Why you need cat insurance
Owning a cat brings with it significant responsibilities. You are committing to taking care of your pet throughout its life – and that means in sickness as well as in health.
With veterinary costs high (and getting higher each year), insurance for your cat is essential. It gives you the peace of mind of knowing that, if your cat falls ill or is injured, the costs of treatment will be covered.
But as with all forms of insurance, there are choices to make between the various policies on offer – there are significant differences between the levels of cover provided and, of course, the cost of the premium.
Lifetime or annual
An early decision in the buying process is whether to opt for ‘annual’ or ‘lifetime’ cover.
An annual policy, as you might guess from the name, lasts for 12 months. Your cat is therefore protected for a year, and you will be reimbursed for any vet’s costs you incur during this period.
But what if your cat develops a condition that lasts beyond the 12-month timespan? It might not be possible to renew an annual policy, or take out a new one, if your cat is actually undergoing treatment.
For this reason, insurers offer ‘lifetime’ policies. These are more expensive, but there is no time limit on the duration of the claim, so your cat will continue to be covered for as long as is necessary. That said, there may be an overall limit on the amount you can claim – perhaps £5,000.
Cats, like most pets, are most vulnerable when they are very young and very old. For this reason, in a bid to keep their costs (and thus premiums) at a reasonable level, insurance companies impose lower and upper age limits on their policies. So you might not be able to buy cat insurance until your pet is three or six months old, or after its eighth or tenth birthday.
However, you can buy kitten insurance once your cat is six or eight weeks old, and a lifetime policy will continue to renew each year until the animal’s death. If you buy a series of annual policies, there will come a time when you won’t be able to buy cover any longer.
With a lifetime policy, your premiums might increase each year and there might be changes to the exclusions that apply – but you have the advantage of knowing you will be able to get cover.
Other cat insurance considerations
Cat insurance isn’t just about vet’s fees if your pet is ill or injured.
Your policy might also extend to cover:
Liability cover: this covers your legal liabilities if your cat causes injury or damage to another person or their property.
Boarding fees: the policy might meet the cost of boarding your cat if you need to go into hospital or are otherwise incapable of looking after it through no fault of your own.
Cancellation cover: you might also be covered for any losses you incur because you have to cancel your holiday because your cat is ill or injured.
Straying/theft cover: the policy might pay compensation if your cat is lost or stolen. There could also be a contribution towards a finder’s reward.
Death: the policy might pay a cash sum if your pet is killed in an accident (but not if it dies of an illness or old age/natural causes).
Overseas cover: some policies can be extended to provide cover if you take your cat overseas.
As well as excluding cats below and above certain stated ages, policies also exclude cover for pre-existing conditions, whether that is an illness or injury. So if you cat develops symptoms of a disease, you cannot buy insurance in the hope of it being covered.
Also excluded from cat insurance policies are routine and elective treatments such as vaccinations, neutering and spaying and pest infestations.
Policies may also exclude dental treatment – or offer this cover on payment of additional premium.
Comparing cat insurance policies
Once you’ve considered all the options available under various cat insurance policies it’s time to shop around to find the cover you want at the best possible price.
MoneySuperMarket’s pet insurance comparison service allows you to do just that, providing you with access to range of policies from leading pet insurance providers. That means you can compare what’s on offer – and how much it will cost you to cover your beloved furry friend – with just a few clicks of your, er… mouse!