Why dog insurance is important
Dogs can be great pets, but to many of us they're more than that. They can be our friends, our protectors, confidants or even guides. It's no wonder we call them man's best friend. When they fall into ill-health it can be as upsetting as if they were a human friend or relative.
If a serious accident or illness strikes, we're often left to choose either our pet's life or the burden of huge veterinary bills. But if you've ever owned a dog, you'll know it's rarely a matter of choice, we simply have to find the money to pay for their treatment.
Given the often inquisitive and frequently mischievous nature of dogs, it's not uncommon for them to get injured - and with treatment for, say, a broken leg costing as much as £1,200, it can be a lot of money to find at short notice.
Even if you always keep a close eye on your canine companion, some breeds are susceptible and even predisposed to medical conditions which can be debilitating. For example, many breeds such as German shepherds, basset hounds and cocker spaniels are susceptible to heart problems.
So whether you've got a beloved beagle or a treasured terrier, dog insurance could make a particularly distressing time that little bit more bearable by removing the financial burden. This guide will show you some of the things to look out for when shopping for cover, as well as some tips for sniffing out cheap pet insurance for dogs.
Types of dog insurance policies
'Annual catch-all limit' covers up to a maximum amount of money for any number of illnesses or conditions in one year. For instance, if your dog contracted two different illnesses and the policy covered you for up to £5,000 'catch-all' per year, each illness would qualify for £2,500 for that year.
'Per condition per year limit', on the other hand, covers each illness your dog gets up to a certain amount. For example, if you had a £2,000 annual cover limit, you would only need to pay the excess and the insurance provider would cover the rest of the costs up to the cover limit of £2,000 - for the rest of the dog's life.
'Lifetime limit' pays an overall amount for each condition. For example, if the overall amount was £30,000 then this is the maximum amount you could claim for a single condition for the rest of the dog's life.
If you were to reach this limit before the end of your dog's life, you'd have to start paying for the treatment yourself.
Dog insurance exclusions
As well as looking at what your policy does cover you for, you should look at what it excludes. General exclusions include things like:
- Any medication or treatment not recommended by a vet.
- Any animal which should be registered under the UK government's Dangerous Dogs Act 1991/97, such as a pit bull terrier.
- Puppies under eight weeks old.
- Breeding or pregnancy-related conditions.
- Court-ordered destruction.
- Worming, flea control and castration.
- Pre-existing conditions.
These are just some of the typical exclusions you might find in a dog insurance policy, but the list is by no means comprehensive. You should read the policy wording very carefully before you sign up with an insurer so that you know exactly what cover you'll be getting.
Compare dog insurance
It's important to shop around and get both cheap dog insurance and the appropriate level of cover, as you don't want to pay for more cover than you need to, but you also don't want to leave your dog under-insured.
Just as with your car or home insurance, the probability of you making a claim is directly linked to how much you'll pay in premiums.
An expensive and powerful car is more expensive to insure because it carries greater risk of being stolen or involved in an accident - resulting in a pay-out. Similarly, an older dog would cost more to insure as it would be more prone to medical conditions than a puppy. And, just as a Ferrari would be more expensive to insure than a Corsa, it costs more to insure a pedigree dog than a mongrel.
If your dog is older it is especially important to shop around for your dog insurance quotes and to check the policy wording very carefully as some policies will ask you to contribute a percentage of any treatment costs once your dog reaches a certain age.
Don't forget about excess fees either, as the amount you're expected to pay up front to get a claim started will vary from one policy to the next. The higher the excess you agree to pay, the lower your premiums should be.
You can look for dog insurance providers on our pet insurance channel. It's free, quick and simple to use, meaning you could get your precious pooch covered in minutes.
For more information about pet insurance policies, read our pet insurance guide.