According to recent research into the behavior and habits of UK pet owners, only about 20% of households with dogs take out insurance on them. That leaves nearly 5 million dogs in the UK without any health cover at all.
While that may seem trivial to some, anyone whose dog has been involved in a road accident recently is unlikely to feel the same way. The average cost of treating a dog after an accident involving a motor vehicle is an incredible £379. Compare that to the average £72 annual premium for most pet insurance policies and consider which you’d rather pay.
And if you think that it isn’t likely to happen to you, consider that one in every three Tesco Pet Insurance customers made a claim on their policy last year. If you extrapolate those figures to the general pet owning population, that’s over a million pets each year whose owners are paying out of their own pocket for treatments following an accident or illness.
Should You Insure Your Pet?
If you value your pet and would pay for it's care, then you should at least weigh up the costs and potential benefits of a suitable pet insurance policy. Most policies will also cover a number of additional expenses besides standard vet treatment such as:
- the cost of advertising if your pet is lost
- the cost of damage caused by your pet
- recovery costs if your pet is lost
- boarding costs if you have to stay in hospital
- burial cover if your pet dies while covered.
Some other factors you should consider are the age and current health of your pet as these can affect the premium you'll pay. Another important consideration is the breed of your dog, as some can be prone to certain conditions which require longer term or lifetime treatment.
One exclusion that is written into many pet insurance policies is a restriction on the length and cost of treatment for a single condition. For example, this may limit the amount of vet fees to £2,000 for a maximum treatment period of 12 months. If your pet requires longer term or even lifetime treatment for a condition such as diabetes, a standard or budget policy could leave you out of pocket.
Pinnacle Pet Insurance, for instance, will not cease cover after a year of treatment like many budget policies, as long as the illness doesn’t arise from a condition that existed before policy started. If your cat or dog is insured by Pinnacle and diagnosed with kidney disease, for example, he will continue to be covered for as long as you keep paying the premiums.
Some other providers who offer lifetime policies at the time of writing are:
Depending on age, breed and other factors, these lifetime plans may come with higher premiums than typical supermarket pet insurance, but the benefits potentially extend much further.
So if you are considering pet insurance, don't focus on price alone. Know what type and level of cover you need and take the time to find out what is covered by each policy. Compare as much of the market as possible using a broker and/or price comparison site to give yourself the best chance of getting the right balance between quality cover and value for money.
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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