When a pet is unwell or has an accident the last thing you want to worry about is whether you can afford the vet’s bill. Pet insurance is there to help you pay for large expenses, such as veterinary care, so if your pet needs treatment, make a claim on the policy.
The process should be relatively straightforward and leave you with plenty of time to look after your pet. Here's what you need to know.
What can I claim on my pet insurance for?
Whenever your pet requires emergency medical care or ongoing treatment, you should check with your insurer to see if you can make a claim. Standard pet insurance should cover vet bills for medical treatment, unless your pet has a pre-existing condition that's excluded.
Pet insurance policies are all different. But many pay also medical expenses for your pet if you've taken them on holiday and they require urgent treatment abroad.
On other policies, it’s possible to claim for alternative therapies such as acupuncture if your pet needs it. It could also help with the cost of advertising and rewards if your pet ever gets lost or stolen.
Depending on your level of cover, you might also be able to make a claim if your pet dies after an accident. Some policies also include liability insurance in case your animal ever causes damage to a third party.
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How soon after treatment should I claim on my pet insurance?
It helps to let your insurer know as soon as possible that you wish to claim on the policy so try not to delay the call. Some insurance might have a time limit on when you can make a claim, for example 30 days. The specific time frame varies between insurance companies, so it's best to check your pet insurance policy details.
How to make a pet insurance claim
The best way to start the claim is by giving your insurers’ helpline a quick call. The phone number should be on the policy documents. Give your insurer the details of what’s happened to your pet and what costs that the situation involves.
If your pet needs medical care and is already being treated, make sure you know the name of the condition your pet has and the treatment or operations required.
Your vet should be able to give you the estimated costs or you may already have an invoice or a receipt for payment.
Most insurers then need you to fill in a claim form and gather together the relevant documentation to support the claim – such as medical receipts or invoices.
If your pet has already had medical treatment and the vet’s bill is outstanding, you may need to pay it before you get the money from your insurer.
But if your pet has a condition covered by the policy that will require ongoing treatment, you may be reimbursed for the initial costs and then claim recurring costs after that.
Is the money from a pet insurance claim paid directly?
In many cases the money is paid straight to the vet. Sometimes, however, the company pays the policyholder instead. Having your pet insurance company pet the vet should reduce the headache and admin of the claim, giving you more time to focus on your pet's care.
The claims advisers should let you know which payment method they use, but if in doubt, check beforehand.
How much can I claim on my pet insurance?
What you can claim and how much you can claim directly relates to the type of pet insurance you've bought and the level of cover it provides.
The plans are often restricted by how much the insurance company pays out for the same or separate conditions. That’s why it’s important to buy the right cover for the type, age and breed of your pet and your own financial situation.
There’s no point in paying over the odds. Shopping around for cover helps lower the price. But if you want it to pay out for specific things, make sure you read the small print before you buy.
Pet insurance policies usually come with an excess. Pet insurance excess is a set amount that you pay towards the cost of a claim. Depending on how much this is and the amount you need to claim, it might make you question if it's worth claiming on your pet insurance policy.
For example, if your cat needs treatment that costs £250, but your pet insurance excess is set to £200, it might not be worth claiming on your cat insurance policy.
How long should I wait for my pet insurance payout?
Once you’ve sent off the paperwork and providing all of the supporting documents (the receipts and invoices) are in order, you should have a decision from your insurer within 5-10 days.
When to complain about my pet insurance claim
If you’re not satisfied that an insurer has paid out properly, the first step is to complain to the insurer directly.
If you've gone down its complaints procedure and you still feel you’ve been unfairly treated, the Financial Ombudsman can help you take it further.
The most common pet insurance complaints the Financial Ombudsman sees include:
- Disagreements about the wording of a policy
- Pre-existing medical conditions
- Time limits on cover for treatment