Cats are an extremely popular pet in the UK, with recent research from the veterinary charity PDSA finding that more than a quarter (26%) of UK adults own one.
If you’re among them, have you considered how you’d cope financially if your cat was to become ill or injured? Not only will this cause heartache, but it could leave you with hefty vet bills.
This is where pet insurance could prove to be invaluable, giving you peace of mind that the majority of unexpected vet bills will be paid for.
If you’re considering taking out insurance for your cat, here’s what to consider so you can choose the best pet insurance policy for you.
Getting the right type of policy
When you’re looking at potential policies for your cat, first make sure you understand what you’re comparing, rather than blindly plumping for the cheapest pet insurance on offer. This will prevent any unwanted surprises should you need to make a claim.
The four main types of pet insurance policies in the UK are:
- lifetime cover – this is the most comprehensive type of pet insurance available. Lifetime cover will insure your cat for illnesses and injuries throughout its life, so long as you keep the policy in place (pre-existing illnesses are likely to be excluded). Policies come with annual claim limits, though, either an overall financial cap or an individual condition limit, so make sure you are happy with these before committing.
- Time-limited cover – these policies will cover your pet’s illnesses and injuries for a set amount of time after the condition was first discovered (often 12 months), which is separate from the length of the policy. After this time, you won’t be able to claim for the condition again. There will often be a financial limit on what you can claim too.
- Maximum benefit cover – rather than a set amount of time, these policies offer a fixed amount of money per condition for as long as your policy is in place. When this financial limit is reached, the condition won’t be covered again.
- Accident-only cover – as the name suggests, these policies cover your cat’s accidental injuries and not, usually, illness. They are, generally, the cheapest pet insurance policies available.
Best Cat Insurance Providers
£99 (rising to £200 when your pet reaches 8)
Your cat… and your lifestyle
There are certain items that most comprehensive pet insurance policies will cover – with the exception of accident-only policies.
You should be covered for vet bills to treat new illnesses and injuries plus, potentially, cat- tery costs should you become ill and have to stay in hospital.
Some policies will also cover dental repairs should your cat have an accident.
Depending on the type of cat you have, its health and its age, you may want to look for particular items in a policy.
As an example, if you have a pedigree cat, it may be worth looking for policies that will cover the amount you paid for it should your cat be stolen, lost, or die prematurely. You may also want to make sure that a policy will compensate you for the cost of putting up posters and offering a reward.
If you are a regular traveller, you may wish to look for a policy that covers holiday cancellation should your pet become ill or go missing ahead of a trip – but always read the terms and conditions of any benefit to ensure you’re buying the best value pet insurance for your circumstances.
If your cat is older or has a pre-existing health condition, you may need to look for a specialist policy as not all insurers will cover them.
que isn’t covered…
While you’re comparing pet insurance policies, make sure you factor in what is excluded as well as included.
For example, any pre-existing conditions your cat has will usually fall outside the cover of a new policy.
Not all vet bills will be paid for, either. Routine procedures such as vaccinations, flea treatment and grooming will generally be excluded, while treatments around pregnancy and giving birth probably won’t be covered either.
The cost of the cover
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the average pet insurance premium in 2019 was £271. And pet insurance companies in the UK will base quotes on a number of factors.
The age and breed of your cat will play an important part in the price you are quoted, with older cats and certain breeds usually being more expensive to insure as they are more likely to get ill.
Where you live will also affect your policy’s price as the cost of vet bills is higher in certain areas.
The level of cover you opt for, from accident-only through to lifetime cover, will change the price as well.
The excess amount you opt for on a policy (the amount you have to pay towards a claim) will also alter its price, with higher excess generally driving costs down.
However, think realistically about what excess you could afford to pay should you make a claim, and check whether this is a just a one-off payment or a percentage-based charge too. Agreeing to a high excess in exchange for a cheaper policy could be a false economy in the long run.
How can I get the best deal?
When you’ve worked out what you need from an insurance policy, it’s good practice to shop around so you feel confident that you have the best pet insurance policy for your cat at a competitive price.
One way to see policies from a number of companies side-by-side is to use a pet insurance comparison service online. After entering your details once, you should be able to compare pet insurance quotes together, taking particular note of the elements that are most important to you.
If you have more than one cat, it’s worth considering a multi-pet insurance policy as this may work out cheaper than insuring each cat individually.
But, again, always check you are happy with the terms and conditions of a policy rather than opting for the short-term approach of buying the cheapest.
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