Discover what a lifetime policy is and whether it's the right policy for your pet
When choosing insurance for your pet it's important to understand what the policy includes and whether it's right for your pet and budget. Lifetime pet insurance is suited to pet owners who want long-term coverage for their pet's ongoing needs. Our guide explains all you need to know.
If you are looking for a policy that will cover your pet for accidents, injuries and any medical conditions that come up during his lifetime, then a lifetime policy is the type of policy for you.
Buying the policy as early in your pet's life as possible can ensure that any ups and downs that happen along the way will be covered by your policy rather than excluded as a pre-existing condition.
Read this guide to discover what a lifetime policy offers and if it’s right for you and your pet.
What is a lifetime insurance policy?
Lifetime policies offer the highest level of coverage for your pet. It is often seen as a premium option of insurance cover as is designed to cover your pet year after year regardless of any conditions your pet may develop throughout its lifetime.
Lifetime policies will usually cover both accidents and illnesses and the amount of money you use on claims each year resets every time you renew your policy.
How does lifetime insurance work?
You can choose to pay your premiums either monthly or annually as long as you don’t cancel your policy or let it lapse at renewal.
You can claim for any vet bills (health treatments that are included in your policy) that incur while your pet is insured. It is unlikely that a lifetime pet insurance policy will cover pre-existing conditions, but if your pet develops any health conditions while you are covered with a lifetime policy, that condition will be covered with an annual claim limit. Even if the condition reappears later in your pet’s life, a lifetime policy will cover it until the monetary limit has been reached.
Each year when you need to renew your policy, as your pet gets older is it likely that your premiums will also increase. Your policy will not automatically roll over, you will have to ensure that your premiums are paid so your policy does not lapse.
Veterinary fees for treatment up to a certain amount, depending on the policy you choose. Your claim limit will reset each year and previously claimed conditions will still be covered
Liability for damage caused by your pet to other people or their property
Routine dental cover is not usually covered however any dental issues related to an illness or injury will be covered by your policy
Your policy will cover boarding costs for your pet if you become ill* (*under certain circumstances)
Lost or stolen pets
Your insurance will often help cover the advertising costs to help find your lost or stolen pet
Should the worst happen to your pet, your lifetime insurance policy can cover the cost of your pet being painlessly put to sleep
Is there a limit to what’s covered?
As with all pet insurance policies, there are certain exclusions to lifetime plans. There may, for example, be age limits and some policies also exclude hereditary conditions.
The following are common limits to what your insurance will cover:
Many insurers state that your pet must be at least eight weeks old before you can start a policy. And many cats and dogs are classed as older pets once they reach the age of eight years. If you are insuring an older pet, make sure you check age-related exclusions carefully when comparing pet insurance.
Annual limits per condition
If your lifetime cover sets an annual limit per condition, and your dog developed arthritis, for example, the maximum you could claim for medical treatment for the disease in any one year would be £7,000.
In other words, if the vet’s bills one year came to £6,500 you would be covered by the policy. But if the bill for the year came in at £8,000, you would have to pay £1,000 out of your own pocket.
At the end of the year, assuming you renewed the cover, the dog would continue to be insured for arthritis, with the limit on what you could claim being reset to £7,000.
This can be a big advantage of lifetime policies as treatment can continue across the policy years, rather than stopping as it would at the end of a single, 12-month policy.
The limit also applies to ‘each condition’. So, if your pet was unfortunate enough to contract both arthritis and diabetes in the same year, you could claim up to £7,000 (in this example) for the treatment of each condition.
Per condition limit
The second type of lifetime policy sets a lifetime limit for each condition. If the lifetime limit is £50,000, you would be able to claim up to £50,000 for each condition over your pet’s lifespan or unless you choose not to renew the policy.
So, if we use the arthritic dog example and assume the animal was treated for arthritis for 10 years and the total cost came to £45,000, the policy will pay-out. But if the bill totalled £53,000, the owner would have to find the additional £3,000.
What does a lifetime pet insurance policy cost?
The following factors can affect the cost of your premiums:
The age of your pet
Any pre-existing health conditions your pet has
The breed of your pet
Your pet's current health
Excess and co-payment amount
How does lifetime pet insurance differ from other policy types?
Unlike other pet insurance policies, your lifetime policy will continue throughout your pet’s life and will continue to provide cover even when your pet develops any health conditions as long as they were not existing before you took the policy out. You will have a set amount to claim per year however, the policy will continue to cover any conditions, accidents or injuries that occur while you are covered.
Covers developing conditions
Covers pre-existing conditions
Can you switch a lifetime policy?
It is often the case that premiums rise at renewal, and this can be explained by several factors. Sometimes this may be due to pets ageing or because of previous claims being made.
If you’re not happy with your renewal price or are considering changing your policy for another reason, it is important to be aware of a few things.
If your pet has had medical treatment in the past, with any new policy you take out, that condition will be categorised as a pre-existing condition and will make finding a new insurance policy slightly more expensive.
You should also be aware that when you start a new policy there is an initial time period when you cannot claim. Even once your policy has begun, for most policies, you will not be able to claim for accidents within the first 48 hours of your policy or illnesses within the first 14 days or sometimes longer.
You can cancel and switch insurance provider any time you like but be aware that if you intend to cancel one lifetime policy and buy another policy, any condition you previously claim for may not be covered by a new policy.
Should I get lifetime pet insurance?
While there are several considerations to choose from when picking the best type of pet insurance for you and your pet, most pet owners tend to opt for a lifetime policy as it offers the most comprehensive cover. While this type of policy is the most expensive, it is likely to cover any illnesses or injuries that your pet has in their lifetime and will continue to cover them regardless of any conditions they may develop as they age.
What are the alternatives?
Time-limited pet insurance
A time-limited policy offers a fixed sum for each illness or injury your pet gets however, this is a more affordable cover option as there is a limit as to how much and how long you can claim.
This kind of policy is less comprehensive and generally does not cover pre-existing conditions. You may also struggle to get time-limited cover as your pet gets older.
Maximum benefit pet cover
A max benefit policy will cover your pet cat or dog for each illness or injury up to a specified, pre-set amount. Unlike a time-limited policy, you have no time restraints on how long you can claim for a condition, you only have a claim limit, after which you will have to pay the remainder of any fees by yourself.
If your pet has a pre-existing condition before you take out your max benefit policy, that condition will not be covered.
Accident only pet insurance
Accident only is the least comprehensive type of pet insurance cover you can get, but it is also the cheapest. This policy will only cover any accidents that your pet gets involved in. It will not cover for any illnesses.
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