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Pet insurance can be a bit of a minefield when you start looking into it. There are so many providers out there claiming they have the best policies for our pets. But who are these people and are they reliable when it comes to making a claim and paying out?
What is pet insurance?
Unfortunately, there is no free healthcare for our pets. Animals get ill and accidents do happen and we do have to pay for this ourselves, or if we have pet insurance, they can hopefully help cover the costs. Whilst there are various different policies out there, most insurance policies cover for accident and illness but not preventative care. Pet insurance is a health care policy that as owners we take out for our pets to cover any unexpected bills that we may get.
Do I need to have pet insurance?
When asking this question to any vet or vet nurse, the answer will never be “no”! Pet insurance can be a great help to owners if their animals have an accident or a long-term condition, providing on what policy is taken out. It can save you from having to fund a multi-thousand pound unexpected bill due to sudden illness or injury for your pet.
So how do you look for a pet insurance policy?
When looking for pet insurance, where is the best place to look? Your veterinary practice may be able to recommend a company that they are partnered with, this is always worth an ask. But they may also not be able to recommend. Looking on search engines like Google, for example, is always a good start. You can also use comparison websites but you may not always get reviews on there. However, before you buy, make sure you have a general look on the providers’ websites.
When looking, always look at reviews. Search reviews on Google, Bing or your search engine of choice -and don’t forget to look on social media; as quite often people will post on there if they have had bad experiences. You want to see if they have a good reputation on paying out on claims. Most insurers claim they pay out on 97% of claims made. But that doesn’t tell you how many people have a policy with them, or what type of claims were rejected.
There are some big companies out there and some smaller ones; just because they are a big well-known company doesn’t make them better, always look at people’s experiences. It’s always a good idea to look at reviews from the last two years and make time to read as many as you can to get a good idea. There is always going to be positive and negative reviews so it’s important to read them all and make your own decision.
In many ways, the most important thing to establish is whether they are easy to contact. You don’t want to be stuck trying to contact someone at the company for days.
When looking for pet insurance, looking at the small print we often read about the company and then its underwriter/provider for insurance.
So, what is an underwriter?
“Underwriter” is the technical term used for the group that writes the policy, calculates the premiums and makes the important decisions, they are the people in the background.
Do your research on these underwriters
There aren’t very many companies out there that actually provide their own underwriters/providers. For example, you may think you’re insured with the RSPCA – when actually their policies are all run by Covea Insurance plc. These are the people that are going to be dealing with your claims, paying out for any claims made. So this is the company you need to do your research on and see if they actually do pay out for claims and what are peoples experiences.
Likewise, PDSA pet insurance is run by Pinnacle Insurance PLC who are not part of the same group. So you’re not actually insured by the PDSA but by another company. Agria pet insurance all trade within the same company but then they do also underwrite for The Kennel Club pet insurance… The list goes on but if you start researching, you’ll find the same names coming up over and over again!
There are some major underwriters out there that underwrite for several major companies but their policies could all differ. For example, the Allianz insurance group runs Pet Plan, Buddies, Co-operative insurance and many more. They have great reviews with them being the UKs largest insurance providers. If an underwriter was to change this could affect your policy, so is it better to find a company that trades within itself? Or to choose an underwriter, rather than the branded “wrapper”?
There’s no right or wrong way to answer this question, but at the end of the day, it’s the underwriter’s interpretation of the policy rules that is key to getting paid back or not. So doing some research into your shortlisted companies is a good idea!
Always do your research to find out who you are insured with or thinking of being insured with. Reviews are so important to read, really look into the people that are underwriting the policy, do they have many years’ experiences with pet insurance. It is always a good idea to have pet insurance, as long as it’s affordable and trustworthy.