Why cheap pet insurance can cost you more in the long run By Noel Fitzpatrick
Noel Fitzpatrick on Why cheap pet insurance can cost you more in the long run
When it comes to car and home insurance, change is relatively easy. Pet insurance is different. When you want to change insurers, you will be asked if your pet has any pre-existing conditions.
Any claim for illness or injury on the old policy will probably be classed as a pre-existing condition. Therefore, it will not normally be covered under the new policy.
That’s why it’s important to do your homework and choose the right insurance from the start. Always check the details of your insurance cover – are there additional limits on veterinary expenses, are there limitations on cover for diagnostic equipment or are there special circumstances, and will you pay more in premiums in the future if you have an injury? These are the questions you should ask yourself before taking out insurance.
Professor Noel Fitzpatrick
I always advise families to think about the policy they are buying in terms of its value over many years rather than looking for a short-term ‘deal’. Yes, cheap policies exist.
But it’s not uncommon for these premiums to increase dramatically when a family makes a claim. Furthermore, because it’s hard to switch, people can become trapped in the policy – so what seemed like cheap insurance, in the beginning, becomes more expensive in the long run.
Asking the right questions to compare the veterinary care the policy covers is the key to making sure your pet can access the best long-term veterinary care – and you are protected from being trapped in a policy that charges you more if you claim.
Noel Fitzpatrick on the three vital pet insurance questions you need to ask
Veterinarians like me always want to ensure that families get the best possible care for their animal friends. However, the reality is that the best care you can afford is often dependent on the pet insurance cover you have.
There are several types of pet insurance on the market today, and the benefits and costs they cover vary widely. I often find that families do not know what their insurance does and does not cover. This can mean not knowing the most appropriate treatment to apply, causing distress for the pet and its parents.
Here are three simple questions that I believe every family should ask of their pet insurer before they buy a policy:
Are there any additional limits on the Veterinary Fees covered?
Do you cover the cost of dental illness and injury?
Will I pay more for subsequent premiums if I claim?
Vets try to do the best for their patients all of the time, but there is no question that restrictive cover can impact the care some families can afford for their pet.
Asking these three questions when choosing your pet insurance – and using the answers to compare the quality of the veterinary care the policy covers – will help vets like myself do the very best for your animal friend.
Noel Fitzpatrick on choosing pet insurance – it’s all in the detail
Your pet means the world to you. As a veterinarian, I see this strong bond between families and animals every day. I also see the stress of caring for your sick pet.
Money is the last thing they want to think about in a veterinary practice. But every treatment comes at a price, and I have been there for these families when they find that their pet insurance doesn’t cover everything they thought it would.
So for those who want to provide the best care for their pets, it is wise to look behind the headlines of pet insurance policies and examine the details carefully. Are there any additional limits to cover veterinary expenses? For example, are dental diseases or injuries covered?
Professor Noel Fitzpatrick
Diagnostic tools allow me to help patients faster. Does the policy limit what it will pay for individual diagnostic procedures like MRI or CAT scans? An MRI scan can be expensive – would that be completely covered? How about any restrictions on what they’ll pay for certain conditions, like cruciate ligament injuries? Are chronic conditions like diabetes covered? Or hereditary conditions?
And if you do make a claim, is the insurer likely to charge you more? Because if they do, you may well find that the “cheaper” insurance ends up costing you more.
You want to make sure your vet will be able to give your friend the best care. The amount of care you can afford might depend on how much care you’ve taken in choosing your pet insurance.
Noel Fitzpatrick on the importance of diagnostic tools in pet care
Technology is wonderful. Advances in this field allow me to not only save the lives of members and pets but also to diagnose and treat more quickly.
From blood tests and X-rays to MRIs, CT scans, and ultrasounds, we can now offer families a wide range of diagnostic options.
I say “offer” rather than “provide” because buying and using the latest diagnostic tools costs a lot of money. This means that, for example, MRI scans can be quite expensive.
However, not all CT and MRI machines cost the same and do not have the same resolution. I, therefore, believe that vets have a moral obligation to reflect this in their pricing. It is also important for the person using the equipment and the person interpreting the images. That is why I advise you to always check the quality and service you are paying for.
I believe that vets have an ethical responsibility to choose and charge wisely for images. For example, it is not necessary to have an MRI scan to check for hip arthritis if a simple, inexpensive x-ray is sufficient. I believe it is essential that vets choose and use the right diagnostic tests with the right equipment and be transparent about the cost structure.
Professor Noel Fitzpatrick
In an ideal world, your pet insurance would cover any bill for diagnostic tests and we’d book your pet an appointment right away. Sadly, we don’t live in an ideal world. Today, there are many pet insurance policies on the market and, behind the headlines, some of them limit the cover for certain diagnostics, like MRI scans.
I believe it’s a two-way street of responsibility – with the veterinary profession charging fairly and the insurance specialists advising responsibly; for me, integrity is key restrictions within the insurance policy that can limit the options at your vet’s disposal or result in you having to find money out of your own pocket to fund treatment not covered by your policy.
So it’s important when you’re shopping around for pet insurance that you ask the right questions.
Does the policy impose limits on diagnostics? How much? And for which tools? You need to understand what will and won’t be covered, or you may find that the latest veterinary technology is not available for your pet.
Professor Noel Fitzpatrick (best known as the Supervet) is the founder of the world-class specialist referral practice Fitzpatrick Referrals.
Think best cover not best price, Avoid hidden limits