There’s no doubt that pets can be expensive. You can pay thousands of pounds for a pedigree dog or cat. You then have to budget for food, kennels, catteries and various pet accessories. And what about vet’s bills?
The typical vet’s bill is now about £300, so it’s perhaps no surprise that pet insurers paid out £452 million in vet’s bills for sick or injured cats and dogs last year – that’s more than £1.2 million every day. Take the four-year-old cat that damaged its eye and fractured its jaw when it was hit by a car. The vet’s bill was £1,800. Or there’s the case of the Mastiff dog that swallowed a snooker ball, resulting in medical costs of more than £1,000.
Many insurers impose a limit on the amount you can claim for a particular illness
The cost of medical treatment for a sick animal varies widely. Dogs are usually more expensive than cats, and you can expect a big bill if you have an exotic pet that falls ill. The type of illness or injury will also affect the vet’s fees, with ongoing chronic conditions (such as arthritis or diabetes) tending to cost much more than a simple infection.
A consultation with a vet is typically about £35. If the vet needs to carry out blood tests to confirm a diagnosis, you could be looking at a bill of between £100 and £130. X-rays are also pricey and could cost as much as £300.
If your animal is injured in a road accident at night or at the weekend, you might have to pay a supplement of up to £150 for emergency treatment – and if it involves an overnight stay at the practice, the bill could run to £500. The average cost of surgery is £1,500 and an ongoing treatment such as chemotherapy could come in at £5,000.
Spread the cost
The latest figures from the Association of British Insurers suggest that one in three pets needs veterinary treatment each year – or you could look at it as saying every pet will need treatment once in three years. This is why pet insurance is so important. Most people would struggle to meet unexpected vet’s bills out of their own pocket, but insurance can help spread the cost and offer a financial lifeline to your pet.
Premiums vary according to the type of policy and the type and age of the pet, but can start from as little as a few pounds each month. In other words, it’s a lot more affordable than emergency surgery after a road accident. Indeed, you’d probably save more than the cost of your premiums simply by making one claim on your policy.
Limits and exclusions
Just make sure you read and digest the details of your policy. Many insurers impose a limit on the amount you can claim for a particular illness. Pet insurance also usually excludes pre-existing conditions and does not cover routine procedures such as vaccinations, neutering and spaying.
Always be honest on your application form as failure to disclose any relevant information could end up in a refusal by the insurer to stump up for a claim. It is also a condition of most pet plans that your pet should be well looked after and up to date with all its vaccinations.
You can compare pet insurance premiums using MoneySupermarket’s free, independent comparison service. It’s quick and easy, saving you time and money.