Every responsible pet owner has to ensure they’re prepared for the prospect of their animal friend being ill or injured and needing veterinary care.
The most popular way of doing this is to take out some form of pet insurance, which will cover you for a range of different circumstances. With hundreds of pet insurance providers in the UK, you shouldn’t find it too difficult to get the cover you require at an affordable price.
Here at Quotesearch, we try to make it as easy as possible for pet owners. Our cutting-edge technology compares prices and cover directly from leading providers, meaning you get the most competitive and comprehensive pet insurance quotes on the market.
But before you get to that, you need to ask yourself a few questions about the cover you need. Starting with…
Do you really need pet insurance?
There are some alternatives to pet insurance if you want to protect your pet and, in the name of balance, here they are:
Self-insuring your pet means putting aside some money to pay for potential vet bills. For most people, this means committing to saving a set amount each month into a pot, which is ring-fenced and not to be touched until your pet needs it.
The risk of self-insuring is that you don’t know when your pet is going to fall ill or injured – if you haven’t saved enough money by that time to cover the vet fees, you will need to try and find it. There’s also the risk that you go out and blow the money on a new TV…
Even if you’ve been saving for years, you could still have a deficit if your pet needs a big operation. For example, hip dysplasia – where your pet needs both hips replaced – could cost as much as £7,000.
- Charities and other help
If you can’t afford pet insurance, a number of groups offer free treatment to pets. These include the Blue Cross, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
However, help from these charities is means-tested and mainly helps people who are on a low income, retired or receive certain state benefits to get help towards the cost of veterinary care.
- Vet health plan
A vet health plan is sometimes considered an alternative to pet insurance. But a health plan from your local vet will be far from comprehensive cover.
It only covers the essential treatments your pet needs throughout its life, such as vaccinations, flea and worm treatments, and regular health checks and advice. You may also get discounts on products and services but you’re probably only looking at 10%.
What type of policy do you need?
If you’ve decided that insurance is your best bet for adequately protecting your pet, the next thing you need to nail down is the type of policy that best suits your needs.
These are your options:
- Lifetime cover pet insurance
Lifetime policies are the most popular and most comprehensive type of pet insurance. As the name suggests, they'll pay out indefinitely for treatment over your pet's lifetime, subject to annual limits.
With all types of policy, the higher the limit, the more expensive the premium. It depends on your risk mindset and your budget as to where you set your policy’s limit. The good news is that, with a lifetime policy, your annual limit will refresh each year.
- Non-lifetime cover pet insurance
Non-lifetime cover is less comprehensive and excludes certain conditions after you hit your claims limit. There are two main types of non-lifetime insurance: per condition cover, and time-limit per condition cover.
Per condition pet insurance pays a limited amount for each condition and, once that limit has been reached, the insurer stops covering it.
Meanwhile, time-limit per condition pet insurance cover will have both a monetary limit and time limit, typically of 12 months, before the condition is excluded.
- Accident only pet insurance
Accident only pet insurance is the cheapest and most basic type of pet insurance. As the name suggests, it doesn't cover illnesses, only injuries.
However, many breeds are predisposed to certain conditions and it’s unlikely that any pet remains completely illness-free for the duration of their life. In other words, you’ll need to cover any vet fees from your own pocket if they need to be seen.
Accident only policies provide a fixed sum of money for each accidental injury to help pay for your pet’s treatment, and will often also stop paying for the injury after twelve months.
How can you keep the cost of your policy down?
Whether you’ve opted for comprehensive cover or are happy to risk an accident-only policy, it’s normal to want to pay as little as possible for it.
Here are a few tips on how to keep the cost of your policy down (including premium renewals):
● Train your pet – a well-trained, obedient pet is less likely to find itself in an accident and requiring emergency vet care. The less you claim, the less you’ll pay in premiums next year.
● Keep your pet healthy – take good care of your pet’s health from the day they arrive – staying up to date on vaccinations and worming – and you could save yourself a small fortune in vet’s bills.
● Get your pet spayed or neutered – neutering or spaying your pet could potentially lower your premiums, as it reduces the chance of your pet developing various conditions and also makes them less likely to stray.
● Shop around – our pet insurance comparison service gives you an effective way to compare quotes from a wide range of leading insurance providers.