Insurance Advice Fact Sheet 

We have produced this fact finding document to help you decide whether pet insurance would be a good idea for you and if so what type of company would be best.

Our aim is to give unbiased advice and to offer you our years of experience in dealing with pet insurance companies. We also have inside knowledge of what can go wrong with pets and what professional fees could be involved in getting your pet back to the best of health. All of which means by reading this leaflet you should have enough knowledge to make and informed decision as to what is best for you.

Pet insurance is designed to cover unexpected veterinary fees and other pet related costs. It is a medical policy and as such a good policy will take away the financial anxiety when your pet needs medical attention.
One in two insured dogs make a claim and one in four insured cats make a claim each year.

There are numerous insurance companies offering pet health care policies, and each has its own way of deciding what they will pay for and more importantly how much they will pay for.

12 Month Schemes

These are now very common and most companies offer them as a compromise between cost and cover. They will pay out only for the first 12 months of a claim even if the limit is not reached, after which you are on your own. Ongoing costs say for dermatitis or arthritis which can be substantial over many years, are not covered so the policies can be cheaper so they will not have to budget for huge fees.

BE VERY WARY OF SUCH POLICIES we don't recommend them because we have seen too many clients stuck having to pay substantial costs for years afterwards, and as more problems occur more exclusions apply. They are very attractive for their cheap monthly costs but often turn out to be an expensive mistake in the longer term.

These policies sometimes advertise that they give cover for life, which is true if you consider that your pet can be covered for life, but that is very different from saying that the condition is covered for life: it wont be!
By the time your pet reaches 10 years of age you may well find you can not claim for anymore conditions!

Cover For Life Schemes

True cover for life schemes do just that: they cover a condition for the life of the pet (lifelong) or at least until a substantial limit has been reached (maximum benefit). They are not limited to pay only for the initial diagnosis and treatment, and in long term can save you a lot of money. Conditions such as dermatitis and arthritis don't go away and treatment costs are ongoing and expensive. With cover for life policies you should get back most of the costs of medication and other treatments, regardless of how often you put in a claim.

Such schemes are naturally more expensive per month because they have to budget for possible payments over many years. However over a longer time period then you are quite likely to get back more than you put in if you have a pet that becomes ill.

Cover for life schemes either offer a maximum figure that can be spent per condition, or a maximum figure that can be spent per year.

Cover for life schemes are by far the best option for most people.

All companies expect you to pay for the first part of a bill, called the excess, just like with car insurance. The excess may be a one off amount usually £50-£110 per condition.

A few companies take off this excess per year but at least you still get cover for the bulk of the costs year after year after year.

Some companies also expect you to pay a percentage of the total, usually around 15% in addition to the excess.

There are no hard and fast rules about which method is better than the others.

Routine preventative treatment is not covered, as it is considered as part of the ownership of a pet. These include:

  • Vaccinations
  • Flea Products
  • Foods and diets
  • Neutering operations
  • Congenital problems (in some policies)

A note about specific exclusions:
All insurers will impose additional specific exclusions on conditions that existed prior to the policy being taken out. On your application form, you will be required to give details of all previous illnesses or those within a certain time scale. If you do not declare a problem then you may find your policy will not pay out if a similar but unrelated problem occurs. In the event of a claim the insurer will ask us for full medical details and we have to declare them, so that could put us in a awkward position and you may find your claim is rejected. MOST POLICIES EXCLUDE DENTAL WORK UNLESS REQUIRED DUE TO AN ACCIDENT. 

Payment is made directly to your insurers. This practice does not act as an agent for any company and we have no legal connection with any company. Our experience of insurance companies is that there are sometimes mistakes made and if payment is not maintained then you policy will be void. Therefore we offer the following advice:

  • Whenever possible, pay by direct debit from a bank account or building society account. These are least likely to go wrong or stop.
  • Do not pay by direct debit from a credit card. The card has a limited life and the new card will have a new number. This will mean that the insurance company will not be able to collect the premium, and may fail to notify you before you make a claim. We are aware of several instances of this.
  • Payment by cheque carries the standard risks of this method. Be aware too that renewal information is easily overlooked or ignored, leaving you without cover.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I have a spare £2000 for unexpected illnesses?
  • In the rare event that referral treatment is needed, how would I cope with a large bill?
  • I have a large dog over 25kg. Could I manage monthly treatment costs for arthritis when he or she gets this common condition?
  • Would I be able to afford ongoing costs for a chronic condition such as dermatitis, joint disease or irritable bowel syndrome?
  • What would happen if my pet had an illness that I could not afford to sort out?
  • Do I have a savings account I could use?

It is up to you to decide if the insurance policy is suitable for your needs, and it is up to you to read the whole policy document, and the small print in particular. We can not give specific advice regarding a claim, nor can we say if a claim will be successful.

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