Which Pet Insurance?

If you are reading this, hopefully you will have read my previous post, here, and already have a short list of recommended pet insurance companies that you think might be worth checking out.

Now is the time to ring around a few and get some quotes.

Remember that premiums for pets living in and around London may be up to twice as much as for pets living out of London, and that it’s often cheaper to insure an animal listed as a ‘crossbreed’, than it is to insure one with a listed purebred parent.

Once you have found an insurance policy that appears to tick all your boxes, then work your way down the following list and make sure you know exactly what is, and isn’t covered by the policy you are considering. Don’t be afraid to ring the company concerned and ask questions if the small print seems open to interpretation.

Dental work. The majority of dogs and cats will need dental work at some point. Animals won’t just lie back and open their mouths, even for a simple scale and polish. An   anaesthetic is usually needed and the cost will be at least £200. Dental work, and even gum disease are often excluded, especially with annual policies.

Pre-Existing Conditions. The time to insure your pet is when they are young and healthy. Most insurance policies exclude previous conditions, so changing companies once you’ve reached the payout limit for one isn’t an option. It’s worth checking whether cancer is treated as a blanket exclusion or whether the policy considers different types of cancer  to be different conditions, deserving individual amounts of cover.

Death. You won’t want to even think about this if you have a brand new pet, but some insurance policies do pay for your pet to be put to sleep if they are very sick, or badly injured. Some cover cremation or burial, and others will pay for a replacement. The latter will obviously only be necessary if you paid a lot for your pet in the first place.

The PET Travel Scheme. If you regularly travel to other EU countries with your pet, you should make sure any policies you are looking at cover them while out of the UK. Please note, that for any cover to be effective, you will need to have a Pet Passport and to have followed DEFRA’s guidelines for travel. Some insurers also offer to cover the costs of replacing a lost pet passport or any quarantine expenses that may arise from such a loss.

Holiday Cover. Sod’s law dictates that your pet is most likely to become ill or injured just before, or during, your well-deserved holiday. If you would like to be covered for this eventuality, there are policies that will pick up the tab if you have to cancel or shorten your  trip because your pet becomes poorly.

Lost and Found. If your pet goes missing, you will want to do everything possible to ensure they are safely found. Some policies will cover the cost of advertising with flyers, posters or in the local press. Other policies will even cover the cost of a reward, or a replacement if the worst happens and your pet doesn’t return.

Boarding Fees. If you are called away from home suddenly, or are unexpectedly admitted to hospital, you may have no choice but to put your pet into a  cattery or kennel.  Some policies will cover these fees, but often there is a minimum number of nights. Other policies will pay for a dog walker if you are unable to exercise your pet for any reason.

Accidental Damage. Some policies do offer protection against ‘accidental damage’ by pets, but  the fine print often says they exclude any damage caused by ‘biting, scratching, fouling or urinating’. You are likely to be already covered for accidental damage through your house insurance, so it’s worth checking that first before you shell out for a more expensive pet insurance policy.

You may be able to negotiate a different price by doing without some of the benefits normally offered on a policy. And there is often the option of reducing your monthly premium by increasing the excess you will pay in the event of needing to claim. It’s always worth asking.

Look out for the final instalment of my pet insurance advice series coming next week.




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