Cheap exotic pets
The aim of pet insurance is to cover the cost of the unforeseen, such as illness and injury, and without it you will be faced with the horrible choice between finding the medical fees or putting down a cherished pet.
Even if you've got the cash stashed away, in many cases insurance can work out cheaper (in the event that you actually need to claim). So before you buy, here are 10 things you should know.
"Why should I get pet insurance for Rover? I might not even use it?" you may ask. But the whole point of pet insurance is to cover you for the unforeseen ie, unpredictable events that may (or may not) occur. You need to accept that, and as it's impossible to predict the future, all you can do is to give it your best shot. To sum up...
Insurance is about making unpredictable events predictable in case the unpredictable happens.
Vets' fees are already expensive and rising year by year, making the cost of pet ownership potentially huge. If you're lucky, you won't have faced fees for out-of-the ordinary treatments, so here are some examples of what you could be looking at:
What does pet insurance usually cover?
- Broken bones/ injuries from accidents
- Many illnesses, from cancer to asthma, skin infections to bone diseases and arthritis
- Possibly the cost of overseas emergency vet treatment on a foreign trip or holiday
- The cost of advertising and a reward if you fall victim to dog/cat-napping
What does pet insurance usually exclude?
- Routine injections - flu, tetanus, parvovirus, annual boosters. Plus check-ups
- Worming treatments
- Anti-flea medications
- Whelping costs
Accidental damage - am I covered?
Cats clawing your furniture to death are a fact of life! Dogs are also partial to an expensive bit of chewing - carpets, shoes, you name it - but finding an insurer to provide this cover is difficult.
For instance, Saga's Super Cover Pet policy states "accidental damage caused by your pet to personal property that you and/or your family own" is provided. But it also says "damage caused by biting, scratching, fouling or urinating" is excluded - so most things they'd do aren't covered!
However, you may already be covered for accidental damage on your home contents policy, so give your provider a quick call to check.
Is self-insurance worth it?
Self-insurance is where, instead of paying premiums, you regularly put money into a pet fund. So if your moggie or doggie gets poorly, there's money to pay for it.
To earn some interest, put money in an easy access savings account each month to pay for any potential pet emergency. Of course, if there are no problems, you get to keep the cash. However, there are two big dangers to consider:
- The problem strikes before you've built up cash: Self-insurance relies on having enough cash to hand when the vet needs paying so expensive treatment could mean you either go into debt or face the sad choice of putting the pet down. Another option is to go for a policy with a high excess then save to cover anything that costs less than that.
- You get sued: Dogs aren't covered for public liability without insurance, so if Fido causes a car accident, and the drivers sue, you'll be liable for the cost. This may be covered on your home insurance but quadruple check this before taking the risk. Cats are considered 'free spirits' by law courts and so, as an owner, you're not legally responsible for their actions.
Consider 'third-party only' cover
- A halfway house for dog owners is to become a member of The Dogs Trust. The charity offers third-party only cover among its perks for a 25/year membership fee (it's 750 for a life membership), or 12.50 if you're over 60. Anybody over the age of 18 can become a member.
This covers you up to 1 million for any damage or injury caused to other people, their property or pets by ALL the dogs you own (though if you own a 'dangerous dog', it's very likely to be excluded).
Bear in mind 1m is a low amount compared to most cover levels for personal liability - if people sue for loss of earnings, the amounts can snowball fast.
You MAY be able to get free vet treatment
The charity provides free veterinary services for sick or injured animals if you receive means-tested support with your council tax, or housing benefits. Visit the PDSA site to see if you're eligible.
How can I find my nearest centre?
The PDSA has centres across the UK, so even if you're in a far-flung corner you still may be able to get help.
Are all pets covered?
Most popular pets cats, dogs and other small furries are treated but only one pedigree pet per household will be treated. If you can afford to make a donation to the PDSA, then you should, as it relies on the kindness of the public to keep going.
If you require more than just veterinary treatment, you may still need cover, such as in case your dog causes a mishap.
Discounts for multiple cats and dogs
If you have cats, dogs or a combination of both there are two comparison sites that allow you to add multiple pets to one policy and add any multi-pet discounts from the providers on its site onto your premium.
Remember, you aren't guaranteed the cheapest premium using these sites but it will help to make life easier.
Also try Direct Line* and Aviva*, which also offer multi-pet discounts but do not appear on comparison sites.
Always get a quotation per pet, as a separate policy. Once you have the premiums, combine the premium, making sure the cover is what you want, and see how it compares for all your pets against a multi-pet policy.
Rabbits, budgies, guinea pigs, chinchillas...
There are no comparison sites for all of these pets, so it's a question of elbow grease and getting the quotes yourself. We've listed a number of experiences with them or other insurers.
While it's not a pleasant thought, given the type and cost of the animals in this category, it's worth considering in the cold light of day what your attitude would be if it became ill, no insurance was in place and you had to make a decision about putting the animal down. One alternative here is .
This is why you need to carefully consider the costs involved in ensuring a pet's welfare before taking one on.
There are over 600, 000 horses and ponies in the UK, and given the initial cost and length of their life, insurance is definitely worth considering.
By becoming a Gold member of The British Horse Society, you will automatically be covered for up to 20m of public liability cover and various levels of personal accident cover.
If it's more than public liability you want, SEIB is an option as it offers quotations for horses, ponies, trailers, horseboxes, tack and riding clubs.
As its logo suggests, Animal Friends* is another insurer focused on pet insurance, and offers cover that can be tailored to different circumstances. They also have a good comparison table of its products.
Leisure Guard horse insurance offers public liability of 1.25m and vet's fees up to a maximum of 5, 750 per incident. There is a 20% online discount and an additional 5% off for insuring more than one horse.
After we published the first incarnation of this guide, we asked for your feedback on insurers. NFU Mutual inspired many MoneySavers to report good stories - it covers horses (including 'veterans') and is worth a check.Insurance.
Snakes, pot-bellied pigs, tarantulas: exotic pets
From skunks to sugar gliders and possums to pot-bellied pigs, you'll need to try a specialist operator - in particular, to protect against burglars targeting rare or valuable creatures.