The surprising pet insurance exclusions that can cost you thousands

Helen Bentham By Helen Bentham

Choosing pet insurance is no easy task. With so many different policy types and cover levels out there, it’s no wonder that people opt for the cheapest and give up reading the terms and conditions altogether.

If this sounds like you, this article may make you change your mind.

We’ve looked at a random selection of the best rated pet insurance policies on the market and they share some surprising exclusions.

1. Timing is important

You won’t be able to make any claims for accidents which happen in the first 48 hours of your policy, or illnesses which show symptoms in the first 14 days of your policy.

2. Pet Insurance doesn’t cover the basics

It comes as a surprise to some people, but all expected and required treatments cannot be claimed on your insurance. So grooming, vaccinations, flea treatments, wormers, nail clipping, bathing or de-matting, spaying or castration all are excluded from policies. Your insurance is reserved for the unpredictable accidents and illnesses that could happen to your dog.

Many people assume dental care is included as standard, but that is not always the case. Some of the most comprehensive policies, like More Than’s Premier and Petplan’s Covered for Life policies. Of course, these comprehensive policies usually incur higher premiums, but, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

3. The past matters

If your dog has any pre-existing medical conditions, you are not going to be covered for that condition with your new insurer. This can include any symptoms or behaviour changes that you or your vet notice, and any illnesses or injuries which develop from those changes.

Some policies, like VetsMediCover, do cover some existing conditions, providing your pet has not shown any symptoms of or received treatment for the condition for at least 2 years. Always double check this with your provider though, and make sure you declare all conditions fully and accurately to avid invalidating your policy.

4. In case of... err... accidents

Most policies include some 3rd party accidental damage cover, but More Than and John Lewis won’t pay out if the damage is as a result of your dog “fouling, vomiting or urinating on/in any items”.

Most also won’t pay out if the item damaged belongs to you or a member of your family.

Additionally, if your dog causes any type of damage while being looked after by someone who is being paid to mind your dog, this will likely not be covered by your policy, as the professional dog minder would be expected to have their own insurance in place (though bear in mind they may not have it).

5. If the worst happens

If you want to be covered for putting your dog to sleep or for cremation, you will have to add it onto your cover. If you choose accident only cover it’ll certainly not be included.

Once your dog is over 8, insurers will not cover the cost of putting your dog to sleep or cremation unless it was due to an accident – even if you have selected a ‘farewell’ type cover add-on.

Keep proof of what you paid or donated for your dog, some insurers, like Direct Line, require this, otherwise they will only pay out their minimum of £70.

6. Travelling

If you take your pet abroad, you may be covered under the Pets Travelling Scheme. However, this is only valid within the EU and may not include the full cover of your existing policy, so check with your insurance company before you make travel plans.

7. Breeding

Forget it. Insurers will not pay any vets fees if the condition is related to breeding or as a result of giving birth. If you decide to use your dog for commercial breeding, beware that, with some insurers, your entire policy could be invalidated.

8. Keep your insurer informed

If your pet’s circumstances change, you must tell your insurer. Common changes are moving house, changing owner, getting your dog spayed or neutered, or if you start using your dog for commercial purposes.

So, basically, the rules are simple - always make sure you read the terms and conditions of your policy carefully and in full, to make sure you know exactly what is and isn’t covered, and be open and honest with your insurer at all times.

However, if you your claim was rejected unfairly, you can appeal to the financial Ombudsman through their website. There are a lot of reasons why a claim can be refused, but overturning the decision is possible, if you can providethe right evidence.

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