Types of Pet Insurance
There are essentially 2 main types of pet insurance. lifetime cover and non-lifetime cover.
Lifetime Cover Pet Insurance
With lifetime cover your pet is protected if it develops a long term illness that lasts many years. This would obviously be very expensive, so naturally the premiums for lifetime cover are a lot higher than non-lifetime policies. Although the coverage continues for the life of your pet, there are still certain limits applicable, as described below.
Lifetime Cover With A Condition Limit
With this type of lifetime cover, there will be a maximum amount you can claim for an individual condition each year. At the end of the year, the limit will be reset to the same amount so that you can claim the following year. You can usually claim for more than one condition in a year.
Lifetime Cover With An Annual Limit
With this type of lifetime cover there is no limit to the amount you can claim for an individual condition, you just have an overall maximum amount you can claim each year. At the end of the year, the limit is reset to the same amount so that you can continue to claim, up to your maximum allowance, the following year.
Non-Lifetime Cover Pet Insurance
This type of policy will only enable you to claim once, up to a maximum limit, for each condition your pet develops. In future years you will still be able to take out cover, but any conditions you have claimed for in the past will be excluded from the policy. This limit may be applied in 2 different ways, as described below.
No Time Limit
You are allowed to claim up to a maximum amount for any condition, regardless of how long the treatment takes. This could be very useful if you pet develops a fairly low cost, but long term illness, like diabetes.
This type of policy will have both a condition limit AND time limit, which is usually 12 months. Your cover would cease when you reach the end of your time limit, even if the maximum value of your condition limit hasn't been used up. A time limited policy is less flexible and therefore cheaper.
Accident Only Pet Insurance
In addition to the 2 main types of pet insurance, there are also "Accident Only" policies. This type of insurance only covers your pet for accidents, illnesses are not included. An accident only policy is pretty basic and provides very little cover, as the majority of pet insurance claims are illness related. It may be useful to consider if you're on a tight budget and it's your only option, but if you can find a standard policy for not much more, it will probably be worth spending a little extra to get it.
Please note that all pet insurance policies refuse to provide cover for pre-existing conditions. This is an important point to remember if you are considering switching companies. If you have lifetime cover with your existing company, and your pet has previously developed a condition whilst you were with that company, it is pretty safe to say that your best bet is to stay with them and don't consider moving.
A similar rule applies if you have non-lifetime cover with your existing company. Make sure you use up the maximum you can claim for any condition before you consider moving, because you won't get any cover at all for that particular condition from any other pet insurance company.