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What small print do I need to check for my pet insurance?

When choosing a pet insurance, you want to choose a company and policy you trust and believe will help you at a time when you feel you need it the most. With any policy, both parties, yourselves and the insurance company, must meet the terms and conditions of their promise… this is why it is so important that you read the small print before signing into a contractual agreement. Below are some things you should look out for in the small print before purchasing pet insurance.

Are there any historic injuries or illnesses that might impact future cover?

You could specifically ask about your pet, making sure you inform them of your pet’s medical history in detail. Remember, if you avoid mentioning certain aspects of your pet’s history, your pet insurance may become void. Checking for these pet-specific exclusions is especially important if you are looking to change insurance companies rather than when purchasing your first insurance policy. If there is any report of your pet having a condition previously, they may not cover it. 

For example, if your pet has a hormonal condition and receives regular hormone replacement treatment on the insurance, when you swap insurance providers, they may not cover these regular payments due to it being a condition that existed prior to the new policy starting. You should be aware of conditions such as patella luxation, which may require surgery to become resolved. But then years later, unavoidably, the opposite hindlimb may require surgery which may not be covered due to this condition already being claimed for previously. 

These cases can be very complex and costly. Finding out if they are likely to cover orthopaedic conditions covering different limbs is important. Especially if your pet already suffers from conditions such as arthritis.

Many insurance providers will have a price cap per condition – if so, what is it?

This means that they are happy to pay up to a certain amount per condition. Sometimes they will put a timeframe on this too. For example, “we are happy to cover the costs of bills covering your dog’s itchy skin up to £2000 over a period of 12 months”. Some providers will reset the £2000 (for example) every 12 months (for example). Whilst other policy providers will only give the £2000 per condition which can be used whenever you like but it will never reset. If the latter, once you have used up the £2000 for that condition, you will need to pay for all future veterinary bills related to this condition. In addition, you should check the number of times you can claim for a condition; as this may eliminate you from being able to claim. 

Are there any general exclusions on cover?

Policy providers may have general exclusions (those which apply to all animals they cover with that policy) based on different factors affecting your pet’s health, one of these includes obesity. Due to the positive correlation between obesity and arthritis, some insurance providers are not paying for arthritis medication in overweight dogs. Other common ones include breeding, foreign travel, and some insurance companies will also exclude specific conditions due to the neuter status of your pet, or failure to regularly vaccinate or administer worm and flea treatment. This is because they feel the disease could have been prevented by the pet being a healthy weight, by being neutered, or receiving regular preventative healthcare.

Make sure you are aware of what your excess is. 

This is the amount of money you will have to put towards each veterinary bill for a condition before your insurance company will pay out. It may vary year on year. You should be aware of how much it will change by and how they will let you know if it is changing. 

You should be aware how long your policy lasts. 

This is because it may auto renew at the end of the term. And maybe at a higher price than you were expecting. Additionally, you would not want your policy to end with no notice as your pet would be without cover. Most pet insurances become invalid if you have more than one policy at once, so be sure to check if this is in your terms and conditions when moving from one insurance policy to another. 

Most pet insurance deals have a warm up period. 

This warm up period is a phase at the start of the policy, in which you will be paying for pet insurance, but you cannot make a claim. You should be aware of how long your warm up period is. 

To conclude, the small print on pet insurance policies is extremely important and could save you thousands of pounds. You must be aware and completely understand what you are signing up to before going ahead. Speak to others who have pet insurance to ensure the company is reliable. Think thoroughly about choosing a pet insurance policy – you commonly do get what you pay for. 

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