Veterinary fees can run into thousands of pounds and having a good quality insurance cover is very important, however choosing the right policy for you and your pet can be difficult.
There are many companies and policies to choose from and not all provide the same level of cover. If you are looking to take out pet insurance, you may find the following information helpful.
Please note that insurance companies can change their terms, conditions and pricing structure at any time. Any queries regarding the particulars of your policy should be made to the Customer Service Department of your insurer.
Also please note that the information below is just an overview of different policy types. We are not FSA registered and therefore not authorised to recommend any particular insurance company or policy.
Firstly you need to decide on the level of cover you wish to purchase.
Cover for Life
Cover for life policies are the best option as these policies have an annual benefit which is renewed each year and provide continuous cover for long-term or reocurring conditions.
For example Pet Plan Classic £7000 pay out up to £7000 each policy year. Even if you spent the majority of these funds the full £7000 benefit would be reinstated as soon as you reached your renewal date. Other insurance companies also offer “Cover for Life”, so please make sure you read the small print and ask all the relevant questions before you decide on a policy.
An excess (“your contribution”) is usually payable for each medical condition for each policy year. This amount varies between insurance companies and policies and can be a fixed amount, a percentage or both and often rises with your pet’s age.
Maximum Benefit Policies
Maximum Benefit policies offer a reduced level of long term cover compared to the above.
They provide a fixed maximum benefit for each medical condition.
For example Sainsbury’s Option2 policy pays out £7500 for each medical illness over your pet’s life time (other companies provide similar options).
The downside of these policies is that some conditions can be very costly and affect your pet for many years (such as diabetes and skin conditions) and if the maximum benefit is reached, the ongoing costs fall back on the owner to pay.
12 Months Policies
12 months policies offer the lowest level of long term cover.
A condition is only covered for a maximum of 12 months from the first symptom not just from the first claim.
Any fees occurring after that 12 months period will be declined by the insurance company.
It is possible therefore to be excluded from claiming for a condition without ever submitting a claim.
As many conditions can reoccur or involve ongoing costs, many people who purchase these policies (usually on a cost basis) are left out of pocket when their pet becomes ill.
INSURANCE TERMS AND DEFINITIONS
The amount deducted by your insurer should you make a claim as ‘your contribution’. This amount varies between insurance companies and usually rises with your pet’s age. An excess is payable for each medical condition for each policy year (with a couple of exceptions). Some companies charge fixed excesses, some charge a percentage and some charge both e.g. £115.00 plus 20%.
Many insurers don’t cover dentistry as part of the Veterinary fees benefits. Of the policies that do, an annual veterinary health check is required. As long as your pet is having annual booster vaccinations and has any necessary treatment done when advised, you will maintain full dental benefits. If a vet advises dental treatment or notes a dental problem failure to follow the recommended advice may result in future dental claims being declined.
If your pet has any pre-existing medical conditions, these must be declared to the insurance company at the time of inception (this is any treatment not classed as routine such as vaccinations or worming).
Boosters and worming are not covered by pet insurance.
Neutering is occasionally covered in order to treat certain medical conditions but not as a routine procedure.
Many insurers do not cover prescription diet. Those that do will usually have a limit on the amount that can be claimed.
When starting a policy or switching insurer it is important to remember that there will be an inception period. This means that for a specified number of days (usually 14) your pet will not be fully covered by your policy. Most insurers cover accidents only during this period, some don’t cover any veterinary fees at all.
- If you wish to switch insurers please beware that any previous claims or treatment your pet has received will count as a ‘pre-existing condition’ and will probably be excluded from cover on any new policy. Please remember that a condition can be classed as pre-existing even if you have never submitted a claim for this condition!
Many policies ask that your pet has a yearly vaccination to maintain full cover for specified conditions.
Please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org with any pet insurance related issues.