Comprehensive UK Guide
We’re constantly bombarded with all sorts of insurances and plans, from Pet Insurance
to Car, House and more. Before you dive into an insurance agreement it’s always a great idea to find out as much information as possible.
For some people an animal is more than just a pet, it’s a family member who contributes both love and joy to the household. Pet Insurance is there to cover the cost of any veterinary bills or treatment.
It’s also worth mentioning that Pet Insurance isn’t only for our fluffy and furry friends. Apart from Dogs, Cats and Birds, pet assurance can cover other animals such as rabbits, chinchillas, ferrets, reptiles, snakes, turtles, lizards and so on.
Veterinary medicine and treatment has developed tremendously over the past few decades. Vets now have access to a wide range of modern and sophisticated machinery. This makes it much easier for a veterinarian to detect and treat a whole range of animal symptoms.
The United Kingdom has a range of pet insurance providers
who offer many different types of treatment plans. For example, some pet policies may ‘pay out’ if your pet dies, while others may ‘pay out’ if your pet is stolen or lost. Equally just like car protection, you will find that some insurers offer ‘third party’ policies.
This simply means they may pay the other party if your pet causes injury or damage to somebody else. However as mentioned each plan will offer different protection and policies so it’s always recommended to read the fine print before signing up.
When weighing up the options of animal protection, you need to think about how you would deal with an unexpected bill. Would you be able to pay out of your general savings? If the answer is ‘no’, pet cover should certainly be considered. Unfortunately, just like humans all animals are different, while this gives them a unique personality, it also means they could have different health issues. Certain breeds of animal can be more vulnerable or prone to specific problems. For example, larger dogs such as Labradors will ‘typically’ suffer from joint problems as they age, while smaller dogs such as Bulldogs can develop respiratory complications.
How to Get a Good Deal for Pet Cover
Everybody wants to get the best deal possible, not just for their animal but also for their wallet. If you’ve never insured a pet before then you may feel at first glance it can seem rather expensive. However, if self-funding a veterinary bill isn’t viable for you, animal insurance is the only real alternative.
Before purchasing any type of pet protection, you should consider the following points:
- It’s always recommended to buy pet insurance when your animal is ‘young and healthy’. This is because it’s simply much easier to find a provider willing to take you on. The younger a pet is, the more unlikely you are of making a claim.
- It becomes much more difficult to find an insurance provider as your pet ages. This is because of various factors including an increased chance you will make a claim, and the fact the animal may already have ‘pre-existing’ health conditions.
- At the time of publication, one should consider a policy which ‘pays out’ throughout your pet’s lifetime. This simply means it will cover conditions that require treatment ‘year after year’. This differs from other policies which are only on a ‘yearly basis’. A generic yearly pet policy will usually be cheaper, however you will have to ‘shop around’ for the best deal each year. This means you may have to change providers several times over a pet’s lifetime. However, a lifetime agreement is simply with one provider, the only drawback is its rather expensive compared to others (and premiums may rise with inflation).
Did you Know? The average UK pet insurance claim is around £700. As this is an ‘average’ claim, some can be much lower, however equally others can run into thousands of pounds.
Types of Pet Insurance – Understand the Different Plans
There’s lots of different types of Pet Insurance on the market today. Sometimes when comparing policies, it can feel like they’re written in a completely different language!
In the United Kingdom, there’s an array of companies and animal insurance providers offering different types of services and options, it can all seem like a major headache from start to finish!
It’s essential that you understand exactly what your pet policy will do for you in the event of a claim.
Did you know?
It’s stated that around 70% of all pet insurance claims in the UK are for illness, rather than accidents.
Pet Plans - Basic Terms
- Policy Year – When purchasing pet cover, the policy year simply relates to the start and end date of the agreement. This is clearly recognised on all policies and related schedules. Every year you will get documents which confirm any policy renewal. It doesn’t matter if you pay monthly or yearly, the policy agreement is ‘officially’ renewed once a year.
- Premium – Just like other insurances, this is the amount you will pay for your pet policy each year. It doesn’t matter if you renew with the same company or change to another provider. The premium amount may change depending on multiple circumstances such as your pets age, if you’ve made any claims or general inflation.
- Excess – This is the amount of money you will pay a vet towards any treatment. An excess payment is only payable if you make a claim. The amount of excess will be clearly stated on all policy documentation. Typically, it’s a ‘fixed sum’ of money, however some insurance providers may use a percentage, and others may use a combination of the two. It’s always important to read all information regarding any excess before you sign the agreement.
- Exclusions – It’s important you keep an ‘eye out’ for any exclusions on your animal policy coverage. As all insurances are individually based on your pet’s specific needs, exclusions can vary wildly. Typically, pet policies will exclude ‘pre-existing conditions’ and some even reject basic treatment like dentistry. It’s always recommended to read the small print.
- Pre-Existing Conditions – If your pet has an established medical condition before a policy has been taken out, this pre-existing ailment may be excluded from your policy. Generally, it doesn’t matter if you have ‘claimed’ for that condition or not on another insurance. You are obliged to provide an insurer with the details of all your veterinary visits you have attended. Equally all vets are obliged to provide a full clinical history to an animal insurance company if they request that information.
- Lifetime Policies vs Yearly Policies – Typically a lifetime pet policy will be valid for renewal each year, however any conditions that you have claimed for, would still normally be ‘covered’ in the new insurance year. Just like regular home or car protection, the policy premium and excess may change on a yearly basis. It’s important to note that if your pet’s treatment ‘falls’ over the policy renewal date, then another excess will usually need to be paid.
A yearly pet plan (also known as an annual policy) will cover illness or treatment claimed for during the one insurance year. It will generally be excluded from the next year, even if you continue to use the same provider. Again, it’s important to note that if your pet’s treatment falls over the renewal date the pet protection company may only pay costs for the first year, not the total sum of treatment. This can vary depending on providers. Always read the small print and documentation.
- Financial Limits – Commonly there are three different types of variations you need to be aware of.Firstly, a limit on the amount the insurance company will ‘pay per condition per year’. This typically applies to lifetime pet policies and the amount will be ‘refreshed’ in each insurance year.Secondly, a limit on the total amount you can claim for a condition without a fixed time frame. For example, £3000 per condition. Once this limit has been reached, the condition is excluded from the policy. This generally means an ‘excess’ is payable per insurance year.Thirdly, a limit on the total amount per condition within one insurance year. For example, £700 for one condition within one year, after this point the condition is excluded from the policy.
As every animal protection plan is worked out on an individual ‘case by case’ basis, we cannot recommend isolated advice. This section is purely a generic guide to help you understand exactly what your policy may offer.
to find out the important reasons why you should get your pet microchipped.
Pet Insurance Cover – Things They Don’t Tell You
You’ve just bought a new pet cover insurance for your beloved animal, but have you made the correct decision? Is the policy right for you? What do you need to look out for?
Just like regular insurances such as home and car, Pet insurance can seem like an obstacle, full of terms and information which can confuse the best of us.
Take a look and review some of the things you need to be aware of:
- Age of Your Pet - The general ‘rule of thumb’ is to always get your pet insurance as early as possible. Generally, pet cover for older dogs, cats and animals is much harder to find. This is for a wide range of reasons, but mainly surrounds the simple fact that an older animal is more likely to require treatment. In basic terms this means an owner is more likely to claim, and the insurance company is more likely to pay out.At the end of the day, pet insurance providers are businesses, they make money from owners not claiming. Typically, most providers will only let you take out a new policy if your pet is under eight years old. This can, and will vary depending on the type of animal and the breed. It can also depend on the company itself. It’s up to each individual provider to decide what their upper age limits are.
- 14 Day Rule – You will find that most pet insurance companies in Britain have a 14-day rule from when the policy commences. In simple terms this means if your pet policy starts on the 1st of September, you won’t be able to make a claim for the first 14 days. That means if your pet dies, has an injury or accident between the 1st and 14th day, you will not be covered. This ‘rule’ is pretty much standard in the United Kingdom. It’s not applicable to all companies, and there could be differences between providers. Some insurers may have lower rules, such as 7 days, some may have higher such as 30 days. While others may have none.Equally this ‘rule’ can also vary from different types of policies. For example, a lifetime policy may have no rule at all, while an annual policy will most likely have a 14-day rule. Therefore, it’s extremely important for you to read all ‘small print’, documentation and terms and conditions before agreeing to any policy agreement.
- Postcode Lottery – Increasingly over the past couple of years, your home address and postcode may affect your premiums. While this is certainly not ‘standard’ across the industry, it may apply to certain providers. The general idea of this notion, is the fact urban locations may have higher levels of ‘animal thefts’ or ‘chances of injuries’, thus a higher premium is allocated. However, on the other hand, one can also say that living in an urban location may reduce premiums as more treatments and vet practices are available.For example, a dog gets injured on a farm may only have one or two vets within a 20-mile radius. This means the price of the treatment may be higher than an urban city, because the vets have a monopoly in that location. Whereby there’s lots more vets to choose from in a city. If there’s more ‘competition’, then the prices for treatment should be lower for the animal owner. As stated this is based on a case by case basis, it may or may not affect your premiums at all.
- Lifetime Policy – Typically the most comprehensive type of pet insurance is a lifetime policy (can also be known as a lifelong policy). The easiest way to get pet insurance is by purchasing a lifetime policy when the animal is young.Generally, lifetime policies will be more expensive than ‘annual’ policies. However, let’s say your dog has an accident and requires treatment. If the annual yearly policy expires during treatment, the new plan for the next insurance year may not cover the costs. As this can sometimes be regarded as a ‘pre-existing’ condition. On the contrary, a lifetime pet policy will usually guarantee your pet is always covered, even for long term illnesses. Just like most parts of any insurance cover, this will vary from each individual provider.
How to Save Money on Pet Plans?
Learn how to save money on pet plans with our fantastic saving guide. Everybody wants to ‘cut the cost’ of pet insurance, however many different factors are included when companies calculate your premium.
This can include various elements such as your pets age, its health history and even the area you live in! While there’s no ‘definitive’ way of saving hundreds of pounds, these handy tips could potentially help to keep premiums lower for a wide range of people.
- Microchipping Your Pet – Over the past decade or so, microchipping has become extremely popular. It’s usually related to dogs rather than cats or birds. However, it’s a simple procedure that can easily be applied to a huge range of different animals. Generally, Providers may ask whether your animal is microchipped when you apply for pet insurance, so you may be able to find a policy that offers a discount for microchipped pets. Microchipping an animal shows insurers, you’re a ‘responsible’ owner, thus this may an influence your overall premium cost. Please Click Here to find out more information regarding Pet Microchipping
- Spayed or Neutered – Having a pet spayed or neutered shows once again you’re a responsible owner and take the health and well-being of your animal very seriously. As breeding and pregnancy carry their own health risks (as well as high costs for treatment) this cause of action may reduce your premiums in the long run. Equally it’s worth noting that some insurance companies may cover the cost of spaying or neutering. Usually this isn’t covered as standard, however it’s always recommended to read all policy documentation if your pet is under one years old.
- Higher Excess – Just like home or car insurance, if your budget allows and you can specify a high excess then naturally your premiums should decrease. This will obviously depend on the amount you specify and the course of the policy.
- Multi-Policy Protection – Again just like any other forms of insurance, you will find that good companies will provide multi-pet insurances. This simply means you may get a ‘better’ deal if you decide to insure one or more animals with the same company. Generally speaking, you should obtain some type of discount for going with the same provider. However just like generic insurance this will vary on a case by case basis.
- Home Postcode – Yes, believe it or not, your postcode can affect your premiums. This simply works in a similar way to car insurance. If you live in a ‘high crime’ area your premiums will generally be higher. Subsequently if you live in a ‘low crime’ area, your premiums will generally be lower.Pet insurance by postcode can work in a similar way, however instead of crime levels it typically works on how many vet practices are close to you, and how much ‘on average’ they charge. For example, let’s say you live in the countryside and there were only two vets within a 15-mile radius, your limited by your location. On the contrary, let’s say you live in a major city such as Manchester or Glasgow, there is going to be a much wider range of options available. It’s important to note, home postcodes are not always a factor by insurers, this will depend and vary on a case by case basis. Equally you should never state your pet lives somewhere else to get lower premiums. Lying on any legal document will most likely invalid the policy agreement.
- Shop Around for The Best Deal – Like many things of the modern world, the best deal can only be a click or two away. It’s extremely important to ‘shop around’ and compare all the different pet policies available to you. The general advice worth considering is the fact the ‘cheaper’ the policy, the less comprehensive cover you will most likely receive.If you’re already with a pet insurance company and your renewal is due, a good idea is to compare other price policies and ask your current provider for a discount based on your loyalty to the company. This is particularly a good tactic if you haven’t made any claims. However, be warned that your provider doesn’t have to give you a discount, it’s up to their own discretion, which will usually be decided on a individual case by case basis.
Original Publication: 31 May 2017
Last Updated: 23 June 2017