Do I need dog insurance for my Westie?
There is no subject more likely to evoke a range of opinions than Pet Insurance. It would be difficult to cover such a big subject on one page but I am going to share my experience with Pet Insurance and why I would always recommend you have it. For every one like me there are many other pet owners who have never had or needed insurance, but is the risk worth taking?
Why have pet insurance for your Westie?
As modern medicine continues to make massive strides in treatment, prevention and cure for us humans so it does for our canine companions. Trauma injuries can now be treated by vets with the latest technology in scans and x-rays or in serious instances pets can be transferred to animal hospitals or centres of excellence scattered across the country. Illness, including the most serious of cancers, can be diagnosed and treated with a wide range of disciplines, surgery, oncology and holistic therapies. You only need to watch an episode of Supervet to see what is possible!
If you want the very best for your canine companion can you afford the cost which may sometimes run into the thousands of pounds? – I was amazed to learn that a brain scan for a dog is actually more expensive than that for a human but it makes sense. Capital costs cannot be recovered in anything like the same time and the level of expertise needed requires massive investment in training and knowledge.
We are a nation of dog lovers and commit daily to providing the very best we can. Our dogs become a member of the family and our reliance on their devotion is intrinsically woven into our family life. We never want to have to say no so the best way to ensure that we can offer the best is to take out insurance to protect against all ills.
The pet insurance market is massive. From specialist companies to national supermarkets policies are available everywhere. The cover and terms are often similar but it is really important to read the small print.
What are the options with Pet Insurance?
Policies are offered in two fundamental ways. Year by year or covered for life. There is a cost differential. Everybody will say that insurance is expensive until you need it, then, you want the very best.
Understanding the two choices
Year by year pet insurance is just that, a policy taken out for one year. At the end of the year you can renew, go elsewhere or do without. If you have a claim in that one year the claim would be taken into consideration at renewal. When you renew the ailment, injury or illness may be excluded and therefore not covered on any future policies.
Covered for life is a more costly product but provides greater cover. This type of policy ensures that if your pet is the subject of a claim for either illness or trauma the cause is not excluded from future policies. In the case of a long term condition you can continue to claim. However, there must be no break in the insurance cover so you must renew at each anniversary.
Pet Plan offer a simple comparison on their website. With both our dogs we took out covered for life policies and this is the option I would always recommend. Westies are known for having certain skin problems for example which could mean a life of medication and treatment.
How can you reduce the premium?
There are ways to reduce premiums. Consider paying a higher excess, contributing a percentage to treatment costs or reducing the non essential cover. If you don’t take your Westie abroad ask if that cover can be removed. Likewise if your dog doesn’t ever stay in kennels do you need the cover? Talk to the insurance provider. Identify which of the two main principles you want to adopt within your policy and then fine tune what you need. If the insurer is not flexible look at another.
You can opt to ‘self insure’ where instead of paying insurance you put an amount of money aside each month. This requires discipline and accepting the risk that one trauma or significant illness could easily wipe out (or exceed) the pot.
One of our beautiful Westies is epileptic. He was diagnosed at just 18 months old and has a severe form of idiopathic epilepsy. He has had a battery of tests including brain scans, blood tests and heart testing. All of these, often costly, tests were essential if we were to have a diagnosis and understanding of what we were facing. Riley was transferred to a specialist centre and has his care overseen by a canine neurologist – think Supervet! His care and treatment was outstanding. We were offered no cure or fix but were given a very detailed plan of treatment and care.
Thankfully we had a covered for life policy. The policy has remained in place and continues to pay significant costs each month to help control his epilepsy. Every year when we renew the policy cost increases due to his age but he is not penalised for his condition.
My advice would be to read all you can, and look at the options before making a decision.
For an informative unbiased view you can read more on the Which Website