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Vet Speak: Insurance means peace of mind in caring for your pet

By Alison Laurie-Chalmers

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Having adequate insurance means you don’t have to worry about future vet bills.
Having adequate insurance means you don’t have to worry about future vet bills.

What happens if your pet becomes suddenly ill, or is involved in an accident, and needs urgent emergency care? This could leave you with an expensive vet’s bill. This is the type of scenario where pet owners are relieved to have adequate pet insurance, giving them reassurance and the financial ability to pay any unexpected bills.

Pet insurance can provide you with the peace of mind and confidence to make the best health care decisions for your pet. By providing you with some protection from the financial strain of unexpected costs, it gives you the ability to focus on what is most important, being there for your pet when your pet needs you the most.

We all hope our pets will live long and healthy lives. Yet the reality is, unexpected accidents and illnesses do happen. Emergency care and any ongoing required veterinary medications can cost pet owners hundreds of pounds, and any required surgeries can cost thousands. The cost of not having good insurance can be significant, financially and emotionally.

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Pet insurance is designed to help cover the cost of veterinary bills should an animal require any treatment for accident and emergency, and for illness and on- going medical treatments for any chronic disease.

Pet insurance policies can get a little complicated so, to clarify, the four main types are:

  • Injury or accident only: It will pay out only if a pet needs treatment following an accident, but not if they fall ill. The policy may also have a time restriction and will only pay out up to a fixed sum for each individual injury.
  • Time-limited: Covers illness as well as accidents and injuries, however only up to a maximum amount per condition, and only for a fixed period following the initial claim, usually 12 months. After this time that condition will then be excluded from the policy.
  • Maximum benefit: Covers up to a maximum amount per condition, but unlike time-limited policies, policy holders can continue claiming until they reach their policy limit, after which they will then be responsible for any bills for that condition, as this condition will then be excluded from the pet’s policy.
  • Lifetime/Covered for Life: This is the most comprehensive level of cover. There is still a maximum set amount, but rather than per condition this is per pet, per year, and it will be much higher, say from £4000 to £12,000 per year, depending on your insurance policy cover. These policies do have to be renewed every year to ensure their full policy cover. This is the type of policy, which is strongly advised by vets, and is ideal for any ongoing, chronic conditions.

Pet insurance monthly premiums can rise as your pet gets older, and if there have been ongoing medical conditions noted.

It is not advised that you change your insurance provider though, as there would automatically be exclusions on any pre-existing medical conditions on any new insurance policy.

Alison Laurie-Chalmers.
Alison Laurie-Chalmers.

There will be an excess fee, which can vary from policy to policy, that you must pay before any claim can be made, which will increase as your pet gets older.

It is advised therefore, to take out insurance for your pet at the youngest possible age, when it is most likely to be at its healthiest, and hopefully without any noted pre-existing medical conditions.

Carefully researched, good pet insurance is always a wise thing to have for your pet. Having an adequate insurance policy allows you to enjoy your time with your pets, rather than worrying about whether you can afford the costs of any unexpected or ongoing veterinary treatments.

Contact your vet practice for good professional advice on pet insurance.

– Alison Laurie-Chalmers is a senior consultant with Crown Vets in Inverness.

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