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What to Expect -
What to Expect -
What to Expect -
What to Expect -
What to Expect -
dogs and cats
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Why do pets need health insurance?
Veterinary medicine has progressed greatly in recent years, and these days most of the investigative procedures and treatment options available for humans are also available for pets. Whilst it is reassuring to know that modern equipment, highly trained staff, advanced treatment and complex surgical procedures are available for our pets, it is undoubtedly the case that the costs of sophisticated diagnostic tests, medication and surgery can soon mount up, especially if referral to a specialist centre proves necessary.
We all hope that our pets will only have to go to the vet for vaccinations and other preventative health care measures, but accidents do happen and unfortunately both sudden and long-term diseases can affect our pets. When such circumstances arise it is always stressful, and the last thing anyone wants to worry about in this situation is the cost of treatment.
A pet health insurance policy which has been carefully chosen to give levels of cover appropriate to your pet and your needs will give you peace of mind, allowing you to concentrate on looking after your pet should the need for veterinary care unfortunately arise.
What is covered?
Pet insurance covers the costs of treatment of a non-preventative nature, whether for something fairly routine such as an upset tummy or something potentially more serious such as a broken leg or the development of sugar diabetes.
The policy holder has to pay an initial excess for each condition claimed for, and the amount of this excess can vary widely between different policies. Some, but not all, policies will give additional cover for the cost of special diet foods or supplementary treatments such as hydrotherapy.
Many policies offer additional extras – one which is certainly worth considering is third party liability insurance. This offers legal protection should your pet cause an accident or an injury to another person.
What is not covered?
Preventative health care measures such as vaccination, worming, flea control, neutering and routine dental care are not covered by pet health insurance. Most policies will not cover necessary dental treatment either – this is also common in human private health insurance policies, which usually exclude dental treatment.
Many pet insurance policies only cover vaccinated pets. In such cases, if a pet whose vaccinations have lapsed develops one of the diseases which are prevented by vaccination (e.g. parvovirus or distemper), the policy will not pay out for treatment which could otherwise be life-saving – this is one of many good reasons for keeping your pet’s vaccinations up to date.
How do I make a claim?
Your pet health insurance policy is an arrangement between you and your insurance company. In the event of a claim, we will ask you to settle your bill as normal, and you will need to contact your insurance company to obtain a claim form. After filling in your part of the claim form you should send or hand in the partially completed form to the practice – we will then complete the rest of the form and forward it to the insurance company. Most insurers will quickly organise reimbursement of your outgoings, minus any excess.
Should your pet need very involved or long-term treatment which is likely to prove expensive, it is advisable for you to contact the insurance company first to discuss the issue with them. In certain circumstances it may be possible for a direct claim to be made to the insurers on your behalf by the practice. You will be asked to pay any excess to the practice at the time of the first invoice being raised.
Making a direct claim in this way may involve a delay in treatment, as a so-called ‘pre-authorisation form’ is first sent to the practice by the insurers in order to clarify what needs to be done and what the costs are likely to be. Direct claims can only be made after prior discussion and arrangement with the practice and a modest administration fee will be charged for making a claim in this way.
Which is the best pet health insurance policy?
Many companies offer pet health insurance, and policies can differ widely. It is very important that you read the ‘small print’ as this can make a significant difference to what can be claimed for. When purchasing an insurance policy you should look at a number of points, including the level of cover provided, at what point the cover starts after the policy is purchased (and this may vary depending on the type of condition), the amount of excess to pay per claim and what is excluded from the cover. You should establish what you can afford and what level of cover you would ideally like. Be aware of the fact that some companies will only provide cover for any one condition for only one year. This may provide sufficient cover in the event of an accident for example, but if your pet develops the need for lifelong treatment (for conditions such as sugar diabetes or osteoarthritis, for example) you would then have to meet the costs yourself after the first year. This unfortunate scenario can be prevented by choosing a policy that provides lifelong cover for any given condition. In addition, some companies will provide a certain total amount of cover for all the illnesses being treated in any one year, whereas others may provide a similar amount of cover for each and every condition being treated in the same year. This can make a substantial difference in the event that your pet is unfortunate enough to have more than one condition at any given time.
It is therefore worthwhile shopping around and comparing various companies and policies. The best policy for you will be one that you can afford but which hopefully includes everything you need for your pet. It is important to understand that some cheaper policies may well not provide the same levels of cover over the same periods of time as those which may be a little more expensive. The worst time to find out that your insurance cover is insufficient for your pet’s needs is when a serious health problem has already arisen.