Pet insurance - what to look for to protect your pet
Pet insurance can be complicated, with a number of potential pitfalls.
Essentially, the main driver is the need for cover against the cost of veterinary fees for the treatment your pet receives.
It is therefore crucial that you choose the right policy.
The way that claims are paid for veterinary fees, and the different levels of cover provided, can be very confusing.
If you are looking to purchase pet insurance for the first time you will typically be faced with four different options in the way that claims for veterinary fees are paid.
There are more than 250 pet insurance policies available for cats and dogs, so there are a lot of options to choose from.
These are the main sorts of policies, based on the way that claims for veterinary fees are paid:
- Per condition with a 12-month time limit - cover is provided up to the veterinary fee limit or 12 months, whichever is reached first. After that, no further cover is provided towards the costs of treatment. These types of policies are usually the most competitive in terms of the premium that is payable.
- Per condition limit - cover is provided up to the veterinary fee limit for each and every condition. Once this limit has been reached no further cover is provided for treating that condition.
- Per condition per year - these policies provide cover up to the veterinary fee limit for each and every condition. Provided that the policy is renewed each year, the veterinary fee limit is also renewed which means that the pet will continue to receive treatment and the costs will be covered. These types of policies are usually towards the higher end in terms of the premium that is payable.
- Per year basis - vets' fees are covered up to the fee limit. However, provided the policy is renewed each year, the veterinary fee limit is also renewed. This means that the pet will continue to receive treatment and the costs will be covered. These types of policies are also usually towards the higher end in terms of the premium that is payable.
Pet insurance also includes a number of other benefits that should be considered when you are looking to buy cover.
These can include the cover provided for the cost of alternative treatments, for example acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy and hydrotherapy.
The cover can provide for claims against death by accident or illness, or the loss or theft of your pet, and costs incurred for advertising or offering a reward to help recover it.
For some owners who take their pet abroad, the cover provided for foreign travel should also be considered.
Although there are a number of features and benefits to consider when purchasing pet insurance, it is essential that you understand the way that claims for veterinary fees are paid and the pitfalls of purchasing the wrong type of policy.
For example, if your pet becomes ill and needs treatment for a condition that it will have for the rest of its life, you would need a policy that would continue to provide cover towards the costs of treatment.
Purchasing a policy that will not pay for the costs of treatment after the condition is discovered could prove to be very costly, as you would have to pay the veterinary fees for continued treatment yourself.
Another reason why you need to choose the right policy is that when a claim is made for the treatment of your pet, the condition or illness treated is then classed as a pre-existing condition.
Depending on the type of condition or illness, it is very unlikely that at renewal of your policy, you will be able to change to a new provider, as most will not include cover for pre-existing conditions.
Selecting the right policy for your needs at the start of your pet's life under insurance is critical.
Although the cost of the insurance cover is important, when deciding which policy to buy it is essential that you consider the features and benefits offered, and more importantly, how claims are paid for veterinary fees.
If you are unsure about the cover that is offered, you should speak to the insurer for clarification.
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