Like most forms of general insurance, a monthly pet insurance cost can seem like a big waste of money - until you need to make a claim.
In fact, should your pet fall ill, or be injured in an accident, the resulting vet bills could run into thousands of pounds.
Going without could therefore leave you facing the heartbreaking decision not to go ahead with treatment for your beloved dog, cat, horse or rabbit.
Here, we explain what is covered in your pet insurance cost so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to take it out for your furry friends.
What does my pet insurance cost cover?
Pet insurance policies, like those designed to cover cars and homes, vary significantly. However, they will all cover medical expenses if your pet becomes ill or is injured in an accident – up to a point.
Payouts of this kind are typically limited to a certain amount per year - say around £4,000 to £5,000 a year for dogs or £3,000 to £4,000 for cats. Routine treatments, such as vaccinations or neutering, are also generally excluded across the board.
You can, however, generally claim for advertising and recovery costs if your pet goes missing and legal expenses if your pet causes injury to a third party (by running into the road and causing an accident, for example).
Are there different types of pet insurance cover?
There are two main types of pet insurance policy: Lifetime and Annual. Lifetime policies are more expensive. However, the cover they provide is reinstated at the start of each year.
In other words, as long as the policy is renewed every 12 months, you can claim up to the full amount in vet fees year after year, even if the illness involved is recurring or ongoing.
And that could be worth a huge amount if your pet develops a long-term condition such as arthritis.
If, on the other hand, your main concern is protecting against the high initial costs of treatment after an injury or an illness, you could pay a lot less for an annual policy.
These will pay out up to a certain amount, for example £4,000, towards the cost of treatment for an injury or illness, but will not pay out for vets’ bills relating to the same condition after the policy runs out.
As the condition must be listed as pre-existing on renewal – whether or not you stay with the same insurer – you could therefore end up out of pocket in the long run should your pet need longer-term care.
How can I save money on pet insurance?
As mentioned above, you can have a much lower pet insurance cost if you opt for an annual, rather than a lifetime, policy (although the cover you receive is less comprehensive).
Either way, the best way to ensure you do not pay over the odds is to compare pet insurance policies available from both specialist providers such as Petplan and general insurers such as Tesco Bank.