Dogs – Cats – Small Pets Insurance Guide
\\\ Pet Insurance Guide
A Guide for New Pet Owners
Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
It’s a difficult decision that many pet owners find themselves asking ‘do they or don’t they insure their pet?’
More than 3.6 million Brits have pet insurance with 9 out of 10 insurance policies covering a dog or cat.
Pet insurance can help with unexpected vet bills if your pet suffers from an illness or injury. Pet insurers have a whole range of different ways of explaining their costs and claims paid out, is a minefield to measure insurer against insurer when accessing which policy to buy.
There are more than 80 UK pet insurers.
- Who do you choose?
- Who is the best pet insurance provider?
- Who has the cheapest pet insurance?
- Who are the best pet insurance companies?
- Questions frequently asked but there’s not a simple answer as each pet is individual in its insurance requirements.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
The cost of veterinary treatment can be expensive; the average price of surgery is around £1,500 and the average claim is over £750, according to the latest information from the Association of British Insurers.
According to a survey 2018 by Which? Magazine undertaken by more than 1300 of their subscription members, the average price for their member’s annual pet lifetime policy had reached £472 for a dog and £285 for a cat.
Statista Research reports the average dog insurance claim made is £793, where claims have nearly doubled in 6 years from a total of £452m in 2012 to £815m 2019.
Average UK pet premiums are approximately £24.00 a month but can range depending on the type of cover required for your pet, from as little as a few pounds a month, upwards to £100.00 a month. Rabbits from as little as £6.00.
Dog, Cat, Rabbit And Exotic Pet Insurance
In the UK a larger proportion of dogs and cats are left uninsured than insured.
Owners have a traumatic decision to make if they cannot afford veterinary bills for care for their sick or injured animal. With pet care insurance now having doubled over the past ten years or so, the average claim has increased even more.
With advances in pet medicine over the past few years, UK dog claims are now reaching an average of £1200 or more, without additional supplement costs such as diagnostic testing and X-rays.
There are 5 important things you need to know –
- Types of policies available
- What the policy covers
- The breed, gender and age of pet
- Pre-existing health conditions
- The excess you are willing to pay
Pet Owners Need Insurance
Aged pets insurance will always cost more as veterinary bills become more often for their care.
Other information required by pet insurers may be whether the pet has been microchipped, neutered or spayed, the cost of the pet when seeking cover.
\\\ Types of Policies
The Types of Pet Policies
What Are The Most Common Types Of Pet Policies?
There are generally four types of pet policies available in the market, lifetime, maximum benefit, time-limited and accident only.
This is the most popular UK pet owners choice of pet policy and usually the most expensive type of cover, being the most comprehensive, providing a wide range of cover. One can claim up to a set amount, every year that your pet is covered for, with a maximum outlined, for example, £12,000 per year of cover. Pet costs above this are then not covered, being lifetime annual cover. Other firms offer pet policies that set limits per condition, each year, being lifetime cover. Both types of cover re-set each year, on an annual basis, as long as the policy is renewed with the insurer.
This is the second most popular UK type of pet insurance where owners can claim for treatment up to a certain financial limit. ‘Maximum benefit’ has then been provided. One is unable when insuring in following years, with the same provider, to claim for that condition.
This type of pet policy has fixed limits on how long you can claim for, as well as how much insurers will pay for treatment, covering pets for illness or accidental injury.
This type of pet policy usual attracts more excess payable by the pet owner but generally is a cheaper option to pay covering injury only, not illnesses.
Comparison websites are a great way to start looking at quotes for cheap pet insurance but can be very general, such as GO COMPARE, MONEY SUPERMARKET, COMPARE THE MARKET, CONFUSED.
QUOTEZONE comparison site uses 15 pet insurers to offer pet owners quotes.
Several pet insurers websites offer a page about rabbit insurance but actually link through to only a handful of specialists insurers and do not provide comparisons.
Differences can occur when you check the insurer’s own websites after using comparison websites and not all pet insurance companies use them.
The Money Advice Service
The free impartial money government advice website provides excellent independent advice covering a range of pet insurance topics. The Money Advice Service.
\\\ Popular Breeds
10 Most Insured UK Dogs
Each pet insurer will have a slightly different top ten dog insured list but overall all are very similar with trusted Labradors generally taking the top spot nationwide.
Top 10 *
- 1 Labrador
- 2 French Bulldog
- 3 Cocker Spaniel
- 4 Bulldog
- 5 English Springer Spaniel
- 6 Golden Retriever
- 7 Dachshund
- 8 German Shepherd
- 9 Pug
- 10 Miniature Schnauzer
- *Top ten most insured dogs in the UK
The most costly cats to insure
- 1. Singapura
- 2. Long hair Tortoiseshell and White
- 3. Tiffany (Tiffanie)
- 4. Persian Pewter
- 5. Persian Tri-Colour
- The Singapura is likely to cost approximately £1000 plus to insure a year
The most costly dogs to insure
- 1. French Bulldog
- 2. Dogue De Bordeaux
- 3. Newfoundland
- 4. Great Dane
- 5. Rottweiler
- The French Bulldog is likely to cost approximately £950 plus to insure a year
What Do Pet Insurance Policies Cover?
Pet insurance isn’t all about covering vet fees
Some of the many things pet policies can cover
- Death by accident and illness cover
- Lost or stolen cover
- Advertising and reward cover
- Alternative treatment cover
- Dental treatment cover
- Hereditary conditions cover
- Congenital conditions
- Special diets cover
- Boarding fees cover
- Overseas vet costs
- Quarantine costs
- Pet funeral costs
- Euthanasia costs
- Maximum veterinary fees cover
- Monthly payment plans with no added interest
- Third-party legal liability
- Maximum age cover
\\\ The Policy Price
What Affects The Policy Price?
Most pet insurance policies are likely to carry some form of excess.
- Pet insurers won’t pay the first amount specified as the excess in any claim; this could be for the specific condition excess, or entire policy excess, except Bought by Many. (See below).
- It’s possible to reduce cat, dog and rabbit pet insurance policy quotes by reducing the excess that you are willing to pay.
- The breed of your cat, dog and rabbit affects the policy price. Pedigrees costing more to insure.
- Policy costs increase with older pets. Some may not be eligible.
- Vet fees are more expensive in cities and the South East of England.
- The level of cover you choose for your pet alters policy costs.
- Multi-pet policies generally can help to save costs.
- Certain dog breeds banned in the UK cannot be insured.
There is a huge selection of UK pet insurance available offering many different ways to cover your pet with a variety of customer satisfaction scoring.
Take time to view Insurer’s customer 5 STAR RATINGS and PRODUCT REVIEWS displayed on their websites using expert rated Defaqto and customer-rated sites such as Trust Pilot and Feefo.
Expert ratings compare hundreds and thousands of similar pet products to achieve their ratings.
\\\ Pet Policy Exceptions
7 Things Pet Policies Do Not Cover
1. Pet insurance companies want to sign up new customers and provide hefty opening first-year discounts. Most pet insurance plans take a period of time to commence, such as 14 days, and therefore, pet owners cannot make a claim during this period.
2. Pets that have put on excessive weight are unlikely to be covered as it’s viewed that an owner could prevent this. It is important to keep a check and to take advantage of vet free weigh-in facilities. Simple to use pet trackers can be helpful alternative monitoring your pet’s activities and weight.
3. Insurance does not cover pets suffering from preventable illnesses caused by failure to keep up routine treatments such as vaccinations, flea treatments and worming.
Regular flea treatment, dental cleaning, vaccinations are a must for dogs, cats and rabbits.
4. Keeping your pet’s teeth clean and brushed is essential for healthy gums and jaw. Diseases that could have been prevented by regular dental care are likely to not be covered.
5. Depending on which type of policy you may purchase depends on pre-existing illnesses, injuries and conditions being covered. If this is necessary, a pet Lifetime insurance policy should provide cover for conditions, even ongoing ones, as long as they first showed clinical signs after the policy was taken out and after its 14 day deferment period.
6. Pet behavioural problems are usually not covered, as this can be down to poor training and socialization. This can be difficult if your pet is a rehomed pet with a long ownership history and different homes. However, taking dogs to training classes is important and mixing with other dogs from an early age.
7. Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 prohibits the ownership of four specific types of dog or the Dangerous Dogs (Northern Ireland) order 1983 or on any updates to that legislation.
Insurers will not insure these dogs –
The 4 dogs include the Japanese Toas, Dogo Argentino, Brasileiro and Pit Bull Terrier.
This law makes it illegal to own, sell, breed, give away or abandon any of these dog breeds. Insurers will not insure these dogs.
The UK Dangerous Dogs Act classifies dogs by “type” and not breed. The law doesn’t recognise a dog’s family tree or DNA, instead, the decision as to whether or not the dog is illegal is usually based upon physical characteristics alone. This can pose a threat to similar-looking breeds, which aren’t banned.
Pure breed Wolf Dogs are classed as Dangerous Wild Animals (DWA) in the UK so they need a licence and liability insurance. However, when you get down to third-generation (also known as F3) Wolf dogs, do not need a DWA licence so it is the same as owning any dog.
Restraining Pets Whilst Driving
Rule 57 of the Highway Code states: “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.” according to the website ‘AskThe Police’ which also states,
“This is not a legal requirement that is set out in legislation, and so failure to comply with this rule will not, in itself, cause a person to be prosecuted.
However, note that failure to comply with such sections of the Highway Code may still be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Acts to establish liability.”
Vehicle insurers will not validate claims if it is proved that your pet is responsible for an accident claim, so restraining animals with the huge range of harnesses, cat carriers and dog crates available is a must.
Restraints will help to protect passengers in cases of emergency but won’t necessarily protect your pet.
Pet Harnesses And Restraints
Having paid a considerable amount of money for your pet and the daily upkeep, it makes no sense to not secure your pet safely in your vehicle.
Likewise posting pictures on Instagram, Facebook or any other social media site will invalidate your pet insurance if your pet is shown unrestrained whilst travelling in the vehicle.
Guide, assistance, medical and working dogs wear harnesses daily. Some owners find their dog prefers wearing a restraint when walking. Essential to make sure they fit without causing discomfort to the dog by being too large or small causing chaffing and the position for the lead fixing are comfortable to control by the owner whilst walking.
There are several types of safe restraints available on the market including
- Pet seat belts
- Crates and carriers
- Boot or luggage guards
\\\ Pet Insurances
Overseas Pet Insurance
Vet Fees – Holiday Cancellation – Lost or Stolen
Most insurers will cover vet fees if your pet is in good health before travel. Holiday Cancellation normally covers you if you cancel your trip or cut it short because your pet dies, or needs emergency treatment and can no longer travel. If your pet is lost or stolen and goes missing you must report this in the country abroad. It’s essential to prepare in advance of travel, by reading the policy terms and conditions and take details with you whilst travelling.
Policies can vary where insurers allow pets to be covered for a maximum of 90 days overseas, during any one year. Other insurers only allow a certain number of trips to be made with time restrictions or a combination of both.
Extra benefits may include quarantine costs if your pet is unable to travel due to illness (the new AHC regulations must have been complied with) covering kennelling.
Staying longer than anticipated you may be able to claim repeat tapeworm treatment for dogs if your departure is delayed.
If your pet becomes ill you may be able to claim emergency repatriation with some insurers. This is likely to include the extra costs of getting your pet home if your pet falls ill or becomes injured. It may also cover additional accommodation costs if prevented from travelling if your pet is too ill to travel.
Loss of your PETS Passport NOW THE AHC Certificate (effective 1.01.21) and/or Health Certificate insurers may also cover costs if lost during your trip abroad.
Home Contents Insurance With Pets
Home content insurers can offer policies with cover for contents damaged by pets, but cover offer varies.
Some home content policies will have exclusions such as chewing, scratching, fouling and tearing up the home caused by the pet.
Generally, the insurers require the pet owner to buy a more expensive policy or extend their policy cover.
Essential and standard policies often do not cover pet damage, having to upgrade to premier cover. There may be cover in the policy if your pet accidentally damages someone else’s home.
If someone tries to sue you as the owner for a pet attack or causes an incident, costs may also be covered if your home contents policy, covering liability, in these cases the pet owner has to be a responsible owner and have their dog muzzled if it’s prone, for example, to bite.
Cover by companies is for incidents that occur in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man or Worldwide. If travelling abroad then Overseas Pet Insurance needs to be purchased, or the policy extended if your insurance company allows this.
Liability cover wouldn’t be valid if your dog is listed on the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) or the Dangerous Dogs (Northern Ireland) order 1983 or on any updates to that legislation.
- Always check the policy wording carefully. If you cannot find the information, then call the insurer.
- To get the right policy that fits for your household you may need to shop around and sometimes pay a little more.
- Check the policy wording for things that are covered.
- If you require liability, your pet insurer may offer this in their policy package.
Business Liability Pet Cover
Pet businesses are thriving and to ensure all owners, pets and customers are kept safe, Business Liability is a must.
Typical insurance is needed for those offering pet services which include –
- Therapy dogs and pets making visits made to schools, nursing and retirement homes.
- Dog Walking, pet home boarding services and pet grooming.
- Pet events.
- Dog and Pets liability insurance in the place of work.
\\\ Insurance Claims
Insurance Claims And Complaining
Getting a good pet insurance deal is great, but not so great when the insurer refuses to pay up for a claim.
Before purchasing your new policy, check the pet insurer’s claims page, the type of information required to make a claim and any small print you may have missed when reading the general policy terms.
As your animal gets older, it becomes increasingly difficult to obtain low price comprehensive insurance and claims become more costly and difficult.
Read customer reviews left, particularly about their experiences of the claims handling procedures.
If you have a genuine concern and complaint about the way your pet insurer is treating you, complain directly to them allowing them the opportunity to put matters right. If there is no resolve, pass details of your complaint to the free FOS, Financial Ombudsman Service. The Ombudsman is an independent adjudicator set up by parliament, which will make a final decision about your claim when in dispute. 2018-2019 saw just 1,593 complaints made concerning pet and livestock insurance, where the total complaints taken to FOS concerning all financial products amounted to 388,400.
Cancelling A Policy
This generally takes a call or email to cancel a policy which becomes effective immediately.
Cancellation information will be provided in all policy documentation provided by the pet insurer and online, on their websites.
Administration And Claims Rejected
How To Protect Yourself From Loss of Money
There are unfortunate times when holidays are cancelled by travel companies, hotels, flights, sea ferries, and car rental companies. UK boarding kennels and catteries may close without notice, your home contents provider hasn’t paid out on a pet-related claim.
To protect yourself from these eventualities and others, if you purchased the service with a credit card for more than £100.00 in a single purchase your credit card company is equally as liable as the retailer under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Do check the terms and conditions of the company as many now disadvantage customers from further use of products and services if they apply a Section 75 and ensure you try to settle a dispute with the company before taking this action.
Whatever rights you would have had with the retailer/company, you have the same rights with the credit card company. This is a legal protection that credit card companies have no choice about.
This means you should be able to claim a refund from your credit card company.
However, If you made two transactions of £100.00 for example, you will not be covered. The sale must be £100.01 or more.
Most pet insurance companies will automatically reject claims for the following reasons on basic policies –
- Claiming within 14 days of taking out a new policy with an insurer.
- Failing to neuter, spraying and attending to basic annual treatments for pets.
- Pre-existing conditions unless covered under a lifetime policy.
- 3rd party accidental damage cover is generally only paid out for accidents.
- Saying farewell to your pet by euthanasia, burial and cremation.
- Travelling abroad with pets will most possibly require add-on policies.
- Keeping the insurer up to date with your pet’s needs requirements and basic address and contact details.
- Breeding pets is mostly not covered.
If you move house, change ownership of the pet, getting the pet spayed or neutered or start using your pet for commercial purposes, then you must keep your insurer informed of the change of circumstances.
If you consider your claim has been turned down unfairly you can contact the Financial Ombudsman.
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