Pet insurance is a complicated topic as policies can vary so much according to the size, age, breed and type of pet you have, as well as the kind of cover you want for them.
But it can get even more confusing when you look at the insurance loopholes which can surprise owners and leave them hundreds or even thousands of pounds out of pocket.
It’s always a good idea to thoroughly compare insurance providers so you can find the best deal and right cover for you, but it’s easy to miss things that might catch you out later.
It could be that your insurance doesn’t cover dental care or you’re not covered if your pet happens to get ill in the ‘cooling off period’ between switching providers.
Our sister site TeamDogs has put together a list of everything you need to look out for when finding a pet insurance provider.
Keeping teeth and gums clean is important to stay healthy, as cavities, gum problems or dental diseases can be detrimental to well-being.
It’s no different when it comes to our dogs, but many pet insurance providers don’t cover dental care, forcing people to fork out hundreds of pounds for pet dental issues.
One Facebook commenter, Jacki Jackson, responded to a recent post by TeamDogs saying she had been caught out by the small print when her dog needed dental care.
She said: “£870 to have back teeth removed… had insurance… dental work not covered.”
It’s not all bad news though, as there are some providers out there that do cover the vital dental work that pets occasionally need.
Bought By Many covers dental accidents and illnesses with a complete insurance plan and dental accidents with all other plans. PetPlan, on the other hand, provides dental care with both its annual and lifetime policies.
When you’re first looking for pet insurance, you’re expected to declare any pre-existing health conditions of your pet.
If your dog has any issues prior to commencement of the plan, or it’s reasonable to expect you could have known about it, it’s common for companies to deny any claims related to the health condition.
This can lead to pet owners spending thousands of pounds on treatment, as they find a new insurance provider following a price hike and later discover their dog or cat isn’t fully covered.
Insurance providers are looking out for two types of pre-existing conditions – chronic and historic.
Chronic conditions are ongoing problems your pet suffers from at the time of taking out a new policy, like heart conditions or hip dysplasia. Historic conditions, however, are conditions your pet has had in the past but no longer deal with, like healed injuries or illnesses.
Cover for pets with these conditions varies from business to business, so it’s important to thoroughly compare insurance providers before deciding on one.
It’s likely that insurance will be more expensive in this circumstance and some companies will only cover pre-existing conditions under certain policy types, like a lifetime policy for example.
One business, Waggel, covers pre-existing conditions and vet bills up to £10,000 per year, whereas Bought By Many covers conditions that have not needed treatment and gives advice in the first three months before the policy starts.
The ‘cooling off period’
Most insurers decided to include a short period of time where you can’t claim for any illnesses, but not accidents, for the first week or two of your policy.
This is to prevent people from going to take out insurance only after they’ve begun to notice there is something wrong with their pet.
But those who innocently choose to switch providers and then find out their pet is ill in this short window can be hit hard by the consequences.
Cathie Swan has had to spend £1,500 on her Yorkshire Terrier’s treatment for liver disease so far with a further £5,000 to go, as she switched providers and coincidentally found out about the illness during this ‘cooling off period.’
She said: “When we first took her to the vet, she was initially diagnosed with crystals in her urine and we couldn’t claim for it because we were still in the first 14 days of our policy.
“Now we can’t claim on anything related to that, even though it’s actually ended up with a different diagnosis to what they first thought, because it’s viewed as a pre-existing condition, what with her first showing symptoms right at the start of the policy.
“We’re putting off lots of renovations on our new house at the moment and dipping into our honeymoon fund so we can get her the treatment she needs.”
To get around the awkward issue, Ms Swan has a useful suggestion for those who are looking for a new provider.
She said: “I’d recommend to anyone to have an overlap if you switch providers, have your new cover start at least two weeks before your old one ends, so that you don’t get caught out like I did.”