Pet Insurance Advice

Pet insurance works like most other forms of insurance. A premium fee is paid monthly or yearly to an insurance company, who would then reimburse you for any major veterinary costs accumulated, should your pet fall ill.

Most insurance policies also insure against third party injuries, theft and death of the animal. These are often just as important as the vets fees.

Further Advice

Common Questions

Is it just vet's fees that are covered?

Not usually. Most insurance policies also insure against third party injuries, theft and death of the animal. These are often just as important as the vets fees. For example, did you know that if a dog causes a road traffic accident, the owner is responsible for any cost incurred should the animal be uninsured?

The most common items that are covered are:

Third party injuries,
Theft or death of the animal
Referral to specialist vets if required
Use of complimentary treatment such as acupuncture or hydrotherapy
Advertising in case of lost pet

How is the premium calculated?

The premium that you are charged will depend on a number of factors, including:

Insurance company and/or type of policy within a company that you choose
Species of animal
Breed of animal (pedigrees are usually more expensive to insure than crossbreeds or mixed breeds)
Size of animal – bigger dogs generally incur a higher premium
Age of animal when you commence the insurance policy
Purchase value of animal
Post code

How does a claim work?

Most policies will have an “excess” figure which the insurance companies will deduct from any claims received. For example, if your policy has an excess of £50 and you acquire veterinary costs adding up to £250, you will receive £200 returned from your insurers. Claims are processed on an individual condition basis. This means that the smaller “one-off” problems (for example cat-bite abscess, torn claw or mild stomach upsets) usually aren’t claimed for as the costs incurred are often less than the excess.

The normal procedure is for the owner of the animal to pay the full amount of a claim to the veterinary practice, and then we will send a claim for the amount directly to the insurance company along with a copy of our clinical notes and costs. They will check that they agree with the amount being claimed for, and usually then send a cheque for the full amount (less any excess) directly back to the owner of the animal.

What can be claimed for?

Although most things can be claimed for it is important to remember that insurance won’t cover all vet fees. For example routine checks and general health care (i.e. vaccination, wormers and flea treatment) aren’t usually covered, nor are problems relating to breeding (e.g. caesarean sections, pregnancy scans etc).

Pet insurance is really there to help financially should the unexpected occur. Often the types of situation usually claimed are for emergency treatment (e.g. car accident), diagnostics (blood tests, ultrasounds, x-rays), surgery (lump removal, biopsies, fracture repairs) and medical treatment (courses of medication, tablets, injections etc).

What you will have to be careful of is taking out a new insurance policy after a particular problem has been identified as this will not usually be subsequently covered by your policy.

Are all insurance policies the same?

Not at all – there are many companies offering pet insurance these days – some are independent, others are subsidiaries of other companies (e.g. the supermarkets). Most offer different types of policy too – for example a “basic” policy may just cover vet’s fees up to a certain limit, whereas other policies may protect against kennelling fees, cost of holiday cancellation etc. When thinking about taking out a policy, you should consider the following:

What level of cover do you want
How much are you prepared to pay as a premium
Does the policy allow you to pay monthly or annually?
Is there an upper limit to the amount that you can claim for? If so what is it and is this realistic for your pet?
Is there a finite claim length? This is very important with regards animals with long term problems (e.g. diabetes, arthritis etc). Some companies will only pay out for each condition for a certain length of time (often one year) and then it will be excluded when the policy comes up to renewal.
Is there an age limit on the policy – will cover stop once the animal reaches a certain age or is there a premium change or additional excess when a certain age is reached.
Are there any exclusions that may cause you particular problems – i.e. inherited problems or genetic disorders?

What is the best advice with regards to taking out a policy?

The decision to take out pet insurance, or which company/policy to go with is going to be based on individual circumstances. However you should always try to:

Look at several different companies – see which ones offer the level of cover that you will require
Check the small print – do they cover chronic conditions or long term treatment?
Talk to friends with animals – see if they have had particularly good or bad experience with insurance companies
Take out insurance early – the unexpected can happen at any age or at any time. Don’t wait for a problem to occur as this may be excluded from any subsequent insurance policy
Talk to your vet or veterinary nurse – we are always able to help and sometimes advise on which type of policy may be better for you
Look at the broad picture – the policies with the cheapest premiums may not be the best. It is often a case of you get what you pay for!