Pet insurance companies offer different levels of cover, from limited to unlimited for the lifetime of your pet. The cost is affected by how comprehensive a cover you choose, where you live and the age and breed of your pet.
Veterinary Fees - Lifetime cover
- Provides veterinary fees cover for the lifetime of your pet.
- Covers ongoing or recurring conditions
- Renews yearly and is subject to an annual excess if you submit a claim
- May have no financial limit, although most have a monetary limit per condition per year, anything from £4,000 - £10,000.
- May require you to pay a percentage of each claim when your pet reaches old age.
- This is in addition to the excess and is typically 10 - 35%.
- Monthly premiums and/or excess usually increases as the pet ages.
Veterinary fees - Limited cover
- Imposes a time or money limit (or both) for each separate condition treated.
- Provides veterinary fees cover for the initial 12 months following diagnosis, after which that condition will be excluded.
- Usually imposes a financial limit in addition to the time limit (e.g. £4,000 - £7,000 per condition).
- Useful for one-off injury/accident costs.
- Cheaper than lifetime cover.
- Most companies operate a 'honeymoon period' when a new policy is taken out, which means they won't pay for veterinary treatment within the first 10-14 days of the policy start-date
- 'Pre-existing' conditions will not be covered, i.e. when you and/or your vet knew your pet had a problem before taking out insurance
- Some policies exclude hereditary or congenital conditions, even if previous unknown
- Some policies won't cover pets when they become older i.e. over 8-10 years depending on your policy
- Elective or preventative treatment are commonly excluded (e.g. dentistry, neutering, pregnancy and birth)
- Some policies will be invalidated if your pet isn't vaccinated, or diseases arising from non-vaccination won't be covered (e.g. distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, cat flu)
- Euthanasia and cremation costs are not always covered
All policies also offer third party liability and most offer help with boarding kennel fees, quarantine costs, advertising and reward costs for a lost pet, and a refund of the purchase price of the animal should it stray, be stolen, or die.
Questions to consider....
- If unlimited lifetime cover is too expensive, does the policy offer lifetime cover that pays up to a certain amount per condition per year? When you renew your policy annually, this monetary ceiling is also renewed.
- Does the cover per condition last longer than 12months?
- Is there a realistic monetary ceiling?
- Will unknown congenital or hereditary conditions be covered?
- How much does the excess or monthly premium increase as the pet ages?
- Is there an extra excess charge (e.g. 20%) payable by you for each claim?