Of course none of us plan on our beloved feline falling ill or being involved in an accident, but unfortunately these incidents do happen, but thankfully cat insurance is designed to cover these incidents.
The level of cover cat insurance policies provide will vary, but this allows flexibility for cat owners to choose the right level of cover and not to over insure or under insure their cat. For most of us a huge bill from the vets will put a dent in our finances, but the cost of an insurance policy is unlikely to.
What Is Cat Insurance?
Most insurance companies will place their cat insurance product under their pet insurance category, as they’ll usually provide insurance for several different types of animals.
In terms of pet insurance, insurance can be defined as, “An agreement between an individual and insurance company by which the company will agree to pay compensation in return for a specified premium.” The terms and amount covered will be agreed beforehand, so the consumer should be fully aware of what they’re getting before they pay for the insurance.
The purpose of the insurance is for the insurance company to pay out for any claims the policyholder makes, providing they’re claiming for something that’s covered and has been agreed within the terms of the policy.
Do I Need Cat Insurance?
Unless you are fortunate enough to have the funds available to pay for medical fees or replace your cat should anything happen, then you may not need insurance for your cat as it’s not compulsory but you can still benefit from it. The average pet insurance claim is £720, however if your pet develops an on-going condition the bill can be much more. This amount is for all insurable pets, not specific to just cats. (Source: Association of British Insurers 2015)
If your cat can make it through a whole year without costing you anything that an insurance policy would cover, then you can say that you’ve saved on the premium the policy would have costed you. However if your cat ended up costing you a lot in medical bills which would have been covered by the insurance policy, but you had no insurance, could you afford to pay out for those expenses? If the answer is no then check some cat insurance quotes so you don’t put yourself out of pocket.
Some insurers may allow a discount if your cat is microchipped, so other than the main benefit of being reunited with your cat, you may also benefit from an insurance discount if your cat is already microchipped or if you decide to microchip your cat.
If you own an indoor cat then your cat might be at lower risk as he is not exposed to all the outdoor dangers. Younger cats tend to be more at risk as they typically like to explore more and are more curious, therefore they increase their chances of potential injury.
For free advice on whether you need pet insurance and factors to take into consideration, visit Money Advice Service.
Different Levels Of Cover
There are typically four different types of policies you can choose from, ranging from the very basic level of cover to fully comprehensive. Different insurance companies might name their policies different to one another. For example one insurance company might call a lifetime policy (which is the highest level of cover), “premier insurance” but they would be referring to the same thing.
Below we’ll explain the different levels of cover, so you can decide what one would be the most suitable for you:
Accident only – This is the most basic and generally the cheapest type of policy. Cover tends to be quite limited but might be ideal just to cover accidents and short-term health issues. Do check the policy terms and conditions though to see what you’re covered for.
Time limited – Traditionally time limited policies was the most basic level of cover available but has since been replaced by accident only policies. The policyholder can claim for eligible conditions up to a specified amount, a 12 month time limit will then be placed on that condition.
After you’ve claimed for that condition, you will no longer be able to claim for that condition again if you’ve reached the pay out limit or time limit whichever one comes sooner. Even if you renew the policy, that condition will still be excluded.
If your cat is still receiving treatment for a condition and you’ve either reached the maximum pay out limit or time limit, then you would be responsible for any costs relating to that condition going forward.
Maximum benefit – Unlike with time limited policies, maximum benefit policies do not have a time limit, there is however a cap on the maximum amount you can claim per condition. Other conditions will still be covered if you’ve reached the maximum limit for one.
Lifetime – The highest level of cover available, but at usually the most expensive price. Insurance providers of lifetime policies should offer protection for your cat’s lifetime, providing the policy is renewed every year.
The amounts covered will differ from insurer to insurer, some may put a maximum pay out cap on a per condition, per year basis, but if you reach the maximum amount during a policy period, you won’t be able to claim any more. However when you reach the end of the policy period and renew the policy, your cover will be reinstated, even for the conditions you’ve already claimed for.
What Is Covered?
Different cat insurance companies will cover different amounts, and if you choose a lower level of cover then you can also expect more exclusions. Before you take a policy out, you should double check you’re getting the right level of cover.
Overall, we’ll provide a list of what is generally covered within a cat insurance policy:
Accident – Veterinary treatment as a result of accidental injuries.
Vet fees – The insurance will cover many treatments carried out at the vets, treatments covered can include but not limited to: Acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic, dental treatment and alternative treatments.
Some insurers may exclude some treatments though, so check the terms and conditions before taking a policy out.
Boarding fees – The cost to have someone to look after your cat if you are ill or injured, and unable to look after your cat yourself.
Death by accident – If your cat dies as a result of an accident then you can be covered up to a fixed amount.
Death by illness – If your cat dies as a result of an illness then you can be covered up to a fixed amount.
Lost or stolen – If your cat goes missing or you think it’s stolen then some companies will provide compensation for the cost of the cat.
Cat Insurance General Exclusions
Just like with all insurance policies, cat insurance companies will also have a list of exclusions. Although some companies might have additional exclusions to what other companies have, we advise that you do double check the exclusions of the insurance company you decide to go with, before you take the policy out.
So the list of general exclusions is as follows but not limited to:
Basic/routine treatment – Regular treatment will not be covered, these treatments include but is not limited to:
- Flea, worm and tick treatments
- Claw maintenance
Pre-existing medical conditions – If your cat has any known illnesses or conditions before you took the policy out then these illnesses or conditions won’t be covered. This can also include recurring illnesses or injuries or ongoing conditions.
If your cat is too young or too old – Generally insurance companies won’t cover a kitten that is under 8 weeks old and over a certain age.
Pregnancy and giving birth – Any costs associated with pregnancy or giving birth won’t be covered.
What Company To Go With?
Comparison sites won’t give you cat insurance reviews to determine the best policy to go with. A big factor which determines how good a company is, is the claims service, you don’t really know how good a company is until you make a claim.
The reason why the claims service is so important is because it’s ultimately what you’re paying for, you pay a premium for the insurance to be able to claim for anything the policy covers. Should you make a claim, a good claims service would be one that would make the whole process as smooth and efficient as possible, with the company having extensive knowledge should you have any questions or queries.
But until you do make a claim, the other factors you can make a judgement on is the terms and conditions of the policy. If you don’t make a claim in the policy year, you still won’t really know how good the company actually is. Comparison sites such as Go Compare is quick and easy to use and will list a wide range of companies to choose from, but it won’t necessarily give you the best cat insurance quotes.