Pet insurance is similar to other forms of health insurance cover.
A premium is paid monthly to the insurance provider. These vary greatly between companies, and start from as little as £4 a month. Take note, the cheapest premiums aren’t always the best, so always read the small print!
Pet insurance is in place to reimburse your costs for vet treatment, including expensive bills, non-routine operations, emergency treatment, and referrals.
If your pet becomes ill and requires veterinary treatment, you pay the costs as required. All policies have an excess charge, ranging upwards of £40 approximately and/or a percentage of the total claim. A typical excess charge is £99 plus, often, a payment of 20% of the total bill. Once the bill has exceeded your excess, you may process a claim. You request a claims form, complete the owner sections and bring the form into the veterinary practice (with a stamped envelope). The practice will then complete the form and send it onto the insurance company. The insurance provider then pays out via a cheque to you. You are more likely to claim on your pet insurance than your car or household policies!
What is covered?
Coverage varies between policy types and companies. There are three main policy types:
Annual cover – if the pet is in the middle of treatment when the policy ends, the policy will no longer cover that treatment, regardless of whether you renew the insurance or not. This is generally the cheapest option.
Individual condition cover – this type of policy covers conditions up to a set amount. This means that the insurance company may not provide complete cover in the event of an ongoing illness.
Lifetime cover – this type of policy provides cover for each condition every year, providing you renew the policy each year. There may be a yearly limit on the policy, but this will be restarted each year when the policy is renewed. This is the most expensive option, but provides the most comprehensive cover and the most peace of mind and knowledge that your pet can receive the best treatment. If your pet gets a life-term illness/disorder, e.g diabetes or arthritis, it can be expensive if you have to pay for it out of your own pocket. We recommend that lifetime cover is the best option to choose for most pet owners.
You need to do your research before committing to an insurance policy. The following list details some of the main considerations that policies should cover:
Vets fees – you may want to check if this includes complementary therapies such as hydrotherapy, physiotherapy and acupuncture. Some may also cover behavioural conditions and provision of a special diet.
Death by illness and accident – some policies may cover the purchase price or “market value” of the pet.
Third party liability – this is to cover your dog should they injure a third party, damage their property or cause an accident.
Pet travel scheme – some pet insurers may extend their policies to cover your pet if they go abroad with you.
Holiday cover – if you have to cancel or cut short a holiday because of your pet, the insurer may pay for non-refundable costs.
Missing pet cover – this is to cover the cost of advertising and/or a reward.
Emergency kennel and cattery fees.