Pet Insurance – Is It Really Worth It?

With more and more companies offering Pet Insurance Policies, it can be a bit of a minefield when trying to decide what type is best for you and your pet, or whether to even bother with insurance at all.

Not all pet insurance policies are the same. Annual policies tend to have lower premiums, but will only pay out on any condition for a period of one year and will then add an exclusion for that condition, whilst life-time policies will pay for the same condition throughout the whole of your pet’s life, providing you renew your policy without a break in cover. They are therefore a little more expensive, but we feel that this is well worth the extra cost.

Policies also vary massively in the level of cover they provide, both for the range of conditions covered, and also the maximum amount of fees they will pay per condition or policy year.

It’s therefore important to research the different companies and policies available to choose one appropriate to your needs, rather than simply choosing the cheapest.

Some pet owners prefer to put money away into a savings account each month for unexpected vet fees, rather than paying a monthly insurance premium that may never require a claim to be made. Realistically though, we are more likely to claim on our pet insurance policies than with any other type of insurance policy, with 1 in 3 pets needing major veterinary attention each year.

It is true that veterinary costs can be staggering, depending on the level of treatment required, especially in emergency cases and complex medical cases. This is due in part, to the continual development of new and improved drugs and equipment advances, as well as the high level of training and expertise of our skilled vets and nurses.

At Stanhope Park Vets, we highly recommend considering taking out a pet insurance policy as soon as possible after adopting your pet, as any medical or surgical problems they have prior to the start of your policy, are likely to be automatically excluded. It is also worth considering this if looking to change to a different insurance company later in your pet’s life, as again, any pre-existing conditions are likely to be excluded from your new policy.

CASE EXAMPLE: Beatrice

Beatrice is a Border Terrier belonging to Sue, one of our RVNs. Sue took out a life-time policy for Beatrice shortly after adopting her from the RSPCA. Beatrice had been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid prior to her adoption, so all treatment relating to this condition was automatically excluded from her insurance policy as a pre-existing condition. Hypothyroidism is a life-long disease requiring daily medication and regular blood tests to ensure the condition remains well controlled, the costs of which must be met by Sue.

Unfortunately, Beatrice has since developed many other problems – several lifelong conditions such as allergic skin disease; osteoarthritis; chronic kidney disease to name some! All of these conditions require daily medication along with regular blood tests and other therapies such as acupuncture and physiotherapy. Thankfully, Beatrice’s insurance company covers these costs, which all add up to a considerable amount each month – far more than the monthly premium!

Beatrice has also had to have several surgical procedures over the years – some have been emergency procedures, such as a gastrotomy to remove impacted grass from her stomach, along with other procedures such as tumour removals and dentistry. She has also had the occasional severe case of gastro-enteritis, requiring investigations and treatments, and a case of chocolate toxicity one Christmas Day – accidents happen! She also has chronic eye problems that have required investigations and ongoing care from an external veterinary referral centre (specialist treatment at referral centres is extremely expensive). Again, all these conditions were covered by Beatrice’s insurance company.

Beatrice is perhaps a little unique with all her ailments – but her story shows how easy it is for veterinary costs to mount up, not just for acute conditions such as an operation or minor illness, but for ongoing management of chronic conditions.

If Sue had not insured Beatrice, then all of these individual problems and ongoing monthly treatments, would so far have cost her upwards of £21,000 – a staggering amount, which most owners would struggle to afford.

This is why we strongly recommend insurance cover for your pet – allowing you to provide the best possible care when they become ill, without having the financial strain affecting your decisions on treatment options.