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Is pet insurance worth it?

How many times have you caught yourself having an in depth conversation with your pet? It could be your dog’s a great listener when it comes to having a moan about your boss, or that your cat’s the perfect companion to bounce ideas off.

The point is, our pets aren’t just pets – they’re part of the family and as such, they rely on us to take care of them. But are you confident about being able to do that should the worst happen? Here, we take a look at pet insurance and whether it’s actually worth it.

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Do I need pet insurance?

There isn’t a law that says you must have pet insurance. The most common four legged pets are (as you’d imagine) cats and dogs and there are 16 million of them in the UK spread across 41% of British households. But only 3.9 million cats and dogs are actually insured.

But as vet bills have increased by around 12% each year and are set to carry on rising, perhaps it’s something worth considering. Some pet owners choose to ‘self-insure’ by setting money aside each month to specifically cover the cost of any vet bills or treatments. Whilst this is all well and good, what happens if that nest egg needs to be called upon before it’s got anything worth hatching?

Kitten
dog

So, is pet insurance worth it?

Let’s think of it another way. There’s no free health service for pets and whilst we take for granted that broken bones and operations will be set and performed at no charge, it’s a very different matter for our furry/winged/reptilian friends. Here are some average vet costs for treating your cat or dog:

Cats

Dogs

Treating a wound £341

Treating a wound £395

Dealing with a tumour or growth £600

Dealing with a tumour or growth £663

Cat bites abscesses £245

Gastroenteritis £476

Care and treatment after a road accident £875

Torn or ruptured knee ligament £1,201

If we did have to pay for our healthcare, then maybe the costs wouldn’t surprise us so much. But once you’ve picked yourself up off the floor and dusted off your wallet, perhaps you’ll think pet insurance isn’t such a superfluous idea after all?

None of us can predict when our pet will become ill so while self-insurance is a noble concept, it’s not always the most practical set-up. Plus, how do you know you won’t be tempted to spend Fido and Kitty’s insurance fund on an all-inclusive holiday abroad? Besides, isn’t it just nicer to think that we’ll be reimbursed for any costly bills rather than having to fork out for it ourselves?

How much will pet insurance set me back?

It depends on your policy. There are four main types of insurance:

  • Accident only – where your insurer will only cover your pet for accidents. This is the cheapest insurance option available and premiums can start at as low as £2.51 for cats and £2.74 for dogs.
  • Time limited – which covers illness and accident for (usually) 12 months, you can usually only claim for a particular illness or condition once and in most cases there’s a cost limit.
  • Max benefit – this covers accident and illness indefinitely (as long as you renew), there is usually a fixed cost limit and once this is reached, you won’t be able to claim anymore.
  • Lifetime – this is the most comprehensive policy available and will cover accident, injury and illness for your pet’s lifetime regardless of how many times you claim for something. There is usually a fixed cost per condition.

Recent ABI data shows that customers paid an average of £146.06 for the year for their cat insurance but the average claim cost actually came to far more at £541.53. The average claim cost for dogs was £729.79 but the average annual premium was only £275.24.

What else should I consider before getting pet insurance?

Be aware that the age of your pet will influence the size of your premium. Older animals do cost more to insure and after a certain age, you may find very few insurers are willing to cover your pet at all. Pet insurance providers will also take into account other factors such as the breed of animal you have and whether it’s a mongrel, pedigree or exotic.

Pet insurance won’t cover the cost of routine vaccinations and treatments and if your pet becomes ill because a routine vaccine has been missed, you may invalidate your policy.

Whether you think pet insurance is worth it is down to you. But chances are your pet is a bona fide family member and as such you’ll want to do everything you can to help and care for them. So don’t wait until you’re forced to make a choice you’d rather not make – start comparing the market and insure your pet today.

*All cheapest price amounts based on Comparethemarket.com data in February 2016

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