02 October 2014 : 
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Guide to pet insurance

5. What does pet insurance cover?

The most important thing to understand about insurance of any kind is that the cover you will buy from an insurer will be tailor made for your individual needs and circumstances.

However, this section will inform you about some of the things that insurers may provide as part of a pet insurance premium.

This way, you will know what is available to you; if you feel you need it.

If there is anything you feel you need from your pet insurance, which is not covered by this section, never be afraid to ask your insurer if they can provide cover to meet your individual requirements.

When you go to choose a pet insurance policy, there are a number of things you will need to consider. The policies will not only vary in the amount of cover they supply because each company will set their own additions, conditions and exclusions. This can result in massive differences between policies therefore it is important that you compare like with like across the board and choose the policy that fits your individual requirements and budget.

Cover offered by insurers

Vets’ fees resulting from injury/illness

The most basic pet insurance will have cover for vets’ fees in the event of injury, accident or illness normally with a limit on the amount of cover per condition and a limit on the number of conditions covered in a year.

Most likely, the pet insurance policy will cover the cost of vets’ fees for anaesthetics, operations, X-rays, laboratory tests, medicines and hospital care.

Other cover you might see

Other cover provided by insurers will vary substantially. Below are the more popular additions to pet insurance policies

• Legal liability – Cover in case your dog bites someone and tries to claim compensation from you (Dangerous Dogs Act)

• Kennels/boarding if you go into hospital – handy if you are an elderly person living on your own

• Holiday cancellation – If you have to cancel your holiday because your pet is ill or injured

• Advertising/reward if your animal goes missing

• Purchase price of pet if stolen -  some pets aren’t cheap and this would be much the same as buying insurance for an expensive gadget

• Animal behaviourists – some insurers will offer cover to sort out your pets’ behavioural problems

• Transport costs to and from vets

• Personal accident – if your pet bites you and it leads to you taking time off work leaving you out of pocket

• Advice and support if your pet passes away

• Cremation/burial of pet

• Accidental damage

• Help lines

• Pet minder finder service – help finding someone to look after your pet in the event of illness or if you are going on holiday


Exclusions and restrictions on pet insurance policies

Generally speaking, pet insurance does not cover:

• Pre-existing conditions

• Vaccinations – Direct Line offers free £20 towards vaccinations when you buy pet insurance with them

• Boosters – vaccinations required in later years

• Worming treatments

• Nail clipping

• Spaying - female

• Neutering – male

• Flea treatments

• Microchipping – to help if your dog is lost or stolen

• Illnesses arising within the first 10, 14 or 30 days of policy date

• Dental treatment

• Pets used for work, racing, guarding or commercial gain

• Diet food

• Treatments from pregnancy or birth

• Home visits

• Dogs restricted under Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

• Congenital or hereditary conditions

What is ‘lifelong cover’?

Understanding what ‘lifelong cover’ means in pet insurance terms is very important if you want to buy the right policy to suit your needs.

Generally speaking, there are three types of cover available:

Time-capped cover

The cheaper policies will generally only cover a condition for the first year you claim.

If, for example, your pet developed diabetes, you may be able to claim up to £2,500 towards the treatment for the first year of the condition, but, after the year is up, you will not be able to claim anymore.

You would then be responsible for covering the cost of subsequent treatment every year, for the rest of the animal’s life.

Financially-capped cover

Some providers label their financially-capped cover as ‘lifelong cover’. However, the cover may be ‘lifelong’ in terms of time but not in terms of the amount you can claim.

If you have financially-capped cover, the insurer will pay out over the years but only up to a fixed total amount per condition.

If, for example, your pet developed arthritis and your policy was financially-capped at £4,000, you may need to claim £2,500 in the first year to get the condition under control. By year two of the condition, you would only be left with £1,500 to claim for the rest of the duration of the illness. After this amount was used up, you would be left to foot the bill for the treatment for the rest of the pet’s life.

Lifelong cover

The truest form of ‘lifelong cover’ is where the insurer will pay for treatment up to a certain amount, each year, for as long as your pet needs the treatment.

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Please ensure that you fully read the terms & conditions of any product or policy before you decide to proceed and are fully aware of the total costs and the benefits and any exclusions or limitations applicable to the product or plan.

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