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Pet Insurance FAQs

The British are a nation of pet lovers, with millions of us enjoying taking our dogs for walks, and letting our cats patrol our neighbourhoods. However, pets are not cheap; not only do they need feeding and accessories such as toys and bedding, they also need to be looked after. And when an animal needs an operation or gets injured or ill, it can sometimes be a very expensive business.

Pet insurance might be able to help, but its important to get the right cover. There's no ‘one collar fits all' approach – the difference between a terrapin, a bull mastiff or an eagle is vast, and so are the insurance policies. According to figures reported by the Association of British Insurers in The Telegraph, the average single pet insurance claim now costs more than £600.

What are my pet insurance options?

There are four main types of pet insurance – in order of cost (cheapest first) they are:

  • Accident only: Self-explanatory, and will only pay out in the event of an injury and not illness. Some policies only pay out if treatment is received within a certain time.
  • Time limited: pays out for illness or injury, but only if treatment occurs within a set time such as a year. There will also probably be a maximum payout, and the premium owner would pay any extra.
  • Maximum benefit: This will pay out at any time, but there is a maximum payment.
  • Lifetime: The most expensive cover, but also the most comprehensive.

What information will be needed before I insure my pet?

For cats, dogs, and the more common animals, the basics are: age of animal, breed, any existing medical conditions, and schedule of vaccinations. Insuring a pet when it is young and healthy will be cheaper than when it is middle-aged or elderly.

However, this does not cover some of the more unusual and exotic animals. Some animals are not just pets, but also hobbies or even used for work, such as show dogs, horses and ponies, pigeons and rarer reptiles. Horse insurance, in particular, might also include insurance for riders, tack and horseboxes.

Why would an insurer fail to pay out?

This really depends on the animal and the circumstances of the claim, but some of the more common reasons described by the Financial Ombudsman include:

  • The claim can be proven to be fraudulent
  • Incorrect dates for diagnosis, treatment etc
  • Non-disclosure of pre-existing conditions
  • Treatment not carried out by a vet or appropriate person

How can I lower pet insurance prices?

As with any insurance, the fewer the number of claims you make, the lower the premium will be – in a perfect world. Of course, that's why you should use comparison sites to look for the best deals. However, the following are all measures

  • Regular vaccinations when necessary
  • Microchipping
  • Move – if you live in an area where animals are regularly stolen or hit by cars, then your premium could be affected.
  • Keeping your pet healthy with exercise and good food. While this will not directly affect the price, your animal is less likely to get ill – and therefore fewer claims.
  • Breed: This is a major element of the costs for dogs, as some breeds are just less likely to become ill or suffer from certain ailments. Insurance payments for a bulldog could be two or three times the cost of those for a terrier/toy dog. So if you're thinking of buying a dog, factor this into your decision.
  • Setting a higher excess: This is the amount that you would pay out in the event of the claim. The higher the excess, the lower the premium – but the more you would pay out.

What happens if my pet dies or disappears?

Some insurers will not pay out if either of these circumstances occurs within the first few days of the cover being taken out. However, once this period (say ten days) has finished, insurers may help with costs to find a lost animal, or reimburse you for its purchase costs up to a certain price.

Is pet insurance worth it?

A brutal question when you're talking about what many people class as a family member, but still one that is worth asking. Even a £20 policy per month for a dog would equate to £2,880 over the space of 12 years. If that dog never falls ill or gets injured and just needs a few jabs here and there, then you'll have paid thousands of pounds into a premium that was unnecessary – but no-one can predict the future.

The decision becomes particularly difficult as the pet ages, it gets more ill and needs more care, leading to increased yearly costs.

What else do I need to know?

  • Some insurance policies cover overseas travel for your pet, and even cremation costs.
  • You can add terms for ‘breeding risk' to your dog's policy, but check the restrictions.
  • In the event of an emergency for the pet owner, check whether your insurer will pay for kennels and a cattery to look after the animals.

How can I get a cheap quote?

One way to get a cheap quote is through using a comparison website. We have partnered with Quotezone.co.uk who compare 10+ pet insurance providers and are 100% independent meaning they are not owned or have investment from any insurance company.