Pet Insurance. Necessity or luxury?


Friday was certainly an interesting day. As I reported in my previous post Cookie managed to somehow burst some of the staples that were holding her wound together. I'm not sure what was more eye watering though, her opening that up or us opening the letter we received with the bill for her operation.

Ok, it wasn't a shock, we'd had the costs explained before anything was carried out but seeing it there in black and white was certainly very sobering. It's ok though because we're insured, right? Reading through the invoice I came across the paragraph that brings all pet owners out in a cold sweat. 'If your insurance company refuse to settle this account you are liable'. But that will never happen....will it?

Our experience of claiming on pet insurance has been very limited - once in fact but that didn't go too well. Despite having insurance on the dogs for a number of years now we have been very lucky in terms of major issues and anything that has need veterinary attention has been paid by us directly.

The one time we did fall back on our insurance was when Cookie was younger and she developed an issue with her eyes. They were very sore and weepy and after speaking to the vet he diagnosed Entropion and advised a small operation to correct the issue. This is a condition where the eyelid is inverted and the lashes rub against the eyeball causing irritation. It is a generic condition and so not caused by anything we or Cookie had done.

We agree to the procedure and submitted our claim form to our insurance company Animal Friends. To our surprise it was declined and the reason was a little odd. When Cookie was a puppy she had pushed her nose through the baby gate and hurt herself. It was nothing serious but because she was very young we took her to the vet. This was the reason that they refused the claim stating that it was a previous condition. Our vet sent a letter to the insurance company confirming that the minor injury sustained had nothing to do with the condition in Cookie's eyes. Despite this support they refused to pay and we were left with the full bill ourselves.

We cancelled the insurance with that company immediately as we had lost faith in them and felt we couldn't trust them to support the health of our dogs. We researched other companies which is a real minefield, due to the fact that some owners have good experiences others have bad ones. We eventually settled on More Than, but as stated previously we made no claims so it's hard to judge how good or otherwise they would be.

In November our renewal came through and despite no claims our policy had doubled so I looked around for a change. To be honest it wasn't just the cost but I wanted better cover. We had an annual policy of £4000 per condition which I felt might not be enough and wanted a lifetime cover. After lots of reading online I went with the Insurance Emporium (E&L) for a lifetime cover of £8000 and they were very reasonable. Our policy only started on November 2nd so we have had no experience of this company but I guess we will find out very soon how good they are and we will of course keep you updated.

I do have some sympathy for insurance companies as they certainly get slated for rising premiums but when you see the advances in veterinary procedures, that all has to be paid for somewhere. We all sit and marvel at the Supervet programme on TV and years ago I could never have imagined that a cat could get a prosthetic leg or a dog have a replacement hip.

Though this is a popular series for viewers this type of amazing life changing surgery is happening up and down the country at specialist referral centres. We all want the best for our pet, of course we do but as the 'best' keeps getting better then so does the expense. I guess the worry is that those who can't afford the rising premiums get left to settle for second best or face serious hardship, an awful situation for any animal lover. Of course serious hardship could still be heading our way.....I'll let you know.



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