With more than half of UK households owning a pet, the care of our beloved animals is an added expense. There are about 3500 veterinary practices that specialise in treating every type of animal from horses and cows to cats, dogs, ferrets and hamsters.
 
Veterinary practices are improving their services all the time with most practices now having a wide range of facilities such as digital xray machine, ultrasound scanning, endoscopy, hospitalisation and general anaesthetic facilities. Treatment costs do not come cheap and repairing broken bones following an accident to an animal can soon exceed £1,000 or more. This may come as quite a shock so it is not surprising therefore that more pet owners are taking out insurance policies. Dogs and cats can be insured with most policies costing no more than a few pounds a month.
 
When To Take Out A Policy
 
Buy it when your pet is young and healthy and there are no existing conditions to report. Read the small print carefully and take particular notice of the terms and conditions that will explain what is and what is not covered together with any excess payments that may be required.
 
What Do You Get For Your Money?
 
In general, diagnosis and treatment for any accident, injury, or illness, will be covered by the policy. However pre-existing and chronic conditions will probably be excluded or subject to an excess. 
 
A large number of sophisticated diagnostic tests are available. Some will require the services of a laboratory, for example blood and urine samples to test for the presence of infection, diabetes or metabolic disturbances. X-rays and ultrasound scanning are other commonly used diagnostic procedures. Rapid diagnosis is vitally important in the treatment of any illness and diagnostic tests may have to be carried out at intervals to monitor the success of the treatment or antibiotics being prescribed for an infection.
 
Cats and dogs stray on to roadways and frequently have to undergo hospitalisation following an accident. X-rays, transfusions and major surgery involving the placement of metal implants, screws and plates to restore the function of shattered bones all require expensive resources. An insurance policy in these circumstances will bring peace of mind.
 
Rare and unusual conditions such as leukaemia or cancer may have to be referred to a University establishment or specialists for treatment. Advanced cancer diagnosis and treatment can be given, for instance at Cambridge University and the Animal Health Trust at Newmarket.
 
Third Party Liability
 
This is an important benefit to protect pet owners against being sued if their pet causes damage or injury. This can be either a dog biting a child or a cat causing a road accident.
 
Premium Levels
 
As with most types of insurance premiums will vary according to risk. A valuable pedigree will command a much higher premium than a crossbreed. Post Codes will also be taken into account and proximity to built up areas of towns and cities.
 
Exclusions
 
Routine and preventive care (such as vaccinations, flea and worming treatment etc.) will be excluded together with anything classed as "cosmetic" for example surgery to correct a bite abnormality in a dog. All pre-existing conditions.
 
Here at the Brownlow Veterinary Group we recommend taking out a 'covered for life' policy where possible, (Petplan offer such a policy).  This ensures that if your pet suffers a long term illness (for example diabetes) the policy will cover fees for the rest of your pets life, not just 12 months.