10 Top Tips for Buying Pet Insurance
These tips for buying pet insurance focus on the needs of a family pet owner.
Cost effective cover can be bought for a reasonable price, provided the buyer is aware of the potential pitfalls. Important things you need to know are outlined in this video and the tips below for buying pet insurance:
How much should you expect to pay?
The premium for pet insurance offering roughly equivalent benefits varies enormously. However, think in terms of £15 a month being about the minimum for what the average person might call comprehensive cover. Lifetime cover starts at around this figure for a two year old dog. Although as explained in the main guide to pet insurance, this depends on the type of dog and its age when insured. Anything more and there is probably a good reason. If you are paying much less, you may well find the cover will have restrictions.
Watch out for age restrictions
The insurance company knows that older animals have health issues. Vets’ bills are inevitable and expensive, especially in the diagnosis and treatment of a serious or chronic condition. Those very low premiums charged for pet insurance that ends when a dog is 10 years of age, reflect that there is no cover for the very common ‘end of life’ claims.
Vets fees - what level of cover?
Most people probably think £2000 to cover vets fees is more than enough. Sadly this is frequently inadequate and is certainly more likely to be so 10 years from now. A significant number of insurers now offer a £4000 limit for vets fees. Some say this is the minimum as vets fee are increasing well above the general inflation rate.
Watch out for policy excess amounts increasing
Some providers keep their premiums low, but instead significantly increase your excess for vets fees as your pet gets older. This excess can be a percentage contribution toward the cost of treatment – typically 20%, but some are higher. This would mean a £2000 vet’s bill would be split with you paying £400 toward the claim plus your £100 (typical) policy excess. In this case the insurance company will only pay out £1500. Monitor your policy excess levels and ensure that you can cover any shortfalls – this could be a large sum in the case of an unexpected vet’s bill.
If you are in this position, or over 50 and approaching retirement, give some thought to future premiums. Perhaps you would be much better served by choosing to pay more premium for a policy that does not change and always has the same excess, throughout the life of your pet.
If you claim for something some policies will exclude cover for the same condition the next year
As well as the premiums going up, policy terms and conditions can change as your pet gets older. The excess has already been mentioned. Standard monthly paid policies will usually exclude any condition for which a claim has already been made.
Eczema is a good example of a condition that may affect your pet for many years, but only Lifetime Cover would still enable you to continue claiming for it after your next policy renewal following the claim. Good pet insurers offer a Lifetime Cover option. All charge 30 to 40 percent more for Lifetime Cover than their standard cover. Please refer to the main Guide to Pet Insurance for details of the different types of Lifetime Cover on offer.
Vets bill inflation - don't be caught out
Your premium will go up to reflect the increased cost of claims as well as the greater chance of claims occurring. Vets fees have been rising well above the rate of inflation. This simply reflects the huge range of treatments now available. The quality on offer and fees charged can be comparable with a private hospital.
Understand how much your premiums are likely to go up in future
Think carefully before signing up for a new pet insurance policy just because of an initial special offer or discount. These discounts usually only apply for the first year of cover, then revert to the full price next year and for the following 12 years. To get a better idea of value in the market place, get several online quotes using different pet ages. This will give you a better idea if your prospective provider is likely to continue to offer you good value in the future. You will find a few minutes spent comparing prices can be very useful.
Paying for the brand
Many supermarkets, banks and other big brands offer pet insurance, however their cover might be outsourced to specialist providers. These brands may charge a premium for their name, and you could find that same pet insurance specialists will offer you similar products directly and for a lower premium.
Knowledge of dog breed cover restrictions
There are known issues with certain breeds such as hip displacement with German Shepherds and the shorter life of many bigger dogs (notably Great Danes). This is reflected in the terms and conditions of any policy you are offered. The insurers are very open about this, however you must not simply gloss over the detail. The providers only offer cover for unexpected costs and not inevitable payments for inherent disorders.
Teeth and gums
Most policies do not cover tooth or gum disease, so never let your dog develop a sweet tooth.
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