Pets are part of the family, so when they get ill or suffer an injury it can be distressing, not to mention expensive. Just like us, animals can suffer from an array of illnesses and accidents. But unlike us, they can't turn to the NHS for free treatment. This can result in numerous trips to the vet, which can be very costly, and with the average vet bill coming in at £750, an unexpected mishap can really put a dent in your family finances. Pet insurance can provide a safety net to help protect you financially against unexpected mishaps related to your pet.
Just like any other form of insurance, what is covered in your pet insurance policy can vary depending on your selected provider. It's important to read the terms and conditions of your policy to check what you are covered for.
Perhaps the most common reason for taking out a pet insurance policy is to help cover the cost of vet treatment if your pet falls ill or suffers an injury. Some insurance policies may also provide some extra cover you may not expect such as:
Pet insurance usually falls under four categories, with each offering different levels of cover.
Often seen as the lower-budget option, accident only pet insurance typically offers the most basic level of cover. Accident only pet insurance offers cover for vet fees, but only as a result of a sudden and unexpected injury within the 12-month policy period. This type of policy may be suitable for covering minor health issues or accidents, but financial and time limits may be applicable, depending on the policy terms.
If you have a young and healthy pet, you may be tempted to stump up for accident only pet insurance due to the lower premiums. However, the cheapest policy may not offer the right protection for your pet. You may also find it harder to find more comprehensive and affordable cover for your pet as it gets older and perhaps develops medical conditions.
Time limited pet insurance policies allow you to make a claim for an eligible medical condition up to a specified amount, with each new condition covered up to the financial limit for 12 months. If the limit is reached within the 12-month period, the policy will no longer cover that condition; it becomes pre-existing and is excluded from future claims. So, after the 12-month period, or when the financial limit has been exceeded, no further pay-outs will be made, and you will need to pay for further treatment costs for that condition yourself.
This policy may be a good option for providing cover for accidents and short-term health issues. However, this type of cover may not be suitable for older pets or those with health conditions.
Typically considered a mid-budget option, maximum benefit pet insurance policies usually cover each new medical condition up to the financial limit, for as long as the insurance policy remains in force (as there is no time limit on your claim). This means you could claim more than once for a certain condition, year after year. Once the financial limit is reached, however, the condition becomes pre-existing and is excluded from future claims, meaning you will need to pay for further treatment from this point.
If your claim spans over two policy years, you may have to pay the policy excess for each year. For older pets, the policy excess may increase as well as the insurance premium as they are more likely to need medical attention.
This type of policy can be a good option if you have a pet with middle-term health problem, but the restrictions included in a maximum benefit policy may not be suitable if your pet develops a long-term condition.
Typically seen as a premium option, lifetime insurance offers the most comprehensive cover for your pet and is usually the most expensive type of policy. As the name suggests, lifetime pet insurance should cover your pet for the duration of his or her lifetime, providing you renew year on year.
Under a lifetime policy, all new medical conditions are covered up to the financial limit. If the limit is reached during the insurance year, the cover stops for that condition until the policy is renewed. At renewal, the limit is fully reinstated, and the condition will continue to be covered in the policy the following year.
Whichever policy you opt for, we advise you to read the small print carefully to make sure you have the right level of cover.
Every policy is different, but you will always find the exclusions within the terms and conditions of the policy document. Here are some common exclusions to watch out for:
For a high-level overview on what could be covered or excluded from your policy, you may find it useful to read the provider's Insurance Product Information Document when you get a quote.
You love your pet, but is it really necessary to buy insurance? The cost of vet bills can be difficult to estimate and if your pet gets ill or has an accident, could you afford to pay for their treatment? If the answer is no, purchasing pet insurance could be a very sensible move.
To decide whether pet insurance is right for you, you need to weigh up the cost of your premium and the likelihood that you'll need to make a claim. For example, if you have an older pet, they can be costlier to insure but they are more likely to require medical treatment.
You may wish to consider self-insurance, putting money aside each month to cover potential vet fees. While this is a valid option, it can be difficult to commit to putting aside money every month, especially when other unexpected expenses crop up. You may also find yourself in a situation where your pet needs urgent medical treatment before you have saved up enough money, and you could be faced with a very difficult decision. When you consider this, pet insurance could provide valuable peace of mind.
Insurance providers take numerous factors into consideration when coming up with a price for your policy including:
Although these things may be out of your hands, there are some things you can do to help lower your premiums:
Getting a quote for your pet insurance is pretty straight forward. All you need to do is tell us a few details about your pet and we'll show you a list of quotes, allowing you to choose the right one to suit your budget and the needs of your pet.
When you go to get a quote, it may help to have the following information to hand:
You may be tempted to opt for the cheapest possible premium, but it's worth bearing in mind that the cheapest policy may not offer the level of cover you need. Here at Compare Cover we understand that it can be tricky to determine which is the most suitable policy for you and your furry friend. That's why when you compare pet insurance quotes with us, we aim to make the benefits and features of each policy as clear as possible.