How Does Pet Insurance Work?

By Vicki Coleman

Pet ownership has boomed in recent years, with the pandemic driving the surge as people sought comfort in having an animal around the house during what were testing times. Watching an over-enthusiastic puppy or kitten try to get to grips with life is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face.

The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association estimates that 3.2 million households in the UK acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic, bringing total pet-owning homes in the country to 17 million[1].

But pet ownership can prove expensive, which is why every animal owner needs to consider taking out some insurance. However, data suggests that only about half of pet owners have done so.

When pressed on why they have made the choice to shun insurance, the pet owners’ top reasons were that it was too expensive (41%) and they had bought a health plan from the vet instead (20%), while a small amount (5%) weren’t aware that they could insure their pet[2].

It remains to be seen whether their choice will prove to be a wise one. But as anyone who’s had to take their pet to the vets – for more than a routine check-up – will tell you, the cost of care isn’t cheap.

What does pet insurance cover?

If you’re familiar with how other types of insurance work, you’ll know that the scope of your cover depends on your policy. Some policies cover almost all the care your pet could need and others just the basics and the big bills.

The price you’re quoted will reflect this. Here at Quotesearch, we make it our mission to ensure that pet owners understand what they’re paying for and, to that end, what they’re not. You pay your money, you take your choice… as Status Quo once said.

Generally speaking, here’s what a standard pet insurance policy will cover:

·       Vet fees

Vet fee cover can range from as little as £1,000 to as much as £15,000. It’s up to you where you want to set your cover – and of course you’ll be budget led – but what we will say is that costs can quickly tot up. If your pet were to require an x-ray, that in itself can be a few hundred pounds. Then, you might have the treatment costs on top, once the diagnosis has been made.

·       Complementary treatment

Sometimes your vet may recommend an alternative treatment such as herbal medicine or homoeopathy. Therapies such as acupuncture and hydrotherapy have been shown to work wonders on certain conditions. If your vet recommends it, your policy should cover it.

·       Third-party liability

If your pet injures someone or damages their property, you’re going to feel bad enough – if they then go on to take legal action against you, you could find yourself badly out of pocket, too. Most policies will have third-party liability that covers you for any incidents like this, picking up the bill for legal costs, expenses and the claimant’s expenses.

·       Missing pet costs

This is perhaps one of the most surprising elements of pet cover. Most pet insurers will contribute to the costs of putting up posters and paying a reward if your pet goes missing. But, it’s in their interests that you find your pet – you wouldn’t need insurance otherwise – so it makes sense when you think about it.

·       Cattery and kennel fees

If you are hospitalised and there is no one else to look after your pet, pet insurers will usually pay out for your pet to be put in a cattery or a kennel. Having this benefit allows you to focus on getting better, without the worry of who’s caring for your pet – they’ll be in good hands.

·       Euthanasia, cremation and burial

Saying goodbye to a beloved pet, particularly if you’ve spent years of your life together, is up there with one of life’s toughest moments. To make it a little easier, most insurers will cover the costs of your pet being put to sleep, cremation or burial.

·       Dental cover

There’s a good chance that your pet will need some dental work at some point in their life. Trying to keep a cat or dog’s teeth clean and problem-free is something of an impossible task. However, some policies will only cover dental treatment resulting from an injury, and won't pay for dental costs related to illness.

Can you cover a pet with a pre-existing condition?

This is where things get a little complicated. The short answer to the question is no – but there are a few exceptions.

Most insurers exclude pre-existing conditions from any new cover – although in some cases these may be covered if your pet hasn't required treatment for these conditions for a certain period of time (for instance two years).

Reading the terms and conditions is crucial for that reason. Other things to look out for in your policy documents include:

-          Waiting period: Most pet insurers do not cover illnesses that begin within the first 10-14 days of your pet insurance policy.

-          Routine and preventative treatment: Treatments such as vaccinations, spaying, castration, flea, worm and tick treatments, grooming, claw clipping and teeth maintenance are often excluded from pet cover.

-          Pregnancy and giving birth: Pet insurance policies may exclude expenses that arise due to pregnancy, giving birth and treatment of any offspring.

Start building your policy

We hope you now have a better idea of how pet insurance works and the type of cover you require. But don’t worry if you have any further questions – our experts are happy to answer all of them.

Our service is completely free and there’s no pressure to take out a policy. We’re 100% independent and FCA regulated, meaning you can proceed with confidence.

Compare pet insurance quotes with Quotesearch today.

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56362987

[2] https://insurance-edge.net/2022/01/24/revealed-41-of-pet-owners-have-no-pet-insurance/