Always read the T&C's: How does pet insurance work and why do I need it?

pet insurance
Maggie Davies

According to The Pet Food Manufacturers Association, it’s estimated that 59% of homes owned a pet in 2021. In 2022 they estimate that 62% of households have pets.

If you’re a pet owner, whether it be a cat, dog, horse, or exotic animal, you’ll know that it is a hugely rewarding experience, but that it’s not unusual to need a trip to the vets from time to time! The stress of your pet being ill is bad enough, but the thought of a hefty bill as well just makes the situation worse.

The Association of British Insurers reports that pet insurers paid out £799 million in claims in 2020 – the equivalent of £2.2 million a day. This was an increase of nearly 80% on the amount recorded ten years ago. They also report that the average cost of a claim compared with 2015 has risen 13% from £721 to £817.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance helps cover the cost of vet fees and certain medical expenses. It is an annual policy and needs renewing every year for your cover to continue. Vet fee cover can range from as little as £1,000 to as much as £15,000. If you have more than one pet, you may be eligible for a discount if you insure them all with the same provider (for example, British Pet Insurance offers a 10% discount to each policy when multiple pets are insured with them).

What are the main types of pet insurance?

There are a wide range of pet insurance policies on the market, so it’s important that you choose the pet insurance policy that best suits your needs. Always fully read the terms and conditions to ensure that you understand the scope of the cover.

  • Lifetime cover – This type of policy will usually cover your pet against any new accidents and illnesses for their entire life (if the policy is active). A lifetime policy will cover vet fees, up to a maximum amount. This is reinstated each year the policy is renewed. There is no limit on the number of claims that can be made each year, providing the total amount does not exceed the annual cover limit.
  • Non-lifetime cover (time-limited) pet insurance – Non-lifetime cover is less comprehensive and these policies have a fixed amount of money to cover each illness or injury. Policies will cover the cost of each illness or injury for a set period of (typically) 12 months from the start of the illness or injury – if the policy remains in force.

There are two main types of non-lifetime insurance: per condition cover, and time-limit per condition cover.

  1. Per condition pet insurance pays a limited amount for each condition and, once that limit has been reached, the insurer stops covering it.
  1. Time-limit per condition pet insurance cover will have both a monetary limit and time limit, typically of 12 months, before the condition is excluded.
  • Accident only pet insurance – Accident only pet insurance protects your pet if it is injured in an accident or suffers complications arising from an accident. It will generally cover the cost of expensive procedures such as scans and operations up to a fixed amount of money. However, you will not be able to make a claim if your pet needs veterinary attention due to illness or disease. Accident only policies will often also stop paying for the injury after twelve months.
  • Third-party liability – This covers accidental injury or damage caused by your dog. This is often included in the types of cover mentioned above.

What is excluded from pet insurance policies?

These are some of the common exclusions from pet insurance policies. Be sure you read the terms and conditions of your policy carefully to make sure that you have the cover you need.

  • Pre-existing illness or injury – Most pet insurance providers exclude pre-existing conditions from any new cover – although in some cases these may be covered if your pet hasn’t required treatment for these conditions for a certain period (for instance two years).
  • Waiting period – Most pet insurance providers do not cover illnesses that begin within the first 10-14 days of your pet insurance policy.
  • Routine and preventative treatment – Treatments such as vaccinations, spaying, castration, flea, worm and tick treatments, grooming, claw clipping and teeth maintenance are often excluded.
  • Pregnancy and giving birth – Pet insurance policies may exclude expenses that arise due to pregnancy, giving birth and treatment of any offspring.
  • Age of pet – Some companies will not insure your pet until they reach a certain age (usually at 8 weeks old). Some companies will not cover your pet if they reach a certain age, others will continue the policy, but you are likely to see an increase in premium and/or excess.
  • Excluded Breeds – Some companies will not insure certain breeds or crosses of these breeds. This will include (but is not limited to) those breeds that are mentioned under the Dangerous Dogs act 1991.

What else could be covered by pet insurance?

  • Holiday cancellation – cover if you need to cancel or cut short a holiday due to the loss, illness, or injury of your pet.
  • Hospitalisation – the cost of boarding kennel fees if you are hospitalised for a specified period.
  • Death from illness up to a certain age – cover for purchase price should your pet die due to illness.
  • Cover abroad (if travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme) – the cost of vet’s fees abroad, quarantine kennelling in the event of the pet’s microchip failing, financial help should the Pet Health Certificate get lost while you’re away and third party liability cover abroad.
  • Retrieval costs – money towards advertising, reward and repatriation if your pet is lost or stolen.
  • Alternative treatments – some policies provide cover for your pet to receive alternative treatments or therapies such as homeopathy and hydrotherapy.

Remember: always read your policy’s Terms and Conditions carefully to make sure that you have the cover that is right for you and your pet.

Making a Pet Insurance claim

If you take out a pet insurance policy and need to make a claim for vet fees, the insurer will require certain information from you and your vet.

Pet Business Insurance

Pet owners spend billions each year on their treasured companions. But when people are trusting you with their pet, they need to be completely confident that you’re reliable and trustworthy and that you take your responsibilities seriously.

A solid business insurance policy gives you the peace of mind to do the work you love and gives your customers confidence in your professional service.

British Pet Insurance, for example, can cover a whole menagerie of pet-related businesses, large or small, including:

  • Dog walkers
  • Pet sitters
  • Pet groomers
  • Pet taxis
  • Pet Boarders
  • Pet Trainers

These are some of the types of pet business cover available:

  • General liability coverage – in case damage occurs to the pet, the owner or property that belongs to a third party that you would be legally obligated to reimburse.
  • Veterinary expense reimbursement – help to recover the cost of the vet’s bills when an animal has to be medically treated while under your care.
  • Medical expenses coverage – just in case of an injury to a pet owner while on your property.
  • Loss of Key and equipment – in case you lose or misplace the keys to a home of a client.
  • Care, custody and control cover – provides you with protection should one of your clients’ pets get injured, go missing or even die whilst in your care.

Final thoughts

Like any other members of our families, some pets will go through life without any major problems, but some, of course, will experience emergencies or will need ongoing veterinary care. The costs can quickly add up and it is not surprising that some pet owners can struggle to afford unplanned medical care for their pets.

You could consider self-insuring your pet, by saving a set amount of money to pay for potential vet bills. However, you need to think carefully about how much you can actually afford to save. The risk is that your vet bills could way exceed what you have managed to put aside.

Pet insurance not only offers peace of mind, but it also protects your pets from any unnecessary pain and suffering by providing the treatment they need.

Do plenty of research on the policy (that best meets your needs and check the terms and conditions of the insurance policy, so you understand what is covered, any limits or exclusions, and how to make a claim (read British Pet Insurance’s top 10 tips on what to look out for here). Ensure that you are honest and answer all the insurer’s questions fully and truthfully, to ensure that you are helping your pet live a longer, healthier life.

Most of all….enjoy your life together!

(Article source: Various)

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