The Pet Insurance

Guide 2016

Independent Unbiased Information
for Fellow Pet Owners
As Featured On BBC1's Rip Off Britain Consumer Programme

How Much Vet Fees Cover Do You Need?

vet-fees-pet-insuranceEvery day many pet owners find out that the vet treatment their pet desperately needs is more they can afford.   And even those that have pet insurance in place find that it often does not provide enough cover to pay for the required treatment. So how much cover do you need?

Note that everyone’s circumstances are different. It depends on your finances,  how much you are prepared to spend on your pets, and your attitude to risk.   So the question is how much do you need?  

When deciding how much vet fees cover you need you will need to think about

  • Whether you want the policy to pay for the treatment of both accidents and illnesses?
  • How long you want the policy to pay for the treatment of any illness or accident?
  • What financial limits are you happy with? 
  • Your personal attitudes and circumstances

 

Accidents and Illnesses?

 Most of these provide cover for accidents and illnesses but some of the more basic policies will only pay for treatment of accidents. 

Accident only policies are a relatively new phenomenon but are now available from many providers.  They are usually just a few pounds a month and provide a budget option for those with limited finances.   Some people also believe that they are a more appropriate option for their older pets. 

For How Long?

One of the most important things to understand about pet insurance is that whereas all policies have financial limits for treatment,  many of the more basic policies also have a time limit!  

These policies are generally referred to as time-limited policies.  Usually they specify that they will pay for up to 12 months treatment for each condition (unless you reach the financial limit first).    

After this time an exclusion will be put on the policy which will mean that you cannot make any further claims for the condition (or any other condition which can be linked to it).  

It is also unlikely that you will find any other insurer which will cover the condition which means you will have to pay for any further treatment for the rest of your pet’s life.

The two other major types of vet fees cover – maximum benefit and lifetime cover – do not have any time limits.  They will continue to pay for treatment providing you keep renewing the policy until you reach the financial limits of the policy. 

What Financial Limits are You Happy with?

The financial limits for a time-limited policy are usually per condition.  For example a typical time-limited policy may £3,000 per condition for treatment for up to 12-months.   However you may find the limit is as low as £500 or as high as £6,000. 

The financial limits for maximum-benefit policies are always stated per condition.  There is no time limit so providing you keep renewing the policy cover will continue indefinitely.  But once you reach the financial limit you will have an exclusion placed on the policy which means you will have to pay for any further treatment your pet requires during their lifetime. 

The financial limits for lifetime policies will be annual limits for each policy year.  They will either be stated per condition or more commonly as a total amount to cover all conditions.   If you exceed this limit in any year, you will have to pay for treatment until the policy is renewed, at which time the financial limits will be re-instated.  Annual limits range between £1,000 and £15,000.

Your Personal Circumstances

What you need will depend on your personal financial circumstances and your attitude to risk.

If you have savings or another source of funds available to you which you would be happy to use for your pet then you should consider whether you need insurance at all.   Alternatively you could opt for lower level cover knowing that in the unlikely but by no means impossible chance that you run out of cover that you have backup funding available.

Some people are quite happy to take a risk whilst others are very risk averse.   It is always well worth remembering that by buying insurance you are effectively just paying someone else to take the risk for you.

How Much Vet Fees Cover is Enough?

Without knowing your individual circumstances and attitude to risk it is impossible to answer the question as to how much vet fees cover is enough.

It is certainly the case that many people have made claims that run into thousands of pounds.   But on the other hand most people don’t claim anything like that much – and a few lucky people never need to make a claim at all!

Conclusion

There is no “one size fits all” answer to how much pet insurance you need”. It will depend on your personal circumstances and attitude to risk but it is important to be aware that vet costs can run into thousands of pounds. This means that you either need insurance or alternative funds you can draw on (or a combination of both) if you don’t want to find yourself unable to afford the veterinary treatment your pet needs.

 

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