We all know how important our pets are to us, so much so they have become part of our family. Properly looking after their health and caring for them when they get sick or injured is becoming increasingly costly.
This is why it is well worth considering pet insurance. As with any insurance policy, you need to choose both company and policy with care. Here are some top tips when it comes to choosing pet insurance.
1. Check the different types of Pet Insurance
There are four main types of cover for your pet.
As the name suggest is for taking care of accidents, such as being hit by a vehicle. You should note that illness is not covered under this.
Is like the fully-comprehensive version of pet insurance and this means that everything from vets fees to illness and injury is covered, this is probably the best option. Check is there a maximum amount or annual limit?
Per condition, no time limit:
Looks after a pre-existing condition such as epilepsy.
Per condition, time-limited:
Is where vets fees are paid up to 21 months, such as recovering from an accident.
2. Shop around and compare prices
May seem like stating the obvious to say compare prices by doing your research and shopping around - either by using comparison sites (not everyone thinks of these), or often the best deal can still be got by lifting the phone. If using price comparison websites make sure they cover all main providers, or try a number of these services to cover all available options.
3. Microchip your Dog
Apart from being legally required, it is often a benefit to having your dog micro-chipped as this can reduce the price of your policy.
4. Check for Discounts
Check for discounts - some policies offer discounts if:
- The policy is bought online.
- Your pet is neutered.
- You are insuring multiple pets.
- You opt to pay an additional voluntary excess (an agreed sum over and above the default compulsory excess).
- You make a once off annual payment versus monthly instalments.
5. Research your dog breed
Check as to if your particular dog breed is prone to any conditions and if so you need to make sure that your pet insurance will take this into account.
6. Is after hours care included?
It is always wise to check to see if after-hours emergency care is included in your policy as this can be very expensive. In some cases it is included but with an additional call-out charge.
This can be on a Fixed or Percentage basis. Check what the excess level is that you have to pay out yourself in the event of a claim.
8. Check the Age Limit
You need to check the age limit of your policy as some insurers will only issue new cover for dogs up to eight years of age, and in the case of some breeds, only up to five years. Is there a cut-off age i.e. continue insuring your dog once he reaches a certain age; what is likely impact on premium and/or excess.
9. When does the Policy actually take effect?
Most policies don’t take effect for 10-14 days (or more) from date the policy is taken out, so don't leave to last minute if planning for a trip.
10. Cooling-off Period
If you change your mind after taking out a policy, can you cancel it without charge, within a stated period.
11. Third Party Cover
Not something everybody necessarily thinks about when looking at pet insurance but what happens if your dog causes an accident , damages property, injures a person or another dog, or causes an accident e.g. someone to fall.
If not covered, one option is to join Dogs Trust, membership of which provides up to £1million Third Party insurance cover*. Membership is £25 a year (£12.50 if you're over 60), and you’ll also be helping a great charity to help dogs in need.
Check out https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/get-involved/membership/ or call 020 7837 0006.
*3rd party public liability insurance for your dog – up to £1,000,000 per claim if your dog causes damage or injury to another person, their property or pets (an excess of £200 applies for the UK and £500 in the Republic of Ireland).
12. Travelling Abroad?
If travelling, are you covered for all destinations you will be visiting or transiting?
13. How are claims paid?
Does your policy require you to pay upfront and reclaim your outlay or are claims paid directly to the vet.
Make sure that a small saving now does not end up leaving you exposed or having to pay more in vets fees later.
Some policies require you to keep your pet vaccinated - for Dogs typically to cover Distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and kennel cough.
15. Advertising & Rewards
Some policies will cover the cost of advertising if your pet is stolen or goes missing.
You may be covered if your pet is stolen and not recovered. If you did not buy the pet or have no proof pf purchase, you may still be entitled to market value.
17. Holiday Cancellation
Even if covered, this is likely to come with a lot of conditionality.
18. Boarding Kennels, Cattery or Pet Sitting Fees
Are you covered for the cost of Boarding Kennel, Cattery or Pet Sitting Fees in the event of your own hospitalisation?
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