Pet Insurance Guide

Pet insurance may not be a legal requirement but it can certainly be useful in helping to protect your pet. This guide explains why you need pet insurance and some of the features of this type of policy.

What is pet insurance?

Your pet is truly a part of your family and so it's vital to protect them properly. Pet insurance can help to cover the financial burden should your pet be injured or become ill. This can help to take some of the stress out of the situation and give you greater peace of mind.

Pet insurance policies can cover a whole range of pet-related risks, such as kennels and boarding care if you fall ill, third-party liability to cover accidents caused by your pet and advertising costs if your pet goes missing. These little things can really help to make your life as a pet owner slightly easier.

Do I need pet insurance?

Looking after your pet carefully by feeding it a balanced diet, ensuring it has regular exercise, grooming and, of course, all the necessary vaccinations, can help to keep your animal healthy and happy. However, it is important to prepare for the unexpected and the costs that can come with your pet being injured or unwell.

Vet bills can be incredibly expensive and can stack up quickly in the event of an accident or illness. On average, the first dog insurance claim will cost over £500 and with cats going out and about exploring they may be at risk of an expensive claim too. Putting a policy in place when your animal is happy and healthy may seem like an unnecessary expense but it may save you a great deal of money in the future.

How much does pet insurance cost?

Pet insurance policies vary in cost dependent on a number of factors.

  • Pedigree and breed - Some pure-bred breeds can be more susceptible to certain illnesses which can impact the premiums, making them higher for certain breeds of animal. For example, kidney conditions are particularly common in Persian cats, whilst hip dysplasia is more common in retrievers than some other breeds.

  • Location - Where you live will influence the prices charged by your local vet, and therefore insurers will match premiums accordingly. For example, London vets are more likely to charge higher rates due to the increased ground rent they pay for their surgeries.

  • Level of cover - More basic levels of cover, such as accident only, will keep your premiums lower, whereas higher levels of cover will have fewer limitations which will increase your monthly cost.

  • Age - The chances of your pet becoming ill increases as they get older, it is therefore advised that you insure your pet at a young age which can also result in lower premiums.

What does pet insurance cover?

Different levels of pet insurance will include a variety of benefits, so it is important that you choose the right level of cover to suit your pet's needs. Some of the most common features of pet insurance are:

  • Vet fees - Pet 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 - If your pet goes missing it can be an incredibly distressing time. Having pet insurance can cover the cost of promotional materials and an advertised reward.

  • 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, your pet insurance can offer cover for costs incurred.

  • Boarding fees - If you, or a member of your family permanently living with you, are hospitalised on medical advice and are unable to look after your pet, you can include cover to keep your pet in a cattery or kennels until you are able to care for it again.

  • Multi-pet insurance - If you have more than one animal, you can usually buy multi-pet insurance which will cover your pets under the same policy.

Common pet insurance exclusions

Routine healthcare - Most pet insurance policies do not include standard healthcare such as vaccinations, spaying and flea control.

Age limits - Many policies have a maximum age above which you will not be able to begin a policy. However, if you have already insured your pet before this age, the policy will typically be renewable for the remainder of your pet’s life. It is worth noting that some cat insurance policies also have a minimum age limit, meaning you cannot insure kittens until they are a few weeks old.

Pre-existing injuries or illnesses - Cover will not include any illnesses or injuries that your pet suffered before taking out the policy. This means that should the same problem occur again you would not be covered.

It is also worth keeping in mind that if you have started claiming for a particular injury of illness suffered by your pet using one policy, but then change to a new one of 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 10-30 days between when you take out your pet insurance policy and when your cover begins. During this period, you will not be able to claim for any incidents, and if your pet suffers an injury or illness it will count as a pre-existing condition and would not be covered by your new policy.

Things to consider when choosing pet insurance

Insure your pet from a young age

Animals grow more susceptible to ill-health as they get older, so if your pet is currently healthy, insure it as soon as possible to avoid an unforeseen illness being classed as a pre-existing condition.

Look after your pet's day-to-day health

Most policies do not cover standard healthcare. Ensure your pet has received any vaccinations and you take any reasonable steps to maintain their health and wellbeing.

Pick the right level of cover

Consider the level of cover you require to suit your pet's needs and make sure the cover offered is sufficient for any anticipated vet's fees; especially if your pet is older.

Pet insurance from Towergate

Every pet is individual and it's important to get the right cover to suit them and you. Our partners at Healthy Pets can find the right policy to fit you and provide you with greater peace of mind. For more information visit the pet insurance page or call Healthy Pets on 01730 230 564 to speak to a specialist adviser.

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