Specialists' Guide to Pet Insurance

Our pets are the family members we get to choose. We care about, feed and play with them so when something goes wrong with their health, we want to help them as soon as possible. With a pet insurance policy you will be able to cover the extra expenses if you are not prepared financially in case of an accident.

Pet insurance levels of cover

There are mainly 3 levels of pet insurance:

1. Basic pet cover -- this type of insurance is tailored for a certain condition and is restricted in time -- usually 28 days. This means that every 28 days you will have to pay your premium and it's suitable for minor injuries requiring small surgery after accident or any other one-off injuries. The basic cover is usually the cheapest but in case you need to rely on it -- it may come out as the most expensive. There is a time limit on how long you can claim for a certain condition -- usually 12 months and after that you have to pay for the treatments yourself. The cover will cease payments for the treatment when the financial or time limit is reached -- whichever comes first.

2. Mid level pet insurance -- this is an annual insurance policy and is recommended for short to medium term illnessessmall injuries and surgeries if required. The treatment of certain condition that is claimed for is not time limited, just financially, so payments will stop when you exhaust the fund.

3. High level pet insurance -- it is also known as lifetime pet cover. This is the most expensive policy and is renewed every year until your pet reaches a certain age limit. Although pricy it will be good for longer term illnesses or cancer related treatments.

What is covered?

Vet's fees -- pet insurance covers vet's fees up to certain limits set by the level of your policy.

Death -- if your pet dies prematurely through an illness or an accident you will be paid back the amount you paid initially to purchase the pet.

Holiday cover -- in case of an accident during your holiday you will receive payment for your travel and accommodation if you want to go back home and cancel your trip.

Missing or lost pet -- your policy will cover the cost of advertising for the return of your pet including the reward offered.

Boarding fees -- your policy will cover if you require a kennel in emergency and there is no one else available to take care after your pet.

Accidents -- if you pet causes damage to other people or items (knocked vase, scratched leather sofa), you policy will cover the expenses to recover the items or a compensation to the third party involved.

What is not covered?

The most important thing you have to remember is that pet insurance does not cover any pre-existing medical conditions or such for which you've already made claims. Also prepare to pay for your pet's grooming, spraying or castration, pest treatments or hereditary conditions. Vaccinations usually insure your pet against certain illnesses so your pet cover will not include them as well.

Cost of pet insurance

As stated above -- the cost of your pet insurance depends on the level of cover you want to get. If you enter your pet's details into some of the comparison sites such as CompareTheMarket, MoneySuperMarket or GoCompare, you will be offered sensible prices which will be easy enough to compare.

How to reduce the cost of your pet insurance?

There are a number of ways to reduce cost:

1. Pay higher excess - the higher the excess, the cheaper the policy. Beware so that you are actually able to cover the excess in case of a claim. 

2. Make sure that you are buying the level of cover you actually need. 

3. Keep your pet healthy - the healthier your pet is, the cheaper the policy.

4. Multi-pet insurance - if you are insuring more than one pet, it may be better to get a multi-pet policy.

5. Compare quotes - take your time and compare quotes from different providers.

You may want to read about: Dog Insurance