Proper insurance is essential for spending stress-free time with your beloved pet, says veterinarian Alison Laurie-Chalmers
Our adorable Fern is now three years old, and young Moss, aka Captain Chaos, is just over a year old. Fern has finally settled in and she is now generally doing very well. Moss is still very “the puppy”, and he’s still a good handful! During his puppyhood, Moss chewed on everything he saw, including his bedding and poor Fern’s precious toys. As a result, Moss suffered quite a bit of stomach aches from these incidents.
One of the first things we did for our two dogs was to make sure they had good, adequate, “covered for life” pet insurance.
When you bring a pet into your home, you have to make many important decisions. You want to make sure your pets are well cared for and healthy. What if your pet gets sick or is involved in an accident and needs emergency care? Of course, you’d want your pet to receive the best care possible, but that could leave you with an expensive vet bill. This is the type of scenario where adequate pet insurance is essential to pay any unexpected bills.
We all hope that our pets will live long and healthy lives. Yet the reality is that unexpected accidents and illnesses unfortunately happen. Veterinary medicine and surgery now employs more advanced skills, techniques, diagnostics, medications and expertise, which can be costly. Ongoing required veterinary drugs can cost pet owners hundreds of pounds a month, and any required surgery can now cost thousands of dollars.
If your pet is uninsured, you won’t have a financial safety net and will instead rely on credit cards, loans, or other borrowings for unexpected costs. There is no NHS for animals so any treatment will always incur a cost to the owner.
There are other benefits that can be covered, and pet insurance policies can get a little complicated, so to clarify, the four main types of policies are:
1) Accident only: the most basic level. It will only be paid if an animal needs care after an accident. The policy may also have a time limit and only pay out up to a fixed sum.
2) Time-limited: These cover illness as well as accident and injury, but they will only pay up to a maximum amount per condition, and only for a set period of time. After which this condition will then be excluded from the policy.
3) Maximum Benefit: This insurance will only cover up to a maximum amount per condition, but unlike limited term policies, policyholders can continue to claim until they reach their policy limit, after which they will then be responsible for all invoices.
4) Lifetime/Covered for Life: This is the most comprehensive level of cover, there is always a maximum amount set, but rather than per condition, it’s per animal, per year, and it will be much higher , say from £4,000 to £12,000 a year depending on your insurance policy. These policies must be renewed each year to allow full coverage. Your covered lifetime policy will continue if you renew the policy at the end of each policy year, annually and continuously. This is the type of policy that is strongly advised by veterinarians.
Pet insurance premiums increase as your pet ages and if any persistent medical conditions are found. However, it is not advisable to switch insurance providers, as there would automatically be exclusions on pre-existing medical conditions.
Having good “covered for life” pet insurance allows you to enjoy your time with your pets, rather than worrying about bills.
Alison Laurie-Chalmers is a senior consultant at Crown Vets.
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