Tens of thousands of pet owners will be left high and dry after Lloyds Banking Group announced that it is closing down its pet insurance division.
Both Halifax and Lloyds TSB have offered pet insurance products for several years and insure around 50,000 pets. But Lloyds Banking Group, which owns both brands, has decided to pull out of the market.
A spokesperson stated that the banking group had undergone a detailed review of its insurance products and had decided to withdraw its pet insurance product in order to "focus on our core markets of home, motor and business insurance".
The news will be a big blow for anyone who has taken advantage of Halifax's generous policy that allows pet owners to claim for a specific illness of condition year after year - many policies have a 12-month limit per condition. Anyone with a pet with a pre-existing condition will see their premiums soar when they switch providers - they may even find their new insurer unwilling to cover ongoing treatment.
Halifax policies will continue to pay out until they come up for renewal between now and next September, while Lloyds customers will be able to renew their polices until February 2012.
Customers will be offered alternative insurance with Petwise but the insurer won't honour cover for existing medical conditions. Any Halifax or Lloyds TSB pet insurance policy holders can call 0845 850 0265 for more details about the end of their policy.
With the care of pets costing hundreds of thousands of pounds it's important to have provisions in place to cover the cost of any unexpected medical bills.
New research by Sainsbury's Finance reveals that the average dog costs its owner £16,900 over its lifetime. A cat will set you back £17,200. The annual cost of a dog is £1,183, while a cat is slight cheaper annually at £1,028 but the cat will be with you for longer – cats have an average lifespan of 15 years while dogs tend to live for just 13 years.
The report from Sainsbury's also revealed that vet fees are rising by as much as 15% a year. And with The Co-operative Banking Group reporting that people take their pets to the vet for something as mild as a cold it's clear that our love for our pets hasn't been diminished by the recession.
The average annual vet bill is £177 for a dog or £133 for a cat. An annual pet insurance policy will cost you around that but gives you piece of mind that should your pet need major vet treatment the bill won't land on your doorstep