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How to get cheaper pet insurance

18th January 2016 Print

If you’ve tried to buy pet insurance in recent years, then you’ll already know how much of a complicated process it can be. There are several different types of insurance that you can take out, which offer very different levels of cover and cost varying amounts, and on top of the insurance type, there are also differences between what various providers include or exclude as standard. Many policies have different excesses to pay for each claim and some will only pay a percentage of claims rather than up to a certain limit. It can all be VERY confusing, even for those used to buying financial and insurance product, which may explain why only 56% of owners actually take out a policy.

Types of pet insurance

There are four main types of pet insurance currently available in the UK:

Accident only is usually the cheapest type of pet insurance and offers only very basic cover in the case of your pet being involved in an accident. This means that it excludes cover for any treatment that might occur from illness. There is also usually a limit on the amount of money that can be claimed for any one accidental injury.

Per Condition (time-limited) is another fairly basic level of cover and therefore is often one of the cheapest options. This type of policy will cover your pet for vet fees from accidents or illness but is limited to paying out for a maximum of 12 months from the time of diagnosis, after which the owner will have to foot the bill if more treatment for the condition is needed. The amount that it will pay out will usually be limited to a maximum amount e.g. £2000 per condition. So if treatment will cost more than this then the owner will have to pay the remainder of the vet fees. 

Per Condition (without a time limit) is a type of cover that will include a maximum amount that it pays out per condition overall, but does not limit the payout to 12 months from diagnosis, provided that the owner renews the cover with the same insurer. However, if the pet suffers a recurrence of the same condition then it will not be covered and once the maximum amount limit is reached, no more claims can be made for that condition.

Lifetime is usually the highest level of cover available, and therefore usually costs a bit more than the other types of pet insurance, but is generally considered the most comprehensive type of policy. There is often a maximum amount limit, but this amount will usually start again each year if you continue to renew your policy every 12 months. 

It’s important to note that with all types of pet insurance there are always exclusions. These can vary from one policy to the next but, pre-existing conditions are generally not covered, neither are routine things such as annual vaccinations, worming and flea treatments, neutering or any treatment in relation to breeding. Pet insurance usually won’t cover the cost of any vet treatments as a result of a pet not being given routine preventatives such as vaccinations, and in most cases, dental treatment is also excluded. 

Getting cheaper pet insurance

There are a few ways to help keep pet insurance costs down, but be aware that premiums do usually go up as the pet ages, and if you choose to switch to a cheaper provider, no existing conditions will be covered by a new policy. Read on for some tips on how to get cheaper pet insurance:

Insure your pet when they are young and healthy if possible. This means that there will be no pre existing conditions which aren’t covered and the premiums usually start off fairly low. 

Using comparison sites can be a good way to find the cheapest policies, but there are also many pet insurance providers who are not included in comparison site results so it could be worth getting several quotes from various insurers. Remember that if you’re switching from one provider to another, any conditions that your pet has ever had will not be covered if it reoccurs or if ongoing treatment is required.

Get your pet neutered. Many pet insurance providers judge the fact that your pet is neutered (castrated for males, spayed for females) as a reduction in risk of future injury or illness and therefore will offer lower premiums to policies for neutered pets.

Get your pet microchipped. In addition to being an incredibly effective way of reuniting missing or stolen pets with their owners, a microchipped pet can also sometimes mean that your insurer will charge a little less. 

If you have more than one pet, you might be able to save money by insuring multiple pets under the same policy with the same provider. This is only wise if your pets have their insurance renewal dates at the same time of year as otherwise you’ll have a period where one or more pet isn’t covered. 

The most important rule when buying pet insurance is to make sure that you understand what is covered and what isn’t before you commit. Be aware that in almost all cases there will be an excess to pay for every claim that you make, and some policies will only cover a certain percentage of the vet fees and expect the owner to pay for the rest. Checking the full policy details before you buy should help ensure that there are no surprises ahead in the unfortunate event that you need to make a claim.

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