Nine questions to ask your pet insurer
Article by Simon Christopher
Article added: 24/5/2011 - Last updated: -
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How do the policy limits work?
Some policies will offer a maximum annual payout for a pet. Others offer a maximum annual payout for a particular condition, though in some cases the limit may apply to each individual claim.
What about ongoing conditions?
Many policies will continue to offer treatment for a condition that continues into a new premium year, as long as the policy is renewed and never allowed to lapse. Some don't, so be sure to ask. Remember that even when an insurer offers ongoing coverage, there will likely be an annual maximum payout.
What about age limits?
Usually an insurer will only begin covering a pet that is below a certain age. Some will refuse to renew the policy once the pet reaches this age, while others will continue covering it as long as the policy never lapses.
If you have a policy that pays out if the pet dies through illness or accident, this specific element of cover may cease at a particular age.
Can I get a no claims discount?
In many cases, insurers don't offer this. The reasoning is that whereas it isn't a problem if a homeowner replaces a stolen bag or a driver pays to fix a minor dent, if a pet owner doesn't get their animal treated (in an attempt to maintain a no claims discount), it's likely to harm the animal's health and lead to costlier claims in the future.
What about dental treatment?
Many pet insurance companies exclude routine dental treatment. However, some will cover dentistry costs that result from an accident.
Is my breed of dog covered?
Most insurers have a list of breeds that they will not cover, either because there is a greater risk of them becoming ill, or because they are too high value. Check carefully as an insurer may exclude a dog even if it is a cross-breed with one of the listed breeds.
Does the policy cover alternative medicine?
While it is rare for human medical insurance to cover non-pharmaceutical medicines, there is more scope among pet insurers. If your policy does cover such treatment, check carefully to see exactly what treatment is covered, and whether you need a vet's diagnosis before you can make a claim.
What about working pets?
Generally dogs used for commercial purposes such as security or racing cannot be covered. Sheepdogs are covered by some insurers, while most will cover guide dogs for blind people, though they may not pay compensation to cover the inconvenience caused to the owner if the dog is ill.
How does the excess work?
While some insurers operate a simple excess system, by which the owner pays a fixed amount towards each claim, others also use a co-payment system, particularly for older pets. This means the policyholder not only pays the excess amount, but then pays a fixed percentage of any claim amount above the excess.
PLEASE NOTE: The guidance published in this article is for information only and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation of any particular pet insurance product or provider. If you are in any doubt please consult an independent insurance adviser. A database of advisers in your area is available at www.unbiased.co.uk
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