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Advice on insuring your dog

Dogs bring a lot of joy into our lives, but when they fall ill it’s all too easy to worry about the cost of treatment. That’s where dog insurance comes in! We’re here to help you find the right policy for you and your pet.

Veterinary care is improving all the time. Unfortunately these treatments can be expensive, and when your dog is ill the last thing you want to worry about is money.

Dog insurance can bring you real peace of mind, taking some of the worry out of many stressful situations. Even so, you should be careful to choose the right company and the right policy for your pet, as there can be a wide difference between them – it’s not fun, but this time you need to read the small print!

Have a chat with your vet about pet insurance for dogs and the different types of insurance cover you could benefit from. In the meantime, we’ve put together some things to consider when you’re looking for your new policy to help you on the way.

What to look for in an insurance company

When you’re thinking about how to choose dog insurance, it’s a good idea to look at the company as well as the cover they offer. A good company means less stress for you should your dog need veterinary treatment.

  • The dog insurance company should have a good track record in terms of claims history, the types of claim made, and the frequency of claims. Ask your veterinary practice for advice, or look for this kind of information on the company’s website.
  • The dog insurance company should offer a simple, straightforward service. Look at things like when their care line is open and how simple their claim forms are.
  • The company you choose when insuring your dog should be open to queries, friendly and helpful. You may need to call them at a difficult time, so it’s important you find them approachable.

What to look for in a dog insurance policy

There are lots of things to take into consideration when you’re thinking about how to choose pet insurance. For example, it’s not just about how much they cost but what they offer and what the restrictions are too. Here are some questions that might be helpful to ask when you’re looking for your perfect policy.

The cost of your policy

Dogs playing together

Are the monthly premium payments affordable?

Even though you want the best possible cover for your dog, you should take into consideration how much you can afford to pay each month. Overspending means more stress for you, and you don’t want to end up not paying for your dog’s insurance at all!

How much excess will you have to pay?

Excess is the initial sum you have to pay for treatment before the insurance company covers the remainder. If the excess is very high you might not claim for less serious conditions, and this should be reflected in the monthly cost.

Does the dog insurance policy include all the costs of treating your pet?

Check that things like your pet’s hospital stays, medicines, anaesthetics, operations, imaging (x-rays and ultrasounds, for example) and laboratory charges will all be taken care of. This includes charges at referral level if your vet sends your dog to a specialist. You might also think about whether the treatment of behavioural disorders, and complementary medicines and treatments like acupuncture, are covered.

What is the maximum sum paid out per condition per year?

Hopefully it never happens, but in some cases your dog might need extensive treatment at specialist centres. This is good for your dog but expensive for you! A low maximum pay-out could mean you can’t afford these treatments even with insurance. For example, £1,000 as a maximum pay-out sounds a lot of money but a broken leg could lead to a bill twice that size. Think about the potential costs of treatment and compare it to the pay-out offered.

Some dog insurance companies also put a limit on the total sum they’ll pay every year, regardless of the number of conditions your dog has – so you might want to consider this too.

Is the premium affected by your postcode or your dog’s breed?

If you live in a more urban area you might have to pay a higher premium. You should also find out if treatments for congenital or hereditary conditions are covered. This is important for pedigree dogs, as some breeds have known hereditary disease problems and will need to be insured accordingly.

Does the cover include third-party costs?

If you’re covered for third-party costs, you’re protected if your dog causes damage or injury. Even if your pet doesn’t mean to cause trouble, mishaps sometimes happen so you might want to consider this type of insurance. You should also check your house and contents insurance, as some policies cover legal liability for injury or damage caused by pets.

Are there pensioner or multi-pet discounts?

Most dog insurance companies provide a discount if you have multiple pets in the same home, so it’s a good idea to look around and see what’s available.

What does the policy offer you?

Dogs running

Green dog iconDoes the cover last longer than one year per condition?

Many conditions affecting dogs can be lifelong, like diabetes. Policies offering shorter cover may still be suitable for your dog, but you need to be aware of these restrictions in the case of making a claim.

Will the company pay for holiday cancellation due to pet emergencies?

For example, your dog might suddenly need surgery as you’re due to go on holiday. Some policies might pay for, or towards, the cost of your cancelled holiday. Others might pay towards kennel fees should you need to go to the hospital yourself. If you think these things might be helpful, look for a policy that includes these things.

Will there be a lump sum if your dog gets lost, is stolen or strays?

Although it hopefully won’t happen, some dog insurance companies pay a lump sum if your pet unfortunately goes missing. Others contribute to the cost of making missing notices and offering a reward to help you find your dog.

Are the costs of special diets covered?

Some policies might include covering the cost of, or contributing towards, special vet-recommended diets. Have a look if you think this might be useful.

Is a lump sum payment made if your dog is put to sleep?

This may be important if you’re lucky enough to have a pedigree dog, as some pedigree puppies cost several hundred pounds. Hopefully your dog stays healthy and happy for a long time, but should the worst happen, this kind of policy might benefit you.

Restrictions to look out for

Is the cover affected by your dog’s age?

You may need to consider specialist pet insurance for older dogs. Some policies will not cover older dogs, or they might ask you to pay a proportion of your dog’s treatment after a certain age.

Does your dog have a pre-existing medical condition?

If so, a new policy is unlikely to cover the costs associated with its treatment – only conditions that develop during the course of the policy are eligible. However, some companies will reinstate the cover for these conditions if your dog has not required treatment for it for a while – check with the company if you think this applies to you.

Will there be a lump sum if your dog gets lost, is stolen or strays?

Although it hopefully won’t happen, some dog insurance companies pay a lump sum if your pet unfortunately goes missing. Others contribute to the cost of making missing notices and offering a reward to help you find your dog.

Are the costs of special diets covered?

Some policies might include covering the cost of, or contributing towards, special vet-recommended diets. Have a look if you think this might be useful.

Is a lump sum payment made if your dog is put to sleep?

This may be important if you’re lucky enough to have a pedigree dog, as some pedigree puppies cost several hundred pounds. Hopefully your dog stays healthy and happy for a long time, but should the worst happen, this kind of policy might benefit you.

Restrictions to look out for

Is the cover affected by your dog’s age?

You may need to consider specialist pet insurance for older dogs. Some policies will not cover older dogs, or they might ask you to pay a proportion of your dog’s treatment after a certain age.

Does your dog have a pre-existing medical condition?

If so, a new policy is unlikely to cover the costs associated with its treatment – only conditions that develop during the course of the policy are eligible. However, some companies will reinstate the cover for these conditions if your dog has not required treatment for it for a while – check with the company if you think this applies to you.

Are there any other restrictions on the policy?

For example, some policies will not cover your dog’s dental treatment unless they have their teeth checked by a vet every year. Other policies might require complete and up-to-date vaccinations, or other health checks. Have a look at the small print to find out what the restrictions are, so you cans stay informed and make sure your canine friend is always covered.

Although it seems like there’s a lot to think about, with a little research you’ll soon find the right policy for you and your dog. And once it’s sorted, you can get back to doing the good stuff – like playing, relaxing, and enjoying each other’s company!

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If you’d like more information on choosing dog insurance or have any other queries, contact our PETCARE EXPERT TEAM.

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