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Do you have pet insurance?

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Pet Insurance is a hot Topic…

Some reading the above headline might be surprised. Others less so. The truth is health insurance is a good thing. Ask anyone waiting on trolleys in the public sector. When it comes to our pet’s health though, it gets a little more grey. This is largely due to the policies available. There are a lot of negative stories out there. So here’s what you need to know about pet insurance.

My Personal Experience With PetInsure.ie…

I didn’t realise that my mother was still paying for insurance for Dudley. He’s coming on three now and lived with her for his first year. Mum was ringing to ask about a clause on the bottom of his “Accident Only” policy, the cheapest policy (€109) offered by PetInsure.ie. The clause said, in order for cover to apply, that dogs need to be adequately vaccinated.

This is a common clause in pet insurance but usually they state that dogs must be “boosted” each year. These are two very different things. Dudley was adequately vaccinated as a pup. I absolutely do not support the completely unsubstantiated practice of annually boosting him for those viruses. It is a practice only supported by drug manufacturers and vets believing their nonsense. Even the WSAVA (World Small Animal Vet Association), who essentially set the guidelines for your vet, recommend every three years at most.

Vaccines should not be given needlessly. Core vaccines should not be given any more frequently than every three years after the 6- or 12-month booster injection following the puppy/kitten series, because the duration of immunity (DOI) is many years and may
be up to the lifetime of the pet.

WSAVA 2016 Vaccintation Guidelines

To clear the matter up, I gave PetInsure a call. I told them my dog was adequately vaccinated as a pup but he will not be needlessly boosted for these vaccinations. The lady was aware some people opt to do it every three years, that as long as he was vaccinated that would be fine (happy).

But she went on. Deirdre stipulated that, vaccinations aside, my dog MUST SEE A VET ONCE A YEAR OR THEY WOULD NOT COVER ANYTHING (angry).

The next bit of the call went like this:

So, you’re telling me that if I was walking down the street and a cyclist mounts the kerb and hits my dog, breaking his leg, that PetInsure won’t cover me because I didn’t take my dog to the vet 11 months ago for a “health check”?!!

“Yes. Your cover depends on you going for an annual health check”.

So maybe you could tell me how health checks and ACCIDENTS relate?!

No response.

Could you imagine this happening with human health cover? Your child trips in the street, bangs his head and needs to overnight in hospital. When you go to leave you’re told that as you didn’t see your doctor last year VHI will not cover you for the stay?!

This is clearly unsatisfactory, but not unusual.

There a Number of Potential Issues With Pet Insurance…

Asides boosting them every year, pet insurance companies will vary greatly is what they require before they’ll pay out. Things you need to check (by email, phone calls are less than useless) are below.

  1. Does he require boosters each year? If he does not get them, is my whole policy void?
  2. Am I required to see a vet every year for my policy to stand?
  3. Do you subsidise vet visits?
  4. At what age do you consider my dog a senior? And what is the hike each year? And is there a sliding scale of how much they cover as the dog gets older?
  5. What is their stance on restricted breeds, should your dog apply.
  6. What is my indemnity? (what must you contribute to a claim before they start to pay)
  7. What will this do to my policy in the years following my claim?

There are of course many other ways insurance companies will try weasel out of paying out for claims. I heard from a poster on our Facebook page that following her dog swallowing 2 socks, the insurance company would “no longer be covering the ingestion of foreign objects for the remainder of your dogs life”. The poster reminded them of their T&C’s and they relented. What a disgrace. It’s akin to the insurance company not covering leg issues as he tends to walk around on them a good bit.

Another poster highlighted how PetInsure wouldn’t cover a renal issue in her dog as they reckoned the renal issue was brought on by the use of diuretic in the dog which was used to take excess fluid from lungs.

More here.

Where There are ten Negative Stories There is Always one That Makes us Doubt…!

I fully realise that no matter how many negative stories there are, there’s always a success story that pops up, one where someone would of been in big trouble without their insurance. That’s understood. Shit happens.

Dogs, certainly dry-fed, pedigree dogs, neutered too early and stuffed full of unnecessary chemicals (chemical flea treatments, wormers and boosters), can be very expensive, health wise.

In my opinion, if that was the dog you intend to own then I would recommend getting insurance, as you are far more likely to need it. In-breeding and early neutering (before sexually mature) will increase the likelihood of joint issues. Dry food will increase the likelihood of recurring skin, ear and gut conditions. Over-use of chemicals (coupled with dry food) are likely to increase the rate of cancer.

That type of dog aside, if you find yourself so close to the wire, where a vet bill of a few thousand would ultimately make you choose between keeping a dog or not, then yes, you should certainly put something in place to protect him.

Another Option for the Rest of us is Saving Instead of Insuring…

I prefer the idea of saving. Rather it in my pocket than theirs! For those a bit strapped, this process must begin before you even think of getting a dog. Get a war chest ready. Saving as little €30 per month from puppyhood will build more than enough money in a few years to protect you from the vast number of issues that might pop up. Most of you will not need to touch it until. If you are unlucky enough to require more, then you’re going to have to find the money. That’s the trade off.

Some vets are now offering a saving scheme, maybe inquire with them. Rather the local vet had it than a greedy, faceless company.

What is the Best Pet Insurance In Ireland?

Going purely by what the posters are saying on my Facebook post, Allianz Pet Insurance are far and away the better option for pet insurance in Ireland.

Do you have pet insurance?

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By |April 3rd, 2017|Health|

About the Author:

After a doctorate studying the effects of nutrition on the behaviour and gut morphology of animals, five years with Guide Dogs as a trainer and supervisor, some success on Dragons Den with the finest raw dog food company and the last few years both writing and speaking on canine nutrition and health, I can say with some confidence that the pet food and drug industry cares not a jot for the health of your pet.