Dog Insurance Guide

Why do you need insurance for your dog, and what features and exclusions are usually found in this type of pet insurance? Read our guide to find out more.

What's in this guide?

What is dog insurance?

If dogs truly are man's best friend, it's vital to protect them properly, and dog insurance is there for many eventualities. As well as relieving stress if your beloved pet is ill, injured or lost, the right dog or puppy insurance helps with what can be the astronomical cost of unexpected veterinary treatment.

Policies can also cover a range of dog-related risks, including: boarding kennel care if you, as the owner, fall ill; third-party liability cover for owners against accidents caused by your dog or puppy, and advertising costs if your dog becomes lost or is stolen.

Do I need dog insurance?

Dog insurance is as much about peace of mind as it is about finances: whilst you might pay premiums for years and not have to claim, could you afford a substantial vet bill if your pet fell ill or had an accident?

On average, a first dog insurance claim will cost well over £500, so compare this with the cost of your premiums and the likelihood that you'll make a claim. For example, insurance for older dogs and pedigree dogs is often more expensive, but they are more likely to require medical attention; or, in the case of pedigrees, be stolen. Larger dogs, meanwhile, are more likely to suffer from joint problems, while bulldogs can develop respiratory difficulties.

How much does dog insurance cost?

Dog and puppy insurance policies vary in cost and are based on five key factors:

1. Dog pedigree and breed - Certain breeds of dog are more susceptible to specific illnesses and injuries than others, for example hip dysplasia is more common in Retrievers than some other breeds.

2. Where you live - Your location will influence the prices charged by your local veterinary practice, and thus the premiums required. London vets have a higher ground rent than elsewhere and therefore are likely to need to charge more.

3. Gender - There is a significant difference in the risk or costs of illness between male and female dogs, dependant on breed. Male dogs may get into a few more scraps and scrapes than female dogs which can increase the premiums.

4. Age - Dogs and puppies have a greater risk of becoming ill as they get older. Insuring your pet earlier will usually result in lower premiums.

5. Your level of dog and puppy cover - Lower or more basic levels of cover will keep your premiums lower, while higher levels of cover will have fewer limitations, therefore increasing your monthly cost. For example, accident only cover will not provide cover for any illness, thus lowering your premium.

What does dog insurance cover?

There are a variety of benefits available through different levels of dog and puppy insurance policy, so research the one that best suits your pet's needs. Some of the most common features available are:

Vet fees – Dog insurance covers you for veterinary bills for illness and injury, up to a certain sum yearly or over the life of your pet (depending on your policy).

Advertising and recovery costs – In the particularly stressful situation where your pet is lost or stolen, dog insurance can help by covering costs for an advertised reward and promotional materials.

Boarding kennel fees – Should you, or a member of your family permanently living with you, have to be kept in hospital on medical advice and unable to care for your dog or puppy, most dog insurance policies will cover the cost of boarding your pet in a kennel until you return home.

Holiday cancellation costs – If you have to cancel your holiday because your pet has fallen ill and you have to remain at home to care for it, dog insurance policies can include cover for costs incurred.

Overseas travel – Policies can be extended to cover a period when your dog is abroad in a listed country or territory under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS).

Multi-pet insurance – If you have more than one animal, you can usually also purchase multi-pet insurance, covering all your pets under one policy.

Dental insurance - Dental cover for accidents and injuries may be offered as a standard benefit on some dog insurance policies, or an additional feature with others.

Dog Insurance Exclusions

Routine dog healthcare – Most policies will exclude standard healthcare such as grooming, flea treatments, vaccinations, wormers, bathing or de-matting, spaying or neutering.

Age limits – Dog insurance providers usually have a maximum age above which you cannot begin a policy. However, if you have already insured your dog before the maximum age, cover will usually be renewable for your dog’s remaining lifespan. 

Pre-existing injuries or illnesses – Cover will not be offered for illnesses or injuries your dog suffered before you took out the policy. This means if the same problem occurs again, your dog will not be covered.

Also, if you have started claiming for a particular injury or illness suffered by your dog using one policy, but then change to a new one or a different insurer, that condition will be considered as pre-existing and will not be covered by your new policy.

Waiting period – There will typically be 10 to 30 days between when you take out your dog insurance policy and when your cover begins. During this period, you will not be able to claim for any incidents, and if your dog suffers an injury or illness, it will count as a pre-existing condition and not be covered by your policy.

Things to consider when choosing your dog insurance policy

Insure your dog or puppy from a young age - Dogs grow more susceptible to ill-health as they get older, so if your pet is healthy at the moment you should insure it as soon as possible to avoid an unexpected illness being classed as a pre-existing condition.

Look after your dog's day-to-day health - Most policies do not cover standard healthcare. Ensure your dog or puppy has received any vaccinations required, and you have taken all reasonable steps to maintain its health and avoid injury, illness, loss or theft, in order to fulfil your policy requirements.

Pick the right dog insurance first time  - Consider what you need from your policy to suit you and your dog’s needs, and make sure the cover offered is sufficient for any anticipated vet’s fees: especially when your dog is older. If you need guidance, speak to one of our specialist advisers.

Cover your dog

To give you peace of mind, you can get pet insurance that is tailored to the needs of your dog or puppy; and to you as the owner. Contact Healthy Pets today for a bespoke quote on 01730 230 564 or online. Healthy Pets and Towergate are part of the Ardonagh Group.

Dog insurance guide

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