Are all pet insurance policies the same?

All pet insurance policies are most certainly not the same. Firstly, there are differences in how long the cover will last – a policy might for example be an annual or a lifetime plan.

Then there can be significant differences in what a pet insurance plan actually covers. Here we look at what a pet insurance policy might include, and what it might not cover.

What is typically included within a pet insurance policy?

The four main types of pet insurance are Accident Only, Time Limited, Max Benefit and Lifetime. Each policy has varying degrees of cover and prices can vary considerably.

dog and cat

So what does pet insurance cover?

The most basic form of pet insurance is ‘accident only’, which as the name suggests will only cover your vet bills if your pet becomes ill or injured as a result of an accident.

Time limited policies cover your pet for accidents and illnesses for 12 months from the incident date. These policies also only last for a certain period, usually up to 12 months. So even if your pet had an accident in month 11 of the policy, they would still be entitled to cover for 12 months from the date of injury and/or illness or in some instances the date of the first claim, this varies between insurance providers, check your policy for details.

Max Benefit policies have a cap on the maximum amount of money available to cover you for the cost of your pet’s treatment for each individual illness or injury they may suffer. Each illness and injury is covered until the maximum amount limit has been reached. As long as you continue to pay your premiums then the insurance policy will remain in force. It’s important to remember that there is no time restriction on reaching the total amount. Once all the money has been spent, the treatment of that particular illness or injury won’t ever be covered again.

Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive form of pet insurance you can purchase. This type of policy gives you cover up to a maximum amount per illness/condition. This maximum amount is then reinstated every year. For example, if your pet develops a long term chronic illness such as diabetes and needs ongoing treatment then this will be covered for the rest of your pet’s life for as long as the policy is in force.

Then there are many additional features which a pet insurance policy may or may not include, such as:

  • Dental treatment
  • A compensation payment if your pet passes away
  • A payment to cover the costs of advertising and offering a reward if your pet goes missing
  • The boarding fees if you become ill for more than a few days and are unable to care for your pet
  • Third party liability cover, for the legal costs and other expenses should your pet injure a person or another animal, or damage a person’s property (this cover is usually only offered for dogs)
  • The costs of treatment if you take your pet abroad and it needs to see a vet

If these features are important to you, then check carefully the terms and conditions of any policy you are considering before you make any decision to purchase. Clearly the premium you will need to pay will be higher for more comprehensive policies.

However, if you were to purchase a basic pet insurance plan, and then any of the following occurred, you could be left out of pocket to a considerable degree:

  • You lost your dog and spent a lot of money trying to find it
  • Your dog needed treatment in another country
  • Your dog seriously injured another person and you found yourself paying legal fees
  • Your pet required complex dental treatment

What is typically excluded?

With most types of pet insurance, you should not expect to be able to obtain cover for the following:

  • The costs of treating pre-existing conditions – injuries and illnesses from which your pet already suffered when the plan commenced
  • Routine medical and dental treatment, such as check-ups, vaccinations, neutering and spaying
  • Cosmetic treatments, or any other medical treatment not recommended by a vet
  • Any condition that could have been prevented had routine vaccinations been carried out

Policies may also have maximum limits on the amount that can be claimed for any one condition, or on the amount that can be claimed in total.

Sometimes there will be no cover for hereditary conditions so check with your insurance provider if you have a purebred pet.

You may find it difficult to obtain insurance for dangerous dogs, pets under eight weeks old and dogs and cats aged more than a set maximum age, say 8-10 years.

The precise exclusions will vary between insurance providers, so you should read the terms and conditions carefully before you make any decision to purchase a pet insurance policy.

Why not start a pet insurance quote with us today? Tell us a bit about you and your pet and we’ll do all the leg work for you, giving you a list of insurance providers that suit your needs. Just see how much you could save!

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