Pets are part of the family, so it makes sense that we want to protect them as much as possible. This is just one reason why pet insurance should be an essential purchase, but it makes financial sense, too – vet treatments can run into the hundreds and even thousands of pounds, yet there are some people who still choose to forego such protection, citing cost and confusion as the main barriers.
Nevertheless, research from Consumer Intelligence shows that 53% of pet owners say that not insuring their pet is too risky given the potential treatment costs they could face, which in itself is enough reason for many to be suitably insured. This is despite concerns around terms and conditions – 41% of pet insurance customers said they find policies confusing – yet some still don't realise the benefits.
Of the surveyed pet owners who don't have cover, 50% say that policies are too expensive, while 28% don't think that insurance is worth it. However, you just need to think about the potential costs involved if you weren't covered to see that it really could be vital, with vet bills easily ramping up in the event of an illness or accident.
It needn't cost that much to be covered, either. Consumer Intelligence's data shows that dog owners can insure their prized pooch from as little as £66 a year for accident-only cover, a figure which can rise to £363 a year for the most comprehensive lifetime cover. Cat owners would pay between £47 and £171 for the same type of policies.
These figures have edged up slightly over the last few months, much like all other kinds of insurance premiums, but that shouldn't be enough to put you off. Indeed, accident-only cover for dogs has risen by less than £2 since September (up from £64.78) and for cats it's edged up by less than 50p (up from £46.78). Lifetime cover has risen slightly more for each – up from £346 and £162.79 respectively – but given the additional protection involved, it's a small price to pay.
There are other types of cover you can choose from, too, such as time limited cover and maximum benefit cover, so it all comes down to your individual requirements as well as your finances. Make sure to thoroughly check your level of protection, too – you wouldn't want to make a claim only to find you weren't covered, something which has impacted 15% of Consumer Intelligence's survey respondents.
It may seem like an extra bill, but it really can be invaluable. Around one in five (18%) of respondents have claimed in the past five years, while another 11% made claims more than five years ago, with 74% saying the claim was resolved quickly and 92% saying the quality of care was good or very good.
However, to make it really worthwhile, you need to make sure you're getting the right cover at the right price – even though it can sometimes be confusing.
"Pet insurance is a very complex purchase given the varying cover levels and product options to choose from, including a wide range of vet fee options, which can make it difficult for customers to choose," said John Blevins, Consumer Intelligence pricing expert.
"[This means] more than half of customers are not shopping around, but three-quarters of those who do switch are able to cut their annual premium, highlighting the benefits of researching the market."
So don't fear the terms and conditions – start researching the market thoroughly, taking a close look at everything from the price to the level of cover offered, and you'll be able to protect your pets with the perfect policy. Use our pet insurance comparison tool to get started.
Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.