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Pet Insurance – what you need to know

What type of policy?
There are three common policy types to consider when choosing your pet insurance.

Lifetime Cover is the most comprehensive as it means your pet is covered up to a maximum amount each year, for any illness or injury throughout its entire lifetime. That means should your pet develop a long-term condition like arthritis, the insurer will continue to pay up to that maximum amount year after year.

Maximum Benefit policies are where the insurance company will pay up to a pre-set amount for a particular condition over the life of your pet. Once the treatment costs have reached your policy limit, only then will the insurance company stop covering that particular condition. If your pet has more than one condition, then the insurance company will pay out for each condition up to the pre-set amount.

Twelve-month policies are the cheapest standard insurance option available. The amount of time in which you can claim for one condition is limited to the twelve-month period after the initial diagnosis or treatment (this caries between different insurance companies) which is not ideal should your pet develop a long-term issue.

What else?
As well as your basic cover, insurance add-ons mean your supplier could pay out for a variety of pet-related problems. For example, third party cover will ensure that you are covered, up to a certain limit, should your pet cause injury or damage to property. Other extras to consider are holiday cover, should your pet’s sudden illness mean you have to cancel your holiday, or boarding fees if you are hospitalised and unable to look after your pet. Some insurers will even insure against theft, covering the cost of advertising your missing pet and even the cost of a reward. What you choose to include in your policy is up to you, but obviously each add-on ,may increase your premium.

Be warned
As with any type of insurance, checking the small print is a necessary evil. First off, some types of dogs, for instance, may be excluded. Working dogs, veterans and dangerous breeds may all be excluded from cover so do check with the insurer. Pre-existing conditions are also ruled out by insurers, leaving pets that have already been treated for a particular condition without cover. This becomes especially relevant if you decide to change insurers through the life of your pet – any condition they have been treated for for not be covered by the new policy.

It is also worth knowing that pedigree breeds generally command a higher premium, due to the risk of illness and theft, while insuring horses or exotic animals may require a specialist supplier.

While checking the small print is an essential if you are to be sure that you have the right level of cover, it is also important to keep up with those yearly vaccinations. Any illness that could have been prevented by a missed annual vaccination could invalidate your insurance.

There are, of course, ways to reduce the cost of pet insurance. Many companies offer a discount if your dog or cat is microchipped, and if you have more than one animal at home, you may also save by getting a multi-pet policy.

But do remember that the cheapest option isn’t necessarily the right one – think seriously about what cover you genuinely need. It might seem like an unnecessary expense now, but it will give you peace of mind to know that, in the event of serious illness or injury, your pet will get the best of care. Like everything, the cost of Veterinary treatment is increasing. This is due purely to the fact that new procedures, tests and drugs filter down from human medicine which cost more and more. And, with pets becoming every increasingly an important part of our families, and living longer, clients are demanding higher standards of care of more extensive treatments.

Want to find out more about the different types of policies?Click here