Veterinary medicine has advanced in recent years and many more treatments are now available to vets. It should come as no surprise that these advanced surgical and medical treatments are often expensive. Health insurance may help to eliminate the financial worries about caring for your pet.
In the UK about 1 in every 6 pets are covered by insurance. There are many policies available from those that protect valuable pedigree pets to policies designed for ordinary cats and dogs. Horses and other household pets like rabbits can also be covered. Your veterinary practice may provide the first port of call for further information on Pet Health Insurance.
Your questions answered
Who takes out pet insurance?
Many pet owners choose to take out insurance to cover the cost of veterinary treatment. It is not just valuable pedigree animals that are insured. There are policies for ordinary cats and dogs, as well as horses and other common pets like rabbits.
What costs are covered by insurance?
What costs are not covered by insurance?
As with all household and motor insurance policies there is likely to be an excess on the policy so you will pay a small proportion of any veterinary bills. Policies are not designed to cover day-to-day maintenance and routine health care. Treatment for diseases that were already present at the time that insurance was taken out will usually not be covered. Vaccinations, neutering costs and other routine preventive treatments are also excluded from most policies, as are the costs relating to an animal that becomes pregnant.
What should I look for in an insurance policy?
It is important to read insurance documents with care to make sure that you select a policy that will suit you and your dog.
- Some policies have a time or cost limit for the treatment of each particular condition. With these there is a danger that your dog will run out of insurance cover if it requires long-term treatment for a chronic problem.
- Make sure that your dog will be covered for the whole of its life because animals are more likely to need veterinary treatment as they get older.
- Consider the amount of time and effort that will be needed to make a claim. A good insurance company will process most claims within two working days of receiving the documents from your vet.
Before choosing a policy think about:
The level of cover you require:
- Are you prepared to pay a high level of excess in order to reduce premiums.
- Are you looking for cover to avoid one off large bills (in which case a policy which only covers conditions for a year from diagnosis may be suitable as most costs will be covered early in the diagnosis).
- Whether you require lifetime cover.
- Whether you require additional services from the policy (third-party cover, recovery costs, death benefits).
Where can I get more information on the different policies?
There are many pet health insurance companies and a staggering array of policies from which to choose. It can be daunting trying to make a decision. Unfortunately the ultimate test of an insurance policy is how well it performs when you need to claim! A good company should pay a genuine claim promptly and with minimum fuss. Personal recommendation is always a good start when buying a service. Ask your friends and other pet owners if they recommend their current pet insurance provider.
Most vets are in favour of health insurance but changes in the financial services laws mean that they may not be allowed to give you specific advice on pet health insurance. However if you visit your local surgery you may be able to pick up a selection of leaflets on a number of companies.
Many insurance companies can be found by searching the internet or browsing the Yellow Pages. Contact the companies and ask for details of the cover they provide - most will have a range of policies.
How much will insurance cost?
The cost of insurance will obviously depend on the type of animal insured and the sort of cover that you require. You may be able to get special discounts on your insurance if you are a pensioner or have more than one animal insured. Pet insurance is a competitive market so it pays to shop around. Nevertheless remember that the cheapest company is not always the best value for money. Look carefully at the policy to see exactly what is covered by the insurance and be sure that it is what you need.
Is it worth taking out dog health insurance?
There is no compulsion to take out pet insurance and it is for you to decide whether it is necessary. Certainly cost may be a factor. If your dog has health insurance you know that everything will be done to restore them to full health and fitness if they become seriously ill or have an accident. If you are in any doubt it may help to ask a friend who has some experience of insuring their animals.