Deciding whether or not you are going to take out pet insurance can be tricky. There is so much to consider and there are so many questions which you won’t have the answers for, and often it’s not until you make a claim that the pitfalls of the policy you have chosen are revealed. Shopping for pet insurance is a lot like shopping for health insurance for yourself, so it can be a lot more complicated than car or home insurance.
Every pet owner is going to have a different answer to, “Is pet insurance worth it?”. As vets (and vet nurses, animal care assistants, and receptionists), we believe that it is worth it for the majority of owners. We encourage all pet owners to insure their pets, because we often see the pitfalls of not having cover.
Pet insurance gives you access to a renewing pot of money that can be used to cover the costs of illness or injury. It might not cover the routine preventatives like vaccines or worming treatment (though like many vets we have a direct debit scheme in place for these things), but it covers the bigger, unexpected bills that always seem to come at the worst possible time.
According to Tesco Bank, the average claim for treatment for an accident for both cats and dogs is around £600, with 10% of claims reaching £1500. These are not bills that most of us could afford without thinking!
Illnesses can be equally expensive. For example, around 50% of cats will suffer from kidney disease or an over-active thyroid at some point in their life. Both of these conditions require lifelong blood tests and medication and can cost in the area of £800 per year to manage. Arthritis is another very common condition across all species and sizes of pet, and Tesco Bank report that the average claim for this is around £600, with 10% of claims reaching £1800.
The advantage of having pet insurance isn’t just that the majority of these bills could be paid for. It also gives you as a pet owner flexibility in deciding what treatment options to pursue. Veterinary medicine is advancing at a rapid rate, and we now have diagnostic tools and treatments available to us that we didn’t have even 5 or 10 years ago – things like MRI scans, chemotherapy, joint replacement, limb prosthesis, and monoclonal antibody therapies that can treat arthritis and skin conditions with a single injection a month.
Unfortunately, all the research that went into these things mean they come at a cost, thousands of pounds on average. However, if you have a pet insurance policy with high coverage, then these things become affordable options. Not every condition will warrant such treatments and they won’t be suitable for every pet, but we encourage people to have insurance in place so that these are accessible options should you need them.
We want to live in a world where our pets can have anything they need at an affordable or no cost at all. Until then, pet insurance can often be the next best thing.
Which insurance policy?
Our general advice on choosing a pet insurance policy is relatively simple: opt for the maximum cover that you can afford, consider whether it covers for both illness and injury, and make sure you understand the policy type you have purchased (a lifetime vs a time-limited vs a maximum benefit-limited).
Make sure you understand your policy excess and check carefully for any conditions which are not covered, either because of the policy or because they are a pre-existing condition.
If you have any questions about insurance, then please feel free to get in touch. Legally we cannot recommend any particular company, but we can help you understand all the jargon!