A simples guide

Dog insurance

It’s official, dogs are the nation’s favourite four-legged friend – there are 8.5 million pet dogs in the UK living in nearly a quarter of all households. So, if you’ve chosen to give a dog a home, don’t forget all the other important bits about dog ownership like microchipping your dog and getting pet insurance.

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Is having dog insurance a requirement for owners?

The simple answer is no, but consider that if you don’t take out insurance, and your dog experiences some form of unfortunate incident, such as an accident, an illness or becoming lost, you would need to cover the expenses from your own pocket.

The average amount claimed on pet insurance is £720 (according to 2015 figures from the Association of British Insurers). For serious issues, veterinary and other costs totalling several thousand pounds are not uncommon.

Furthermore, veterinary bills are rising by around 12% per year, so it’s becoming more and more costly not to have pet insurance.

What can dog insurance cover?

There are different levels of cover you can get for your dog.

The most basic level of cover for dog insurance is known as an ‘accident only’ policy. As the name suggests, this type of policy will only cover you for vet fees resulting from an accident. Some policies may cover fees for emergency treatment for a condition. It’s best to check your policy as the level of cover varies with different providers.

Other forms of dog insurance can cover the veterinary bills arising from illnesses as well as accidents.

Besides veterinary bills, things you might want your dog insurance policy to cover include:

  • Your dog passing away
  • Your dog going missing – here your expenses might include the costs of advertising and providing a reward, and if your dog is never found, you may welcome the payment of compensation
  • Should you become ill for more than a few days, and therefore become unable to look after your dog, insurance can also cover boarding kennel fees in these circumstances
  • Should you have to cancel your holiday because your dog is ill, the insurance can also provide compensation for the costs incurred by cancelling
  • The damages you might have to pay if your dog harms a person or another animal or causes damage to property

How long does dog insurance last?

Lifetime insurance ensures that your dog is covered for the rest of its life, however long that might be. You simply need to maintain the premiums. It is best to take out this form of insurance when your dog is young to keep the cost down, especially if you have a pedigree dog or any other dog that might be regarded as high risk by the insurance provider. Lifetime insurance usually has an annual limit on the amount that can be claimed for a particular condition, but every time the cover is renewed, this limit is reset as well.

Maximum benefit cover sets a maximum amount that can be claimed for a particular condition, but unlike lifetime insurance, the sum insured is not reset each year, so if you use 50% of the maximum benefit in one year, only 50% of it will be left in future years.

The cheapest form of dog insurance is a Time Limited policy. Here, the cost of any treatment is only covered for 12 months, after which the condition will be excluded from cover, meaning you would be forced to meet costs from conditions which last for more than 12 months from your own pocket.

How much does dog insurance cost?

This can vary depending on your breed and how healthy your dog is. It can be anything from several pounds per month to several hundred pounds per year.

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What affects the cost of dog insurance?

Factors affecting the level of dog insurance premium you pay include:

• Your dog’s age
• Whether it is a pedigree dog, or any other breed deemed to be more at risk of developing a medical condition
• The type of insurance you take out, e.g. accident only, maximum benefit, lifetime
• The level of policy excess you select (the amount of any claim you have to pay out of your own pocket) all affect the premium.

Where you live – the insurance provider may also charge higher premiums if you live in an affluent area were vet’s bills may be higher. What else should I know?

• Pre-existing conditions are excluded from cover, but may also increase the premium
• Routine treatments such as check-ups and vaccinations are unlikely to be covered
• Dental treatment may not be covered
• You may not be able to insure puppies until they are around eight weeks old, or insure dogs over a certain age, say eight to ten years of age
• It may be difficult to obtain cover for dangerous dogs, or for working dogs

Start a pet insurance quote today telling us a bit about you and your dog and the level of cover you think you’ll need. We’ll then provide you with a list of policies with the cheapest first. Make sure you take a close look at the level of cover and the policy details. Just see how much you could save!