Kitten insurance: Why pet insurance for cats is essential
Being a pet owner is undoubtedly a rewarding and satisfying experience but it is not it without its costs. As well as initial expenses such as buying a kitten or cat and immunisations, there are regular costs such as food. Pet insurance is another expense, which – because it’s optional – many owners go without.
There are an estimated 7.5 million cats in the UK, but only 15 per cent of owners have pet insurance.
However, as consumers become more aware of pet insurance and competition drives policy prices down, more owners are choosing to get their cats covered.
In fact, 2015 saw a record number of pet insurance claims, with £657m paid out by British pet insurers, up almost 10 per cent on 2014.
For cats, 193,000 claims were dealt with, worth £105m.
When to take out cat insurance
When you’ve got a playful kitten or curious young cat on your hands, it’s hard to ever imagine them needing any medical help.
But that’s when it’s the best time to buy cat insurance, particularly if you want long-term value.
Pet insurance for kittens will be cheaper and you are more likely to have more options when it comes to types of cover and insurers.
The main purpose of pet insurance is to help you pay your vet if your cat gets ill or injured.
As cats get older they are more vulnerable to both, meaning you will have more difficulty getting cover for them.
Costs will certainly be higher and some insurers will not offer cover for animals over a certain age or animals with pre-existing conditions.
While payments are likely to increase as your pet gets older, taking out lifelong cover at a young age is likely to save you money in the long-term.
Do I need pet insurance for my kitten?
Many owners who take out pet insurance do so for the peace of mind it offers.
It’s possible you pay premiums for years and not make a claim but, knowing that vet’s bills can run into hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds, you need to weigh up whether you could afford to pay if needed.
Types of pet insurance
Choosing which the type of cover your kitten or cat needs can be tricky.
When researching insurance, don’t be intimidated by jargon or technical terms. Ask an advisor to explain anything you’re not sure of.
Different companies have different names for the types of insurance they offer, but most provide four basic types of cover
- Lifetime policies: Your cat is insured for his or her whole life if you continue to renew, allowing you a pre-agreed amount to spend on care each year.
- Time limited cover: A fixed limit to cover your pet for a set period, usually 12 months.
- Maximum-benefit policies: A fixed amount of money to pay for care or treatment with no time limit if you renew your policy – the cover expires when the agreed spending limit is reached
- Accident-only policies: A fixed limit for each accidental injury to pay for or help towards treatment.
Other things covered by pet insurance
Pet insurance policies are primarily to cover vets’ fees. However, many include cover for other things, some at an additional cost.
It’s worth thoroughly reading the terms or speaking to an advisor. You should know exactly what you’re getting for your money. Policies may include:
- Dental cover – help if your pet accidentally damages his or her teeth.
- Overseas travel cover – cover if your pet falls ill while abroad.
- Cattery fees – help to pay if you are unable to look after your pet due to hospitalisation.
- Advertising fees – cover to help pay for ‘missing’ signs if your dog is lost
- End-of-life cover – some policies cover or partly cover the cost of euthanasia and cremation or burial.
Tips for buying pet insurance
The ABI offers a few pointers when it comes to buying pet insurance for your cat:
- Shop around to find the insurance that best meets your needs; look at what your cat is covered for, not just the price alone.
- Be aware that while moving to a new policy may be cheaper, it is likely the new policy will not cover your pet for any conditions your cat has had in the past or currently has.
- Some insurers will only accept claims after a certain number of days from the start date of the policy (an exclusion period) – usually ten days.
- The policy documents from insurers will tell you what your cat is and is not covered for. If in doubt, speak to your insurer.
- Always answer the insurer’s questions honestly and in full. If you don’t, the insurer may not pay, your claim and your policy may be cancelled.
- Remember to tell your insurer about any relevant changes to your circumstance to ensure your pet remains covered. For example, any change of address or if your pet gets neutered, spayed or micro-chipped.