As 2020 finally starts to draw to a close and an end to the Covid-19 nightmare suddenly seems to be one step nearer, it might be a good time to take stock and look forward to the challenges that still lie ahead. While we will all be delighted to (hopefully!!) see some return to normality at some stage in 2021, we must also acknowledge that Covid-19 has left a recession in its wake. We, as pet owners and veterinary professionals, may have to face some very difficult decisions over the coming months as money remains tight for a lot of us. Many of those decisions are going to be emotionally heart breaking for both owners and veterinary staff alike but we can prepare for them and hopefully we can avoid having to make too many difficult choices.
The solution? Insurance. Unless you are fortunate enough to have several thousand pounds sitting in the bank on the off chance your pet may get sick, it is really important to have good quality Pet Insurance. We appreciate it does seem like it’s an expensive investment, but at some stage it may well be worth it. We ask you to consider the cost of insurance for a pet as you would the cost of pet food. A necessary cost for the health of your pet, in the same way you consider car insurance a necessity for your car.
However, the world of Pet Insurance can be confusing and there are some key points that owners need to understand about pet insurance to ensure it is there for them and their pet when they need it:
- It is really important to have insurance cover that will cover a condition “for life”. Not just the “pet” for life; but the “condition”. That way, if your pet develops diabetes at 5 years of age, the costs (up to £100-200 per month) are still covered at 8 years of age and onward.
- If you have opted for a “condition covered for a year”, aka an annual policy, make sure you understand the policy fully. Is the condition covered for 12 months from time of diagnosis, or is it only covered up until the policy re-news? A typical example of this could be if we find a lump on a dog at its annual health check. Many owners prefer to hold off on surgical options to see how quickly the lump grows. However, if the lump grows and you decide to go ahead with surgery following the next year’s health check, you may discover the condition is no longer covered. It is important to know what you’re covered for and when that cover runs out
- Ideally you want your pet to be covered for at least £6000-£8000 per condition per year. But the more, the better. If anyone is a fan of Supervet, they know the costs of seeing a specialist will burn through £6000 fairly quickly!
- Don’t shop around. Many of us are used to shopping around every year for the cheapest car or home insurance quote. However, doing this with pet insurance is risky. When you switch providers most policies have a clause that prevents them from covering any pre-existing issues. When we submit an insurance claim, one of the first things the company will do is request a full clinical history (which they are entitled to request). If they then link the issue we are claiming for to an issue the pet had prior to starting the insurance with them, they will not settle the claim
- Don’t cancel. Yes, the insurance company will increase the premium and/or the excess as your pet gets older. Yes, you may have had insurance on your last 4 pets and never needed to use it. Yes, your cat may never go outside. And yes, we are in a recession and money is getting tight; but please don’t cancel your insurance. The cost of insurance goes up with older pets because older pets get sick and need treatment. We often hear of owners opening a policy when they get a puppy or kitten, be lucky enough not to need it for 10 years, just to then cancel it when they’re likely to need it the most. And regardless of the age of the pet, there’s no harder discussion in the veterinary world than trying to balance up “what can be done” with “what can we afford to do”.
We hope these tips have been helpful. It’s hard to write an up-beat and cheery article when discussing pet insurance and recessions, but we are always keen to help our clients ensure they have the right protection in place when they need it. For a happier view on insurance why not have a read of our article about Spike, he had a start to the New Year that nobody would want but is back to loving life after some wonderful care from the team here at Mayne Vets as well as some excellent nursing care at home from a very loving (and relieved) family!