Pet insurance: Optional or essential?

Pet insurance is one of those products that many animal owners never get around to buying. But with a broken leg costing as much as £1,200 to put right, we’ve taken a look at just how important protecting your pet can be...

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Millions of us are pet owners and consider our cats, dogs or more exotic beasties part of our family, and when they are ill we want to know that they are going to be taken care of and that price isn’t going to be a factor.

That’s why I have come to the Capricorn Animal Rescue centre in Mold, North Wales, to find out just how important pet insurance can be.

Felicity King-Evans: You look after lots of different animal here, what kind of vet bills have you had to pay recently?

Sheila Stewart: Last months veterinary bills were £2,639.

FKE: Do you ever have people leave their animals here simply because they can’t afford their vet bills?

SS: We have had animals abandoned in a very bad way, which you feel sure it’s because they can’t afford the vets bills, or by the state of the animal they have left it so long they are too ashamed to take it into the vet and we have had them in here.

FKE: And would you advise anyone re-homing an animal from your rescue to take out pet insurance?

SS: We advise everybody who takes an animal from us to take out pet insurance. It’s the unexpected you can’t allow for and if you are covered by insurance it’s the unexpected that you are covered for. Also, it’s a false economy not to be insured because it’s alright saying it’s a young animal, nothing will happen, it does happen.

Vets can offer such a great service these days, they have got so much more equipment, so much more knowledge, so much more medical treatment that can be given where as a few years back they would have said “I’m sorry, it will have to be put down” but now they can work through these things but there is a cost and if you are insured, you’re fine.

FKE: Insuring a young dog like Rocky here can cost as little as £60 a year, but an older dog like 10 year old Sasha can be as much as £20 a month.

But of course it’s not just cost pet owners need to worry about, it’s about getting the right cover at the best price.

And of course the same goes for cats. Insurance for a young cat can start from around £40 a year but you’ll end up paying around £10 a month for an older cat. Once again though, it’s the cover that matters, not saving a few quid.

Clare Francis: As far as I’m concerned pet insurance is definitely something I’d never be without, its well worth paying.

I’ve got a cat – and we did have two cats – and white tip, who, unfortunately is not longer with us. She was asthmatic so needed regular on going veterinary treatment which we needed to claim on and also in the last two weeks of her life she developed Leukaemia and we spent £1600 on veterinary treatment. Fortunately, because of the pet insurance, we were able to claim it back so it really is valuable.

Queenie, who is our cat at the moment, she – touch wood – has never been ill as such, but she’s just one of these cats that always gets into mischief and into trouble, and so we are quite regularly off to the vets with various things wrong with her like a broken tail, things like that, so again we have had to make claims on her pet insurance.

So, its money well spent for me and I definitely see it as an essential rather then an optional cover to have.

FKE: No matter how exotic your pet there is an insurance policy out there for you, but you might have to go through a specialist provider.

As with so many insurance policies, it’s not about finding the cheapest deal - it’s about finding the right cover for your animal at the best price possible. It’s worth taking out insurance as soon as you bring an animal into your home, that way you only ever have to worry about your pet and not your pocket.

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