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Pet Insurance

As there is no NHS for pets it makes sense to have them insured, it is a very good way to budget for those unexpected bills. It also ensures peace of mind, the best of treatment is available without the financial worry. It is also now possible to complete application forms on the Internet with the largest pet insurance companies.

There are many pet insurance companies which allow you to insure your pet cat, dog or rabbit. They all have some common policies and some have specific policies so it is always best to gather as much information as possible from as many insurance companies as possible.

Sometimes when you purchase your puppy or kitten it has already been insured by the breeder for the first few weeks in its new home, your breeder will be able to advise you of your pet's situation.

Most insurance companies will cover the veterinary fees for accidents and illness, advertising and rewards if your pet is lost or stolen, boarding kennel or cattery fees if you are hospitalised, third party liability if your pet causes accidental injury, damage or loss to person or property and death from illness or accident.

Other companies will also cover behavioural problems and veterinary fees for complementary medicine, for example, veterinary prescribed diets, physiotherapy and homeopathic or herbal medicines. The things which the pet insurance companies will not cover are any pre existing conditions and the routine treatments like spaying or castration (neutering) unless on medical grounds and vaccinations. The insurance company may place an exclusion on the policy of any pet with a pre existing condition when the policy is taken out, the exclusion will be reviewed at the policy renewal which is usually on a yearly basis.

In some areas of the country the veterinary treatment costs are higher and so the monthly insurance premiums are higher to reflect this. Also as some breeds of dogs cost more for veterinary care then there usually is a breed supplement to be added to the premium. The breeds most commonly requiring the higher premiums are Bulldog, Deerhound, Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound, Leonberger, all of the Mastiff breeds, mountain dogs ( Bernese, Estrela and Pyrenean), Old English Sheepdog, Rottweiler and the Saint Bernard. Again policies differ in these breeds so always check.

You can benefit from having pet insurance if you start the policy when your pet is between certain ages. Normally the age range for starting a policy is from 8 weeks until 8 years of age, again some companies insure pets from 5 weeks and some until the pet is 10 or 12 years old. Obviously if you insure your pet within these age ranges the policy will continue past these ages to old age with no upper age limit. However the policy may change after a certain age so that death from illness is no longer covered, also you may have to pay your excess plus a percentage of the total claim.

With most policies you can pay the premium monthly by direct debit or annually by direct debit, cheque or credit card. Special discounts may be found with the pet insurance companies if you are insuring three or more pets or if you are a pensioner. There are also a number of pet products that can help reduce premiums.

For example, the Petsafe pet ID and security tag which has a unique code on the back of each tag and a 24 hour, local rate telephone number. Details of the pet and owner are held at the central call centre so you can be contacted at work, home or anywhere else.

This obviously reduces the risk of the pet being lost and, not surprisingly this means that when you buy the ID tag you get a special introductory discount scheme with Petplan insurance.

If you need to make a claim there will be an excess to pay, this can range from £35 to £65 for dogs, £30 to £50 for cats and £30 to £45 for rabbits. The pet insurance companies usually state that they will settle a valid claim promptly, sometimes within 24 to 48 hours of receiving the claim.

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