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Pet cover can help with vet bills. Protect your beloved cat today.
Pet insurance is meant to provide financial support if your cat is injured due to an accident or suffers an illness—whether they're an indoor cat or outdoor. While we generally recommend buying insurance, it's important to know the ins and outs of pet insurance, so you can choose a suitable policy for your needs and understand what is covered and what is not.
Below we discuss everything you need to know about cat insurance—how to claim, what's covered and not covered by most policies, what you can expect to pay based on your cat's breed and age, and more.
Cat Insurance Coverage Explained
The backbone of cat insurance is health cover, which provides financial support for vet bills if your four-legged friend is injured in an accident or falls ill. Policies may only cover for accidents or, more commonly, both accidental injuries and illnesses.
Cat insurance generally reimburses for vet bills due to injuries and/or illnesses, but won't cover all vet bills like those related to routine/preventative care or pre-existing conditions. Additionally, the pet owner always has some responsibility to contribute to vet bills through an excess (a fixed payment towards any claim) and also possibly a co-pay/variable excess (a percentage of the claim).
Which Vet Bills are Covered by Cat Insurance?
Cat insurance is meant to provide financial protection for unexpected vet bills should something happen to your pet, such as a broken leg, an infection or a tumour. Pet insurance cover generally does NOT include vet bills related to preventative care, such as vaccinations, flea/tick/wormer treatment, general health checks or dental cleanings.
3rd Party Liability, Holiday Cancellation, Death Benefits, etc.
Pet insurance in the UK has a broader scope than just health coverage. Most policies offer, either as base or optional add-on cover, other features such as:
- 3rd party liability (people and property)
- Holiday cancellation
- Death benefits
- Advertising and Reward
- Loss of pet (theft or straying)
- Boarding fees
- Overseas cover
3rd party liability may only apply for dogs but the other features may only be offered as add ons to a policy, or not offered at all by some insurers. Before buying a policy, it's good to understand the terms offered by the insurer in order to get coverage appropriate to your needs.
Cat Insurance Basics
In a similar fashion to other types of insurance, with cat insurance you pay a monthly or annual premium in return for partial reimbursement of expenses in case of unexpected events.
Here is an overview of some key components of cat insurance cover:
- Premium: The amount of money you pay your insurance company for coverage. Premiums can be paid annually or monthly. Sometimes monthly payments work out more expensive over the course of a year than annual payments.
- Excess: The amount of money you pay towards each new condition before your insurance policy kicks in. Excesses typically range from £60 to £160. Some insurers let you lower the premium through a higher excess.
- Reimbursement Level: The percentage of a vet bill that insurers will pay after the excess. Typically 100% but some insurers let you drop the reimbursement level through a co-pay, which will lower your premiums. Older pet policies may impose a mandatory co-pay (e.g., a 10% co-pay: you pay 10% of vet bills after the excess).
- Time Maximum: Applicable only to time-limited policies, the maximum time (usually 365 days/12 months) a condition is covered before reimbursement stops for that condition (e.g., ear infection).
- Maximum Reimbursement per Condition: Applicable to maximum-benefit policies, the maximum reimbursement amount paid per condition (e.g., eye infection).
- Maximum Reimbursement per Year: The maximum claim benefit that will be paid in a given year. On lifetime policies, this number resets each year so long as you renew.
Maximum reimbursement levels are a feature of the type of pet insurance policy you buy: accident only, time limited, maximum benefit or lifetime.
How to Lower Premiums
If you are very concerned with the cost of monthly premiums, some insurers let you lower your premiums through a higher excess (the fixed £ amount you pay towards the cost of a new condition, either once or per policy term). Another way to lower the premium is by choosing a policy with lower coverage amounts.
|Annual Limit (£)
Be aware that while raising your excess does translate into lower monthly payments for insurance, it also means that you'll pay more towards vet bills, should they arise. For instance, a £100 excess means you pay the first £100 of vet bills for a condition before insurance contributes.
How to Claim
If the stars align, your insurer and vet may both agree that your pet's vet bills can be submitted directly to the insurer without the need for you to pay out of pocket first (of course, you'll still need to pay the excess and the co-pay, if there is one). Not all vets are happy to wait for payment from the insurer, however; if the insurer doesn't pay for any reason (say you've exceeded any time or claim maximums) then the vet has to chase you up for payment. Not all vets offer this option.
Otherwise, pet owners usually need to pay any reimbursable vet bills out of pocket first. In order to claim on your insurance policy, you and the vet then fill in respective portions of a claim form, which is then submitted to the insurer for reimbursement. Once the claim is approved, the insurer will either reimburse you via direct deposit or a posted cheque.
How Much is Cat Insurance?
Cat owners should budget for monthly insurance premiums between £3 and £50 per month, or more for some breeds. Accident-only policies come cheapest, usually between £3 and £10 each month. Policies that also reimburse for illness cost more, with monthly premiums ranging from £4 to over £50. For more information please see our article on the average cost of cat insurance.
Cat Insurance Cost by Breed
We gathered cat insurance quotes for £4,000 annual limit lifetime policy for a 4-year-old male, for each of the top 10 most popular cat breeds in the UK. Monthly premiums range from £21 to £30. British Shorthair and Ragdoll cats come out cheapest, at £21.17 a month; the Maine Coon is most expensive to insure at just under £30 monthly.
Sample Monthly Insurance Premiums by Breeds
Cat Insurance Costs by Age
Pet insurance costs generally increase for older pets. We gathered quotes for a 4-year-old male British Shorthair cat from a major insurer, for a £4,000 annual maximum lifetime policy with a £120 excess. Between the dog's 1st and 7th birthdays, the premium rose 57%. Rising premiums with age is not surprising, as many ailments are age related resulting in higher expected vet bills for older pets.