For many people, pets are part of the family. Taking care of your pet may involve bringing them to the vet from time to time. This could be for a check-up, or a routine procedure like a vaccination.
But there may be times when you will have to pay for unexpected medical expenses for your pet. For example, if they have an accident, or suffer from age-related health issues.
If your pet becomes ill and needs to have a medical procedure, it can be a tough time for your family. To avoid the financial strain, you could take out pet insurance to protect you. Be sure you know what you are buying and what cover you will get.
Types of cover
You can get insurance for dogs and cats, but some insurers will also cover rabbits, birds and horses. Most pet insurance policies, depending on the level of cover, will include cover for:
- vet fees for illness and injury
- looking after your pet if you are in hospital e.g. boarding kennels or cattery fees
- holiday cancellation if your pet has to go to hospital or goes missing
- advertising if your pet goes missing
- rewards for lost or stolen pets
- death of your pet from illness or accident
- theft of your pet
- third party liability and legal costs if your pet damages property or injures another person – you may already have this cover under the liability section of your home insurance
There are three main types of cover for your pet:
Accident only cover
Annual cover or time-limited cover
Tips to help you get the best deal on your pet insurance policy
Shop around to work out the best option for you and your pet. Compare prices online through comparison sites, or contact insurers over the phone. After-hours emergency care can be very expensive, so check that your standard policy includes it.
Make sure you know whether the policy covers injury only, or both injury and illness. Injury only policies are generally cheaper. This is because injury and illness policies offer more comprehensive cover.
Speak to your vet about common medical conditions or research them online. For example, the breed of your dog may mean it is prone to certain conditions. Your vet should be able to give you an idea of how much cover you need for your pet.
Some insurers have restrictions on how much they will cover on certain conditions. For example, a ‘bilateral condition’. This is a medical condition that may affect your pet on both sides of the body, such as its knees, ears, eyes or hips. Most insurers will consider this as one single condition. So this can reduce the level of cover for both of these conditions. Being familiar with these conditions will help you to avoid any unexpected impact on a claim.
Paying for your pet insurance
You can usually pay premiums monthly by direct debit, or as a yearly fee. There may be a charge if you decide to pay by direct debit.
The price of pet insurance will vary depending on where you live and your pet’s breed and age. Your premium will be more expensive the older your pet is. Some insurers will not accept pets over a certain age, usually between 6-8 years old. Some breeds of dog will only be insured up to the age of five. Check the age limit with the insurer.
Some insurers will offer discounts if you insure more than one pet. They may also offer discounts if you apply for an insurance policy online, or if pet owners are over 60.
Things to consider
What's not covered?
Is my pet covered straight away?
Are there any extra costs if I need to make a claim?
Can I cancel my insurance policy?
Last updated on 7 April 2022