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How to find the right insurance for your parent’s pet

How to find the right insurance for your parent’s pet
Whether your parent has a pet already or is looking for a new furry friend it’s good to know what to consider when choosing pet insurance. Ashley Shepherd, Managing Director of Over50choices.co.uk, explores the factors your parents should look at, providing helpful guides on how to find the right policy to suit their pet’s needs.

With more than 70 million pet owners over the age of 50 in the UK, pet insurance is something many will have to purchase. Helping your parent make the right choice can be difficult so here are a few factors to consider that can save your parents money in the long run.

A lifeline for your parent

A pet can be a lifeline for your parent. They provide companionship, helping with the prevention of depression and loneliness; encourage a more active lifestyle and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Recent research suggests that high blood pressure, cholesterol levels and obesity are all likely to be reduced in a pet owner and that pets have a significant effect on stress helping to reduce the body’s physical reaction to stressful situations. Pets can play an important role in their owner’s lives.

It pays to be protected

Pet insurance is a choice that in many circumstances will save your parent money (with the right policy) as well as offering them some piece of mind that their pet is protected should they need veterinary treatment.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), 1 in 3 pets need veterinary treatment every year which means your parent’s pet may require medical attention more often than first thought. With vet’s costs on the increase, the average bill is now over £300 a figure that could increase considerably for more complex treatments or reoccurring conditions.

If your parent doesn’t have pet insurance in place their pet could become costly as they get older. Age related conditions in pets are not uncommon – arthritis, tumours and heart conditions can all be expensive to treat on a continual basis if they’re not covered by pet insurance.

Quite simply pet insurance ensures your parent can provide the care their pet needs in order to stay fit and healthy without having to worry about it breaking the bank.

What’s included?

Pet insurance plans do vary depending on the provider and the level of cover your parent chooses but in general cover includes:

  • Vet fees resulting from sickness or injury
  • Kennel or pet boarding fees should your parent need to go into hospital for emergency treatment
  • Advertising and reward costs if the pet is lost
  • Purchase price reimbursed if the pet dies or is lost or stolen (up to a certain age)
  • Third party liability covering damage to people or property caused by your parent’s dog
  • Holiday cancellation cover should your parent’s holiday need to be cancelled due to their pet needing last minute emergency surgery
  • Pet travel cover should their pet become sick or injured whilst overseas

When comparing pet insurance, the amount of cover available for each of the above areas should be specified so your parent can choose the level of cover they feel is most appropriate for their needs.

Make the right choice

It’s important to read the terms and conditions before choosing a pet insurance plan as the level of cover and what is included differ but in general most plans fall into one of two categories:

  • Lifetime pet insurance
  • Non-lifetime pet insurance

Lifetime pet insurance does exactly what it says on the tin. It covers your parent’s pet for its lifetime as long as they continue to renew the policy. They can usually choose between a lifetime plan that pays a set amount per year or one that pays a set amount per condition.

If they reach the maximum monetary threshold within the 12-month period, additional treatment would not be covered by the policy so your parent would need to pay for any further vet bills. Having said that, the same level of cover should be available on a yearly basis so after the 12-month period, the allowance available would be ‘reset’ (providing the policy is renewed) and payment for further treatment would continue.

Non-lifetime pet insurance pays an agreed amount per condition. When the maximum amount is reached, cover for treatment of that particular condition will stop and the condition will be excluded from the policy.

Some non-lifetime plans also impose a time limit of 12 months per condition which will also exclude future treatment of the condition after that time, regardless of whether the maximum allowance has been reached.

It’s all in the detail

When reading through the policy details it’s important to check any limitations that could lead to your parent being out of pocket. Forewarned is forearmed.

Here are some things to be aware of:

  • Pre-existing conditions will not usually be covered
  • Bilateral conditions (those that occur on both sides of the body such as legs or ears) will often be considered as one condition
  • There is usually a moratorium period which is an initial period after buying the policy when the pet is not covered
  • Some breeds are not accepted so check your parent’s pet is covered

In addition, your parent may be able to reduce the cost of their pet insurance by increasing the excess, which is the amount they are willing to pay per claim. The more they are prepared to pay the lower the premium.

False Economy

When choosing pet insurance on behalf of your parent, don’t automatically choose the cheapest option as you may find the cover it provides doesn’t give the pet the level of protection it needs. You’ve heard the saying ‘it’s not worth the paper it’s written on’; your parent doesn’t want to be facing a hefty vet bill just because the level of cover their policy provided was too low.

Compare, compare, compare

The cost of pet insurance doesn’t always reflect the level of cover provided. By shopping around and comparing pet insurance quotes you and your parent will see at a glance the level of cover provided by each insurer. You may find a lifetime insurance policy that is cheaper with one provider than some of the non-lifetime plans on offer, so it’s certainly worth taking time to compare pet insurance quotes.

Out of the frying pan into the fire

If your parent has pet insurance but is thinking about switching to a different supplier, make sure they do their homework and read the terms and conditions. It is always worthwhile comparing insurance plans on a regular basis to ensure you are getting the best deal but be aware that any pre-existing conditions the pet has will probably be excluded from a new plan.

Be sure plan comparisons are made on a like for like basis before switching. It may pay to move to a cheaper pet insurance plan but not if your parent has to start paying for a reoccurring condition their pet was previously covered for.

Over50choices.co.uk is a personal finance comparison website for the over 50s authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The Over50choices team take an honest approach to explaining insurance and seek to make life simpler for those of us who just don’t get legal jargon! For more information contact Ashley on customerservices@over50choices.co.uk.

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