Buying pet insurance is a fairly simple process. Once you have found a policy with the right level of cover, you need to complete an application form. This is usually done on the phone, online or sometimes through a broker.
The form is often called a “statement of facts” and you need to make sure that all of the details you give are correct.
If you withhold any information or don’t answer questions accurately it could invalidate your claim.
But as long as the information you give is right, the policy should pay out if you need to make a claim in the future.
What should pet insurance cover?
Before you buy a policy make sure you’re getting what you want. Pet insurance usually excludes day-to-day medical expenses such as routine check ups at the vet’s, vaccinations and flea control.
Instead, it covers unexpected bills, including hefty vet fees if your pet needs emergency medical care after an accident, or is diagnosed with a condition that requires ongoing medical help.
In many cases, it also covers your pet for urgent medical care while you are abroad.
It may also contribute towards the cost of recovering a lost or stolen pet, and include liability insurance, in case your pet causes any accidental damage to a third party.
Plans sometimes contribute towards boarding costs if you have to spend some time in hospital and need your pet to be taken care of and there are others, which entitle you to a payout if you have to cancel a holiday because your pet is unwell.
Changing your mind
Once your forms have been signed and sent off, you should quickly receive your written policy details in the post.
Contact the insurer if it hasn’t turned up within a couple of weeks. If you change your mind and no longer want the insurance, many policies give you an automatic right to cancel within 14 days of purchase.
This is often called the “cooling-off period”. If you cancel during the cooling-off period, you will receive a full refund for the premiums you have paid, providing you haven’t made a claim.
The insurer may charge you a small administration fee to cover the paperwork involved with the cancellation.
Cancel at anytime
After the 14 days has elapsed, you can usually still cancel your policy at anytime but you won’t receive a refund for any premiums you have paid up until the date of cancelling. You need to contact your insurer as soon as you wish to cancel the policy: don’t just stop paying premiums.
Cost versus risk
Everyone needs to save money and there’s no point having insurance if you don’t need it.
However, cancelling your pet insurance isn’t a decision to take lightly. Most people take out pet insurance because they worry they won’t otherwise be able to afford unexpected vet fees.
It’s no wonder. Studies show that as many as one in two pets will need veterinary treatment this year and the average vet bill is over £300.
Prices are reported to be rising sharply and should your pet develop a need for ongoing medical care for a serious condition the cost could easily be over £10,000.
Making a decision
Paying premiums for a policy you hope you won’t need to claim on (because you don’t want your pet to ever be unwell) can be frustrating.
But it’s a case of weighing up the risks of not having insurance against the cost of paying premiums.
Of those that do take out a pet insurance plan, an estimated one in three policyholders end up making a claim, so it’s an insurance that many pet owners really do rely on.
Find out more about pet insurance