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Did you know that cats are considered to be ‘mature’ from the age of seven onwards, and dogs from the age of seven or eight, or even younger for some giant breeds which sometimes have generally shorter life spans? Having your pet insured against the potential cost of necessary veterinary treatments for accidents or illnesses is important for animals of all ages, but as your pet gets older, it becomes even more essential. Just as with people, as your pet gets older their bodies will begin to slow down as a natural progression of their ageing, and they may become less resilient to the demands and challenges of everyday life. An older pet is likely to find it more difficult to bounce back from an accident or injury than their younger counterparts, plus there are elevated risk factors for a range of age-related illnesses such as arthritis, heart and lung problems, and a range of other conditions. Many pets stay active, robust and healthy well into old age. However, there is no getting away from the fact that older pets need a little extra care and consideration from their owners, and that they are simply more likely to need veterinary treatment or special care than younger pets.
Some pet insurance companies will not insure your pet once they have passed a certain age; usually around seven or eight depending on the species and breed of animal that you own. If your pet is approaching the cut off age for your insurance company, the time to start shopping around for a replacement policy is now. Some pet insurance companies will continue to insure an animal into old age, providing that the animal in question has had continual coverage from them since they were younger, but may not be prepared to take on new clients whose pets are already mature. Finally, some policies are specifically designed to meet the needs of older pets, and will take on a new client and insure their animal with no upper age limit cut off point.
Because getting insurance for an older pet can be more difficult than insuring a younger animal, it is important to try and arrange their coverage before they reach maturity wherever possible. If your pet is already insured, check the details of your existing policy carefully to ensure that once your pet gets to old age, your insurer will continue to cover them. It can be harder to find an insurance company that will take on a new pet of an older age without having a previous history of insuring them, and the cost of your insurance policy is likely to be higher as a new client if your insurer cannot see a track record of your animal’s health and any previous insurance claims you have made for them. Where pet insurance is concerned, building up a long term relationship with your insurer is always a good idea. This will enable you to keep your policy renewal costs as low as possible, and ensure that your pet is covered in the event of a recurring or ongoing condition. Elderly pets are more likely to fall victim to a complicated or protracted period of illness than a younger animal, and getting the necessary funding for their treatment can be much more straightforward if your pet is already covered by an existing policy from a time preceding the incident when the pet was in good health. Most insurance companies will provide ongoing coverage for recurring or ongoing conditions that first arise while the pet is insured by them, but are unlikely to offer insurance for such conditions to a new client. Pre-existing conditions are normally not covered by most insurance policies. So for instance, if your pet became ill with a new condition under your current insurance policy, your insurer should (theoretically, and depending on the precise wording of your policy) cover the cost of treating their illness and any recurrences or ongoing requirements relating to the condition. However, if you then chose to cancel your insurance with that provider and take your pet to a new company, the chances are that the new company would not cover your pet for the same condition, as the condition would be considered as known and pre-existing at the time at which you sought insurance from the second company. This is why it is important to choose your insurance company with care and while your pet is in good health, as there are potential implications for transferring your policy to a new insurer at a later point if you have had cause to claim on your previous policy or your pet has already become ill.
If your mature pet has never been insured before, or if you have acquired a new pet that is already mature in insurance terms, don’t despair- it is still possible to get insurance for them. Many companies will offer special insurance policies to older pets, with no upper age limit cut off point for providing coverage. However, while policies for an older pet are as a general rule higher than for younger pets, and the policy cost is likely to jump up somewhat even with an existing insurer once your pet hits the maturity threshold, insuring an older pet with a new insurer from the get-go is likely to be rather more costly than continuing with an existing policy.
Older pets are simply more likely to get sick and be less able to shake off a minor injury than a younger animal will. The chance of your pet requiring veterinary treatment increases exponentially for every year that your pet gets older. While the policy cost for insuring an older pet is higher like-for-like than for a younger pet, the cost is proportionate; the likelihood of your pet needing treatment, and for said treatment to be more complicated, involved and expensive is higher too. The vast majority of pet owners would probably struggle or be unable to fund unexpected veterinary treatments that might run from a few hundred pounds up to many thousands of pounds, and where the cost of treatment is more than the owner can afford, the choices available to the caring pet owner can be bleak. Having to have your elderly pet put to sleep because the spiralling costs of treating a curable or manageable condition cannot be met is something which no pet owner would ever wish to face; but it is something that having comprehensive and appropriate pet insurance can help to prevent.
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