Going into debt to pay the bills isn't a good option, yet the cost of taking your beloved pet to the vet can be high. This is especially true if they have ongoing conditions.
Pet insurance can cover vet bills and some routine costs. It also provides peace of mind so you know you can cover emergency costs.
But how do you make changes to your pet insurance policy? Let's take a look.
Buying pet insurance
Buying pet insurance is usually done online or on the phone. Most insurers should offer it.
There are different types of cover to choose from and you can compare pet insurance quotes online.
It’s key to choose a policy that best covers your pets’ needs. For example, there’s no reason to buy a basic cat insurance policy if you want it to pay for alternative treatments, such as homeopathy.
Likewise, there’s no need to pay for a comprehensive policy if you just want to cover the big stuff. For example, major medical expenses at home and abroad and liability insurance.
Compare pet insurance quotes
Changing your pet insurance policy
To change your policy, contact your insurer. You may be able to do this via email but it often involves a phone call.
There are many reasons why you might want to change your pet insurance policy:
- If your pet has become unwell
- You want to increase the level of cover available
- A simple admin task like changing your address
Your insurer can tell you if your insurance costs are likely to increase because of the change or if there's an admin fee to pay.
You can then continue and pay the extra charges if there are any, or you could switch to a different insurer. Just make sure you've read all the small print before switching pet insurance so you know what's included in the new policy.
Pet insurance policies are often flexible. They usually last for 12 months and at this point, you can choose to keep your policy or move to a different insurer.
You could save money by switching if you can find a policy offering the level of cover you require at a cheaper price.
But, unlike with other types of insurance, you may also see your price go up when you change pet insurance. That's because some insurers don't cover pre-existing conditions. Or you may have to pay more for them.
Can you change pet insurance mid-policy?
Yes, you should be able to change your pet insurance policy even if you're halfway through it.
In fact, it's important to do this as your insurer needs to be aware of any big changes to your circumstances or your pet's. For example, if your pet has been diagnosed with a new condition or you want to increase the level of cover.
There might be a charge, either increased insurance costs or an admin charge. But you should be told about these before you confirm any changes.
It's up to you whether you decide to accept the costs to make the changes or pay a cancellation fee and switch insurers.
But, when switching policies, it's important to remember that there may be a waiting period where you aren't covered. There could be a 14-day period where you can't make a pet insurance claim.
Before the new policy begins, you may want to continue paying for your existing plan to ensure you're still covered during an accident or illness.
Can I increase my pet insurance cover?
When you buy pet insurance you set the amount of cover it provides. This is based on the level of protection you want and your budget.
You could, for example, just cover the basics such as if your pet has an accident. This is known as 'accident-only cover'. Or you could go for a lifetime pet insurance policy which will provide much more cover.
There are also sometimes limits per year of the amount an insurer covers for different conditions. You choose these when you buy the policy but over time you may want to change them if your pet requires more care.
Increasing the level of cover your policy provides usually costs more. Therefore it's important to compare the cost of the policy with the cover offered.
Pet insurance is a competitive market so it's worth shopping around to compare policies to find one that offers the best value for money.
How to cancel your pet insurance
You can cancel your pet insurance at any time, but there may be fees involved.
Cancelling a new policy
When you buy pet insurance, there's a 14-day cooling-off period. This means you can cancel in this window and there shouldn't be any fees, except for a potential admin cost.
If you're out of the 14-day window you can still cancel, but you may be charged an early cancellation fee.
If this happens, you should be told what fees are included, what they're for and how much they are. They should reflect the work done, such as if your policy needs to be recalculated or rewritten.
If you think the fees are too high, you can challenge them. First, talk to your insurer. If it insists you pay the charges you can then complain to the free Financial Ombudsman if you think it's unfair.
Cancelling pet insurance before renewing
At the end of your policy, just before it renews, you can also cancel. If you decide not to renew, you need to contact your provider and tell it to end the policy. You can usually do this online or on the phone.
If you're unsure, contact your provider and ask them what the process is.
Cancelling your policy rather than letting it renew automatically shouldn't cost you anything. But you may not be covered until you buy a new policy. This could cost more, especially if your pet has pre-existing conditions.
It's best to compare pet insurance policies when you first get your renewal notice from your existing insurance company. This should give you plenty of time to shop around without jeopardising your cover.