pet insurance guide

A No Nonsense Guide to Finding the Best Pet Insurance for Dogs

If your dog is taken seriously ill but is insured, you can decide their treatment based on what’s best rather than the depth of your pocket.

Can you put a price on the peace of mind pet insurance brings?

Actually –Yes, you can.

Top 10 Conditions for Pet Insurance Claims

  Condition Average Claim Cost  % split
 1 Joints £452.92 13.8%
 2 Growths/Tumours £433.57 8.5%
 3 Skin £204.57 7.84%
 4 Gastrointestinal £358.10 7.83%
 5 Hormonal £224.83 7.2%
 6 Traumas £406.42 6.4%
 7 Urinary £280.41 4.9%
 8 Non-Illness £180.14 4.6%
 9 Eye £291.50 4.4%
10 Neurological £353.05 4.4%

Top 10 Most Expensive Pet Insurance Claims

 Condition Max. Cost of Claim Av. Cost of Claim
 1 Fractures £7135.96 £809.94
 2 Head/Face £7759.14 £669.07
 3 Spinal £8000 £686.48
 4 Immune System £6475.91 £681.54
 5 Hernias £5089.13 £619.75
 6 Lymphatic System £8000 £599.21
 7 Reproductive System (female) £5572.72 £525.05
 8 Blood £6121 £521.19
 9 Immunological condition £3220.45 £446.05
 10 Joints £7381.78 £452.92

Source: More Than Insurance

When is the Best Time to take out Pet insurance?

  • Your best bet for peace of mind is to insure the dog from a young age and keep up the renewals so that rolling cover continues into their advancing years.

Pet Insurance for Puppies

Puppies are literally an accident waiting to happen. Just like a child, they explore the world without self-restraint. This means investigating everything and swallowing it (including stones or toys that get stuck in the gut), tummy upsets, and worse. That short attention span equals a poor recall which adds up to mischief. If the mischief involves a vehicle, this could lead broken limbs or worse.

All of which means the wise pet parent doesn’t just put pet insurance on their to-do list, but takes action right away…today in fact! Pet insurance for your puppy is a must-have to protect your bank account.

Pet Insurance for Older Dogs

At the other end of the age spectrum is pet insurance for older dogs. It is a natural consequence of ageing that things start to wear out which can mean stiff joints or dicky hearts. As a result, many pet insurance companies won’t insure a dog over the age of 7 or 8.

Be don’t despair, they are out there it just may take more research to find them and truly understand what is covered – but then the premiums may be prohibitively high.

We understand everyone’s situations is unique but we will say it again.

“As a rule of thumb your best bet for peace of mind is to insure the dog from a young age and keep up the renewals so that rolling cover continues into their advancing years.”

Whilst taking out pet insurance is essential, different policies offer different value for money. Whether you’re on a tight budget or the priority is cover for all eventualities, here’s how to find the right policy to suit your four-legger and your bank balance.

Know what you Want in a Pet Insurance Policy

Pet insurance is NOT one size fits all and it’s crucial to compare the benefits of each policy, rather than buy based on price alone. To understand this more clearly, take a look at the following scenario:

Joanne has a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. At just four years old, her dog develops clinical heart disease. The vet assures her that modern drugs are highly effective at extending good quality life. When Joanne discovers the cost of the medication, she breathes a sigh of relief because she has insurance cover. The costs to date include consultation at £35 each, a cardiac ultrasound (including sedation) at £300, and monthly meds (for life) of around £70.

The annual cost of treating heart disease easily reaches £1,000, even for a small dog such as a Cavalier. For a large breed such as a Dobermann, multiply this cost several times.

Joanne’s dog is doing well and the insurer reimburses her costs. The months pass but when she submits her next insurance claim, it is rejected. Horrified, she queries why. It transpires she took out a basic policy which only covers each condition for one year. It’s been over a year since the diagnosis and so the dog’s cover for heart disease is no longer valid. Joanne must now fund the expensive drugs for the rest of the dog’s life.

The point we are making here is that you need to consider the different facets that go up to make the pet insurance policy, such as:

  • Lifetime cover
  • 12 month cover
  • Money in the pot
  • Deductible excess
  • Percentage deductible
  • Types of treatment covered
  • Exclusions

To make sure you get value for money from a pet insurance policy, let’s look at each point in more detail.

  • Lifetime Cover
    • This does what it says: A health condition that affects a pet for life, such as heart disease or diabetes, is covered for the remainder of that pet’s life (provided you keep paying the premiums) Lifetime cover is what Joanne wished she’d taken out, whereas in reality she had 12 month cover.
  • 12 Month Cover
    • The pet’s vet bills are met for one insurance year, after which an exclusion for that condition is applied. This means that further claims relating to that condition (In Joanne’s case, her dog’s heart disease) are refused. However, 12 month cover is useful to meet one-off costs such as a fracture repair.
  • Money in the Pot
    • This is basically the maximum amount of money the insurance company will pay out for one condition. Whilst a total of £1,000 sounds impressive, bear in mind that a fracture repair alone can cost £1,500-2,000. In an ideal world, a minimum yearly fighting fund of £2,500-4,000 is the minimum a pet parent should consider.
  • Deductible Excess
    • This is the one-off payment the insurance company demand for each new condition you make a claim for. For example, if the excess is £80, this amount is automatically taken off the amount repaid to you. Thus, it’s not worth putting in a claim for a one-off visit that costs £60, but it is worth making a claim for that broken leg at £1,500.
  • Percentage Deduction
    • This is the percentage of the entire claim that the insurance company doesn’t cover. For example, if the percentage deductible is10%, for a claim for £500, the amount would get back is £450 (£500 minus £50). This is where shopping around can help, because some policies have zero percentage deductible (but the monthly premium might be slightly higher.)
  • Types of Treatments Covered
    • Many insurance companies don’t provide cover for dental descales or cosmetic procedures. In addition, not all insurance companies cover behavioural problems or therapies such as acupuncture or hydrotherapy.
  • Exclusions
    • Any health issues that exist at the time the policy is taken out won’t be covered. So if your dog has an ear infection, it won’t work to take out a new policy to fund the cost of treatment.

Finding the Best Pet Insurance for Your Dog

Don’t be downhearted! There are great insurance policies out there for the savvy shopper. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by purchasing a super cheap policy, because it may not suit your needs or it has hidden costs built in (such as a high percentage deduction).

If at first sight the monthly premiums seem high, don’t automatically cross that policy off the list. It might be the excess and percentage deductibles are much lower than a cheaper policy, meaning you get a much larger amount back in the event of a claim.

Be honest about the type of policy that would give your peace of mind. Write a list of what matters most to you and then match those requirements to the myriad of different pet insurance products available. It’s perfectly possible to winnow out a lot of chaff and find a really excellent policy for a reasonable price.

Remember, you can’t put a price on peace of mind, especially when it comes to giving your best buddy the treatment he deserves. Modern veterinary treatments can work miracles…for a price.

Future-proof your dog against serious illness or injury, by taking out pet insurance.