PDSA’s handy guide to understanding pet insurance
Although some pets may go through life without any major problems, others may find themselves in need of emergency or ongoing veterinary care. And the costs quickly add up.
One of the best ways to prepare for unexpected bills is to have pet insurance. But the variety and complexity of different policies can be confusing. To help you, we’ve put together this handy jargon-buster so your four-legged friend gets the perfect cover.
- Accident only insurance: these policies only cover your pet for accidents, NOT illnesses, but premiums are usually cheaper as a result.
- Excess: the amount you will have to pay when you make a claim. This could be a set figure or a percentage of the total claim (known as co-insurance), or both. There can be ‘compulsory excess’ (set by the insurer) and ‘voluntary excess’ (where you decide the amount). By agreeing a higher excess you could reduce the cost of the policy premiums. Just make sure it’s still affordable for you.
- Elective procedure: treatment that isn’t absolutely necessary for your pet’s wellbeing, it’s chosen rather than ‘essential’. For instance, neutering a healthy pet would usually be considered ‘elective’. Having your pet neutered could lower the cost of your insurance premium, however.
- Exclusion period: this refers to the time between the start date of the policy and the date from which you’ll be able to make a claim. This is usually between 10-14 days but could be longer, so it’s best to arrange insurance as soon as you can, rather than waiting.
- Lifetime cover: this type of policy will usually cover your pet against any new accidents and illnesses for their entire life (as long as the policy is active). As a result, it will generally cost a bit more, but will offer you full peace of mind. Check if there are any restrictions. For example, does it restrict how much you can claim in any single year, or how much you can claim against any single illness or injury?
- Maximum benefit: this means a set limit on claims for each illness or injury. There are no time restraints but once you reach the stated limit, the insurer won’t pay any further claims for that particular condition.
- Pre-existing condition: any condition that has already been diagnosed by a vet, or is known to you, before taking out the insurance. Many policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions, which is why vets recommend taking out insurance when your pet is young.
- Premium: the monthly or annual fee you’ll pay for your pet’s insurance. The average cost is about £20 per month^, but this varies widely and will depend on your pet’s circumstances, for instance their age and breed. Keeping your pet up to date with routine treatment, such as vaccinations, flea and worming, can help to keep your premium lower, depending on your policy.
- Third party insurance: usually only available for dogs, this will cover you if your dog damages another person’s property, or causes personal injury in any way.
- Time limited: this means there is a set time period (usually 12 months) from the onset of a condition that you will be able to make claims. There may also be a limit on the amount you can claim during this period.
Remember that your pet’s insurance cover will only remain active as long as you renew at the end of each policy period (usually a year), and you make the payments on time.
Owning a pet is a hugely rewarding experience. In return for their unconditional love it’s our responsibility to make sure they live a happy and healthy life. Pet insurance not only offers peace of mind, it protects our pets from any unnecessary pain and suffering by providing the treatment they need, when they need it.