How to Choose the Best Pet Insurance
Published: 20 July 2011 By Julian Stone Leave a Comment
Veterinary bills have a habit of coming along at the worst possible time. But how can you find the best pet insurance for your needs?
They say trouble comes in threes, and it’s amazing how often a big vet’s bill is the third disaster in the sequence.
Pet owners will be familiar with the phenomenon. If you started the week by writing off your car and got your credit card stolen on Wednesday, you can be sure that you’ll be facing a huge vet’s bill by Friday.
(There’s also another phenomenon – and that’s the way cats disappear for a full 24 hours on the day you’ve booked their vet’s appointment. But that’s a discussion for another time!)
The fact is, though, that veterinary bills have a habit of appearing when you least need them – and if they’re really big, they can cause havoc with your finances.
That’s why wise pet owners choose the best pet insurance they can find.
But with so many policies out there, all offering difference levels of cover, how can you be sure you’ve chosen the best pet insurance for your needs?
Every pet is different, but if you ask yourself some of the questions below it should make finding the best pet insurance a whole lot easier.
How much excess are you willing to pay?
Rather like car insurance, most pet insurance comes with an agreed level of excess.
This is the money you contribute each time you make a claim.
Imagine you took out dog insurance that covered your pet for £4,000 worth of treatment. If the policy came with an excess of £60, that’s the amount you will pay out of your own pocket each time your dog needs treatment.
The idea behind the excess is to prevent policy holders from claiming for lots of minor treatment that costs you little – but costs a lot for the insurance companies to deal with.
However, note that pet insurance offers different types of excess. They include:
- Fixed excess. Like in the example above, this is a fixed amount you pay each time your pet needs treatment.
- Annual excess. Imagine your dog suffers from the same condition over a period of two policy years. In that case you will have to pay the excess once in each of those years.
- Percentage excess. Just that – you pay a percentage of each claim from your own pocket. The bigger the bill, the bigger the excess.
- Variable excess. The amount you pay can vary depending on where you live, or the age of your pet.
So be sure to check which kind of excess applies to any policy you take out – and whether it suits your needs.
How old is your pet?
Pet insurance policies may cost more as your pet gets older, and you may not be able to get cover once your pet reaches a certain age.
For example, you may find it difficult to get dog insurance if your pet is 10 years or older – and if you do, you are likely to pay high premiums.
However, you need to weigh up whether higher premiums are worth paying. If your pet is in good health and normally needs only an annual checkup and occasional injections, then you may be better off paying the bills out of your own pocket.
On the other hand, if your pet is starting to be affected by age and is likely to need more expensive treatment, higher premiums may give you good value for money.
Does your pet have an existing condition?
If your pet has a recurring condition or illness, it won’t be easy to find cover for it.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t take out pet insurance. For example, if your cat suffers from arthritis, you can find a policy that covers everything except arthritis and, perhaps, some related conditions.
What exclusions apply to pet insurance policies?
Take a close look at the exclusions applied by insurers. Even the best pet insurance policies will have a list of conditions and breeds they won’t cover.
For example your policy may not cover treatments like worming or vaccinations, home visits, dental treatment or hereditary conditions. Similarly, you won’t find dog insurance for animals restricted under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 or cover for animals under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.
Before taking out any cover, check the list of exclusions thoroughly – or you may find yourself seriously out of pocket.
What breed is your pet?
These days, it’s increasingly popular to own exotic or unusual pets. In addition to the more common dogs, cats and rabbits, people are opting for exotic pets like parrots, lizards, snakes, iguanas, salamanders, chameleons and many other species.
In addition, you may own a horse or working animals such as sheepdogs.
In all of these cases, it’s worth checking the exclusions of any policy and shopping around for specialist cover.
How can I compare the cost of pet insurance?
If you want to find the best pet insurance policies, a good place to start is with comparison sites. If you have a dog, cat or rabbit a great place to start is at Quotezone – which will help you choose between a number of competing policies.
Good luck – and here’s hoping your pets stay healthy and happy!