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Pet insurance payouts hit record high

Find out why pet owners are claiming more

Pet insurance claims have reached a record high of £2m per day, according to new data from the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The figures revealed a 10% year on year increase in the amount paid out to pet owners.

Despite the rising cost of treating pets, however, millions of pet owners are choosing not to take out pet insurance.

Find out why the cost of claims are rising and what you can do to keep your pet insurance premium down.


Why are pet insurance claims so high?

An increase in the popularity of pet ownership and a rise in the cost of vet bills is believed to have caused the spike in the amount of pet insurance claims paid out.

In the UK, 3.7m households now have pet insurance, up 11% from 2016.

The majority of households, however, still choose to leave their pets uninsured, with an estimated 8.2 million pet owners without pet cover.

It’s estimated that 12.4m cats and dogs are still uninsured, meaning that their owners are liable to pay for any treatments they may need.

How much does pet insurance cost?

The cost of pet insurance varies significantly between pets due to factors such as their age, breed and whether they’ve experienced any illnesses before.

According to the ABI, the average pet insurance premium for dogs is now £342 per year and £171 per year for cats.

Depending on your level of pet insurance cover, your policy could help you pay for unexpectedly high vet bills.

For example if your dog suffers from seizures, treatments could run as high as £30,000.

Similarly with cats, treatment for irritable bowel disease could cost you £9,000.

What are the alternatives to pet insurance?

Before buying a pet for yourself or someone else, it’s important to think about the cost of protecting the animal across it’s lifetime and ensuring it gets the best possible care.

There are a couple of alternatives to pet insurance that could still offer protection for your pet.

These include:

Self-insurance

Self-insuring your pet requires you to save a pot of money to pay for any potential vet bills.

With self-insurance, it’s really important to think about how much you can realistically afford to set aside, and what the potential costs could be.

The benefit of this approach is that, if your pet doesn’t need treatment during its lifetime or you have an unforeseen emergency, you still have the savings pot.

But if your vet bills happen to become significantly more than you initially saved, there is no way of boosting your savings.

For example hip dysplasia – where your pet needs both hips replaced – could cost around £7,000.

Charities

If you can’t afford traditional pet insurance or self-insuring your pet, the following groups offer free treatments:

  • The Blue Cross
  • The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA)
  • The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)
  • The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA)
  • The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA)

Financial support from these charities is means-tested and mainly helps people who are retired, on low income or receive certain state benefits.

Finding the best pet insurance

Our pets play such a big role in out lives, so should you choose to take out pet insurance, make sure you select the right level of cover.

Before you sign up, shop around to find the best pet insurance policy. The cheapest deal won’t always be the most suitable and could leave you without cover for treatments that your pet really needs.

Some breeds may be more vulnerable to hereditary problems than others.

Speaking to a vet about common conditions for your pet can help you get a better estimate of the level of pet insurance you need.

You could also reduce the cost of your policy by doing things like mirco-chipping your pet, making sure their jabs are up to date and paying annually for pet insurance (if you can afford to).

To help you find the best pet insurance, Which? has analysed over 70 cat insurance and dog insurance policies, and thousands of pet insurance policyholders have rated the customer service of the biggest insurers.

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