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Dog insurance...to insure or not?

(40 Posts)
Panicmode1 Mon 03-Nov-14 16:40:17

We are going to be getting our new puppy around Christmas (not my choice for it to arrive then, but just when the season happened!) so I'm looking at insurance - but several friends with dogs have said that they don't bother because most policies aren't worth the paper they are written on.....so now I'm confused about whether or not we should get some?

If you do insure your pet, can you recommend a good policy? The pup is a pedigree Golden Retriever and will be coming with four weeks free insurance from the breeder anyway.....

Lilcamper Mon 03-Nov-14 16:44:20

Unless you have ££££s going spare in case surgery is needed after an accident it is essential. There is no NHS for dogs and vet bills are expensive. We just had a £350 bill for out of hours treatment of a gastric infection.

Panicmode1 Mon 03-Nov-14 16:46:32

It goes against my gut feeling not to insure, but several friends (with several dogs between them, have independently told me not to bother.....am sure it must make sense to have it! Would you recommend your insurer?

Bowlersarm Mon 03-Nov-14 16:48:02

Vets bills are hidiously expensive if operations are needed.

Also don't you need insurance for public liability? If your dog runs into a road and causes an accident with injuries and damage, you would be sued, for example.

DressingGownFrown Mon 03-Nov-14 16:48:32

If you can afford it, get the absolute best on petplan.
I can't afford it myself so am on the best policy for morethan. It really is worth it in my opinion and if my dog had a bill for ten of thousands (bills can run into this) I wouldn't have a hope of paying.

Floralnomad Mon 03-Nov-14 16:48:34

Even if you do have the spare thousands I would recommend that you get 3rd party liability ,just in case the dog causes an accident etc.

Panicmode1 Mon 03-Nov-14 16:48:46

I have that with my home insurance though so don't need it twice......

tabulahrasa Mon 03-Nov-14 16:51:06

Petplan always seem to come highly recommended, I use purely pets...the cover isn't quite as good on a couple of things (limited cruciate repair for instance) and after claiming about £12 500 in 2 years the premiums have gone up a fair bit...but they have paid out that much quickly and with no quibbling and for some of it without the pre-approval the T&C say they want, also the premiums are still less than his longterm drugs will be thus year.

Unless you can get your hands on a few thousand pounds at short notice then I think not having insurance is a false economy tbh...yes you might never claim on it, but what you're paying for is knowing that medical decisions can always be made in the best interest of your pet and not on how much money you have available at the time.

Lifetime cover is the kind you want to be comparing and as much cover a year as you're willing to pay for...it's worth remembering that it's not always treatment that's expensive, but things like MRI scans and they add up very quickly.

Bowlersarm Mon 03-Nov-14 16:54:38

The only people we know who don't insure their dogs are loaded and can pay out as much as they need to, if necessary. I'm considering not renewing the insurance on my older dog as it gets more and more expensive, but with a puppy I wouldn't take the risk.

Chandon Mon 03-Nov-14 16:57:35

Yes, I have rich friends who did not insure their dog.

It had an accident with its leg after 3 weeks, needed 2 operations, costs in the thousands, which they could afford, luckily.

Can you?

Panicmode1 Mon 03-Nov-14 16:58:37

Thanks everyone - that confirms my gut feeling. Will look at lifetime cover and start with the insurers you suggest.

HoundPaws Mon 03-Nov-14 17:58:10

I dont think its worth insuring so long as you have a credit card you can afford to pay off, savings or check whether your vet will accept instalments for large bills -most will. To me, it makes no sense to pay an insurance company monthly for something that might not happen, when you can pay your credit card or your vet monthly if it actually does happen. Try saving the same amount as the insurance premium into a vet account each month. Also insurers add exclusions so by the time the animal is old enough to have real problem lots of (often irrelevant!) things will be excluded. So you have more control not going through insurance. When my terrier caused a car crash my home contents cover paid up so check you have that in place.

tabulahrasa Mon 03-Nov-14 18:10:25

Houndpaws - to pay back my dog'a vet bills at the same rate as his insurance premiums would take me between 10.5 and 21 years (depending on whether I'm paying last years premiums or this) and I'd also be paying just more than that a month for his drugs on top.

One appointment with a specialist and MRI scans is about £1500, that was just to determine whether he had the issue they thought he had.

Also, he was 6 months old at that point and only 2 now.

He's a bit of a scare story admittedly and most dogs will never have the bad luck he's had...but it's not something I'd encourage people to gamble on.

moosemama Mon 03-Nov-14 18:18:54

I stopped insuring my dogs when our circumstances changed and the premiums became too much for us to cope with as they aged. Then one of them developed serious cancer and it made the whole thing so much worse having to think about whether or not we could afford to pay for her treatment. We would have found a way to pay for whatever treatment she needed, but would have ended up in lots of debt and it was a stressful and upsetting enough time without having to even think about money.

Now all my dogs are insured again - lifetime cover with PetPlan and I'm happier knowing that, should they need treatment, I won't have to even think about whether or not we can afford it.

You only had to watch last week's episode of Supervet to see what can happen if you are uninsured and your dog has an unexpected injury for which the treatment will be thousands. The poor Inuit was almost pts, as his owners couldn't afford the surgery. He was only saved by the compassion of the vet, who did some sort of payment plan/deal with them.

VivaLeBeaver Mon 03-Nov-14 18:24:09

I insured my first dog and never claimed. On.y big bills were teeth related and teeth are excluded.

Second dog not insured. Had him 18 months and so far no problems.

Just got a puppy amd she's part cavalier which are meant to have health problems so have just taken out insurance for her,

Ephedra Mon 03-Nov-14 20:16:59

My collie was 5 when he died. We paid around £25 a month to insure him.

The insurance has paid various vets somewhere between £4000 and £5000. I don't know the actual figure as I really don't want to know.

I should point out that my collie never had an op or an mri, although one specialist vet cost £137 just for the consultation (I never asked how much it cost after that!).

cat234 Mon 03-Nov-14 20:58:13

Vet here...

It depends how far you would want to go with treatment. And how much spare money you have. Insurance can be expensive, and will increase as the dog gets older, and if/when you claim for things. But treatment is expensive as well.

If your pup broke its leg, you could be looking at £200-300 for x-rays before even treating. Depending on extent of treatment, could be £1000, or more if ended up being referred.
Pyometra, (infected uterus), £700 is uncomplicated - tipping £1000 if complicated.
If you have something happen that would be best being referred, you could be looking at £200-300 for initial consult.

I think some of the reason people decide its not worth it is if they get cheap policies that dont cover much. Check things like life time cover - so if your dog is lame this year - will they exclude lameness forever? If one cruciate ligament ruptures and needs surgery, would they pay out on the second or not? That's the kind of thing people dont realise, want to claim and then find out they can't. Make sure you check all the small print.

Having seen so many heartbreak cases where people simply cant afford to treat pets, having to have them put to sleep, insurance is such a good thing to have. Pretty much all (actually...I think all...the vets and vet nurses at the practice i am at have insurance for their pets).

Panicmode1 Mon 03-Nov-14 21:06:53

Thank you, that confirms what I thought would be the sensible option! Will get researching and reading small print.

moosemama Mon 03-Nov-14 21:14:30

That's a really good point about checking small-print for things like cruciate repair - teeth are another thing that's often excluded.

When I was comparing policies for mine I couldn't believe the number that had a ridiculously small-print cap on cruciate repair others, as cat234 said, would only cover one leg and if the other one goes you're on your own. My dogs are of a type that's prone to cruciate injury, so that was something I was particularly careful to check.

Another thing worth checking is whether or not they cover any behavioural referrals.

Goldmandra Mon 03-Nov-14 21:14:44

Just wanted to add that our vet asked us if we were insured when she phoned to tell us that our 2YO terrier had become paralysed. She breathed a big sigh of relief when I told her we were covered by Petplan.

DDog had a haemorrhage in her spinal cord and the bill eventually came to nearly £4000. Petplan paid out every penny without a murmur.

It is expensive but the peace of mind is worth every penny.

tabulahrasa Mon 03-Nov-14 22:34:48

Mine has a capped amount on cruciate repair...I worked out that if they both went I'd have to pay about an extra £750 myself.

But, the premiums were a lot cheaper so I went with it.

His cruciates are about the only thing on him that works, lol.

But yes, you do need to check small print.

JoffreyBaratheon Tue 04-Nov-14 22:33:02

We realised the value of it after we insured our dog who, a few months later, had a luxated patella - £1500 op right there. Our next dog - also pedigree but different breed - had PLL (eye lens luxated in both eyes simultaneously). That's one where they have to operate instantly or the dog loses all its sight. She developed the first symptom on a Saturday morning. I got her to the vet just before it closed at lunchtime. By Saturday tea-time she was being driven 150 miles to a specialist who did the emergency op on the Sunday morning. The fee he charged for getting out of bed on a Sunday alone was - pardon the pun - eye-watering. In the end we had a bill around £4000 (best surgeon in the country) - which the insurer paid directly for us.

That would be my tip - pick an insurance that pays vet direct (Petplan can do this) and take out a policy that covers conditions for a lifetime not just the first 12 mths the dog has the condition. Even if you're insured, having to find thousands of pounds upfront til the insurer pays out would be very stressful.

If getting a pedigree dog from a breeder I'd insist on any relevant certification that the dog is free of its breed's genetic diseases.

I have just got a rescue pup - 9 weeks old and getting from a rescue rather than a breeder has been my best dog-buying experience ever. As you know those dogs are vet checked before you bring them home.

Some vets do a plan that covers routine vaccs, fleaing and worming. You'd have to pay that on top of insurance.

My own view has always been if you can't afford the insurance, you can't afford the dog. My last two dogs ended up having expensive surgeries and later, other treatments, that I could never have paid for without it.

EasyToEatTiger Wed 05-Nov-14 09:11:21

I stopped insuring our oldies after the policies were tipping about £80/month per dog. You need to have a pot of at least £5000 if you don't insure which is a lot of money to find in a hurry.

JoffreyBaratheon Wed 05-Nov-14 19:50:17

Yes, Easy, when my old dog's insurance crept up to around £120 a month we had to stop it. By then she was knocking on and we knew the vets would be reluctant to operate if anything went wrong. That insurer was Direct Line.

I would never go with them again even though at the time our dogs needed ops, they paid out promptly, without quibble, and were OK to deal with. This time I am sticking with the insurer the Dogs Trust use for the first month - Petplan - as apparently they start off a bit dearer but don't hike it up ridiculously as the dog gets older. Also they will donate a % of what we pay to the Dogs Trust.

Floralnomad Wed 05-Nov-14 19:56:07

I'm with direct line ( not a lifetime policy) and it's gone up about £3 in 4 yrs and I've made two £600 ish claims .

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