Whether to insure your pet is a game of chance as much as anything; you might insure your pet for the maximum coverage only to have a healthy animal that never even needs to the visit the vet or you may decide not to get any insurance and find yourself paying off the vet bills for years to come. Unfortunately we are not able to predict the future and instead need to make a decision based on the most likely scenario, which is that your pet will need some kind of treatment during it’s lifetime. You could look at it another way – you can in all likelihood afford £10 a month for insurance but could you afford £2000 per year if your pet was struck down with a long term illness? If you couldn’t find the money you may have to face the devastating decision to have your pet put down. In the end it is better to be safe than sorry, but with so many pet insurers to choose from it is important not to get ripped off and to ensure you are getting a good deal for your money.
What Affects The Cost of Insurance?
Your pet’s age, breed and whether they are spayed will all effect how expensive the insurance is. As animals get older the risk of them becoming ill increases and so the cost of insurance will go up massively. You may even find it difficult to insure a dog over 8 or a cat over 10. However you can get lifelong cover which means if you insure a young dog you will be covered until they die. Some pure breeds are more likely to develop certain conditions because of their genes, this means you may have to pay more if you have a pure breed.
Type of Coverage
It is very important that you research the types of coverage and that you read the terms and conditions regarding an insurance contract thoroughly. You do not want to find yourself paying for years and then discover your pet comes down with an illness that is not covered. Here are the various types of cover and what they mean:
- Accident Only – This means your pet is covered for accidental injury such as falling or being hit by a vehicle. However they are not covered for ongoing illnesses, death, getting lost or checkups.
- Time Limited – If you pay for £3000 worth of cover and your pet develops a problem then the insurer will pay up to £3000 or if it does not reach that amount within 12 months then the cover for that condition (even if it is ongoing) will stop.
- Max Benefit – If you are covered for £3000 worth of cover and your pet gets an illness then the insurer will pay out for the condition until £3000 is reached, regardless of time. However once this has been paid they will not pay anymore costs towards that problem. If your pet develops a different illness down the line then this will be covered in the same way.
- Lifetime – If your pet is covered under lifetime coverage for £3000 then this means that if they get an illness the insurance will pay up to £3000 every year towards the bills for the condition.
This gives you an idea of what the terms basically mean but all insurance companies have very specific conditions and you must understand exactly what you are buying into. Questions you should have in your mind include: is your pet covered for death? Injury? Boarding fees? If so then how much is that cover for? Also you will probably have to pay an excess, which means that if your pet needed treatment that was £90 and you have agreed to a £90 excess then you would have to pay for the whole treatment. There is quite a lot to take in when researching insurance and if you find a good deal that is too good to be true, it probably is.
Should I Get My Small Animal Insured?
If you have a small animal such as a rabbit, rat or hamster you may be considering having them insured. However if you think you will be paying less than you would for a dog or cat then think again! Small animal insurance is usually similar in price to insurance for larger animals even though vet bills are likely to be smaller. However your pet will not live as long as a cat or dog so you will not be paying for as long. In the end it is unlikely to end up being worth taking out small animal insurance.
Where Should I Buy Insurance?
To determine which insurer offers the best deal you should go on the various comparison websites and compare quotes. In addition to this you could try ringing around for quotes from insurers that do not appear on comparison sites. Do not be afraid to try haggling with a company and point out other companies that are offering better deals, you may just be able to negotiate it down. Also some insurers will offer free gifts, cash back or gift vouchers with their policies. You may want to consider ringing your vet and asking his advice, he will be well versed on the policies available and the problems his patients encounter. Remember knowledge is key and never agree to anything without reading the small print.