What is Pet Insurance For?
The main purpose of pet health insurance is to protect you from the catastrophic veterinary bills that could result from your pet being seriously injured or getting a severe illness. Insurance can cost over £1,000 to x-ray a fracture if your dog is hit by a car – that does not include repairing it.
That’s the kind of thing you need pet insurance for, not for the routine visit to the vet.
Could you afford that financial surprise if your pet were suddenly injured?
The typical vet’s bill is now around £500 to £600
Why Do You Need Pet Health Insurance?
It keeps you from having to decide on treatment for your pet when you are upset and under stress. If your pet is suddenly injured or falls seriously ill, you don’t want to be confronted with having to decide on the treatment your pet receives based on what you can afford.
Veterinary treatments are becoming more and more sophisticated. Remarkable things can be done to treat your pet’s serious illness or injury. It’s no surprise, however, that the cost of these treatments is skyrocketing. Pet medical insurance is a hedge against the staggering costs of veterinary care for your pet, which you might otherwise not be able to afford. Your pet will not time his medical emergency to suit your financial circumstances. It will arise unexpectedly – perhaps at a time when you are under financial strain from other causes. There’s peace of mind in knowing you won’t be caught unprepared for such an emergency.
Third-Party Liability – you must be covered if your pet causes an accident or harms a person or another dog. Dog Trust offer third party insurance,
How are Pet Health Insurance Premiums Calculated?
Your pet’s medical insurance premiums will be based upon risk factors that affect the likelihood of your pet needing treatment and how much the anticipated treatment is expected to cost. These are some common risk factors:
- Your location
- Whether your pet is a cat or a dog
- The breed of your pet
- Your pet’s sex
- The age of your pet
- Possibly whether your pet has been spayed or neutered
What Should You Know About the Proposed Policy?
Here’s the shortlist:
Most pet health insurance policies do not cover “pre-existing conditions”, but there is an important “Catch 22” for you to be aware of. Some companies consider each renewal of your pet’s medical insurance policy a new application. Therefore, if your pet develops a medical problem this year, it may only be covered for the balance of the current policy year. When you re-apply on the renewal date, the insurance company could consider this new condition a “pre-existing” condition for the new policy being issued. Ouch! Buyer beware.
How does it handle “chronic conditions?” Will your pet have a life-long cover? How will your pet insurance policy provide coverage if your pet develops a chronic condition such as arthritis, diabetes, or Addison’s Disease?
As mentioned, some policies will exclude coverage beginning in the next year based on the pre-existing condition limitation. It’s also common for policies to have a benefit limitation that caps the amount the company will pay for a single condition over the policy’s life.
What are “payout limits?”
Payout limits are the maximums your company will pay under the pet insurance policy. The common payout limits are:
- lifetime limits (the max the company will pay over the lifetime of the policy)
- annual maximum (the max your company will pay during any one policy year)
- per incident limit (the max the company will pay for anyone’s injury or illness)
Is there a “waiting period?” Policies may have a waiting period following the issuance of the pet health insurance policy, during which there is no coverage. This is designed to prevent people from purchasing a pet medical insurance policy just for the purpose of making an immediate claim.
Will you have cover for alternative or complementary medicine?
How Can You Keep Your Premiums Cost-Effective?
Here are the bare-bones tips:
- Choose a higher excess, which is the amount of each treatment you pay out of pocket.
- Take advantage of any discounts for which you may be eligible – ask if any are available – the company may not offer you anything.
- Pay your premium annually instead of monthly. Most pet health insurers have lower annual premiums than monthly premiums.
- Ensure the insurance company has the correct information. Veterinary bills have risen alarmingly in the last few years. But just as with human medical insurance, there are numerous policy options available and some major pitfalls to be avoided. Any pet owner considering the purchase of pet health insurance is well advised to take time to educate himself or herself about the various policy options available before making a purchasing decision.
So is pet insurance worth it? If you care about your pet and want to be free of anxiety about the cost of health care or compensation, the answer is a resounding yes.
The information provided above covers some of the basics but is by no means exhaustive – it is based on personal experience, not inside knowledge of the Pet Insurance Industry. The consumer magazine, Which also has an article on pet insurance, explained