Taking dog insurance out can be a minefield with lots of companies offering insurance and for some owners it can be a daunting task. A good place to start is by personal recommendation or by using comparison sites. Always ensure you read the full policy and ensure you understand what you are getting for your money. Also be prepared that your premiums may go up the following year and usually a lot of companies higher their premiums as your dog ages.
Like most insurances there are excesses to pay and a lot of insurance companies are also now asking on top of excess that owners pay a % towards the bill.
You may find as dog ages there maybe be further exclusions this is normally when dog reaches age of around 8 or 9.
Insurance premiums can be affected by dogs breed, age, previous health conditions, previous claims, where you live and inflation and vet charges.
You do have to declare any pre-existing conditions or treatments that your dog has had prior to taking out the insurance. Most insurance companies do not include cover for pre-exisiting conditions. This also includes switching to a new insurance provider. Failure to do say may mean the company will not pay out on future claims. You will also find that most companies do not pay out for the first 14 days.
The definition of pre-existing conditions may vary from from policy to policy but generally they are know as conditions that your pet had before the policy came into effect (including those which started during the waiting period). You will also usually find that some companies may use this to include any condition which is connected or related to an accident, injury or illness you knew about before you took out the policy
Insurance policies differ from company, and some offer more than others, but routine vet treatment such as fleas and worming, vaccinations, spaying, pre exisiting, cosmetic, some holistic treatments , breeding and anything the insurance company considers non essential is usually not covered, though some may offer these as an additional option extra which you pay more for.
You will also need to check if the insurance company pays vet directly, or you have to pay upfront then claim back, so companies pay vet directly, some offer both options or some you will have to settle bill then claim money back. You can check with the insurance company, or speak to your vet as to what ones they deal with who pay them directly,if this is your prefered option.
Reading the full policy documentation and the small print, is therefore vital before you proceed.
Here is a basic guide to understanding the most common types of insurance offered to pet owners.
Life Time Cover
This type of insurance covers your dog for the duration of its life as long as you keep renewing annually. The numbers of times you can claim may be unlimited, which gives you the best cover possible. This type of insurance is good for dogs that need on-going treatment. However you may find that the amount you can claim could be capped on an annual basis to the maximum amount that you took the policy out on. This is then normally reset for the next year.
This life time cover may be available in different policies depending on insurance company, it may be lifetime condition where your vet fees up to the stated maximum per condition per policy year are covered providing you renew the policy, the cover limit will be reinstated at the start of each new policy year, and any conditions which arose after you first took out the policy should continue to be covered.
Or it may be offered as Lifetime annual benefit where vet fees up to the stated maximum benefit each year (to cover all conditions). Providing you renew the policy the cover limit will be reinstated at the start of each new policy year and any conditions which arose after you first took out the policy will continue to be covered.
As with all policies you may find restrictions such as age or type of breed and you will have an excess to pay and/or % to pay towards vet bill.
This is a comprehensive insurance policy and therefore will attract the higher premium. You may be able to reduce your premium by having a higher excess.
This is a policy where by you have a set amount for the entirety of the policy and it is based on paying out per condition. For Example your policy may be for £7,000, which means that you can claim up to that amount per condition. Once you have reached that limit you cannot claim for that condition anymore. Therefore it will pay £7000 for each new condition. Usually there is no time limit- it is based on amount reached and not time reached. This is therefore not a policy that is suitable for on-going treatment of long term conditions and which may exceed the amount insured for. Again you will need to renew each year.
It is important to realise that you will be liable for any further vet fees in respect of the conditions treated for the rest of your pet’s life as they will be deemed to be pre-existing conditions by your current insurer or subsequent insurer.
This is the middle priced insurance.
This is normally the cheapest of the three options. It is very similar to per condition where it will have a fixed amount however there is normally a time limit of 12 months. Illness and treatments will be covered for 12 months or until you have reached your limit. For example you may have a £7000 cover but if you used it all within 10 months then you could not claim for the remaining two months. This cover is not ideal for those with long term on-going conditions. As with all insurance the policy needs to be renewed annually.
Different companies will have different amounts that they pay out for, have different exclusions and some will have additional benefits. Most companies will offer third party cover at no extra cost. This protects you as an owner if your dog for example caused a road traffic accident and the car driver wished to make a claim from you for injury to themselves or their vehicle.
Always read through and take your time. If you take insurance out you usually have 14 days to change your mind and most companies will inform you of this at the time of taking out a policy with them.
Where to begin to look? : Comparison sites, recommendations from others, your vet or independent sites like : http://www.pet-insurance-surveys.co.uk/
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