Pets bring us a lot of enjoyment, but there are also times when they can make us worry, especially when they get ill. Veterinary care is improving all the time, with more treatments available than in the past, but these treatments can be expensive and when your pet is ill the last thing you want to think about is money.
Pet insurance can bring real peace of mind, taking the worry out of this stressful situation. Even so, you should be careful to choose the right company and the right policy for your pet, as there can be a wide difference between them, and this is one occasion when you must read the small print.
Ultimately, insurance may not be for you but should certainly be weighed up and an active decision made about it. Whilst we all hope our pet will live a long, healthy, happy life, the unthinkable can and does happen.
There are 3 basic routes people are likely to take:
- Take out an insurance policy for the peace of mind and financial security this provides.
- Put money aside each month into a ‘disaster fund’ in the hope that, should the worst happen this will be enough to cover the costs. The bonus of this is that if you never claim you still have the money. It does require discipline on your part to ensure you do actually do this. In addition, if your pet should become ill relatively early in life there may not be much in the kitty.
- Elect not to have insurance. Doing this you either; are happy that you have access to significant funds should the need arise or, accept that should the worst happen, you may have to consider euthanasing your pet for cost reasons.
Whichever route you choose, make sure it is a decision and not something ‘I didn’t get around too’.
Types of policies
If you ultimately decide insurance is for you then there are 3 basic types of policy, each with their own pros and cons:
Life cover– this roughly equates to ‘comprehensive’ car insurance. Although all policies are different they generally cover your animal for any illness throughout its life, up to a ‘maximum’ annual cost and you can claim to that amount every year. This is great for pets with ongoing conditions such as diabetes, arthritis etc.
Per condition –this provides cover ‘for life’ for each condition but only to a maximum total amount whenever that is reached.
Annual cover– this will cover a ‘condition’ for the year in which first claimed but after that will be excluded from the policy
General tips selecting insurance:
- Make sure you are clear which type of cover you want and make sure you get it.
- Check your maximum limit, cheaper premiums generally have lower limits.
- Check your excess – higher excess means lower premiums but decide what level suits you.
- Read the small print, not all policies are the same and you could end up buying insurance you didn’t mean to.
- You generally get what you pay for, if it seems too good to be true it probably is.
- Ask around – find out peoples’ experiences of their insurance providers, although we (the Practice) are not directly able to recommend specific insurance.
- Pedigree animals will be more expensive than mixed breeds and different insurers will set different premiums to that so look around.
- After a certain age most insurers will not take on new pets or will limit the cover available. If you want the absolute best cover, the earlier you take it out the better your choices.
Further information: The BVA (British Veterinary Association) guide on The Benefits of Pet Insurance