Pets can suffer from illnesses and injuries that can be sudden and costly in the short term eg. being in a road traffic accident, or the costs can accumulate over time eg. arthritis, diabetes. It is important to consider both of these when taking out pet insurance, and decide what your requirements are including and to what amount of money. We regularly come across people who do not know what their pet insurance covers, and then they often find it does not cover what they actually want.
Types of Policy
Lifetime Cover: True lifetime cover with an insurer covers illness or injury up to the policy limit per year for every year of the pets life. If a chronic condition develops such as diabetes, then the insurer will pay up to to a prearranged annual limit each and every year without excluding the condition, provided the insurance is maintained.
Maximum Benefit: These have no time limit on a claim but rather than paying up to an amount per year, there is a set limit for the lifetime of the pet. Once this limit is reached the problem is excluded.
12 Month Cover: Often the cheapest type of cover but will only cover a condition for 12 months from first diagnosis. Once this time limit is reached the condition is excluded. This means if a condition is diagnosed in June one year, but treatment is not required until January the following year, the insurer will only pay for treatment for the 6 months until June the same year, and then the condition will be excluded.
Accident Only Cover: This protects against accidents but not illness.
Categorised Cover: A condition will be covered as long as it fits into a category as defined by the insurer. The limitation of this is that often until the diagnostic work up has been done it isn’t known if a condition fits into a category or not, and if not you are responsible for the bill.
Example costs of treatment
·Diabetes treatment for 4 years –this will vary with size of dog and how stable they are on insulin, but at least £5000 in total is likely.
·Spinal surgery –varies but including MRI scan £3000 likely minimum.
·Arthritis treatment for 3 years - for Collie sized dog with mix of intermittent injections and daily anti-inflammatories expect around £1200.
·Emergency treatment and repairing simple fracture for a cat after being hit by a car –around £800
Most insurers charge a yearly excess on any insurance policy. This is usually around £60-£100 and payable once per policy year. Some will also include a percentage of the bill to be paid by the owner once the animal reaches a certain age, often 8 years, with other companies premiums will rise with age. It is also worth remembering that any pre-existing condition when insurance is taken out will usually be excluded from the policy. This also happens if you change insurance company after a problem has started.