Most dog owners have heard of pet insurance, but what is it all about? What sort of things does it cover? Is it the same for large breed dogs, small breed dogs, and toy breeds? Is there specialist policies for working or pedigree dogs? And is there an age limit on taking out pet insurance for older and senior dogs? Here we look at the basics of insuring your dog and what other considerations you should make when you choose a policy and provider.

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance involves paying a monthly or annual payment to insure your pet against illness or injury. Should your pet become unwell or have an accident then it will cover the vet costs meaning you don’t have to worry about a sudden hefty bill from the vet if the unexpected happens. Of course the types of injury and illness covered, along with the veterinary costs allowed will vary from policy to policy and so must be fully considered before your purchase a policy.

Why do I need pet insurance for my dog?

By having pet insurance for your dog you can help safeguard their health, whatever you personal circumstances may be when your dog becomes ill or is injured. Could you afford a £2000 vet bill if your dog was hit by a car? What impact would it have on you if your dog developed an ongoing illness costing hundreds of pounds per month for medicines and veterinary visits? Pet insurance would mean you could always ensure your dog is able to get the best possible care when they are most in need. Yes, in an ideal world your dog will be perfectly happy and healthy throughout their life, but no one knows what the future may hold. For a relatively small monthly or annual payment you can prevent large vet bills when you least expect them and have the confidence to take your dog to the vet as soon as they become ill without delaying treatment due to the costs involved.

What types of dog insurance are there?

There are three main types of insurance you can get for your dog:

  • 1. A time and value limited policy which covers your dog up to a maximum value and over a maximum time span (usually 12 months) for each medical condition or accident. This is generally the cheapest option as long term illness’ will only be covered for the 12 month period, after this time it will be down to the dog owner to pay the ongoing veterinary costs
  • 2. A medical condition limited policy. This is a policy which covers you up to a maximum value for each specific medical condition your dog develops. This means your cover will continue for a long as it takes to reach the maximum value limit, providing you renew the policy. For Example More Than Pet Insurance covers up to £7000 for each condition for the life of your pet as long as you keep renewing your policy.
  • 3. A reinstatement policy. These policies provide a fixed value of vets fees allowed each year, and will return to this amount every year the policy is renewed. This is the best choice for long term illness’ and permanent conditions but it will cost more than other types of policy.

Percy’s Tips: Are you thinking of buying a puppy? Read our full puppy buying guide!

What does dog insurance cover?

The most important thing dog insurance covers is the veterinary costs if your dog becomes ill or gets injured. This may have a value limit or a time limit for each dog or each condition depending on the type of policy. It may also cover veterinary costs if you are travelling with your dog abroad, although with many policies this is an additional cost. Most dog insurance policies will also cover the purchase price of your dog should it die because of an accidental injury, some will cover the purchase cost of your dog should it die from illness although this is less common.

Some policies will also have third party cover, which will cover any damage or injury done by your dog to another person, or their pet or property. A dog insurance policy may also cover the recovery costs if your dog is lost or stolen including advertising and sometimes rewards offered. It may also cover the cost of kennelling your dog if you became hospitalised or could not look after your dog because of illness. If you have to cut short a holiday because your dog has become ill or been injured some policies will cover the costs involved.

What does dog insurance not cover?

There will be a huge range of different things each insurer excludes from their cover. To start with they may not cover specific dog breeds or dogs over a certain age so this is something you must check before signing up to any policy. Certain medical conditions will also be excluded This will vary between different insurers and policies. Generally, the more medical conditions the policy covers the more it will cost, so you have to balance the risks of your dog developing these conditions with the amount you want to pay for the cover. Congenital and hereditary conditions may not be covered so you should investigate which conditions you breed of dog is susceptible to before hand to check if they are included. Some Insurers will cover hereditary and congenital conditions as long as they have not been discovered before you took out the policy and your dog has had no symptoms previously. Some policies may not cover dental treatment. Most insurers will not cover pre-existing medical conditions your dog has.

All dog insurance policies will have an excess, an amount you must pay towards any treatment. This may be a value excess (for example you may be required to pay the first £50 of any treatment needed), or a percentage excess (so you will need to pay a set percentage of every vet bill). The benefits of a value excess is knowing exactly how much you will have to pay for each treatment, however a percentage excess may work out cheaper depending on the treatment needed.

Dog insurance will not cover the costs of preventative treatments such as worming or flea treatments. However, many will insist on these preventative treatments being given to your dog in order to validate the policy.

Normal dog insurance will not cover working dogs, including those used in racing or guard dogs. These dogs require specialist insurance cover.

Percy’s Tips: Flea problem? Read our full guide to flea treatment and prevention!

Pet Insurance for large breed dogs

Dogs such as German Shepherds and Dobermans have always been popular with dog owners wanting a larger four legged friend. But large breed dogs can come with large vet bills should they become ill. They can be susceptible to conditions such as Hip Dysplasia, Bloat, and CDRM which can cost thousands of pounds to treat. A good insurance policy specially suited to large dogs can help guard against these extra costs… Read our full guide to insuring a large breed dog.

Pet Insurance for small and toy breed dogs

Whilst your trusted little companion may not cost a lot to feed, they have a longer lifespan that their bigger relatives so any medical condition which may develop could go on for many years and cost a lot of money. With an inquisitive nature they could also go missing… Find out more about insuring a small or toy breed dog

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