It’s fair to say searching for pet insurance can be a bit of a minefield! How do we know what the best policy is for our pets? There are multiple different insurance companies to search through and what’s more, within each company there are even more different types of policies to choose from.
What can pet insurance cover?
Depending on your insurer and the cover you have purchased your pet insurance can cover a range of things from an accident, dental treatment or to a lifetime illness like diabetes. Naturally not having a crystal ball we cannot predict what unexpected issues might arise in our pets so it is important to know what cover you want and what is affordable for you.
So what do the cover types mean?
Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive pet cover you can get, and could pay vet fees for your cat for the whole of your pet’s life. Lifetime cover can be the most expensive pet insurance, but it gives you peace of mind that ongoing conditions are catered for forever.
Time limited pet insurance, which can also be called 12 month or annual policies, cover you for vet fees over a 12 month period from the date your pet’s illness or injury first appeared for the time period stated.
After this, if your pet still needs treatment or medication you’ll be responsible. This is the most basic of illness-related pet insurance but can be invaluable if you can’t afford the more expensive covers, such as lifetime pet insurance.
Per condition policies are also known as Benefit Limited or Maximum Benefit policies. These policies impose a maximum benefit per condition so if your pet develops an ongoing illness such as diabetes, once the maximum cover amount is reached, that condition will then be excluded from any further claims.
There is often no time limit applied to these policies and the time taken to reach the maximum for each condition will vary depending on the nature and severity of the condition itself but once the maximum amount has been paid out you will need to be prepared to fund the ongoing treatment yourself. Each condition will have its own limit, so it is feasible that you could be claiming for more than one condition at the same time.
Accident Only Policies
These policies do what they say, provide cover up to a certain monetary limit or period of time (whichever comes first) for an accidental injury only. Claims for illnesses are not covered.
Pet Insurance vs. Self Insurance?
Many people prefer to ‘self -insure’ by saving a set amount each month to pay for potential vet bills. If this is something you do decide to do, there are a few things to be aware of:
- You would need to be disciplined and think about how much you can afford to put by each month, and ensure it is put aside!
- The money you save would be in addition to what you spend on routine things like vaccinations, teeth cleaning and flea treatment
- The average cost of insuring a cat in a low-risk area is around £180 a year. If you saved this amount each year it would give you £1800 after 10 years. If your cat develops a chronic condition it could cost you thousands of pounds in treatment and it would then be very difficult to then find an insurer for your cat as the condition is pre-existing
- What would happen if your cat got injured or unwell after one year of saving? £180 would not be enough to cover an operation, or long term medication which would mean you would need to fund this yourself
We recommend a lifetime cover policy as any illness/accident that isn’t already pre-existing should be covered by a lifetime plan. It’s also important to keep your pet insured for its lifetime as one of the most common mistakes people make is to insure their pets for the beginning of their life, luckily not needing to claim, deciding in their later years that it isn’t needed and then their pet develops a lifelong condition.
For example if you have a 12 year old cat that gets hyperthyroidism, the condition could potentially cost over £5000 to treat. If you do not have insurance would you have the funds to cover this?
Whereas if you had insurance that might cost you £30 a month, with only the excess and possible % in contribution towards the bill, the ability to care for your beloved pet isn’t as difficult.
Pre-existing condition is where your cat has had an illness, injury or been seen for signs of possible illness or injury before the insurance policy started. You must declare any pre-existing conditions when trying to get insurance for your pet otherwise the policy might be void. If your pet does have a pre-existing condition don’t let this put you off, you might still be able to find a company to insure your cat, although it’s very likely that you’ll not get any cover for the pre-existing condition.
Pet insurance can be a bit of a minefield, but it is something, which we believe is essential. For the most current advice, we would always recommend discussing this with your Veterinary Surgery next time you visit.