Vet bills are set to rise again, which means more and more pet owners are biting the bullet and taking out pet insurance policies. It’s now becoming just another of the expenses that come with pet ownership. However, many of the people taking out new policies may find they’re more or less worthless when the time comes to claim.
The biggest mistake is to take out a basic pet insurance policy and hope it will cover all your needs. The cheapest tend to be accident-only policies. In other words, it will pay vet bills but only for the accidents. Because many people grab an off-the-shelf policy they can assume it covers illness without really checking.
Here’s an important term to remember: ‘Lifetime condition’ cover. You can buy a policy to cover for an accident, illness or specific condition, but these will often be limited. That’s a problem if the condition is long term. Your insurer might pay your bills for a set period – such as 12 months – but after that, you’re on your own.
Once that happens it can be difficult to find a suitable replacement policy as your pet will have a pre-existing condition. Very few insurers will be willing to take this on.
The solution is lifetime condition coverage. This will continue paying out for the duration of your pet’s life.
Third party insurance
Most of us know this term from motor insurance, but it also applies to our pets. Animals are unpredictable and can cause damage or injury. If you have a dog, for example, you could be held responsible for any injury or damage the animal causes. It could be something as simple as your pet running into the road and causing a car accident. As the owner, you could be considered responsible.
As vet bills have been climbing, so too have insurance premiums. Some people have seen pet insurance policies climbing by more than 200%. We’ve heard stories of insurance firms sending renewal notices which push premiums up massively. One family, for example, had the insurance premiums for their pet rise from £9 to over £30 over the course of a few years. By comparison, it cost more to insure their pets than to insure their own lives.
You can be penalised for loyalty. Once people have gone through the trouble of organising pet insurance they tend to stick with what they have got and companies may take advantage. However, this is a competitive marketplace and your business is at a premium. If your current insurer is pushing up prices, it may be time to look elsewhere.
That does come with a risk. You may not be able to find a policy which provides the coverage you want. Perhaps your pet has a condition which is covered under your existing policy but would be hard to cover with another.
However, there’s no harm in shopping around and seeing what’s out there. Our comparison tool looks at all sorts of factors including coverage details, premiums and vet fees to help you find the right deal for your needs.