5 Tips for Cheap Pet Insurance

by : Simon Christopher



is becoming more popular but is it really necessary?

Like some owners, you could self insure your pet by saving a regular monthly amount rather than paying monthly premiums to a pet insurance company. Should your get sick, you will have funds available to fund some or all of the treatment cost. If you don't need to claim, the money just rolls up gaining interest and is always yours.

However, self insurance should only be considered in limited circumstances and for pets that are unlikely to cause injury or accident to others which could result in legal action. For example, if a dog directly or indirectly injures another pet or even causes injury to a person, you could be faced with hefty medical bills at best. At worst you could be on the receiving end of court action and potentially substantial legal costs.

So, for most pets and their owners, an policy is a prudent choice but are all policies the same? This article explains the key factors to consider and a few pitfalls to avoid as well.

TOP 5 TIPS FOR CHOOSING PET INSURANCE

COMPARE THE PRICE
Obviously, the cost of a policy is a major consideration. But different insurers have different ways of setting the premium, so always get a quote for your specific circumstances to compare like with like between insurers.

CONSIDER THE POLICY EXCESS
Some insurers use a variety of methods to save themselves money when it comes to paying out insurance claims. One of these is by including a high excess on their policies.

The policy excess is the amount that you have to pay each time you have to claim for a certain condition, so choosing a cheaper product with a higher excess could actually end up costing you money.

CHECK IF YOU ARE GETTING LIFELONG PET COVER
Make sure you check carefully what you are being offered by and understand clearly what they mean by 'lifelong cover' or 'cover for life'. Understanding an insurer's true definition of lifelong cover can be difficult, but here are a few guidelines on the types of cover most commonly available...

Time limited cover
Some cheaper priced plans will only cover a condition for the first year you claim.

For example, if your pet developed arthritis, you might be able to claim up to ?2,000 for the first year of treatment, but no more. You would then have to cover the cost of treatment every year yourself, for the rest of your pet's life.

Financially limited cover
Some insurers call their financially limited cover 'lifelong cover'. In this case, an insurer will pay out each year, but only up to a fixed total amount for each condition. After that, they will stop paying out.

For example, if your pet was diagnosed with diabetes and you had a policy that was financially capped at ?3,000 (estimate SGD $9000), you may need to claim ?2,000 (estimate SGD $6012) in the first year. By the second year, the amount you can claim for treatment of the diabetes is now just ?1,000 (estimate SGD $3006). After this, you would have to fund the treatment from your own pocket for the rest of your pet's life.

Lifelong or lifetime cover
The best is cover that pays for treatment up to a certain amount, every year, for as long as your pet needs treatment.

For example, if your pet were to develop epilepsy and your policy provides up to ?3,000 every year, you could claim for treatment up to this limit each year for the rest of your pet's life.

Some of the UK pet insurance companies that currently offer lifelong or lifetime cover are Marks & Spencer, More Than and PetPals. Even so, remember to compare these policies with your personal needs and circumstances.

THINK ABOUT OTHER BENEFITS
Covering vet fees is the key element of pet insurance, but most insurers offer a range of additional policy benefits. These can include cover for:

- The cost of looking after your if you need to stay in hospital;
- The original purchase price of your pet if it is lost or die's;
- The cost of your pet causing injury or damage for which you are legally liable.
- The cost of advertising and a reward to recover your pet should it go missing;

There are many more benefits available in addition to these, so read through the full list of policy benefits to ensure the cover is right for your needs.

DON'T FORGET THE SMALL PRINT
We all find it annoying having to read the tiny details about a policy. But all insurance plans have terms and conditions to make clear what is and what isn't covered.