Five steps to buying pet insurance

April 18, 2016

For most of us pets are part of the family, which means taking care of them when they are sick or injured. Apart from routine check-ups, your pet may someday need to visit the vet for more serious issues, such as an illness. To avoid costly veterinary bills it may be worthwhile taking out pet insurance, but before you do check out our five steps to buying pet insurance:

1 – Choose the right cover for your pet

It can be difficult to decide how much insurance cover to get for your pet. Pet insurance normally covers cats and dogs but some insurers will also cover rabbits, birds and horses. You may not know what type of cover you should get for your pet. For instance, you may be unsure whether to get “Accident only” cover, which covers accidental injuries such as your dog getting hit by a car, or “Lifetime cover”, which covers your pet for an illness and/or injury which requires treatment for several years over your pet’s lifetime. It is a good idea to find out first what illnesses your breed of dog or cat may be prone to. You can ask your vet for advice. Focus on getting the cover you need rather than paying for cover you don’t need. When choosing pet insurance check what the policy covers. Most pet insurance policies cover vet fees for illness or injury, care for your pet if you are in hospital and rewards for lost or stolen pets.

2 – Get the best deal on your pet insurance

Make sure you get the best deal on your pet insurance by getting quotes from a number of insurers either online or over the phone. As you are going along, write down all the facts and figures so that you can clearly compare what’s on offer. Also be aware, if you choose to pay your premium monthly by direct debit instead of paying the yearly fee you may have to pay additional charges.

3 – Check what is not covered in your policy  

Insurers won’t insure any pre-existing conditions your pet has. On most policies, routine treatments such as vaccination and neutering won’t be covered. Flea and worm control and anything related to pregnancy or birth are also excluded.  Also, watch out for things like after-hours emergency care which can be very expensive and may not be included in a standard policy.

4 – Check what happens if you cancel your policy

If you bought pet insurance and then changed your mind, you can cancel it. You have 14 days to cancel and get a full refund from the contract start date. However, you will be charged for the time you were insured for. You may also be charged an administrative fee. Any charges or fees should be set out in the terms of business which you should get when an insurance policy is sold to you. If you want to cancel after 14 days, you may have to pay the rest of the annual premium or you may not get a refund if you paid up front. Check what the terms and conditions are if you do want to cancel your cover at a later date.

5 – Know what to expect if you have to make a claim

If you have to make a claim, you will have to pay an excess fee. The excess is the first part of the claim that you need to pay yourself. For example, if the excess is €150, you will have to pay that amount towards treating each illness or injury that you claim for. Some policies may charge you more if your pet reaches a certain age, for instance if you have a dog over eight years old. Any claim you make will impact on the premium you pay when you are renewing your insurance.

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