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Pet Insurance Premiums Continue to Rise

pet insurance premiumsBuying and retaining an insurance policy for your pet is becoming more and more expensive over the years, with many consumers considering dropping their policies and paying for the treatments themselves. In theory, pet insurance is a great idea for any animal lover. You pay a monthly premium and any medication or surgery for your pet is paid for – everybody wins. However, veterinary costs are on the rise and more complicated and expensive medical treatments are being developed, which is having an effect on how the insurers are pricing their pet policies. Some insurers have dropped out of the pet market altogether, and the remaining ones are passing the costs onto you, the consumer, which provides an explanation for the increases in premium costs for many policyholders.

Sainsbury’s Bank is still providing pet insurance, and has revealed their take on the situation: “Vets’ fees are escalating at 12% per annum. This can leave animal-owners having to choose between paying high premiums and shouldering the risk of paying for treatments themselves.” As your pet gets older, the cost of your premium will be even greater because the chances of your pet needing treatment will be much higher. It is a tough decision for any pet owner to make – disposable income is not always readily available but nobody wants their pet to suffer a premature death.

A pet insurance case study is Greg Rowan, who owns a British Bulldog. He has been paying for pet insurance from M&S for the past 8 years, starting as soon as he purchased the dog as a puppy. When the insurance was first taken out in 2005, he was paying a measly £13 a month. Fast forward to the present day and Greg is forking out a hefty £200 each month, which is due to increase even more, to £285 next month. Over the course of a year, these premiums will add up to a total of £3,420. The bulldog in question costs so much to cover because he is an 8 year old pedigree, and has had a cruciate operation in the past, which is the most common leg injury suffered by dogs. A lot of pet owners in similar situations are unable to switch to a different insurer because most companies will not want to deal with an animal that has a history of pre-existing conditions.

An M&S insurance spokesman said: “The risk of repeat illness, along with Busby's age, has contributed to an increase in the premium. We take into account a variety of factors when calculating premiums, including the age and breed of the pet, as well as the claims history. In addition, while many pet insurance providers limit cover for on-going conditions to 12 months, our policy covers the cost of on-going treatment for long-term conditions for as long as the policy is renewed.” Despite the number of cases similar to this one, pet insurance still remains popular, with one third of cats and half of dogs currently insured in the UK. The big pet insurance providers in the UK are Petplan, John Lewis, Tesco and Sainsbury's. A number of vets recommend pet insurance, with a number of surgeries selling their own policies in-house. Pet owners are advised to do a fair amount of research on the subject before shopping around for a pet insurance policy. Many customers look to price comparison websites, and these sites cannot distinguish between the variables associated with pet insurance.

James Savery, 05 September 2013

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