Pet Insurance Worth It

Helping You Through The Pet Insurance Maze


A Datamonitor Survey in November 2005 found that Pet Insurance was the most confusing type of insurance facing the consumer. Of some 60 UK pet insurance providers there are countless types of insurance to cover your pet so which ones do you chose?

You could have a hard job to ensure that you are getting what you think and that you don’t fall foul of the “small print” when you come to make a claim. In this article I will help you steer through the Pet Insurance maze so you will at least know what to look for – and what pitfalls to avoid.

But do you need pet insurance at all? After all, 85% of the dog owners in the UK don’t have dog insurance; 93% of cat owners don’t have cat insurance. I suggest that there are very important reasons why any responsible pet owner should ensure they have proper pet insurance cover.

The cost of Pet Care

All pet owners appreciate the high costs of veterinary treatment and that vets fee costs are going up by more than 12% a year. Research shows that a typical vet fee for common complaints such as a kidney infection can be £400 while more serious injuries, such as fractures or hip replacements, can be as high as £1,500. As veterinary medicine advances medical procedures costing thousands of pounds could be offered to save your pet that would be impossible to pay for without insurance.

And what happens if your pet is diagnosed with an ongoing illness, such as arthritis or diabetes? You may have many years to provide medical care for your pet once again totalling thousands of pounds in medicines and vet fees.

Don’t fall foul of the Compensation Culture!

OK, you say, it’s your job to sell pet insurance. Wouldn’t it be cheaper for me to put some money away each month to cover the cost of any vets fees that I may have to pay?

That may seem an obvious choice except for one rather big problem.

What if your dog bites someone – or causes a traffic accident? Simple, you may be personally liable to pay the injured party damages. Such a claim may cost you your house as damages for personal injury can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds – even millions! With pet insurance you have Third Party liability cover which would protect you and your home in such a case. Seems worth it now doesn’t it?

What should you pay?

The cost of covering you and your pet can be minimal – as little as around £5 per month for cat insurance and £8 per month for dog insurance. But much will depend on the extent of the pet insurance cover you want. I’ll give you some pointers so you can ask the right questions and make sure you buy the right cover at the right price!

Things to look out for – buyer beware!

(1) Do you want full lifetime cover for your pet? If your pet was diagnosed with an ongoing illness like diabetes or arthritis that needed treatment for several years only lifetime cover would pay for it. Beware! Insurers offer all sots of cover – here is what you will find:-

(a) Many policies (the cheap UK pet insurance ones) will only cover a condition for up to a year but will then exclude it from the cover for subsequent years. Obviously it is very difficult to get cover once the condition is ‘existing’. An example would be if your dog is diagnosed as having a heart condition at the age of two. This means that it will need medication for the rest of his life which might be another ten years. With a “12 month” policy you would only be covered for up to the first year, after that the condition would be excluded.

(b) Some policies offer a fixed amount (e.g. £3,000) per year however this is for all conditions. Using my example, if the dog also contracts gastric problems in addition to the heart problems then the cost may well exceed £3,000 even in a year.

(c) Other policies offer a fixed amount (e.g. £5,000) per condition however this will not cover every year. Again using my example, this would not cover heart condition medication for the rest of the dog’s life as the treatments over 10 years.

(d) Genuine lifetime cover will offer a fixed amount (e.g. £4,000) per condition, per year. So, in my example, the owner would have 10 years worth of £4000 a year (i.e. £40,000) to cover the heart condition treatment; any other conditions would have the same levels of cover.

(2) What happens when you pet gets older? Will your chosen pet insurer abandon you when your pet reaches 8 or 10 years old or will they continue cover for life?

(3) If you want to insure an older pet for the first time will the pet insurer take you on? Don’t worry, there are companies who will.

(4) If you have several pets will you get multi-pet discounts;

(5) If you make a claim will your premiums automatically go up?

(6) What level of public liability cover will your dog insurance give you?

(7) Can you spread you premium over 12 months with interest free direct debits?

(8) Will you be caught by “cheap” introductory offers – e.g. 10 months cover for the price of 12 – only to find you premiums soar in subsequent years?

Bear these questions in mind and you should find insurance to fit your needs at a price you can easily afford.

By Chris Fairfax, Legal Director, Animal Friends Insurance
www.animalfriends.org.uk

Chris Fairfax is a Barrister and solicitor. He is a contributor of legal articles on animals and the law to major pet magazines and he is also a Director of Animal Friends Insurance, leading providers of cheap UK pet insurance. Animal Friends Insurance offer a wide range of pet insurance policies from basic to genuine full lifetime cover. They also insure older pets. Animal Friends can be contacted on 0844 55 70 300 or at www.animalfriends.org.uk where policies can be bought online.

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