How to choose the right pet insurance – expert advice
No one wants to throw money away on something they don’t need or won’t use. But when you buy pet insurance, not all policies are created equal and the cheapest often isn’t the best.
If you don’t know what you’re looking for you could end up buying inadequate cover that won’t be there for you and your dog when the chips are down.
Follow these top tips from one of the UK’s leading pet insurance providers, to make sure you choose a great policy for your dog that’ll get them the treatment they need, when they need it.
Get enough cover
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they buy pet insurance is to just go on a price comparison website and choose the policy with the cheapest monthly premium.
Some policies have quite a low level of cover, perhaps just £1,000, but vet bills can quickly add up to many thousands of pounds.
Hip dysplasia surgery can cost in excess of £5,000 per hip. Knee surgery for luxating patella could be around £1,500. And then there are ongoing conditions like epilepsy or arthritis where the cost of medication could really add up over many years.
High-limit policies are designed with these medical conditions in mind. Even ‘high limit’ can be subjective depending on the breed and age of pet you have, but a few companies offer more than £10,000 of cover.
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Get the right type of cover
Another mistake with just choosing the cheapest policy is that it might not actually have the right type of cover.
There are four main types of pet insurance:
Accident only – The cheapest type of cover because it only covers accidents. Things like your pet eating something poisonous or injuring themselves. It won’t cover any illnesses at all.
In 2021, just 15% of claims at ManyPets were for accidents, which shows you just how limited an accident-only policy can be.
Time-limited – A time-limited policy will only pay out for a condition for 12 months from when it first occurs. That means it’s not much good for ongoing or recurring conditions. It’ll only pay out for claims for the first 12 months, then you’re on your own – you’ll have to pay for everything after that yourself.
Per condition – These policies have a limit they’ll pay up to for each condition your pet has, covering their entire lifetime. So say the limit is £3,000, that means you could claim up to £3,000 for ear infections, £3,000 for luxating patella, and so on.
The problem is, you run out of cover, just like you can with a time-limited policy. Once you’ve reached the condition limit, that’s it. You’ll have to pay for any more treatment for that condition yourself.
Lifetime – Lifetime policies have an annual vet fee limit that refreshes each year when you renew. Because of this, they’re usually the best type of cover for ongoing or repeated conditions as your pet won’t run out of cover – it’ll renew annually, each time you renew your policy.
Depending on your circumstance this can be a good way to of ensure you can afford to access veterinary care for your pet throughout their life.
Make sure your dog’s past will be covered
Pet insurance providers won’t cover anything your pet’s been poorly with previously, even if it was years and years ago. They’ll class it as a ‘pre-existing condition’ and exclude it from your cover.
Read the reviews
Have a look at reviews before you choose a pet insurance provider – customer services is really important when your pet’s health is at stake.
Reputable pet insurance companies publish their claim reviews (but not all do) so look for a company that is transparent about this and has a decent number of reviews published on their website.
Look at extras and options
Sometimes it’s hard to know whether your pet needs a visit to the vet. Even if you’ve got pet insurance, unnecessary trips are expensive for you as you’ll have to pay an excess and you don’t want to put your hound through a stressful check up unless you have to.
Lots of insurers include veterinary helplines so you can get advice to make sure you really need a vet appointment.
Some providers include free 24/7 access to a video vet service with every policy as standard so a qualified vet can actually see the problem, instead of you just describing it.
Other things to look out for on a good pet insurance policy are:
- Complementary therapy cover
- Dental illness cover
- Travelling abroad with your pet
- Third party liability cover
- Help if they’re lost or stolen
Always check whether these are included as standard or if you’ll have to pay for them as optional extras.