Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance is an increasingly common means of covering the costs of sudden unexpected illnesses or accidents, as well as ongoing long-term medical conditions.

However, many pet owners are frustrated by their insurance policy to the point where some feel it is just a waste of money.  This is often the result of being unfamiliar with how pet insurance works and the different types of policy available.

There are four main types of policy available and understanding the terms and conditions of your chosen policy is important:

Accident only –

  • The cheapest type of policy available which doesn’t cover illness and generally has a low payout

Time Limited –

  • Covers symptoms for a limited time (usually just 12 months) from when they were first noticed (either by you or the vet) – even if the exact cause wasn’t known or you never made a claim at the time
  • The insurance will only continue pay for treatment over 12 months if you renew your policy and continue to pay your premiums throughout this period
  • These policies can decline claims made “several years” later for symptoms a pet exhibitied during a previous policy year eg ‘scratching’, lumps, limping etc – these symptoms are  considered “pre-existing” and are therefore not covered when you renew

Maximum Benefit (Individual condition cover)

  • One “pot” of money per condition but without a time limit.
  • Once you’ve reached the maximum, that condition will be excluded, even if it appears in another part of the body
  • The pot does not get refilled each year

Lifetime cover –

  • Cost more but cover more
  • The “pot” refills each year as long as you renew your cover with no break
  • Generally include other benefits such as Complimentary treatment,
  • There will be an annual excess per condition claimed

Pre-existing conditions

A pre-existing condition is one which has been noted on your pet’s clinical records before an insurance policy is taken out. This means that if you switch insurance providers all symptoms that have been recorded on your pet’s clinical records will be considered ‘pre-existing’ – even if you have never claimed for them.  This is why it is important to do your research and choose the right cover from the start – and stick with it, for as long as you wish to insure your pet.

Other things that you should check before making a decision

Not all insurance policies are created equal…before you pick the cheapest, make sure you check the following…

Check the fixed excess for each new condition claimed – this can range from £75 to £150 per condition.

This excess is deducted from any payment made by the insurance company, so you will have to cover this cost yourself.

If your treatment claim spans 2 policy years then you will have to pay another excess in the 2nd year.

In addition to the fixed excess, you may have to pay a percentage of the remaining costs after the excess has been deducted.

For example, you claim £1,000 and have a standard excess of £100 – so at this point the insurance company will pay you £900.   However, if you have a 20% co-payment on the policy they will deduct a further 20% x £900 = £180.   This now means that you’ll only receive £720 from the insurance company and you will have to pay the remaining £280 of the invoice yourself.

Check the percentage co-payment and also be aware that this might be automatically introduced when your pet reaches a certain age – sometimes, as young as 5 years old.

The headline figure on the policy is often the value of vet fees covered per year eg £5000.

For some companies this means £5000 per condition per year eg you could claim up to £5000 for a broken leg and another £5000 for seizures all in the same year – this looks pretty good.

But for other insurers, £5000 is the TOTAL that you’ve got available per year so you might use up £4000 on that broken leg, and only have £1000 available to treat the seizures, meaning you’ve got to find the rest of the money yourself.

Be aware that there are also some policies out there that offer you £5000 in total vet fees, but actually limit each claim to perhaps £500 per condition – this won’t get you much treatment for that broken leg…

If your pet is sick or injured then you should let your insurance provider know as soon as possible.   Some policies require you to notify them within a month of the start of a new problem, whereas others may allow you up to 6 months from first treatment to make a claim.

Make sure you understand the process for making a claim with your insurer – telephone, paper form, downloaded pdf form, online form, website portal etc

Introducing Petplan Insurance

Changes in the financial services laws mean that we are not allowed to recommend specific pet insurance policies or providers to you, our clients.   However, we have received specific training from Petplan which enables us to “introduce” you to their services.   We cannot comment on the policies they have available and whether they might be suitable for your pet.

If you haven’t taken out insurance already, Petplan can provide FREE 4 week cover whilst you consider your options.   They offer 2 different free policies for dogs, cats and rabbits depending on your pet’s age and whether they have any pre-existing conditions. The best time to sign up is when you come in for Puppy or Kitten vaccinations.   There is no obligation to buy a policy at the end of the 4 week period, although of course, Petplan would love you to sign up.

If you’d like to find out how Petplan can give you peace of mind, whilst you decide on a policy, call us on 01728 598111.