Pets are just as prone to disease and injury as we are, yet they don’t have an NHS—other than a few overworked and underfunded charities, the owner is responsible for any pet health and welfare expenses.
And health treatment can be expensive. According to the government’s Money Advice Service, the average claim for treatment costs is £750, and costs for treating severe conditions can run into thousands.
Paws For Thought
Like all insurance, pet insurance is a safety net to help you to cope with unexpected expenses, in this case, primarily, veterinary bills.
The cost of pet insurance depends on the age of the pet and whether it has any pre-existing conditions. Cats, dogs, horses and ponies are easy to insure, though pedigree animals, which may be prone to hereditary or congenital conditions and are more likely to be stolen may cost more.
Exotic pets such as lizards, snakes and birds require specialist cover—and due to their short life-span, it’s rarely thought to be worth insuring gerbils, rabbits and hamsters, though cover is available.
Venomous animals are difficult to insure, but you may want to take out public liability insurance covering them.
Older animals can cost more to insure, but as they are often more likely to need medical attention, it is still worth considering cover. Some insurers will only let you take out a new policy if your pet is under eight or nine years of age, or younger for some special breeds
No insurance policy will cover you for regular treatments including inoculations, but when looking for a suitable policy, it’s worth considering the value of certain types of additional cover, for instance:
- Loss or theft (which may include the cost of advertising a loss)
- Treatment for behavioural problems
- Death by illness or injury
- Dental car
- Third party liability cover (usually for dogs)
- Kennel or cattery fees, in case you are hospitalised
- Emergency cover when abroad
- Breeding risks related to pregnancy
You will also have to choose whether to insure for accident only, or illness as well; on an annual or lifetime basis; and possibly for a particular condition, or number of treatments per year, or a combination of the two.
Most policies specify a maximum to the vet fees covered, and many have an excess (the amount of a claim you agree to cover yourself). You might be able to save yourself some money by microchipping your cat, having your pet spayed or neutered, or taking out multi-pet insurance.
This feature was originally published in the summer edition of Healthy Child with Dr Ranj Singh, which you can also read here!