Contents: What is Pet Insurance? Shopping around for Pet Insurance Applying for your Pet Insurance Frequently asked questions Where can I get more help? Askfinancially.com What is pet insurance? Vet bills are going up all the time, and unless your pet is super healthy the chances are they will be taking a trip or two there each year. Pet Insurance simply means that if you are worried about your pets’ health you don’t have to have the added worry of how much it is going to cost to get them treated. Most Insurers will offer cover for cats and dogs, however Britain’s leader in pet insurance, Pet Plan, will insure other pets such as rabbits, horses and exotic pets. Insurers generally cover the cost of vet bills for illness and conditions but not for routine trips such as vaccinations, nail clipping and neutering. When it comes to deciding on a pet, don’t just look at the initial price tag! Consider the cost of keeping the animal, and this includes much more than its food. Think about how much it will cost to visit the vet, then think about pet insurance! There are two main types of policies with Pet Insurance. The first is a policy where you may only be able to claim for a condition for a limited period, usually 12 months. The other policy type is known as Life Long. This policy does what it says.... pays out for the condition for the life of the animal, particularly useful for conditions such as arthritis, glaucoma and diabetes etc. Each policy will have maximum amounts that they will pay out per condition per year. Askfinancially.com Shopping around for pet insurance With the insurance business growing rapidly, it is not surprising to find that there are numerous companies offering insurance for your pet. It is possible to visit your local supermarket and find a booklet offering pet insurance. However, the best place to look is the internet. www.which.co.uk along with many other comparison sites, publish best buy tables, and this gives you a good place to start your search. As with all insurance policies, it is imperative that you shop around and compare what you are being offered to ensure that you are getting the best insurance at the best price. When it comes to comparing insurances it is slightly more complex than with other things such as televisions etc as the insurers all include and exclude different things on the policies. When comparing different pet insurance, it is important that you consider more than just price. Some key features to look for when shopping around for Pet Insurance are whether the policy covers.... The cost of advertising for missing pets? The costs of holiday cancellations if the pet falls ill? 3rd party liability cover? (normally only offered for dog insurance) Cattery or kennel bills if you were hospitalised? Emergency vet treatment 365 days a year? The cost of any complimentary treatment? The cost of treatment connected to behavioural problems? The cost of x-rays? The cost of tests? Once you know what you want from your policy you can begin to compare the cost of them. Pet Insurance works in exactly the same way as most other insurance policies. The insurance policy will have a premium which is an amount that is charged to you for the cover, usually paid monthly. The premium is affected by certain factors such as your address, the age, weight and past health of your pet. The monthly premium can be reduced in most cases if you offer to pay a higher excess. This is the amount that you would pay, leaving the insurance company to pay any remainder. Many policies state that you pay an excess per condition per policy year, this is something that you should ensure that you understand before committing to any policy. Askfinancially.com Applying for your pet insurance Whether you apply for your pet insurance on line, by post or by phone you will be required to provide certain essential information. Your name and address Your pets name, date of birth and breed Your pets past health history including details of vaccinations. Many Insurers will insist that these are kept up to date as a condition of the policy. How much your pet cost to purchase initially. Many companies will offer you a discount when applying on line, so if you are happy to process your application this way then it could reduce the cost of policy. When making a claim on your insurance, it is common for the vet to ask you for payment, you then complete a claim form from the Insurer and the cheque will be paid to you, usually within 5-10 days. If the policy is a lifelong insurance policy, you will need to make sure that you continue to pay the premiums. If you don’t renew your policy on time this will mean that you will have to reapply and any existing conditions will not be covered. Paying by monthly Direct Debit helps to eradicate this risk. Askfinancially.com Frequently asked questions My dog is 6 years old. Can I still get him insured? You will find that many insurers do not have an age restriction on insuring a pet for the first time. However, those who do set a maximum age limit, it is normally set at 10years old for cats and 7 years old for dogs. Obviously, the older the pet the higher the premium will be, as they are at higher risk of making more visits to the vet and therefore the amount of claims will be greater. My excess is £70 and the last vet bill that I received from the vet was only £50. Do I need to complete a claim form? Each time you visit the vet you should complete a claim form as it will be deducted off your excess if your pet was to visit the vet again in the same policy year with the same condition. Make sure that you keep a copy of your receipts and the claim form each time you submit the claim, this way it will be easier to track payments received and claimed for. Can you insure a guinea pig? Most Insurers offer insurance to only cats and dogs. However Pet Plan, who is Britain’s largest pet insurer, does offer a wider range of pet insurance. They advertise insurance for dogs, cats, rabbits and exotic pets, so it would be worth while calling their customer advice team and getting a quote. Do Insurance companies insist you use vets approved by them? No. Because you are paying your vet and then claiming the money back, the pet insurers are usually quite happy for you to continue using your local qualified vet. Can I change Insurance companies? You are within your rights to change your insurance provider but you should be aware that any existing conditions may not be covered by your new insurer. If you are unhappy with your current insurance company and have tried to resolve any dispute you may have, the industry is regulated by the Financial Ombudsman and you are able to take your grievances to them. Askfinancially.com Where can I get more help? The insurance industry is regulated by the financial ombudsman, they offer an independent service which settle disputes between financial companies and their customers: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk Which? Has a website which offers advice and best buy tables for pet insurance: www.which.co.uk There are many companies offering insurance for pets, some are specialist sites such as Pet Plan offer an array of information to help pet owners: www.petplan.co.uk There are also other companies who specialise in products for specific groups of people such as Saga, they offer people over 50 years a variety of products including pet insurance: www.saga.co.uk/insurance/pet-insurance/ All reputable insurers should be members of the FSA. You can check if they are registered by going to www.fsa.gov.uk/register/ The website www.bva.co.uk is the national representative body for the veterinary profession and contains up to date information on any animal legal requirements.