Britain is a nation of pet lovers, always has been and always will be. Pets, however can put a heavy financial burden on their owners who often pay dearly to care for our beloved cats, dogs and assorted other companions. 1 in 5 pets in the UK are covered under Pet Insurance policy and this number is rising. Also rising is the monthly and annual cost of these insurance policies. So is it worth it? Should every pet in the UK be insured? We look at the facts below.
How Much Does Vets Treatment Cost?
There is no NHS for pets (although there are some charities who support lower income pet owners) and as dogs and cats live longer, the likelihood of an injury or illness that leads to vets treatment, increases. This can happen at any time and can be a financial shock to an uninsured family if they don't have savings in place to cover the bill.
Research suggests that the average cost of treatment at a vet costs £810. A smaller number of unlucky pet owners have faced bills of up to £8,000 for more serious accidents and ongoing illnesses.
The nightmare scenario for most pet owners is when their beloved animal develops a long term illness such as Diabetes which can cost £100 per month for insulin treatments.
Vets have been criticised for the rapidly rising costs of treatment, as much as 12% price increases per year, far above the rate of inflation. So even if you've ruled out pet insurance in the past, now is a good time to reconsider.
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
Like most types of insurance finding the right policy for you can be difficult. There are hundreds of different policies out there, and they vary in price and coverage. Owners can choose from 4 main types of Pet Insurance.
Accident Only: The most basic type of insurance policy, this covers treatment required after an accident. It does not cover any kind of illness unless directly related to the accident.
Time Limited: This type of policy will cover accidents and illnesses but is usually capped at a certain value and time period (usually 12 months). So if your pet requires treatment over and above the capped amount or continues to require treatment after 12 months, the owner will need to cover the costs themselves.
Maximum Benefit: This provides cover for both accidents and illnesses up to a capped amount. There is no time limit on this policy and will remain in place for as long as the policy is renewed.
Lifetime Cover: The most comprehensive and most expensive type of Pet Insurance. Insurers will normally set an annual cap on treatment costs and the owner will need to renew their policy each year. The main problem with this type of cover is that as your dogs gets older and the amount you claim each year rises, the chances of your insurer agreeing to renew your policy reduces.
Like a car insurance policy, every type of pet insurance requires the owner to pay an excess fee as part of any claim. This is usually about £50 per claim. The price of a policy can be increased or decreased by accepting a larger or smaller excess fee.
Pet owners should also check their policy for exclusions - the most common being pre-existing conditions, anything related to pregnancy and treatments such as vaccinations and spaying.
Insurers will generally refuse to accept any pet with a pre-existing medical condition.
Another useful feature of pets insurance, especially for dogs, is 3rd party liability insurance which covers you in the event of your dog causing an accident or injury. Past legal claims have cost dog owners hundreds of thousands of pounds.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
The average monthly cost of pet insurance in the UK in 2016 is £22. There are huge differences in prices based on a number of factors
Type Of Animal: Dogs are twice as expensive as cats. Pure breeds tend to be more expensive than cross-breeds. Breeds that are known to have common health problems are more expensive.
Age Of Animal: Insurance premiums will increase as the pet gets older and the likelihood of illness increases.
Health and Medical History: If the animal has a history of poor health your premiums will be much more expensive than an animal that has never been to the vet.
Postcode: The price of veterinary care varies around the country, so where you live can have a surprising impact on the price you pay.
Should I Get Covered?
Pet Insurance, like all other types of insurance, is designed to give you peace of mind in the event of the unexpected. A pet owner might be lucky and have a healthy pet that rarely ever needs to visit a vet. Other less fortunate pet owners will be faced with a seemingly endless pile of bills for a variety of illnesses and ailments.
If we take the average cost of £22 per month and assume your pet lives for 12 years, the insurance policy will cost you £3,168. That works out at only £264 per year. Given the average cost of treatment has reached £810, this means your insurance policy could save you £546 per year if you assume an average of 1 vets visit per year.
The benefit of insurance is it takes away the shock of having to pay for a large, unexpected bill. If a pet owner does not have savings or insurance they could find themselves facing a heartbreaking decision over whether or not to save their pets life.
We believe that pet insurance is a good, sound investment. For the price of a Chinese Takeaway For 4, the insurance policy will make sure that every member of your family, even the 4 legged ones can receive quality healthcare when they need it most. So our answer to the question above is most definitely YES!
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