PET INSURANCE POLICIES
Pet insurance is basically a good idea. Major surgery or the cost of diagnostic investigations can soon add up. We can do a lot more for your pet than we used to be able to do, new drugs and treatments are becoming available all the time. We cannot recommend specific companies without being classed as their agent and it is up to you to check that any policy you take out meets your needs.
There are basically three types of policy. These are normally known by the titles of Annual, Per Condition and Lifetime. You should be very careful when buying your policy as it is common for companies to describe their Per Condition policies as ‘Lifelong or Lifetime’. This is not the same as a genuine Lifetime policy but may make you think it is.
Most policies provide third party cover in case you pet causes an accident for which you are liable
An annual policy, as you would expect, runs for a year. There is a maximum amount specified to be paid out and it will only be paid out for that year. This, in theory, makes it easy for you to shop around at renewal time (as you would do for car or house insurance). However, any condition that has occurred before the new insurance is taken out – whether or not you have claimed for it – will be excluded from cover in the new policy.
A Per Condition policy is designed to pay a maximum amount for each and any condition your pet suffers from. It will continue to pay out, up to the maximum amount, as long as you keep the policy in force. Once this is paid then that condition (and often any distantly related condition) will be excluded. ie a claim for a fractured front leg may mean that a claim 3 years later for an unlucky but unrelated fracture of a back leg may be excluded.
This is the type of policy we recommend. It is the Gold Standard policy and, as such, it’s usually more expensive than the others. With a lifetime policy the amount insured is per annum and renews each year. Generally, the amounts are individually higher than Annual or Per Condition policies but they have to cover all conditions which may arise during the year. When you renew your policy for the next year none of the things claimed for previously should be excluded. In effect, you are starting over with a clean sheet. This will not apply if you try to change insurance company. When policies talk about a ‘condition’ they mean a separate occurrence of an accident, injury or illness.
Changing insurance from one company to another is fraught with difficulties as no company will insure an animal for a “pre-existing condition”. And the insurer’s definition of a “pre-existing condition” may differ from yours. What it means is that if your dog (or cat) has had an illness or accident, unless you stay with the same company and have an appropriate policy, then that illness or injury will be excluded from any future policy.
ALL insurers will ask your vet for details of your pet’s previous medical history but not normally until you make a claim and they will all exclude any previous conditions from a new policy. That means you may think you are covered when you aren't.
We are unable to recommend specific insurance companies as that would imply that we were their agent according to the FSA.
It is really important to check the small print when taking out your insurance policy. Some of the lifetime policies which seem like a good idea can have a very small upper limit (eg £500) per condition which is unlikley to cover a serious accident or orthopaedic surgery. Some policies specifically exclude certain conditions eg cruciate surgery which is a common claim we have to process. Some policies have exclusions which owners do not realise exist until they make a claim. Most policies exclude dental treatment but some exclude all oral conditions & so would not cover treatment for an oral tumour. If you are not sure about exclusions/ level of cover speak to your insurance company before you sign up.
We anticipate that our account is settled and you submit a claim to your insurers for a refund less any excess. You have a relationship with us as your vet and a relationship with your insurance company. We do not have any relationship with your insurance company although of course we will be happy to complete our part of the claim form. Due to the time consuming nature of this we do charge an administration fee of £10 + VAT.
More information about pet insurance can be found below.