The lowdown on premiums, the types of cover available and what affects the price
One of the first decisions a new dog owner will have to take is whether to buy pet insurance.
The good news is that it is possible to pick up a policy offering a decent amount of cover for a puppy from as little as £10 a month – although there are many people paying much more than that. And cover can become a lot more pricey as dogs get older.
Pet insurance is primarily designed to cover the cost of vet fees for the treatment of illness and injury. Other policy benefits can include cover for loss and theft (some will pay towards the cost of advertising or meet the cost of a reward), payouts for death by accident or illness and paying for things such as looking after your animal if you have to go into hospital.
The average pet insurance payout last year was £822, according to the industry body the Association of British Insurers (ABI), and it is fair to say that claims can sometimes run into the thousands.
That said, some people will decide not to bother with insurance – they will be happy to take their chances. Or they will opt to “self-insure” by putting money aside to pay for potential vet bills.
How much is it?
According to the ABI, the average premium last year was £271, which is about £22.60 a month. Moneysupermarket.com says that for a dog younger than five years, you should expect to pay about £225 a year (£18.75 a month).
What affects the price?
As well as the age of your pet there are a range of other factors that determine the price of cover. The cost can vary hugely depending on the breed: the average yearly premium for a yorkshire terrier is £185, while for a German shepherd it is £289 and for a boxer it is £443, according to the comparison site Comparethemarket. Where you live is also important as variations in vet costs across the country are reflected in the price of premiums. The excess you are willing to pay – that is, the contribution towards each claim you make – will also have an impact.
Trying to find the best policy for your needs can be daunting – there are hundreds of policies out there, with big differences in what they offer. Many providers offer several levels of cover – what you choose will also affect the price you pay.
The four main types of policy
• Lifetime insurance is the most comprehensive – and the most expensive. It is designed to pay for any chronic or recurring condition during the pet’s lifetime – up to a set cost limit, as long as you keep renewing.
• Per condition (also known as maximum benefit) cover allocates a fixed sum to treat each illness or injury.
• Time-limited policies provide cover for a specific time, usually 12 months, to cover accidents or short-term illnesses.