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Are your pets protected?

Are your pets protected?

Category: Insurance
Author: Tim Leonard
Updated: 12/03/2018

"How much is that doggie in the window?" Well, the answer is quite expensive, if he develops arthritis!

Pets get ill and they have accidents, too. But whereas we have the NHS to treat us - your pet does not. Pet insurance is a way to take the strain off your finances should your pet fall ill and can prevent you from having to make a heart-breaking life or death decision based purely on financial reasons.

The first thing to say about pet cover probably goes without saying, but let's say it anyway: shop around! Policies differ greatly both on price and by what's covered (or not covered, as the case may be), so make sure you get the best you can for your wallet and, more importantly, for your pet.

There are three main levels of pet insurance available:

Time capped

This is usually the cheaper option. A time capped policy, as you might have guessed, means that a claim will only be paid for a set period of time. After this expires, you would have to foot the veterinary bills yourself. Although this gives some level of protection, if your pet ends up with a long-running medical condition, such as diabetes, you'll be faced with the vet bills for the rest of your pet's life without being able to insure them elsewhere (as this would then be excluded as a pre-existing condition).

Financially capped

This type of cover may not be time limited but will have a cap on how much will be paid out in the event of a claim. For instance, if your pet had cancer and your policy was financially capped at £4,000, the policy would cover the first £4,000 of treatment, after which you would then have to pay for the rest of your pet's life.

Lifelong cover

The most comprehensive type of cover available (and therefore the most expensive) will pay out, up to a financial limit, for as long as is needed. Unlike financially capped cover, this financial cap 'resets' every year.

The level of cover is an important consideration, but is by no means the only one when it comes to selecting a pet insurance policy.

Here are some extra things you need to think about before insuring your pooch or moggy:

  • Excess. A higher excess will mean a lower premium. Choose your excess wisely though and set it at a level you know you will be able to easily afford.

  • Some insurers will cap what they'll pay at a percentage of the treatment costs, such as 80% or 90%, meaning you'd have to pay the difference. Would you be able to do this? Be sure of the cover you're buying and always read the small print.

  • Read all of the small print. What exactly is covered by the policy? Some policies just cover accidents and illnesses, while others offer a more comprehensive cover, extending to vaccinations and check-ups. Don't assume that there is a standard list of what is covered, and don't make an assumption based on what you would expect to have covered - you don't want to get a shock if you need to claim, so read the small print carefully before you take out the policy.

  • Pre-existing conditions. One thing that you can bet will be in the small print is that the insurer will not cover your pet for a condition that existed prior to you taking out the policy. If you have an existing policy where the condition is covered, you would be better not to switch as you will be reducing what your pet is covered for.

  • Your pet's age and breed, as well as where you live, will affect your pet insurance premium. Some breeds of animal are more susceptible to certain ailments than others, and obviously the chance of illness increases with age. Something you may not have considered is where you live: vet bills tend to be more expensive in London and the South East, for example.

  • Liability. Your pet could cause damage to property, or injure another animal or even a person. In these cases, you are liable. Most pet insurance policies cover this liability, but check the small print (for example, some insurers will only offer this cover for dogs). If your pet causes damage to your house or contents, you may be able to make a claim on your buildings and contents insurance; it wouldn't be covered by your pet insurance (as this only covers loss to a third party).

What next?

Looking for Pet Insurance? Compare Pet Insurance providers

Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.