We all dread the thought of our precious pets becoming ill or getting injured, and worrying about how to pay for expensive veterinary bills only adds to this distress. Many people very sensibly take out pet insurance to try and avoid this added source of anxiety. Pet insurance policies are designed to cover your veterinary bills when things go wrong. Most won’t cover routine preventive costs such as vaccinations or anti-parasite treatments but should cover at least part of the bill if your pet is poorly due to illness or injury. But what’s going to happen to premiums now?
All pet insurance policies require you to pay a regular premium
This is usually on a monthly basis, and the costs of these premiums are based on a variety of factors. Things that may affect how much you pay per month might include:
- Your pet’s age – older pets tend to get ill more often than younger pets
- Your pet’s breed – some breeds are more prone to certain illnesses
- The size of your pet – larger breeds need larger doses of medications and can be prone to different problems
- Your location – certain areas of the country are likely to have higher veterinary costs
- Your previous claim history – more claims make your pet a higher risk to insure
- The level of cover the policy provides – for example the total amount they will cover you for. And how long the cover will last
- Your pet’s gender – female pets statistically tend to be unwell and get into accidents less frequently than males. Therefore they need less treatment
- Changes in tax levels set by the government
Inflation is another factor that can certainly cause pet insurance premiums to rise
This is because high inflation levels mean that veterinary fees are likely to go up. Veterinary fees in turn are affected by increased prices including drugs and other consumables, rent, equipment costs and maintenance or servicing charges. Most insurance policies will be reviewed on an annual basis so your premiums may not change initially. But it’s important to carefully review your documents when your renewal time comes around in order to work out how you will be affected.
With premiums going up, many people are considering whether pet insurance is necessary or even affordable
It is certainly possible to shop around for cover, just like you would for any other type of insurance, in order to reduce your premiums. However, there are a few things to be aware of if you choose to do this. Firstly if your pet has suffered from an illness or certain injuries in the past, or suffers from a chronic condition, there is a good chance that a new insurance company will not cover the costs associated with this – known as an exclusion.
It’s also important to be aware of what you are covered for. Insurance cover can vary massively and the old adage you get what you pay for often holds true. Customers are frequently caught out by cheap premiums that mean they have limited cover that may not pay out for the full costs of treatment, not cover the full duration of treatment, or in some cases not pay out at all.
Another option is a “pet-bank” – a specific saving just for your pet’s healthcare needs
Another option many people consider, in place of pet insurance, is putting away an equivalent amount of money into savings every month so that at least they still have the capital if it’s not used. This can work well if you are disciplined, but many people have been caught out when their savings are needed sooner than they expected and are not sufficient for the costs involved. If this route is chosen it’s vital to have a contingency plan in place for such an occurrence. It’s also important to be aware of the true costs of veterinary treatment as these are often underestimated.
The other option some people are sadly forced to choose is not to have any contingency in place at all
Bear in mind that veterinary practices are increasingly limited in what they can offer in terms of payment plans, due to strict financial regulations. There are companies around that offer low interest loans to cover the cost of veterinary treatment. But the criteria to be accepted for this type of loan can be very strict and the repayment times are often relatively short. Without any kind of plan in place owners can be left having to make very tough decisions about their pet’s care.
Unfortunately it is very likely that pet insurance premiums will rise with inflation. But for many pet owners it can turn out to be a false economy to cancel their policies. The rise reflects the likely increase in veterinary costs. And forgoing insurance cover may prove to be an expensive miscalculation should your pet become unwell.