We deal an awful lot with insurance companies, and I think I’ve seen every trick in the book when it comes to reducing the payout they give you! So, what are the top issues that cause problems in pay out? (and I’m excluding simple reasons like taking out a policy when the condition already exists!)
1. Policy doesn’t cover condition
Lots of policies won’t cover for reproductive problems, so if your dog has problems giving birth you may not be covered. We’ve even seen some insurance companies trying to not pay out for an infected uterus as this is “reproductive”. Most policies won’t cover dental disease, but some take it to the extreme of not covering dental injuries. Take a close look at the exclusions section.
2. Stops paying after a year
Your cat develops diabetes in July and your policy is due for renewal in September. When September rolls around all claims for diabetes are denied. It’s because that policy only covers the condition for the policy year, and thereafter no longer! Suddenly that £5 per month policy doesn’t look so cheap. Ideally cover should refresh each year- look for lifetime vs yearly cover.
3. Cover limit is for animal, not per condition
£4,000 limit!!! Emblazoned all over the policy document is a high claim limit. Your pet gets in a horrendous accident and needs £3,000 worth of surgery. 6 months later they develop a cruciate problem, and the payments stop after £1,000. It’s because the pay out limit is for the whole animal, not per condition. Even worse if the policy doesn’t refresh the cover limit each year (see 2.) Cover should be stated as “per condition”.
4. Age and history increasing premiums
Your dog hits 8 and suddenly payments rocket. They develop a long term problem and the next policy year payment soar! Be careful of some companies hiking premiums suddenly.
5. Forcing you to take a new policy after claim
You put a claim in, and part of the policy is that you must take out a new policy in this eventuality. The new policy has much lower cover and higher premiums. Watch out for this sneaky trick!
6. Doesn’t cover for physio or prescription food (hidden exclusions)
Your dog has fantastic orthopaedic surgery done, and part of the post op recovery is physiotherapy, or your cat develops renal disease and the treatment is a prescription diet. Some policies don’t pay for these treatments, even if recommended by a vet! Look for extra cover provided by the policy.
7. Lapsed premium payments
You forgot to pay a month’s premium last year, but made all the rest of the payments. Payout is denied because the policy isn’t up to date. To be fair, some companies will allow you to pay the missed premium- but some won’t. Stick with well reviewed reputable companies.
Unlike equine insurance, companion animal policies generally don’t cover euthanasia or cremation, and usually won’t cover the value of a pet.
9. Not paying for related conditions
Your dog gets arthritis in the knee which you make a claim on. You get a letter through the post saying all other joints are now excluded. This hits cruciate repairs sometimes; there’s a 50% chance of the other leg snapping a cruciate ligament after the first one goes. In this case, the second repair might not be covered. Again, the exclusion part of the policy is critical- also read online reviews e.g. trustpilot
Your payout is vastly different to expected due to a co-payment. Your policy may state an excess of £125 and a 30% co-payment. In the case of a £500 invoice, you will be expected to pay the £125 excess and 30% of £500 = £150. You’ve now got to pay £275, and the insurance company only pays £225. Watch out for co-payments starting when your pet reaches a certain age.
Other things that can trip you up?
Spouses (usually husbands!) complaining about the cost of a policy? DON’T let them change it if your dog has a problem- speak to us first. You may find yourself without cover whether or not you’ve already made a claim.
How to choose?
We promote Vetsure as we have found them extremely reasonable to deal with, quick at settling claims, the policy limit recharges each year and the cover is per condition, not animal. They offer a range of excesses to suit your budget. They’re not the cheapest, but on balance we find that our clients are very happy with them.
Please check out the reviews for any insurance you’re considering on TrustPilot. Here are some screenshotted reviews (as of 6th July 2018):