Pet Insurance – Do I need It?

Most people who decide to get pet insurance do it to get help with unexpected vet bills. By paying a pet insurance company a set amount monthly or yearly, you don’t have to worry about covering the costs of vet treatment yourself if your pet becomes unwell or is in an accident.

Another important reason to consider pet insurance, if your dog bites someone, harms livestock, damages property, or runs into the road and causes a traffic accident, you are liable for all the costs and will need to find a way of paying for them.

BE AWARE – When considering pet insurance is right for you. Compare different plans and shop around.

Plans (and prices) vary widely. Some plans only cover certain types of vet care due to illness and accidents, while others will also include regular check ups and vaccinations.

Remember to ask, when looking for an insurance policy?

Is there a maximum payable amount? Find out whether the maximum claim is for a certain type of care, or if there’s a total maximum claim per term. For instance, a plan might cover up to £1,000 in bills for emergency surgery due to an accident…but the same plan might only allow a maximum claimed amount of £1,000 per year, too. That means you would have to pay the bill if your pet were to require any additional care during the same year.

What percentage of your bills are covered? Does it vary with what type of vet care is provided? For instance, a plan might cover 100% (less your deductible) for accidents, but only 50% for routine exams.

Check whether elective surgery is covered? For example, insurance may cover surgery to repair a broken bone if your dog is hit by a car – but it may not cover a ‘voluntary’ or non-critical surgery even though you consider is essential to your pet’s quality of life.

Pre-existing conditions are usually not covered. That means if your pet already has an illness you likely won’t be able to claim the treatment expense.

Find out when coverage begins. Some insurance plans have a waiting period. For instance, if your dog got hit by a car today, you couldn’t sign up for insurance and expect to pay the bill.

Age is sometimes a factor. Pet insurance plans often will not cover very young pets of old pets, and they do, the plans may be much more expensive.

Can visits to the vets really costs that much? If a pet needs major surgery or develops an ongoing condition that requires vet treatment and medication over many years, bet costs can run to thousands of pounds. For example

  • Luxating patella- if your pet needed surgery on both knees this could cost £1,500
  • Heart problems – operations to deal with congenital heart defects in pets can cost up to £6,000
  • Hip dysplasia – If your pet knned both hips replaced, it could cost £7,000

What happens if I need to make a claim on my pet insurance? Increasingly, well known pet insurance companies pay your vet directly, meaning that you don’t even end up out of pocket while your claim is processed.

A claim typically starts by phoning your insurance company and then filling in a claim form to give them details of the injury or illness.

What are the alternatives to pet insurance£ The most common alternative is just to take a risk, and pay vet bills as and when they arise.

Some people choose to self-insure by putting a fixed amount of money into a savings account each month that they can then use if their pet needs treatment. The main downsides with this approach are:

If you need to pay for expensive treatment early in your pet’s life, you may not have built up enough funds in your savings account to cover the costs.

You won’t be covered for public liability if you have a dog.