How to find cheap pet insurance
By Simon Miller
How to find cheap pet insurance
Vet bills can be eye-watering - it routinely costs more than £2,000 for a dog’s knee operation. But how much cover do you need?
Here are 10 tips from our experts to help you get the right policy at the right price.
1. Do your homework
Pet insurance can be a complicated product so do your research. We’ve analysed more than 70 cat and dog insurance policies so you can find the perfect cover.
In addition, thousands of customers have rated their pet insurer on customer service. Which? members can log in to read our reviews, or you can sign up for a £1 trial to Which? to see exactly what you need to know about pet insurance. You could then search via comparison sites for pet insurance quotes or go direct to the best insurers.
2. Don’t get more cover than you need
Different policies can have very different levels of cover. Don’t automatically opt for the most expensive.
As a starting point we recommend the following cover levels
- Non-pedigree dog - at least £4,000 annual cover
- Pedigree dog – at least £7,000 of annual cover
- Cats – at least £3,000 of annual cover
Once you've carried out your own research on your pet you can then decide exactly what you need.
3. Different breeds have different needs
Not all cats and dogs are born equal. Certain breeds are prone to particular injuries and are more expensive to insure. For example, Labrador retrievers can be prone to cruciate ligament problems and dachshunds to back problems, both of which can set you back thousands of pounds in treatment costs.
On the whole, cats tend to be in better health than their canine counterparts, so it's reasonable to consider a lower level of cover, although they can still be prone to chronic conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, later in life.
As well as doing the research, speak to your vet about common conditions or hereditary problems. Your vet should be able to estimate how much insurance you should get for your pet.
4. Make sure you are up to date on your jabs
If you really want to save money, keep your pet as healthy as possible by getting the appropriate inoculations and injections, including boosters. This could make all the difference, because if your pet falls ill and you need to claim, premiums could rise sharply in subsequent years.
5. Buy insurance when your pet is healthy
It might seem counter intuitive but it's much better to buy cover when your pets are in good health. This is because pre-existing conditions are usually excluded from new policies. So, if you buy cover before your pet falls ill you’re maximising the number of illnesses your pet will be covered for.
6. Get your pet micro-chipped
Some insurers offer a discount if your pet is micro-chipped so be sure to ask when you’re getting quotes. Your vet will be able to provide details on how to get it done and how much it would cost.
7. Check out multi-pet policies
If you are more of an animal lover than most and you have a lot of pets, it’s worth seeing if you can get a discount by insuring all of them with the same provider. A number of insurers on the market will offer you a discount – sometimes up to 10% - so check a multi-pet policy to see if you can cut your costs even further.
8. Consider the best way to pay
Monthly payments may seem convenient, but a monthly plan is essentially a high-interest loan and can add significantly to your costs. You might be able to save a significant amount if you pay annually. In addition, some insurers will give you a discount if you buy cover online.
9. Read the policy details
Always check the policy carefully as the cheapest cover may not be the best. The most basic pet insurance may cost less, but they put a time limit on the claim – usually 12 months – as well as a monetary one. Once the 12 months are up, that particular condition is excluded from the policy.
10. Talk to the specialists, especially if you have exotic pets
While cats and dogs are the most popular pets, many animal lovers have snakes, spiders and lizards. More exotic pets, and animals with vastly different needs such as horses, birds and rabbits, may to be adequately covered under traditional policies. Speak to the specialists, such as Exotic Direct, to find the cover you need and, if you are still struggling, use the British Insurance Broker’s Association find a broker service for further help.