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Should you insure your pet?

injured pets_08_06_12It’s rare that your pet will escape a visit to the vet in its lifetime. And as a pet owner, taking out insurance provides much needed peace of mind.

Anyone who owns a pet knows however small or large they are, your chosen animal very quickly becomes part of your family. You love them, get cross with them, lose your patience with them, cuddle them (if they’re of the furry variety), exercise, laugh and play with them – exactly as you do with your family members. So it’s no surprise that, if your pet ever gets ill, it can be a stressful and upsetting experience for you.

It’s equally worrying if your pet is involved in an accident, such as being hit by a car or is bitten or attacked by another animal. And if your pet goes missing, the worry is immense – something only other pet owners can understand. If illness is the problem, other than offering lots of TLC, it’s hard to make such a time any easier for your pet, but there are ways you can help ease concerns for you and your family.

The value of insurance

Pet insurance gives you the peace of mind that any serious health problems can be treated without running up huge vet bills.

Make sure you buy life cover if you have a cat or a dog. It might feel like an unnecessary expense when your cat or dog is young, fit and healthy, but the average lifespan for both cats and dogs is 12 to 14 years, and some cats can live to around the age of 20; so it is well worth forking out to make sure they are fully covered in their later years.

Insurance doesn’t simply cover illness and disease. It will also cover treatment for broken limbs if your pet gets run over, or is attacked by another animal and needs stitches. Insurance policies can cost from as little as £4 per month. This seems a small price to pay when you know that statistically, every year one in three cats and dogs become ill or injured and, without insurance, the average cost of a trip to the vet is around £300.

Animal cover

Most insurance companies cover cats and dogs, and some also cover rabbits, birds and horses. For exotic and less common pets, it’s best to find companies that specialise in insuring your particular species. Small caged animals may not be worth insuring. If they become ill, the vet will either be able to treat them quickly or not at all.

Read the small print

Like insurance policies for humans, it’s important to make sure you take out the cover you feel is right for your pet or pets. Some companies offer savings when you insure two or pets with them and some offer cover for lost, missing or stray pets. There are also different levels of insurance – you can choose from vet fees’ cover, lifetime cover or even complementary treatment cover.

So, don’t rush into simply choosing the cheapest insurance you can find, because when the time comes that you need it, you may find that your pet’s ailment isn’t covered through your plan. Your pet is part of your family and it’s worth taking the time to make sure he will be well cared for when he needs more than just a stroke or a cuddle.

This article was first published in at home with Lorraine Kelly in April 2012. [Read the digital edition here]

Photograph: Shutterstock

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