This week I was reminded of why UK pet insurance is so essential.
My little pup had a lot of veterinary treatment. The vets and vet nurses were all amazing and treated him so well. Luckily, he is now back at home and well on the mend. Thanks to UK pet insurance, the cost to me was minimal.
I’ve saved myself well nearly £2000 this week – as well as a lot of stress and anxiety, which is equally valuable. This post is designed to help others do the same and avoid a very costly bill.
In this post I’ll cover:
- My story
- Why you need pet insurance
- How UK pet insurance works
- How to get pet insurance
- Other pet insurance tips
Earlier this week I had to rush my dog to the emergency out of hours vet. He managed to eat something he shouldn’t have and had to be made to be sick. He then received fluids and other drugs (I can’t remember all their names) and was kept under observation for 24 hours. This included an overnight stay.
Given I was fast becoming anxious, my dad drove Fitz and I to the emergency vet. We arrived at about 22:30. We waited while he was examined and had the initial treatment. At around 00:00, it became clear he’d have to stay overnight, so – after lots of cuddles – we left him.
The next morning, I picked him up. He was very happy to see me and was in normal spirits. Despite this, the vet recommended I took him to his regular vets to continue his treatment for the rest of the day.
Armed with a couple of his favourite toys and treats, I dropped him off again. I was so relieved when I got the call in the early evening to say he could come home.
It was a very emotional and stressful 24 hours or so. Like a typical Zillennial, Fitz really is my baby and the house felt so empty without him. I can’t express how grateful I am to have him home safe and healthy.
The cost of this treatment
There is, of course, a cost to all these services and treatment. I haven’t seen the final emergency vet bill yet – it’s being handled directly by the insurance company – but it is in the region of £1500. The regular vet bill was £433.
This is a lot of money that I don’t have lying around. If I had to pay the full amount, I would have to dip into my savings.
Thankfully, due to my pet insurance policy, I only have to pay the £105 excess fee. The only frustration is that because he was treated by two separate vet practices, I have to pay the excess fee twice as it is treated as two separate claims.
Why you need pet insurance
In the UK we are lucky to have the NHS, so we don’t have to worry about the cost of our own medical treatment. This means it can be easy to forget how much medical care actually costs. One vet bill will be enough to remind you.
There is no free vet cover in the UK. All treatment must be paid for by the owners. Treatment gets expensive very quickly. Pet insurance can cover a lot of these costs, so you only have to pay for routine treatments and an excess fee.
I’ve always said, I can afford £35 a month, but I can’t afford an unexpected £5000+ bill. This figure may seem like a lot, but the costs can rack up very quickly, especially if your pet needs overnight care.
How UK pet insurance works
UK pet insurance works just like all other types of insurance. You pay an agreed amount either monthly or annually in return for cover if you need to seek treatment for your pet.
You will usually need to make a claim to your insurance provider for them to cover your costs. This means you may need to pay some – or all – of the bill first before you are later reimbursed.
Depending on the cover you opt for, your vet may be able to claim directly from your insurer. This means you won’t be out of pocket and won’t have to worry about having a shortfall while you wait for your insurance provider to repay you.
You will need to pay close attention to the small print of your policy. Most policies have maximum sums they’ll pay out – either annually or over your pet’s lifetime. There may also be certain treatments your policy excludes. This is more likely if your pet already has existing health problems.
How to get pet insurance
You can take out a pet insurance policy just like any other insurance policy.
There are plenty of comparison websites, like GoCompare, where you can compare different policies for coverage and cost.
Don’t simply choose the cheapest option – even if it’s tempting. Check you will be covered for any forms of treatment you may want to access.
If your pet already has health conditions, a standard policy might not be appropriate. In this case, it may be best to speak to a few insurance providers directly to see what they are prepared to offer.
Other pet insurance tips
Once you’ve got pet insurance, it’s important to make sure you know the details of your policy. Being aware of what is and isn’t included, as well as any excess you may have to pay, will stop you from having any nasty surprises.
It’s also important to make sure you know exactly where all your policy documents are. If you’re anything like me, the chances are you’ll be stressed and emotional when you need them and won’t be thinking straight.
Keep your documents in a safe place you can always access. I have paper copies stored in my ‘important documents’ cabinet. But, I also have a digital copy of all insurance documents – for the dog and my car – kept in a folder on my phone and laptop. This way I should always be able to access them, wherever I am in the world.
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