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16 Feb 2021
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

Pet insurance for older dogs

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Older retriever dog who's enjoying a dip

We look at pet insurance for older dogs, and why it's important. 

If your pooch is approaching pension age, they’ll need a little extra TLC. 

Making sure you have the right insurance for them will make things easier, but this can be confusing. 

We look at the different types of pet insurance policies and what they mean for older dogs. 

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At what age is a dog considered old? 

Dogs are considered ‘senior’ between the ages of five and nine. 

Small dogs are usually at the latter end of the scale. Their bigger relatives usually reach their twilight years around five. 

Even though they’re older and aren’t moving about as much, they’re still prone to certain health conditions. Which could be costly. 

This is where insurance comes in. 

 

Is it worth insuring an older dog? 

It’s worth insuring your dog if you don’t think that you’ll be able to cover the cost of medical care. But bear in mind that pet injury, illness or health conditions can be expensive for dogs of any age. 

According to our research, the highest claim made for a treatment was £7,000.

The risk of illness or injury is more likely as they get older. Some common conditions include: 

  • Gum disease 

  • Joint problems 

  • Cysts – or fatty lumps 

  • Cancer 

  • Eye conditions 

  • Kidney disease 

  • Diabetes 

  • Eye site problems or blindness 

  • Dementia. 

A good insurance policy should help you cover the cost of any treatment your dog might need. 

 

Is there an age limit for pet insurance? 

If your pet is insured and you’re paying your premiums, you’ll find most policies will cover your dog’s lifespan. 

If you’re starting a policy, you might find your insurer sets a minimum and maximum age limit. The minimum age is usually around eight weeks. 

Some firms don’t set a maximum age limit, others may not insure dogs that are older than five. 

 

Why does it cost more to insure an older dog? 

As mentioned, older dogs are more prone to health conditions, which means you’re more likely to make a claim. 

This means insurers will bump up their premiums to cover the cost. 

By comparing policies, you can make sure your older dog gets the best cover for a competitive price. 

 

What type of insurance should I get for my older dog? 

There are four different types of pet insurance policy. Lifetime, maximum benefit, time limited and accidental only.

Lifetime pet insurance is usually the most comprehensive. It can be more expensive, but it should insure your dog for life if you renew your policy each year. 

The policy should cover any new illnesses or injuries that might develop. It’ll also cover long-term or recurring illnesses. 

Time limited or 12-month policies cover different illnesses or injuries for a set amount of time, usually around 12 months.

There’s also a certain amount of money available for each separate illness or injury. 

If treatment exceeds a certain amount, you’ll have to pay for it. And if it spans more than 12 months, you may have to pay extra. 

Unlike the time limited policy, a maximum benefit policy sets aside a certain amount of money to cover any illness or injury – but there’s no time limit. 

But once the full amount is paid out, they won’t pay out again. 

Accident only provides a set amount of money to cover costs due to injury only. Illnesses aren’t covered with this type of policy. 

Your insurer will be able to advise you on the best cover for your pet. 

Remember, when you speak to your insurer, make sure you fully disclose any recent injuries or conditions. If you don’t, they may not pay out if you need to make a claim. 

 

What should I make sure my pet insurance policy covers? 

There are some key things to look out for in your insurance policy. For example, whether it covers pre-existing conditions.

Make sure you declare any pre-existing conditions. You might find that your insurance only partially covers the condition so you might need a specialist policy. 

Check your excess. This is the amount you’ll pay before you can claim on your insurance. 

For example, if your excess was £250, and you took your dog for dental work and it cost you £30, you wouldn’t be able to claim for it. 

If they had an operation that cost over £1,000 you would be able to make a claim, because it’s over the excess limit. 

There’s not just injury or illness to think about, some policies offer bereavement counselling if your pet dies.

Some policies even cover advertising costs if your pet goes missing. These thoughtful extras can make a big difference. 

As we always say, make sure you check your policy wording to see what you’re covered for. 

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