Insure your pet

24 October 2008
Britain is a nation of animal lovers and little wonder as owning a cat, dog, goldfish or even a hamster is believed to reduce stress, release endorphins to make us feel happy and provide companionship.

But keeping the four-legged addition to your family healthy can be expensive. A whopping 2.5 million people say they have declined recommended treatment for their pet cat or dog because they simply couldn't afford the cost, according to research by Sainsbury’s Bank.

Taking out pet insurance could be the solution for those animal lovers who are keen to avoid the expense of medical treatment. But before you slash out on this type of policy, there are a few things to bear in mind.

1. If you have an unusual animal as a pet, expect to pay more

Whether you’re a cat or dog person, a fan of singing canaries or prefer creepy crawlies, the sort of animal you own will have a bearing on the premium you pay. The cheapest policies tend to only cover ‘common’ pets. Also be aware that pedigree breeds can be costlier to insure.

2. Make sure your insurance covers you for third-party liability

Most pet insurance policies cover kennel fees, rewards should your pet be lost or stolen, and even the cost of pet burial or cremation. But for dog owners, one of the most important aspects is public liability. While dog attacks are rare, if your pet does attack someone, the cost of meeting legal bills and compensation claims could be substantial. To safeguard against this, make sure that your policy includes a substantial amount of third-party liability cover as standard.

3. Look out for exclusions for routine procedures

Even the most basic of policies will cover veterinary fees in the event of injury, accident or illness, plus the price of anaesthetics, X-rays and medicines. However, most policies won’t cover your pet for routine treatments such as vaccinations, flea control or dental treatment. Pre-existing conditions and those arising in the first 10 or 30 days after you take out the policy also tend to be excluded.

4. Watch out for limits on bills and time periods

You should also take claim limits into consideration, as some policies only allow you to claim for a certain type of medical condition over a set period. Or, if your veterinary bill exceeds a pre-agreed limit in any one year, you might find that you have to cough up the rest of the money yourself.

Finally, some policies only cover your pet up to a certain age.

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