Pet Insurance – Is your pet covered?
A new pet is an exciting time, and one of the first things many new owners should be doing is to register with a veterinary Practice. This is a great opportunity to introduce their new addition to the family and to allow for an initial health check to be carried out. However, how many new pet owners consider taking out pet insurance and what can Practices do to encourage this practice?
Why have it?
According to Direct Line, in 2017, the average claim for veterinary treatment was £757, an increase of £29 from the previous year. The rising cost of medicines, new treatments and advances in surgical knowledge has meant more treatments are available, and more conditions can, therefore, be treated. The knock-on effect is a general rising trend in average costs.
Yet many owners think twice about taking policies out. Their argument often is that pet insurance doesn’t cover all conditions and can be expensive, and their pet may not even need to use it. This, of course, is true, but often pet owners have little idea as to the cost of various treatments for a range of common issues. This is where Practices should be open in discussing the types of conditions that are more likely to arise and the cost of them. Often, pet owners will be unpleasantly surprised as to the cost of treating problems such as tumours, cysts, wounds or musculoskeletal problems. In some cases, the cost of unexpected veterinary costs can leave the owner with no funds to finance treatment and this, in turn, can lead to a pet being euthanised – a distressing situation for pet, owner and vet! By having an open conversation about potential health issues and associated costs, owners will be better informed as to whether to choose insurance or whether to opt for their own savings plan. At the very least, it will make them aware they do need to have a contingency plan!
When discussing pet insurance with owners, it’s worth pointing out that most policies won’t cover regular costs such as worm and flea treatments and annual vaccinations. However, there are budgeting schemes available that allow pet owners to split these costs into a smaller, regular monthly payment. Such schemes usually include a yearly health check and offer discounts against specialist foods and some other treatments and overall, tend to work out as a saving over paying out annually.
The cost is likely to increase
The cost of veterinary medicine is only likely to increase, so encouraging pet owners to investigate their insurance options is not only going to make it more likely that they will seek medical attention for their pet when it’s required, but also that the treatment will be affordable for them. Insuring a pet while it’s still young and before any injuries or on-going conditions arise is highly advisable – pre-existing conditions are rarely incorporated into insurance policies after the diagnosis! Taking the average cost of treatment for last year at £757 and breaking it down into a 12-month period, that works out at a little over £63 per month. Pet insurance typically starts considerably cheaper! Put that way, and in light of the alternatives, insurance is a no-brainer!
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