PET insurance prices soar after three million dogs, cats and other pets were bought to keep us company during lockdown.
Premiums have averaged £305 this year, according to insurer Gather. That’s a nine per cent increase on last year’s average of £280.
However, experts believe prices are likely to continue to rise as veterinary costs rise and inflation picks up.
Many pet owners are already going without cover – and risking shocking medical bills that can run into thousands of pounds.
In fact, according to the Association of British Insurers, fewer than five million of the UK’s 34 million pets are insured.
Even those who protect their pets often don’t read the fine print, as half of applications are denied because owners believe something is covered when it isn’t.
We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about buying cover and how to avoid a Ruff deal.
What is covered?
The INSURANCE covers veterinary bills in the event of accidents and illnesses, liability for damage caused by your dog and other costs, such as e.g. B. the cost of caring for your pet if you need to go to the hospital.
Medical check-ups, worm and flea treatments and routine vaccinations, including influenza, are not covered by insurance.
Some insurers won’t cover your pets after they’re eight years old, and some reduce coverage as pets age.
Check your policy’s maximum payout, as you’ll have to pay for anything over that amount yourself.
Money.co.uk’s Salman Haqqi said: “No standard pet insurance company will cover your pet for existing chronic conditions such as heart disease or hip dysplasia.
“Some cover historical conditions like an illness, but only if your pet has been symptom-free and treatment-free for at least two years.”
This means that while you can shop around for the best deal when your pet is young, you tend to be stuck with the same insurer once it develops a long-term health problem.
Also, keep in mind that some insurers generally do not cover dental treatment and some treatments may be excluded.
Even cautious pet owners who insure themselves can still be stung with huge bills.
Dog owner Daniella Rogers had to borrow money to pay for life-saving surgery for her pug, which cost £5,500 more than her pet insurance claim limit.
The 30-year-old mum, from Drayton, Oxon, was hit with a £12,500 bill last month when her eight-year-old dog Biggie Smalls required surgery to remove a lung abscess.
Their £120-a-month Petplan insurance has a withdrawal cap of £7,000, which created a gap.
The urban planner, who lives with his fiance Daniel, 29, an accountant, and their son Vincent, six, said: “We love our dog like he’s our child.
“We didn’t have the money so we had to borrow £4,000 from the family and now we need a loan from the bank to pay it back.
“We even tried crowdfunding and raised £1,500 through the amazing generosity of friends, family and complete strangers.
“I would encourage other pet owners to make sure they know the maximum amount they are insured for and consider purchasing high limit insurance.”
What coverage do I need?
ACCIDENT-only insurance is the cheapest, but does not cover illness.
Basic insurance covers illness, but often does not pay for treatment for an illness that lasts longer than 12 months. Lifetime or comprehensive insurance offers better protection, but costs more.
Cat owners are not liable for damage caused by their pet, so you don’t need coverage for that.
As the cost of living crisis puts pressure on households, everyone is looking to cut costs.
But Salman Haqqi warns that when it comes to pet insurance, “cheapest isn’t necessarily best. It all depends on your needs and those of your pet.”
As well as checking out the price comparison, check out how the different policies are doing at Defaqto.com, which has five-star ratings for various financial products, including pet insurance.
What if I don’t have coverage and my pet needs a vet?
There is no NHS for animals, so if your pet is injured or ill you will need to look after it yourself.
Use the PDSA’s free symptom checker at bit.ly/3bDOBo8.
Go to the vet if they say you have to. Call two or three vets to compare quotes.
You can also buy medication from an online pet pharmacy. Check if it is accredited by Defra.
Individuals receiving certain benefits may receive free or discounted treatment from charities including PDSA, RSPCA and Blue Cross.
Is pet insurance worth it?
VET bills can cost a fortune, so think about what you would do if your pet needed life-saving treatment and you couldn’t afford it.
The average pet insurance claim is £848, says the Association of British Insurers, and around one in four pet owners claims insurance policies each year.
Veterinarian Anita Dowe knows only too well the importance of cover, as her English bulldog Betty has racked up more than £56,000 in medical bills over the last eight years. Luckily, Anita, 37, from Milton Keynes, has insurance with Petplan, which covered most of her costs.
It hasn’t come cheap at around £1,300 a year as the breed is the most expensive to insure because it’s prone to genetic conditions. But after premium costs, it has saved her a massive £45,500.
Anita, who runs dog behavior service themindfulpetowner.com, said: “Betty has had cruciate ligament surgery on both knees, respiratory surgery, an eyelid lift so she can see, and treatment for arthritis, stomach issues and skin allergies.”
Anita, who is married to 35-year-old engineer Rob, is urging owners to get insurance before their pets develop health problems.
“I wouldn’t even consider owning a pet without insurance. It takes away the worry of not being able to pay for the treatment your pet needs.”
How can I reduce costs?
COST varies widely depending on your pet’s age, breed, health and where you live, but dogs are generally more expensive to insure than cats.
For example, insurer ManyPets said a Jack Russell costs an average of £308 a year, while an English bulldog costs £881.
According to GoCompare, cats are cheaper, averaging £132 for under-eight cats or £276 for older cats.
Consider a mixed-breed cat or dog, as insurance often costs less.
Take cover while your pet is young and before it develops any diseases.
It’s definitely worth exploring at this stage as owners can save an average of £201 on an annual policy, says comparison site moneysupermarket.com. Other websites to try are confused.com and Comparethemarket.com.
However, check the coverage terms carefully before settling on what appears to be a cheap deal. Consider veterinarian health plans to cover annual treatments and checkups and get a discount on medical bills.
Kimberly Freeman, 35, who runs City Sit Stay dog school in Tower Hamlets, east London, believes prevention is better than cure. So make sure your pet gets a healthy diet, adequate exercise, regular vaccinations and check-ups. She owns six Pomeranians which together have cost more than £20,000 in medical bills which she could not have paid without insurance.
She said: “I can’t suddenly raise thousands of pounds for emergency surgery, so paying a monthly insurance premium is a lot better.
“Garbo has stomach and liver problems and insurance paid £12,000 for the care. Astaire broke his leg and the bill was £9,000.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5685538/how-to-to-getting-best-pet-insurance-deal/ Six tips for getting the right pet insurance when prices are skyrocketing