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Pet Insurance – Is it a Good Idea?



It seems that the cost of treatment at the vets seems to be getting more expensive with every year that passes. Before any vets reading this take offence I know that most vets still offer very good value for the treatment provided.

Personal experience has taught me to avoid nasty financial surprises when owning pets, by taking out pet insurance with a reputable provider.

When choosing a policy there are a number of key things to check for to make sure the policy you are buying meets your needs. Monthly premiums can vary quite dramatically but the cheapest premiums are not necessarily offering the best value cover insurance cover for your pet.

When considering pet insurance there are a number of areas to consider. The most obvious being the cost of the premiums and the size of your budget. Average monthly premiums vary depending on the breed of animal you are looking to insure, age, medical history, age and your location or postcode. The typical range of premiums depending on the level of cover is £10-30 pounds per month for a dog and £8- 25 for a cat.

Most policies have some form of excess per claim with the range being between £60-100 depending on the level of cover. My advice is don’t be put off by what seems a relatively high figure in this case. Some policies do not have any excess, but premiums for these products tend to be higher. Recently I received a bill for nearly £500 when my dog was bitten on his ear. The injury itself was not too severe but the cost of drugs and stitches pushed overall cost up, and I was happy to get £400 of the fees back. A friend was able to reclaim more than £5000 when her beloved dog needed operations on her joints.

Pet Owners should check carefully the maximum value you can claim for any single claim or in a year. Once again, policies differ on both these figures. The typical ranges are £3000 to £7000 per year. Check carefully whether the figure quoted is for a year or per claim, as obviously this makes a big difference to the true value of your cover.

The various pet insurance companies also have differing rules regarding the age at which they will insure a pet. Some set maximum limits at which they will insure a pet up to, whilst others are happy to insure pets of any age but have an age limit for new policies. Typically the limits are about 8 years for a Dog and 10 years for a cat.

All Pet insurance companies, just like those offering human medical insurance want to know about any previous illnesses or complaints. Normally this is because they will exclude cover for conditions that the pet has shown it is susceptible to. Don’t be tempted not to be honest about these matters as insurance companies will invalidate claims where a previous condition is found to be a factor, sometimes leaving hefty bills to be paid out of the claimant’s pocket.

When insuring a new puppy or kitten some Insurers insist on a 14 day introductory period, during which claims will not be honoured. I have fallen foul of this clause in the past when a puppy I had bought was found to suffering from a virus within 3 days of me taking it home, leaving a £600 bill to be paid from my own pocket. Happily Sam survived; this left a bitter taste in the mouth when the claim was rejected, so my advice is read the small print.

I know that for those operating on low income £120 to £300 a year can be quite a large sum of money to find annually, but I would suggest those who can find the money to do so in preference to potentially very large surprise bills.

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