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Pet Insurance

Don’t be caught out in an emergency – make sure your pet is insured

MichelleIf your pet is ever involved in an accident or requires complicated surgery, your priority should naturally be their welfare and not whether you can afford to pay for their treatment.

In complex cases, some procedures or treatments may cost hundreds of pounds. There is nothing worse than having to weigh up your pet’s welfare against your ability to cover the costs.

That’s why we strongly recommend that you take out a reputable insurance plan for your pet. This will provide you with the peace of mind that you will be able to get the best possible treatment, leaving you free to focus on their care and recovery.

There are many insurance companies offering cover which varies widely and may or may not be appropriate for your needs.

The main types of cover are:

  1. ‘Lifetime’ where you have a certain value of cover per year, either in total or per condition. This is then available for subsequent years for any ongoing condition as long as you continue to insure with that company.
  2. ‘Annual’ cover where a condition would be funded to a specified level for up to a year after it is first noted. After that year no further claims would be allowed. It is important to note that some companies now consider bilateral conditions (i.e. something that can affect both sides of the body) as one condition. This can lead to major issues if the second side of the body is affected after the initial year has passed. You MUST read the small print!
  3. Specified cover where only certain specified conditions are insured. These can be very restrictive so if in doubt ask for our comments on the range of conditions mentioned.

There are many variations within these categories, but in general the wider the cover the greater the cost.

We are not able to advise which company to choose, but if you are in doubt about the potential problems and costs which may be incurred for your pet and the level of cover you may require, please talk to us before you make a decision.

Remember, get several quotes and read the small print. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Sometimes, particularly if claims are made, the renewal premiums rise considerably and you may be tempted to seek cover from another company. Please talk to us should you need to do this.

petinsuranceIn the event of a claim, the new company will want a case history from the first date we saw your pet (and any previous veterinary practices!). If there is any suggestion of an undeclared underlying condition – however innocent at face value, and even dating back several years – they may refuse to pay.

You must declare any previous conditions so that the new company can have the opportunity to exclude those, at least for a period of time. You can then decide whether it is best to change companies.

We will try to alert you of anything in your pet’s medical notes which could lead to a refused claim in the future. However, we cannot be responsible for some minor comment being over interpreted to a company’s advantage. Sometimes it is better to ‘stay put’!

We are able to make direct claims to a small number of companies. You will pay the excess and any proportion of costs as specified in your policy. The company will then pay us the balance direct.

With other companies however, we will expect you to pay us for treatment and be reimbursed by the company in the fullness of time. You need to understand that we have no contract with the various insurance companies and although we will assist you as much as possible, it is your responsibility to cover the costs if there is any delay in settling the claim.

If you should need to make a claim then please provide us with a signed claim form with the owner’s section filled in. We will assemble the claim from your pet’s clinical notes and send it to the insurance company.

If a condition is likely to go on for a long time, we would ask you to submit claim forms periodically during the treatment period. We will then make continuation claims on your behalf. This can help your cash flow and you do not have to pay any additional excesses by claiming in this way.

“The vast majority of claims go through with no problem but occasionally the company will make additional deductions or refuse a claim for some reason. They will advise you of their reasons but not us. If you disagree with their response and want us to talk to them for you, you will have to authorise them to contact us under current FSA regulations.”

PawprintWe will try to explain any issues or confusion that may exist, but we are categorically unable to change any dates or details on our clinical records unless there is a clear error.

We do not usually charge an administration fee for processing insurance claim forms, but we reserve the right to make a reasonable charge if the claim is unduly prolonged or complicated.

Despite the warnings above it is our firm advice that pet insurance is a good thing. As long as you think carefully about your personal situation and needs, you can minimise the risk of any problems. You’ll also provide yourself with the peace of mind that if your pet is unfortunate enough to suffer significant illness or injury, cost does not need to be a consideration when deciding your pet’s course of treatment.