Home Finance Pet insurance warning – five things you need to know about cover

Pet insurance warning – five things you need to know about cover

As the cost of living rises, here at MoneyMagpie we’re always making sure you’re getting the best deals and money-saving tips. However, when it comes to pet insurance, you might find it’s one of the rare cases where spending more could save you a lot of worry and financial burden in the long-run. Buying a pet insurance policy can be confusing, so we’ve looked into it for you.

Should I Get Pet Insurance?

In the past, veterinary costs were something you had to save up for and keep a fund set aside for emergencies. However, as pet insurance becomes more popular, it could be a more cost-efficient way to look after your pet.

The trouble is that pet insurance premiums rise every year, even when you haven’t made any claims. This means you could easily be looking at spending £800 or more a year by the time your dog is five years old. At that stage, it’s worth considering whether you’re better off putting that money aside in a savings account instead.

For puppies and kittens, who get into all sorts of trouble, pet insurance is invaluable. The older your pet gets, the less chance there is of an accident – but more chance of ongoing illness. That’s when it’s time to look at different policy types.

Annual Versus Lifelong Cover

Most pet insurance companies give you the option of buying an annual insurance policy or a ‘lifetime’ one. Both are paid annually, but if a condition is treated under an annual policy it cannot be covered under the renewal the following year. A lifetime policy is more expensive, but lets you carry on treating the same problem over time, as long as you don’t break the policy at any point.

So, if your cat is prone to ear infections, you would get it treated in the first twelve months of a policy and always get it covered by insurance (minus the excess). But on an annual policy, if they had an ear infection the following year, it wouldn’t be covered. On a lifetime policy, it would.

This is where it’s a bit of a gamble when it comes to pet insurance. You don’t know when your pet might have a reoccurring issue. It really comes down to whether you could cover the cost of treatment outside of an insurance policy. For those with spare income which could pay for treatment, an annual policy would save money.

But if you’re struggling each month, a more expensive lifetime policy could save you a lot of money in an emergency or chronic illness.

How Much Cover Should I Get?

There are different levels of pet insurance cover depending on what you need it for. The very basic plans will cover emergency care and a small amount of vet costs up to a cumulative annual amount, such as £2,000.

More expensive policies will include more, have a lower excess, and a much larger annual allowance such as £10,000 or even more. When you consider that some surgeries, like a hip replacement in a large dog, can easily cost that, it seems like a no-brainer decision.

But your dog might never need insurance to pay out – and then you’re out of pocket by a lot! It depends a lot on your lifestyle and that of your pet. If your cat is an outdoor cat, higher coverage will help pay for accidents or injuries they get while out and about.

Similarly, a city dog is at higher risk of being in a vehicle accident, and of being in close quarters with other dogs. If you send your dog to a daycare facility, higher insurance includes legal cover in case there are incidents with other pups.

But if you have an indoor cat that mostly lounges around on your lap, or a dog that likes to sit in the sunshine and move from doze spot to napping place, you probably don’t need such high cover.

What Doesn’t Pet Insurance Cover?

What is covered under a pet insurance policy generally depends on the extent (and therefore, price) of the policy. However, there are a few things which are not included as standard.

Microchipping (which is a legal requirement for both dogs and cats) is not included. Nor is the initial spay or neuter of your pet unless it is required as part of a sudden illness such as pyometra. Annual vaccinations aren’t included, nor will regular flea, tick, and wormer medication.

Finally, you’ll not get pet food covered unless it is a specially-prescribed diet by the vet.

How to Save on Pet Insurance

Being money-savvy Magpies, we know you want to know how to get the most bang for your buck without skimping on care for your furry friend.

One of the first things you need to do is shop around. Compare pet insurance quotes to find a better deal – going direct for a quote from suppliers is also another tip for haggling your premium down.

You can also ask your vet if they offer a pet plan. This could reduce your insurance premiums, as a pet plan can prove you’re keeping your pet as healthy as possible. These pet plans include annual vaccinations, health checks, nail clips, and dental checks. The dental checks are important, because many insurance policies won’t pay out unless your pet has regular (six monthly) dental checks as standard.

It’s also worth looking at multi-pet insurance if you have more than one pet in the household. You could bag a serious discount!

Finally, buy through a cashback site like TopCashBack or Quidco, as this will give you some money back on your annual policy payment. It can take a while for the cashback to pay out so it requires some patience, but can net you the equivalent of a month or two free for the year!


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