Whilst you would assume lifetime cover will protect your pet throughout their whole life, we have sadly seen some pet owners get caught out by the small print.
Most pet owners would assume that a lifetime insurance policy will provide them with veterinary fee cover up to a certain amount each year. The assumption would be that this amount will renew each policy year and be applicable per condition.
However, upon reading the small print in some insurance policies, we have found that lifetime doesn't always mean you're covered for life.
Non-renewing 'lifetime' cover
Some companies call their policies 'lifetime', but when you read the small print, they offer a set amount of cover i.e. up to £5000 per condition for the pet's lifetime. This means that if your pet used £3000 worth of vet treatment in the first year and £2000 in the second year (for the same condition), in year three you would have reached your insurance limit and therefore wouldn't be covered for any further treatment (for that condition).
This causes problems for animals diagnosed with life long illnesses like diabetes or epilepsy, these cannot be 'cured' and require ongoing medication for the rest of the pet's life; in these cases a limit can quickly be reached, leaving pet owners to fund treatment themselves once they reach the conditions limit.
What to look for.... A lifetime insurance policy that renews each year! With these policies, the pet owner would have £5000 each year (per condition).
Per Year based 'lifetime' cover
Some 'lifetime' policies might limit payouts on a 'per year' basis. This means that if the limit of cover was £5000, this amount would have to cover all potential conditions during that year.
This is fine if your pet only requires minor treatment or if there are only one or two conditions, but diagnostic treatment like CT scans and specialist referrals can quickly mount up and could leave you short. With these types of policies, it's important to keep track of your treatment costs.
What to look for.... We recommend finding a policy that offers cover per condition where possible, this limits the financial worry each year.
Age based 'lifetime' cover
In an ideal world lifetime means from birth until death, however some 'lifetime' policies actually stop when the pet reaches a certain age (often around 10 years).
Sadly pet owners are often unaware that their cover will end at the very time the need it most. Typically older pets require more frequent vet visits or medication and once their cover ends it is very difficult to find another policy to cover senior pets and they often come with a lot of exclusions.
How to avoid being caught out
Always read the small print! It sounds boring but this is where information about the above 'issues' is detailed; and remember that despite their name, some lifetime policies will not actually cover your animal for its entire lifetime.
We are always happy to review your insurance policy documents and advise you of suitable policies, simply speak to a member of staff today.
Understanding pet insurance with help from Brentknoll Veterinary Centre, Worcester