One of the most overlooked areas of domestic cover in the UK is health insurance for the family pet - most commonly cats and dogs. Ironic considering we are supposed to be a nation of animal lovers! If you own a pet, it is inevitable that it will need some kind of veterinary attention at some time in its life. In fact, it is estimated that a third of all domestic animals in this country need some form of veterinary care each year, either through illness or injury. That's an average of one visit every three years per pet, and depending on the type of treatment carried-out, that can potentially mean forking out for a vet bill of hundreds, if not thousands of pounds during your animal's lifetime.
This level of expense is something that very few families budget for when buying or adopting an animal, and pet insurance cover is often something that most people only think about when faced with a hefty vet bill.
Taking out an insurance plan for your dog or cat, or even your rabbit, is very straightforward and relatively inexpensive. Of course all companies offer different benefits for different animals and therefore costs vary, however as a guide, you should be able to get adequate insurance for between five and thirty pounds a month, depending on the type and age of your pet. You should always check your documents carefully and be certain of the terms and conditions that apply to your particular policy. For example, most insurers stipulate that the pet owner must pay an excess on the claim, so make sure you are clear about how much you will have to pay.
What is included in pet insurance?
As mentioned, all plans vary. However, below is a list of the benefits that most insurance companies offer on a standard plan.
Vets fees - covering any illness or injury (N.B. check that you are covered for complementary medicines).
Boarding fees - should you be hospitalised and unable to care for your pet.
Local advertising and reward - should your pet be lost or stolen.
Loss - compensation to the value of your pet if it is lost, stolen, strays or dies through injury or illness.
Holiday cancellation cost - cover if you have to cancel a holiday because your pet has gone missing or requires urgent surgery.
I'm thinking about taking out insurance for my pet lizard - can I get cover?
There are specialist insurers who can arrange pet cover for all kinds of tropical and rare animals. The cost is likely to be higher than standard pet insurance, and it usually calculated according to the value of the animal in question.