Thursday, 22 January 2015

Is pet insurance really worth it?

Tess the greyhound

If you own a dog one of things you have to think about is whether or not to take out pet insurance.

When we adopted Tess back in 2009 I decided to pay for pet insurance to cover any vets' bills for illness, accident and so on.  On her 10th birthday last year (because dog's have birthdays too!) I got a letter from the insurance company to say that - after steadily increasing in price each year - the premium was increasing by 100%. jumping from £24 to £49 a month.

I made a phone call to ask why the increase was so much higher, and they said that as Tess was now classed as an older dog the new premium reflected the likelihood of higher and more frequent vet bills from then on.  I suppose that makes sense, an older dog is going to need more medical attention, but I wondered if it was worth keeping her insured. I mean, it's an expensive do and you may never need to use it.

I spoke to a few fellow dog owners and some had their dogs insured and others didn't.  The ones who didn't have it thought it was worth taking their chances, and were going to cover any unexpected bills on either on their credit card or were saving a small amount each month in a separate bank account to cover the costs.  I considered doing that, but thought I might be tempted to 'dip in' to that pot of money if I was a bit short one month.  So I decided to shop around and asked for dog insurance recommendations on Twitter.

I got a couple of quotes - although some companies don't even bother to quote for dogs over the age of 8 - and luckily I found one who not only insure older dogs but the premiums were £25: it's still a lot of money, but much more palatable than the previously quoted £49.

A word of warning though, and I only found this out last week, if you change your insurance it's unlikely to pay for treatments of any illness or condition that pre-dates the new insurance cover.   The annoying thing is that the insurance company might not tell you about that little loophole - sure it'll be in the small print, etc. but don't assume that you're covered.

So in our case any costs relating to Tessie's arthritis isn't covered by our new insurance because she's had it for years.

As it's turned out, we've practically lived at the vets' for the past few weeks as Tess has been very poorly, and as of yesterday the costs were standing at £947.00 and as she's still receiving treatments that sum will continue to rise. Yikes. The good news (if you can call it that) is that it's for a condition Tess hasn't previously had, so the insurance will cover it. In our case, it was definitely worth sticking with the insurance option.

If you have a dog, do you have insurance? If not, how to plan to cover the vet's bills?

Written in collaboration with Argos Pet Insurance.