Pet Insurance – A Modern Phenomenon

There is no doubt about it but Pet Insurance gets a bad press. Horror stories of it not paying out, or people finding that they are not covered for the very thing their pet needs, is, in this technological age, a mere click away... and you know what, the shameful truth of the matter is that much of it is true. Take for instance the pet owners, who thought they had insured their pets for ‘life-long’ cover only to find that their very reputable insurers (big household names no less) suddenly decided to withdraw cover. This was done without consultation or prior warning. Whilst the effects of this were obviously very stressful to the pet owners in question it was not however all bad. For as they say dark clouds often have a silver lining and this one most certainly did. In direct response to the situation over a 1,000 people got themselves together to form an action group called Pet Alliance Watchdog (PAWs). The results were very positive – plans were drawn up to take action against the insurers and an official inquiry called for. It was agreed that a review of possible miss-selling of pet insurance was to be undertaken. So how does this affect all of us and what should we, as responsible pet owners, take from it?

Firstly it has to be said that, like any product, there will be good and bad.

The difference though between buying, let’s say a coat and insurance cover is that in the latter case it is more difficult to define the quality. Quality is easy isn’t it, when it is beneath one’s finger tips and in the eye of the beholder, but when it’s in the small print, which it definitely is with insurance, then it becomes a little more difficult, if not downright tedious, to track down. No wonder then that some people feel it’s not worth the hassle. On the other hand, it cannot be forgotten or ignored, that vet’s bills are rising faster than inflation. So unless you can place hand on heart and say its okay, should my pet need treatment, whatever the cost, I can afford it, then you do have a dilemma. What to do then? Because make no mistake, pet insurance is at the very least a sensible way to budget and at best... a life saver... if, you choose the right one. With this in mind here are some things you should look out for:

  • POLICY LIMITS – check maximum payouts per condition. Realistically will it cover costs? You can speak to a vet about this. Also important is the excess you may be required to pay – sometimes this is applied annually, sometimes it is affixed to every claim – even if it part of an ongoing condition.
  • THAT SMALL PRINT! – Here you should be looking for what isn’t on the policy as much as what is. Good cover includes: alternative treatment, help if your pet goes missing and 3rd party liability.
  • RECOMMENDATIONS – Listen to what others have to say. You need to be able to make an informed choice. Speak to people who do not have a vested interest on what kind of cover is best for you – your vet is an obvious choice, although it is sometimes wise to avoid ‘in-house’ policies.

And some things to avoid:

  • Accident Only Policies – it is a fact that a significantly higher amount of pets are taken to see the vet because of illness as opposed to accident, which makes this policy less likely to pay for itself.
  • Delaying Purchase – yes, surprisingly the sooner you insure your pet the better. Younger pets are cheaper to insure and just as prone to certain illness/conditions as older pets. Older pets just have a few extra, age related problems as it were. Note also, some insurers will not cover pets over a certain age, so avoid policies with a cut off date.

Whilst this is not an exhaustive list, it hopefully provides a few general guidelines for you to follow and for you to be able to distinguish between the good and the bad when it comes to Pet Insurance. Because contrary to popular thought there are some very good Pet Insurance Policies out there. No doubt about it Pet Insurance is a modern phenomenon. But there are good reasons for this. Today’s world offers us choice, vastly improved veterinary treatments, leaps and bounds in medical and surgical knowledge, all alleviates suffering, sometimes it saves lives. All considered then, pet insurance, it’s not that big a price.


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