What is Pet Insurance and How Does It Work?

Pet insurance is a type of insurance that pet owners often overlook. But, it can help to save you from unexpected costs when your cat or dog has an emergency. Pet Insurance is a health care policy for your pet that will provide reimbursement for specific health expenses that are covered by the policy.

While pet insurance can help you protect your finances, not all pet insurance policies are created equal. You must understand what is covered before choosing a policy for your pet.

What is Insurance and Types Of Insurance

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is health insurance that pays a portion of your pet’s medical bills based on your coverage. No one plans to be injured or sick. As illness or broken bones can be painful, it never hurts to prepare for the unexpected when it comes to your pets. While the love of your cats or dogs is priceless, veterinarian visits are not. Pet insurance can help make these bills more manageable.

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Pet Insurance

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Pet insurance works on a repayment basis. You will pay the vet directly when you take your pet and then submit your bill for reimbursement. Once the bill is reviewed and approved, the compensation amount will be based on the options you selected for your policy. These options include:

  • The total amount the policy will pay for all claims submitted in a policy year.
  • The percentage of the bill the pet insurance policy will pay, after the deductible is met, up to the maximum annual amount.
  • The amount you are responsible for paying before the company starts reimbursing you. 

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

A plan that is simple, comprehensive, and allows you to use any licensed veterinarian you choose. 

  • Breed-specific conditions
  • Cancer treatment
  • Diagnostic testing and imaging
  • Surgery, hospitalization, and nursing care
  • Complementary therapies and rehabilitation
  • ER and specialist care
  • Veterinary exam fees
  • Prescription drug coverage 

Main Types of Pet Insurance

  • Lifetime Cover Pet Insurance
  • Non-lifetime Cover Pet Insurance
  • Accident Only Pet Insurance

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Pet Insurance

Lifetime Cover Pet Insurance

Lifetime policies are the most popular and the most important type of pet insurance. They will pay out indefinitely for treatment over your pet’s lifetime. Lifetime policies can work in different ways. Annual policies pay up to a specified amount of vet fees each year up to £5,000.  Another type of life policy is per condition per year cover. With this, you could get an annual limit for each condition.

Other lifetime policies do a bit of both, paying a limited annual amount, with a smaller yearly benefit within this for any single condition. So using those figures, you could make up to five claims of up to £2,000 in the year if your pet required treatment for five unconnected conditions but you could only get £2,000 towards a succession of costs involved in treating one illness.

With all types of policies, the higher the limit, the more expensive the premium. Whatever the limit is, with a lifetime policy, you can rely on the insurer making an ongoing contribution towards the costs of your pet’s conditions.

Non-lifetime Cover Pet Insurance

The non-lifetime cover is less comprehensive and excludes certain conditions after you hit your claims limit. Two main types of non-lifetime insurance: per-condition cover, and time-limit per condition cover.

Per condition pet insurance pays a limited amount for each condition and, once that limit has been reached, the insurer stops covering it. Time-limit per condition pet insurance cover will have both a monetary limit and time limit, typically 12 months before the condition is excluded.

Pet Insurance

Accident Only Pet Insurance

Accident-only pet insurance is the cheapest and most basic type of pet insurance. As the name suggests, it doesn’t cover illnesses – only injuries. Accident-only policies provide a fixed sum of money for each accidental injury to help pay for your pet’s treatment. They will often also stop paying for the injury after twelve months.

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Can Older Pets Also Get Pet Insurance?

Insurance companies typically treat cats and dogs over the age of eight years as ‘older pets.’ For pets like rabbits, this decreases to around five years old, and for horses could be as high as 20 years old.

As your pet ages, they are more likely to fall ill or suffer an injury that could lead to a more expensive claim. Pet insurers are likely to charge more to insure older pets than younger ones to cover this additional risk.  It is still possible to find competitive policies for older pets but it is important to shop around.

Bear in mind the following: If your pet has had any illness or veterinary treatment in the past, be sure to check whether any exclusion applies to the new policy so you understand what you are paying for.

FAQs – Pet Insurance

Is pet insurance compulsory?

There is no legal requirement in the UK to have pet insurance.

Can I self-insure my pet?

It is possible to self-insure your pets if you don’t want to or cannot afford to pay for pet insurance.

How long do I have to make a pet insurance claim?

It is best to check how long you have to claim pet insurance directly with your providers. Some insurers have a limit of 30 days. Claims procedures differ between pet insurance providers but most insurers will probably require you to fill out a form and send it back to them.

You will also have to provide evidence of the claim so make sure you keep all the relevant receipts and invoices. 

How Will My Pet’s Treatment Be Paid For?

It is best to check with your pet insurance provider as some companies will pay for your pet’s treatment directly and some will require you to pay and then claim the money back.

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