vets in bath
EMERGENCIES 01928 733 228
Points to consider:
- Can I afford just to pay for unexpected veterinary bills as well as routine veterinary expenses no matter how much it costs?
- Should I “put away” some money each month to save for unexpectedly high bills as well as routine expenses?
But how much?
- Should I afford a monthly premium to a pet insurer so that unexpected veterinary bills are paid and would I benefit from the insurance company settling the Vet’s bill directly?
What sort of Veterinary fees might arise for my pet?
- The routine bills for responsible pet ownership such as annual vaccinations, regular flea and worm control, regular dental treatment and neutering are generally not covered by insurance. Euthanasia and cremation fees are generally excluded too.
- “One off” accidents for example a road traffic accident, swallowing a stone, falling off a balcony, getting kicked by a horse, savaged by a dog etc. These could cost between £50 and £5000 but once treated, the animal is essentially healthy again and all insurances policies should cover this type of incident.
- Accidents where the pet is initially treated but may be left with long term problems. Examples are damaged bones, joints, ligaments or tendons that cause pain or disability for several years, need regular monitoring and constant medication. This can cost several hundred pounds per year and only some policies will cover this.
- Chronic long-term disease that cannot be cured only controlled. For example skin allergies, heart disease, sugar diabetes, osteo-arthritis, epilepsy and incontinence. Animals are often successfully treated for many years but can cost several hundred pounds per year to treat. Again, only certain policies will cover this.
- Conditions that need to be referred for expert, specialist diagnosis or treatment. For example brain scans, hip replacements, spinal disease, cancer therapy. In these examples costs can exceed £5000.
Be aware of the following types of insurance policy:
1) The policy that will only pay out for one episode of a certain disease before placing an exclusion clause.
2) The “12 month” policy that pays for one year’s treatment then excludes the condition when you come to renew the policy. This has to be declared to any future insurer if you want to change policy.
3) The “12 month” policy which upon renewal excludes any condition that occurred during the preceding 12months even if you did not make a claim and even if your animal has been insured by the same company policy since a puppy/kitten. If the condition appears on the veterinary clinical history then the company can exclude it!
4) A policy placing unrealistically low upper cash limits on each condition treated, after which no further payment is made and the condition excluded.
Remember that if you let your policy lapse, then everything in your pet’s medical history can become an exclusion.
What does the Vet gain out of my pet being insured and why do we encourage it?
- Vets are not insurance brokers and do not receive commission by “signing up” clients.
- We encourage clients to insure their animals because this removes the major obstacle to thorough diagnosis and the best possible treatment, i.e. cost. If the first decision has to be affordability, then the animal’s problem may remain undiagnosed; treatment may be limited and the animal’s welfare may have to be considered instead – sometimes euthanasia! The owner is placed in a difficult dilemma and the vet is unfulfilled in doing his or her professional best!
- Owners of insured animals are likely to bring their pet to us earlier in the course of a disease because they are not worrying about cost. This allows us to diagnose and treat more quickly, which is better for the animal’s welfare.
- We complete and submit your insurance claim forms, often at no charge.
- Some companies, for example PetPlan, a pet insurance provider, will provide a genuine, free 4 week pet insurance for all pups and kittens that are health checked by the vets in the practice, please ask our receptionist about this free service.
Should I shop around for Pet Insurance and how do I choose?
Everybody seems to be trying to sell Pet Insurance these days, the supermarkets, the bank, the pet magazines, pet food manufacturers even some of the pet charities. Which policy you choose will obviously depend on what you can afford but the cheaper policies do not give the same cover. We would strongly advise that you only insure with a policy that gives “cover for life”. Pedigree pups and kittens are often sold with a 4 week insurance cover which is often not the best available. Don’t just “sign up” - thoroughly check the small print!
These are the more important questions to ask.
- What is the monthly premium for your specific pet and living at your address?
- What is the maximum amount of money available per condition treated?
- Is it a lifetime (“cover for life”) policy or are illnesses excluded after a certain time or beyond a certain cost or if the animal is treated for an illness even where no claim is made?
- What is the excess payment? Does it change as the pet ages, or after a claim is made, or is a percentage used to calculate the excess fee?
- Does the policy cover inherited or congenital (present at birth) diseases?
- Does the policy cover special diets, behavioural treatments, alternative therapies e.g. acupuncture?
- Do any exclusions apply at the outset of the policy? (You must declare any previous health problems. - - The company will seek verification from any veterinary practice that your pet has ever attended.)
- Exactly which day would the policy come in to force if your pet were accepted?
- Is 3rd party cover included, for example if your dog bites someone, or damages a car when knocked down?
- If you intend taking your pet abroad, is overseas travel and treatment for foreign diseases covered?
- In the case of expensive pedigree animals, are there death benefits and what conditions apply?
- What happens to the balance of premium payments and treatment claims if your pet dies during the claims year?
- If you intend to breed from your pet, are caesarean operations and other complications of pregnancy covered?
- Does the company reimburse fees directly to the veterinary practice if you request – a so called “direct claim?”
Can I swap Pet Insurers if I want to?
Yes, you can change insurance provider but you must declare any previous health problems or insurance claims to the new firm. They will check the details with your vet and place exclusions on any previous or pre-existing conditions before accepting your pet. It is best to make the correct choice of insurer from the outset. Be very wary of very low premiums offers or “excess free” policies.
If you have a dog consider 3rd party insurance at the least. Check your household insurance as you may be covered in the event of third party claims. For example if your dog bites a person and causes serious injury, damages a car in an accident, kills or injures livestock etc. Some pet charities include such insurance in the membership!
If you are unsure about any of the above please ask a member of staff to help explain.