer an annual policy. However, the annual policies do not offer cover for life and will not pay out for pre-existing conditions.

    Ways to save money


    Here are a few ways you can save money on pet insurance by being proactive:

    • Get your pet microchipped
    • Keep up to date with vaccinations
    • Multi-pet discounts
    • Have your pet spayed or neutered

    Check terms and conditions


    It’s crucial that you check the policy terms and conditions very carefully. It’s always important to read the fine print and make sure you understand everything included in the policy. This way you will know what you are signing up for and avoid any nasty surprises.

     

    Useful Optional Extras


    You can pay more to get optional added extras for your pet insurance including:

    Holiday cancellation- if you have to miss your holiday because of your pet.

    Personal illness - a select few insurance companies will pay for your dog to go into boarding if you fall ill and are unable to care for them.

    Lost pet- if you lose your pet you can get money towards advertising to find them, travel and loss of earnings.

     

    FAQ’s

    Does age matter?


    Yes, older pets can be more expensive to insure. Some companies will not insure pets who are over a certain age. However, if you stay with the same insurance company they should insure your pet throughout their life.

    What is third party liability?


    This is an important part of the insurance policy, especially if you own a dog. This protects you in case your pet causes any damage to property or injury to people, some insurance companies will pay a certain amount towards legal costs.

    Are crossbreed dogs cheaper to insure?


    Generally crossbreeds are cheaper to insure. This is because they are not as susceptible to inherited diseases that are more common in pedigree dogs. They are less likely to get an inherited illness.

    This is simply a summary of some of the different things you need to be aware of when it comes to pet insurance. It does not include everything you need to know. Please check with your insurance provider to confirm any information you are unsure of.

    Pet Insurance and Obesity

    Insuring your pet helps you to avoid huge veterinary bills if your furry friend requires surgery or other costly treatments. But cover doesn’t come cheap. Which makes it all the more frustrating if you are refused payment following a claim.

    You probably realise that you must declare all of your pet’s pre-existing conditions and previous health issues when you take out your policy. But did you know that your insurer could refuse to pay out if your pet is overweight?

    Refused Claims

    Many pet owners are finding that their claims are being rejected because their animals are obese. So many, in fact, that the Financial Ombudsman Service received 422 complaints in the last three months of 2017 regarding failed claims which involved obese pets.

    But the Ombudsman didn’t have much sympathy for the pet owners and upheld just 26% of their claims. In the remaining 74% of cases, the Ombudsman ruled that the insurance companies were justified in refusing to pay out.

    Pet Insurance Complaints Soar

    Complaints about pet insurance are on the rise. Indeed, complaints increased by a massive 38% last year. One complaint which was referred to the Ombudsman was against Allianz Insurance after the company refused to cough up for medical bills relating to a dog’s treatment for a cruciate ligament condition. The owner concerned had not declared any issues with his dog’s knee. He then visited his vet because the dog was limping and a cruciate ligament problem was diagnosed.

    Overweight Dog

    The dog underwent surgery and physiotherapy to address the problem but when the owner submitted his claim to Allianz, it was refused on the grounds that the pooch was overweight. The company said that they would have excluded hip, leg and shoulder disorders from the policy if they had known that the dog was overweight at the time the policy was purchased.

    Complaint Upheld

    But the owner did not believe that the ligament issue was related to his dog’s weight and complained to the ombudsman. On this occasion, the owner’s complaint was upheld because the dog’s vet has classified the animal as overweight but not obese and Allianz had not asked any specific questions about the dog’s weight. Allianz were instructed to reassess the claim and to pay £350 compensation to the owner of the dog.

    How Overweight is Your pet?

    It would appear that the outcome of a claim could rest on exactly how overweight a pet is and that could be a grey area. It would be best to ensure that your pet is the correct weight, not just to satisfy your insurer, but for the sake of your animal’s health and wellbeing

    Have you had a claim refused because your animal is overweight? Has your insurance company asked about your pet’s weight? Let us know!

    Important Legal Disclaimer

    Please note;Time for Paws assumes no liability for the content of this page. Please consult with a Vet and/or legal expert on pet insurance matters and we take no responsibility for actions taken on the basis of these views put forward in this article. This content is designed to provide with a good overall understanding of the pet insurance landscape and in no way offers legal advice or guidance.

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