Time to read: 5 mins
Why insure a dog or puppy?
Fundamentally, dog insurance is there to protect your dog against injuries and illness that they may suffer. Depending upon the treatment needed vet bills can often running into thousands of pounds, so insurance can help to protect you against those unexpected costs.
How does dog insurance work?
Dog insurance works in a similar way to other insurances like home, car and health insurance that you may already be familiar with. In the event that your pet becomes ill or suffers and injury, then your insurance could pay out for their treatment and recovery.
You’ll often see numbers like £8,000 vet fee cover, and whist that is true, most providers will have inner limits. Which means that for some treatment, like dental treatment and cruciate ligament surgery, the limits may be lower. It’s worth looking into the limits that each provider has and cross referencing those against common illnesses that your dog breed may suffer from.
Excesses are the cost that you will be required to pay towards your claim. This excess can also rise as your dog gets older mainly because treatment costs can increase as will the likelihood of needing to make a claim.
Some insurers also enforce coinsurance payments in addition to excess. They can be useful to reduce your initial premium price, but at the point of claiming you’ll be required to pay your excess as well as a percentage towards the claim value (typically between 10-20%). We don’t have a coinsurance payment as we believe it’s better for customers to know what they will pay monthly and in the event of a claim.
This is the cooling off period when you join or switch provider. You typically won’t be able to submit a claim for the first 14 days of your policy starting. With some insurers, including us, if you switch your dog insurance you can be placed on risk immediately allowing you to claim for illnesses from the start of your plan.
Pre-existing conditions describe any illness, injury, symptom or condition that happened or first showed signs before your policy begins regardless of whether your pet went to the vet for it. Our full definition is:
An injury or illness that:
These are defined as an injury or illness that:
- Happened or first showed clinical signs;
- Has the same diagnosis or clinical signs as an injury, illness or clinical sign your pet had,
- Is caused by, relates to, or results from, an injury, illness or clinical sign your pet had, before the start date of your pet’s first period of insurance (inception) or before the date the cover level on your policy was increased. No matter where the injury, illness or clinical signs are noticed or happen in, or on, your pet’s body.
What other things can it cover?
Insurance for dogs is there to cover you against the vet fees occurring from treatment, however, many providers offer additional benefits. Most providers will be able to offer you:
Loss and recovery
If your dog is lost or stolen, pet insurers can cover you up to a certain limit to advertise to find your dog. In the event that the pet is not able to be recovered then the insurance could also pay towards the cost of your dog.
If you are unable to care for your dog, for example if you are admitted to hospital, then your insurance may cover the cost of boarding your dog at a kennel. Some insurers will also pay out if your dog is being looked after by friend and family.
There are typically conditions upon the length of time you’re admitted to hospital before you can claim under this section of your plan.
Holiday cancellation and abandonment cover
If your dog goes missing or becomes life-threateningly ill either before you are due to travel or whilst you are on holiday some insurers will cover travel and accommodation costs of needing to curtail or cancel your trip.
It’s also worth checking where you’ll be covered. Most insurers will cover you within countries that are covered within the EU PETS arrangement.
There are limits on the numbers of days before your holiday that you can claim so it’s worth checking this with your insurer.
Death and euthanasia
In the unfortunate situation of the death of a dog, your insurer will pay towards the costs of your pet dying and if they were put to sleep then they may also pay towards the cost of euthanasia.
Accidental damage and 3rd party cover
If your dog causes accidental death or injury to a person or accidental loss or damage to their property then the accidental damage and 3rd party liability sections of your plan can help to cover you for repairs or loss suffered. Find out more about accidental damage cover within pet insurance.
How much is dog insurance?
Dog insurance prices can vary depending upon many factors, which are explained below. If you are unsure of what best suits your needs, it could be useful to use a price comparison website.
What determines the price?
The 4 main factors that will affect the price of a new dog insurance quote will be
The older your dog the more at risk they are deemed to be, and therefore the more expensive it’ll be to insure them. Older dogs are generally defined as over the age of 8 years old. Find out more how pet insurance for older dogs works.
If you’re insuring a breed which is known to have a higher risk of health problems then the price will be higher. Similarly, pedigree dogs will be more expensive because of their increased price to purchase and typically a lower immunity to certain conditions compared to cross-breeds.
If your dog has any pre-existing conditions that you would like to cover then this will also in crease the price. These are conditions that are known and likely to recur so the cost is increased to reflect this.
Vet fee inflation
An often overlooked factor which can affect the price of dog insurance is vet fee inflation. This is price increased of vet treatment. This changes each year and so the increased cost of vet treatment is often reflected in an insurance premium rise. This is most notable on renewal prices even when you may not have claimed.
How can I affect the price?
The main way of affecting the price is by choosing a suitable cover level.
Accident only pet insurance is the cheapest available but as the name suggests will cover you against vet fees arising from any accidents your dog has.
Time limited pet cover are annual plans which provide cover for new injuries and illnesses occurring after the plan has started for up to 12 months from first date of treatment or the plan limit is reached, whichever happens first.
Maximum benefit pet insurance is an annual plan which provides cover for new injuries and illnesses occurring after the plan has started up to the maximum level. These policies allow you to claim for the same treatment year after year, however as soon as the limit is reached that condition is excluded and can no longer be claimed for.
Lifetime pet cover are annual plans which provide cover for all new injuries and illnesses up to an annual limit each policy year occurring after the policy has started. The annual cover limit for vets fees is fully reinstated at each renewal.
What are common problems I need to protect against?
This depends upon your breed, but typically dogs commonly suffer from skin infection, irritation and allergies, hip dysplasia, arthritis and gastroentiritis. It’s worth fully researching your breed so you can fully understand what common conditions you may need any insurance to cover.
As with any insurance policy there are exceptions that you’ll need to be aware of. See our full list of policies exclusions.
There are certain breeds, those that are named in the Dangerous Dogs Act that will be excluded from cover.
Age of pet
Some insurers won’t be able to cover pets over a certain age. As mentioned earlier, dogs typically older than 8 will tend to be more expensive to insure.
Do puppies need insurance?
It’s not a requirement for any dog to have insurance, but it can become more difficult to get cover as your dog gets older or if they have a health condition. So if you plan to get cover it’s certainly easier to insure a puppy.
So, is dog insurance worth it?
It depends, only you are able to tell if dog insurance is worthwhile for your situation but it can be a good solution to protect against large unexpected vet bills if your dog does suffer from injury or illness.