What will pet insurance cover?
Pet Insurance can provide cover for many of the unexpected financial costs of owning a pet but its primary purpose is to pay for unexpected vet bills.
As pet insurance only covers unexpected costs it will only pay for the treatment of illnesses that started (or accidents that happened) after you took out the policy.
Pet insurance will not pay for expected costs of pet ownership such as vaccinations, neutering or preventative treatment.
How much will the pet insurance company pay?
Pet insurance policies differ greatly in the amount of financial cover they provide. The cheapest policies available provide just £500 cover and will pay for the treatment of accidents only.
Most policies available pay for the treatment of both accidents and injuries.
The most comprehensive policies provide up to £15,000 cover per year.
How long will the insurance company pay for treatment?
This depends on the type of vet fees cover you choose.
The most basic type of cover is time-limited cover. These policies have a cover limit for each condition. But they will only pay for treatment of each illness or accident for up a maximum of 12 months from when it first occurs. So your cover will end either when you reach the cover limit or after 12 months, whichever comes first.
Once your cover ends an exclusion will be put on the policy meaning that you will have to pay yourself for any further treatment required for this condition for the rest of your pet’s life.
Maximum Benefit Cover
This is very similar to time-limited cover except that there is no time limit! Providing you keep renewing policy when it is due the insurance company will pay up to the stated cover limit for each separate condition.
Once you reach the cover limit an exclusion will be put on the policy, meaning that you will have to pay yourself for any further treatment required for this condition for the rest of your pet’s life.
This is also known as an annual benefit policy because it provides a cover limit for each policy year. Most policies have an annual cover limit to cover all conditions but some have an annual cover limit for each condition.
If the treatment exceeds the cover limit then you will not be able to claim for further treatment until the policy is renewed at the end of the policy year.
What else does pet insurance cover?
Third Party Liability Cover
The most important other benefit provided by a pet insurance policy is third party liability cover (also known as public liability cover) which covers your legal liability if your dog causes and accident. You do not need this for cats as you are not legally liable for their actions!
However don’t buy a pet insurance policy just for third party cover as there are cheaper ways of obtaining it if you don’t want vet fees cover.
Most pet insurance policies also provide a range of other benefits. These generally include death benefits, loss and advertising benefits, boarding fees, holiday cancellation and travel cover.
What are the other differences between policies?
Although all pet insurance policies require you to pay a fixed excess for vet fees claims the amount varies! The average fixed excess is about £75 with most falling in the range £50-£100.
Some policies also require you to pay a percentage of the claim (known as a contribution payment) in addition to the excess. This is particularly common for older pets but some policies now have contribution payments for pets of any age. Contribution payments are mostly between 10-35%.
And most importantly all pet insurance policies have their own conditions and exclusions (the small print!). It is therefore absolutely vital that you both do your research and read the full policy terms before you choose your policy!