Which? research reveals the problem of rising pet insurance premiums, an expensive policy clause to watch out for and our latest customer satisfaction results.
Last month, we reported on AXA pet insurance customers who had been left with hefty premium increases, following the company’s exit from the market. Yet, these aren’t the only customers likely to experience hefty rises in premiums.
Our latest research shows many premiums can become prohibitively expensive as your beloved pet ages. We surveyed 1,675 Which? members with pet insurance and found the average premium increase for a lifetime policy for dogs, from ages five to seven up to 13-plus years, was 52%. For cats, it was 147%.
Our survey showed that by the time a dog is aged over 12, the average annual premium paid by Which? members is £544 for a lifetime policy. For cats at the same age, it’s £334.
Find out more: Pet insurance – learn what your policy should cover
Paying towards a claim
On top of rising premiums, we discovered that many pet insurance policies require customers to pay a contribution towards treatment costs on top of any excess.
Some insurers applied this clause to pets as young as three. Just under a fifth (18%) of insurance policies we were offered for a three-month old female Golden Retriever based in London required a 10% contribution towards treatment costs. For a three-month old kitten based in London, the proportion of policies requiring a 10% contribution was lower, at just over one in ten (13%).
This proportion increased to two in three for a Golden Retriever at nine years old and 39% for a cat of the same age. The amount of money expected to be paid towards a claim also increased to 20% for many policies.
Pet insurers rated for customer satisfaction
We’ve aggregated customer scores for 11 leading pet insurance brands, rated by Which? members.
John Lewis and Animal Friends received the highest customers scores of 63% and 62% respectively, while market leader Petplan came in third with 59%.
At the other end of the table, E&L received the lowest customer score in our survey with 44%.
|Pet insurance customer satisfaction|
|Customer service||Value for money||Transparency of charges and penalties||Customer score|
|John Lewis (136)||63%|
|Animal Friends (125)||62%|
|Tesco Bank (162)||54%|
|M&S Bank (76)||50%|
|The Kennel Club (37)||49%|
|Direct Line (84)||48%|
|Sainsbury’s Bank (82)||48%|
Customer satisfaction scores: We spoke to 3,158 respondents from the Which? Connect panel about their pets in November 2014. Of these 1,675 had pet insurance policies and rated their providers. Only companies with a minimum sample size of 30 included in the results. Where a ‘-‘ is shown we have insufficient sample size for that rating.
Editor of Which? Money, Gareth Shaw said:
‘High veterinary bills can be crippling for some people and many animal lovers think pet insurance can be cost effective. But we have found premiums can give policy holders an unwelcome shock as their pet matures.
‘We’d like insurers to communicate more about the factors that drive up policy costs and last year’s premium alongside the renewal quote, explaining any differences. We’d also like to see insurers doing more to explain how costs are likely to increase over the age of a pet.’
You can support our campaign to stop sneaky fees and charges by signing our online petition.