Not all pet insurances are the same and not all the differences are obvious. The main differences are the range of things the insurance covers; the amount of money that will be paid out for each thing that may go wrong, and how often you can claim for the same issue.
We are not financial advisers
We are not financial advisers. We cannot give you advice on specific insurance policies, or which one to buy. We can only advise you to check lots of policy terms and prices and use your own judgment. If you do need advice, please speak to a qualified Independent Financial Adviser.
It is usually quite simple to compare some of these things. For example, the amount the insurance company will pay, if anything, to help you find your pet if he or she strays it is generally clearly stated.
Some things to cover
Third party liability & Legal costs
This is probably the most important thing. It covers you for the costs (and they can be huge) if your pet is held to be responsible for injury to someone or damage to something.
Vets bills can be massive, especially if there is a problem that needs several treatments or continuous medication.
Finding your pet if it is lost
Replacing your pet if the worst happens
However, it can be more difficult to compare policies when it comes to vet's bills. You may see a figure in the policy, say £5,000, for veterinary fees, but not all policies offering £5,000 for veterinary fees are the same.
Essentially, there are three main types of cover for vet's bills. The cheapest kind of cover will pay out a maximum amount of money for any one condition in any one year. They may not cover your pet again in a future year for the same condition. So if your pet needs treatment and the treatment goes into a second year, you will have to pay the cost in the second and subsequent years yourself, even if you did not use up the whole of the maximum insured amount in year one.
How much cover do you need for third party liability and legal costs?
£1million is typical.
How much cover do you want for vet's bills?
A typical range is £2,000 to £10,000 for domestic pets.
Do you want the amount of cover for vet's bills to be:
a maximum amount and limited to one year?
a maximum amount that can spread into future years?
an amount per year that can go on for the lifetime of your pet?
The second type of cover is similar in that it will put a limit on the amount for any one condition, but if that amount is not used up in the first year you can claim the rest in a subsequent year. But you could still be faced with paying the vet's bills when the amount of cover for the condition is eventually used up, if it goes on for a long time.
The third type of cover will still put a maximum amount on the amount that can be claimed in any one year for a particular problem, but it will carry on paying out up to the same amount every year for the lifetime of your pet. Remember, most policies will not cover your pet for a pre-existing condition, so if your pet does succumb, and you don't have enough cover from the start, switching to another policy or insurance company is not usually a way out.
You may also need a special policy if the policy is not for a mainstream domestic pet. Equine insurance is available online, but you may have to do some phoning around if you have a llama.