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Claws versus clause: things to consider when protecting your pet

1st September 2016 Print

A poorly pet can be a pricey pet and without insurance owners could end up with a hefty vet’s bill. Different policies offer different levels of protection, from accident only to lifetime cover, and picking the right policy depends on factors such as the age of your pet, its susceptibility to illness or accident, and how much you’re willing to pay for medical care.

Every policy differs in terms of excesses and exclusions so it is vital that owners read the terms and conditions carefully to see exactly what their policy covers. has put together some tips on how to choose the most appropriate product for your pet and keep costs down:

Research by reveals the top tips for finding the most appropriate cover for your pet:

The majority of policies exclude any pre-existing medical conditionyour pet may have. Unless you have lifetime cover, if your pet develops a chronic illness the insurer may refuse to cover it again when the policy comes up for renewal.

As standard, 83% of policies have an initial exclusion period of fourteen days or longer before claims are accepted. If your pet requires treatment for illness or injury during this time then the cost will not be covered.

73% of policies offer no cover for accidental damage caused to third party property by your pet, whether or not you are legally liable for the damage. 39% of dog insurance policies only cover third party liability for accidental injury or damage caused by your pooch up to £1.5 million. Under UK law, you are usually accountable for any injury or damage caused by your dog but cats are legally viewed as “free spirits” so their owners are not responsible for their actions.

Depending on your policy, your insurer will pay usually the required costs, compensation and legal expenses if your dog is involved in an accident in which someone is hurt or property is damaged, but there are notable exclusions; for example, some insurers will reject a claim if the damaged property belongs to a family member, and dog sitters are sometimes required to have their own insurance policy.

Very few policies are likely to pay out for general dental and oral hygiene, but 74% of policies do cover the cost of dental treatment as a result of accident and/or injury up to £5,000. Often policies will include the requirement for your pet to have an annual dental check-up in order to qualify for cover.

Some providers will cap the age at which they will pay out for your pet’s death and not all policies cover the cost of your pet passing away as standard. 47% of products offer no cover for death by illness for cats and 45% offer no cover for early death by illness for dogs.

Do not assume that insurers will cover any pet.  Different breeds have different susceptibility to illness, with pedigrees typically more expensive to insure than mongrels.

Gemma Sonfield, head of pet insurance at, said:

“Unfortunately there’s no NHS for our pets so if your pet gets ill, injured or has an accident, without insurance the vet bills will have to be paid out of your own pocket. There are many different types of policy to choose from, from accident only to lifetime cover which offers comprehensive cover for any medical condition or injury your pet sustains for as long as the policy is in force. Each policy will come with particular exclusions and excesses so it is crucial to thoroughly read your terms and conditions to ensure that your pet gets the treatment it needs if it falls ill.

“If your pet does have an ailment, it is still crucial that you provide your insurer with all relevant details at the time of taking out your policy as anything other than full disclosure might mean your cover is invalid if you come to make a claim.”