A survey published by Mintel recently revealed that 1 in 3 pets need an unplanned visit to the vet every year. So the odds that you’ll be making a claim on your pet insurance are higher than the chances of you claiming on your home & contents policy or your motor insurance.
The word “unplanned” is key here. We don’t mean routine treatments such as vaccinations or worming, you won’t find a pet insurance policy that covers preventative treatments. Nor you will you able to get cover for ‘elective treatments’, like neutering for example. Basically, the common reasons for visiting the vet cannot be insured against.
As I’m sure you’re aware, it’s the unplanned visits that are the expensive ones! Animal care has progressed a lot in recent years, and all kinds of maladies can be treated, at a horrendous cost. Emergency care is always expensive, and if your cat gets run over, you could be looking at a bill of £700 or more. A series of X-rays could cost £400, and you don’t want to know how much a MRI scan could set you back – oh go on then – £1,000! If Dickens the Daschund breaks a leg then it can be treated – but how much will it cost? It could be close to £1,500 – that’s a lot of money!
Now we’ve established that most reasons for a visit to the vet cannot be covered by insurance, so what is included?
Well, pet insurance plans come in 3 main guises:
The value of the claim for each condition or event is capped;
The total annual payout cannot exceed a set amount;
The payout per condition is limited and ceases to cover your pet after twelve months of treatment. This is the cheapest option.
Virtually all pet insurance policies will pay out if your pet dies. As with other types of insurance, you will have to pay an excess if you make a claim, usually £50 -£100.
The cost of the policy depends on which type of policy you want, how much excess you are prepared to pay, the kind of pet you have, its breed (rare breeds are more expensive), its age and even your post-code can make a difference to the premium (vets cost more in Chelsea). It’s difficult to estimate because of all the variables, but an industry estimate suggests premiums from £30 – £200 per year for a cat and £50 – £500 for a dog.
The cheapest insurance is directed at young pets, and seeing as most pets can be insured from 8 weeks old and you can then continue insurance for its lifespan, that’s the best way to go. If your pet is already 8 or 9 years old when you decide to get it insured, it may be difficult to get worthwhile cover. This is mainly because the exclusions will list existing health conditions, and at that age, it is likely that your pet will have some known conditions. In any case, at that age a new policy will be more costly.
There are a few ways to lower the premiums – some insurers will discount insurance if your pet has an identity chip, and if you are insuring more than one pet, you will be able to get a quantity discount. These are widely available for your second and subsequent insured pets.
To get the cheapest premiums, browse the Internet for deals. The Internet is a great place for cheap insurance of all kinds – your home, your car or pet, your holiday – all just a click away.