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Importance of Pet Insurance

You want to make sure that your pets are well looked after and are kept in good health

We are the proud owners of lovely "Fern “, and also now her new pal, “Moss”, alias “Captain Chaos”, a six-month-old Border Collie pup. One of the first things that we did for both our dogs was to make sure that they had good, adequate, "covered for life" Pet Insurance. Moss is a typical pup like a wee "bull in a china-shop", banging into everything in his path and chewing at everything in sight. Thankfully, he hasn't had any mishaps so far!

Like us when you bring a pet into your home, there are many decisions you need to make. You want to make sure that your pets are well looked after and are kept in good health. What happens though if your pet becomes sick or is involved in an accident and needs emergency veterinary care? You, of course, would want your pet to have the best care possible, but this could leave you with an expensive vet's bill. This is the type of scenario where pet owners are relieved that they do have adequate pet insurance, giving them reassurance and the financial ability to pay any unexpected bills. Pet insurance can provide you with the peace of mind and confidence to make the best health care decisions for your pet. By providing you with some protection from the financial strain of unexpected medical costs, pet insurance gives you the ability to focus on what is important, being there for your pet, when your pet needs you the most.  

We all hope our pets will live long and healthy lives. Yet the reality is, unexpected accidents and illnesses do happen. Ongoing required veterinary medications can cost pet owners hundreds of pounds per month and any required surgeries can cost thousands. If your pet is not insured you will not have a financial safety net, and will instead depend on credit cards, loans, or borrowing money elsewhere, when faced with these unexpected veterinary costs. Sadly, some owners may find themselves facing the agonising decision to euthanase a beloved pet because they cannot afford the advised treatment, and no pet owner should have to face such an horrendous experience and decision. 

Pet insurance is designed to help cover the cost of veterinary bills should an animal require any treatment for accident and emergency, and for on- going medical treatments for any chronic disease.  There is not a National Health Service for animals, so any treatment an animal receives at their private veterinary practice will always incur a cost to the owner. When the illnesses become more serious, or when emergency surgery or treatment is required, these costs can now easily reach into the thousands of pounds. 

Other benefits that may be covered by pet insurance are : Third party liability cover if your pet injures someone or damages someone else's property; Paying out the price that you paid for your pet if they become lost or stolen, or die as a result of illness or injury; Paying out the costs of looking after your pet if you have to go into Hospital for emergency treatment; Paying out for the cost of your holiday if it is cancelled due to your pet needing emergency treatment during the date you were due to be on holiday; Paying out for the costs of  treatments if you take your pet on holiday abroad and your pet requires emergency treatment.

Pet insurance policies can get a little complicated, so to clarify, the four main types of policy are: 

1) Accident only:  This is the most basic level of pet insurance cover. It will pay out only if a pet needs treatment following an accident, but not if they fall ill. The policy may also have a time restriction and will only pay out up to a fixed sum for each individual injury. 

2) Time-limited: These do cover illness as well as accidents and injuries, however these will only pay out up to a maximum amount per condition, and only for a fixed period following the initial claim, usually only for 12 months. After this time that condition will then be excluded from the policy. 

3) Maximum benefit: This insurance will only cover up to a maximum amount per condition, but unlike time-limited policies, policy holders can continue claiming until they reach their policy limit, after which they will then be responsible for any bills for that condition, as this will then be excluded from the pet's policy. 

4) Lifetime /Covered for Life: This is the most comprehensive level of cover, there is still a maximum set amount, but rather than per condition, this is per pet, per year, and it will be much higher, say from £4,000 to £12,000 per year, depending on your insurance policy cover. These policies do have to be renewed every year to allow their full policy cover. Your covered for life policy will continue as long as you renew the policy within each policy year end, each year and without a break. This is the type of policy which is strongly advised by Vets and is ideal for any on-going chronic conditions. 

Pet insurance monthly premiums can rise as your pet gets older and if there have been on- going medical conditions noted. It is not advised that you change your insurance provider though, as there would automatically be exclusions on any pre-existing medical conditions on any new Insurance policy. 

It is advised to take out insurance for your pet at the youngest possible age, when it is most likely to be at its healthiest, and hopefully without any noted pre-existing medical conditions. There is usually an exclusion period of around 10 to 14 days following the start of any insurance policy during which policyholders are unable to make any claim. 

Also, there will be an excess fee, which can vary from policy to policy, that you must pay before any claim can be made and that can also increase as your pet gets older. 

Having a good adequate pet lifetime/covered for life pet insurance allows you to enjoy your time with your pets, rather than worrying about whether you can afford the costs of any unexpected or on-going Veterinary treatments. 

 

Alison Laurie-Chalmers 

Senior Consultant 

Crown Vets.

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