Traffic accidents, chewing the inedible and getting into mischief with other animals can mean that a pet could be in the vets having a costly operation or could be on medication for life. When something happens to our pets, we can end up putting life on hold or take on debt to make sure they get the treatment they need.

So while we cannot predict our furry friend’s next predicament, we can ensure they get the treatment they need if the worst happens – it pays to have pet insurance.

There is no NHS for pets. Cat owners Eve Mundell and Brendan Robb from Glasgow said, “For us, Skye is part of the family and we wouldn’t want any decision on care to be based on money. In case she has an accident or has an illness, pet insurance gives us the peace of mind.” They added, “It is a no brainer to have insurance given the price.” They pay £7.89 per month to have their young moggie kitten fully insured.

There are various factors that determine the amount you pay including the type of pet, the breed, age of your pet and level of excess

The average cost of pet insurance is £22.58 per month. There are various factors that determine the amount you pay including the type of pet, the breed, age of your pet and level of excess. Excess is the amount of money the owners of the pet have to pay toward the cost of any claim. The average payout in 2019 was £822, up £20 on the previous year. Despite this, insurance costs are going down. The average annual pet insurance premium fell by £8 compared to 2018.

Last year insurers paid a record £815 million in claims, mainly to cover the costs of  veterinary treatment. This is the highest figure on record, and double the amount paid ten years ago. There were 992,000 claims, of these, 749,000 were for dogs and 211,000 for  cats.

Recently the COVID-19 pandemic has meant vets have been closed to all but emergencies. Pet insurers have therefore been going the extra mile to ensure that customers have all the help and support that they need during this worrying time. They are being flexible on policy requirements for certain routine checkups or vaccinations and also want to ensure that pet owners can still access any vital vet treatment that may be needed and will work with customers to help support this.

Last year insurers paid a record £815 million in claims, mainly to cover the costs of veterinary treatment.

There are a broad range of pet insurance policies available to suit your pet’s needs. Lifetime  policies insure your pet for each new medical illness and injury. Generally, your  pet will be covered for a set amount each year as long as the insurance policy remains in  force. The policy needs to be renewed each year to ensure your pet is covered for new  treatment for illnesses and injuries in the following policy period – usually a year. This  means a long-term or recurring illness or injury that has needed treatment in one year will  be covered again by the policy the next year. There is no limit to how many times the  illness or injury can be covered in this way, as long as the insurance policy is in force.

Su Crown’s dog Tottie was poisoned by an item she ate while out on a dog walk. Within a  few hours Tottie was sick and had difficulty breathing. She was rushed to out of hour  emergency care at the vets for treatment. The poison had given her the beginnings of liver failure. It was touch and go whether she would make it. Thankfully, she responded to  treatment however she now has long standing kidney issues. The lifetime policy taken out paid for the treatment totalling £4,500 and now covers Tottie for any long-standing issues that arise due to the almost fateful event in the park. Su pays £40 per month to cover Tottie with a lifetime policy.

Pet cover can also be time limited. This is typically 12 months. There are two parts to these types of policies; a fixed sum to cover your pet for the treatment of each illness or injury;  and a set time period for which treatment of each illness or injury will be covered. Policies  will typically cover the cost of treating your pet for a particular illness or injury for 12  months from the start of that illness or injury (as long as the policy remains in force). The  time-limit does not relate to the duration of the policy, but to the maximum amount of time  in illness or injury is covered for.

Maximum benefit policies, also known as ‘money limited policies’ or ‘per condition’ policies provide a fixed amount of money for each illness or injury to help pay for your pet’s  treatment for as long as the money lasts. There is no time limit on reaching the amount.  Once the full amount of money has been spent, the treatment of illness or injury will not be covered again. To ensure your cover lasts for as long as money the lasts, you must renew  your policy at the end of each policy period (usually a year) and make payments on time.

If your pet is like Tuck, a boisterous young male cat, who in the space of a short period of time hurt his front leg leaping and bounding down the stairs and then later crushed his toes as he leapt into a bird bath, an ‘accident only’ policy might be suitable for you. Accident only policies provide a fixed sum for each accidental injury to help pay for your pet’s  treatment, usually with a 12-month time limit. Some also cover the costs of emergency treatment for an illness. Tuck is now 6 years old and much better behaved.

Different policies will have different premiums due to different levels of cover they provide. Whatever policy you choose to buy for your pet it is important to shop around and to always read the terms and conditions to make sure if the worst happens, your needs and those of your furry family member are met.