The Importance of Pet Insurance: Protecting Your Furry Friend and Your Wallet

If you ask dog shelters, trainers and even breeders what is one of the most important things an owner can do, besides training, taking care of and loving your dog they will likely say “get pet insurance”. We at Volpets consider dog insurance an indispensable part of owning a dog and it should really be one of the first things you do when you invite a dog into your life. Dogs can get sick or have accidents and in the worst cases can need pricey hospitalisation. People may face terrible “invoice shock” when getting vet bills. People who are on limited budgets may be forced to agonise between costly treatment for their beloved dog or paying their monthly bills. This is why comprehensive pet insurance is a very good idea.
It is difficult to know where to start and most people will simply head for a simple internet search. There are insurance comparison sites such as which asks you for details about your dog and your living situation. Based on this data, the site gives you quotes from dozens of insurers. Every time your pet is sick you must make a claim (this includes visits to a vet or pet hospital). Most insurers place limits on these claims and they can be difficult to understand. Here is a general run down of limits and fine print:
    • Per condition limit: If your pet develops a long term condition (for example diabetes), once you have made claims that reach this limit you can no longer make any further claims. A heart condition can be expensive, a 1000 pound limit is rather low for such a condition if your pet has to visit the vet several times and take tests. Low limits are rather standard. Rare conditions can require very expensive treatments.
    • Annual policy limit: Limit for all claims per year.
    • Vet fees per year: This may limit the total fees that a vet may charge you that you can claim per year. This is a rather important one because serious issues, surgeries or rare conditions may end up costing well over the limits provided. Some insurers do not set such limits.
    • Limits reinstated renewal: This means when you renew your insurance (usually each year) those limits are reset.
    • Excess: Excess refers to how much you must contribute each year for each condition. If bills for a condition costs £200 and the excess is £100 , then you must pay £100 towards it. This means you still pay per condition claim but at least you are covered for expensive claims.
Some insurers do not have limits for either per condition or for annual policy limit but it is rare to find insurance that has no limit for both. Budget insurance policies will limit both. Usually the cheaper the insurance, the higher the limits and excess so it is probably a good idea to get higher coverage.
Always check the fine print in policies. It may be tedious reading it but it is worth the effort. Insurance companies are notorious for deviously worded policies. Document everything about your dog and keep all your records. Companies are also well known to ask for unreasonable proof of conditions and the more evidence, images and paper work you have, the easier it is to file a claim (or challenge them when they do not pay out).
The website offers reviews from customers and their experience with insurers. Reading it may help you avoid the more troublesome insurers who resist or refuse to pay out some claims. Lifetime Pet Cover and Purely Pets currently have highly favourable ratings while some, especially those offered by many supermarkets, have terrible ratings.
Insure your pet as soon as you get it as insurance policies usually do not cover pre-existing conditions. In any case, if your pet is not covered now, get insurance ASAP. It gives you a peace of mind and will cover you in the worst case situation which, we hope, will never arise.