We strongly recommend investing in pet insurance. There are a wide range of policies on the market nowadays and it’s tempting to go for the cheapest option, however, this may not offer the cover you need when your pet is ill.
You don’t want to be worrying about whether insurance will cover the treatment or not when you’re already worried about your pet’s health. Important things to look out for when doing your research include:
- Lifelong cover of every condition. For example, should your pet develop arthritis, diabetes or thyroid problems they will need treatment for the rest of their life, not just for a year. There is a good article about the different levels of cover available here.
- The maximum limit of cover should be as high as possible. Some policies have a limit of £1000 or £2000 – this amount really isn’t going to last long should your pet need on-going treatment for problems such as arthritis, or a one-off major operation such as fracture repair or spinal surgery. Therefore it is preferable to find a policy that will either offer unlimited cover or a high maximum (e.g. £5000-8000 per condition) for the life of your pet.
- Once you have taken out an insurance policy it is advisable to stick with that company on-going (rather than changing companies yearly looking for the best deal like you would with car insurance). This is because once your pet has suffered from a condition, if you should then change companies they will exclude this condition meaning they will not pay out for any treatment towards it.
According to FSA regulations, we are not allowed to recommend any particular insurance company. However, we are allowed to tell you our experience in claiming from different companies. In our experience, some are very easy to deal with and pay out with no fuss most of the time; others will find any tiny reason not to pay. Speak to one of our vets or nurses for more advice.
Our top tip with any insurance policy is to read the small print! Lots of companies insist you tell them within 30 days of the start of a new condition, even if you’re not planning to claim! So for example, you could come in for a minor ear infection, not claim because it’s less than your excess and think all is fine. If the ear infection comes back 6 weeks later and this time requires more expensive treatment (for example swabs, flushing under sedation etc) you may now want to claim. However, it’s been more than 30 days since the first onset of symptoms, so now your insurance company can legitimately not pay out if a 30 day limit is stipulated in your policy!
Our next tip is to make the most of your insurance. Many people don’t realise that your excess is per condition. So if you’ve been in with your pet several times for the same thing (eg. itchy skin, ear problems, diarrhoea etc), each visit may well be less than your excess, but collectively they could add up to significantly more, and therefore be worth claiming for.