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Five things you should know about pet insurance

How you can reduce pet insurance cost

Welcoming a pet into our lives is a wonderful moment. Before long we’re completely smitten and willing to do anything for them. Sadly just like us, our beloved pets can get sick or injured and when they do, the vet’s bill can come as a nasty shock. That’s why vets’ fees are a common reason why people take out pet insurance. If you’re not sure you can justify paying the pet insurance cost, here’s 5 things worth thinking about before you decide.

1. The alternative to pet insurance

What makes pet insurance cost what it does? The reality is the cost of basic treatment by a vet can be hundreds of pounds and for a more serious condition, it might run into thousands. According to the Association of British Insurers the average pet insurance claim now tops £7001.

So give some thought to the alternative. Paying the vet in full for your pet’s treatment at the time it’s needed, each time it’s needed. So if, for example, your pet needed emergency surgery, you’d have to find the money to pay the bill quickly. If you didn’t have the funds readily available, there’s a risk your pet would go untreated or you’d be left in debt.

2. Insuring your pet as early you can

If possible, buy pet insurance when your pet’s young and in good health. The older they are the higher the chance of a health problem arising that could make pet insurance cost more or be harder to get. Starting young could also be difficult if you rescue a dog or cat, but it’s still worthwhile arranging cover sooner rather than later.

3. The type of pet insurance you need

The most common type of pet insurance covers our most popular pets like cats and dogs, and this is what we’re talking about in this article. Other animals like horses, birds or more exotic pets may require specialist pet cover.
The level of cover you choose depends on your pet and your budget.

  • Accident-only pet insurance — the most basic cover available. Your pet is covered only if they need veterinary treatment after an accident, not if they become ill.
  • 12-month / Time limited pet insurance — provides cover for both injury and illness for a set period of time. A limit applies to how long treatment of an illness or injury is covered for, typically a year. There’s also a limit on the amount of money that will be paid out for each illness or injury. If treatment runs over the policy’s time or cost limit you won’t get cover for that specific illness or injury again.
  • Maximum benefit pet insurance — covers all injury and illness however often they occur. There is a set maximum amount of money that will be paid out for treatment of each illness or injury to your pet. Once this maximum has been reached, you won’t get cover for that specific illness or injury again.
  • Life time pet insurance — provides continuous cover even if treatment for a specific illness or injury reaches the maximum amount in any one year, just as long as you renew your policy each year. Only treatment needed between hitting the maximum cover for the year and policy renewal would not be covered.

Be aware, that all types of pet insurance will require you to pay the first part of any claim ("excess") yourself.

4. What else you might have to pay for unexpectedly

Maybe not on the same scale as the kids, but pets can prove to be more expensive than you think. On top of vets bills, there are a number of other things that could be costly if they crop up, so consider adding extra cover to your pet insurance.

Typical optional extras include:

  • Dental cover
  • Cover to locate your pet if they go missing, and replace them if necessary
  • Cover for the cost of having your pet put down
  • Burial or cremation cover
  • Legal cost cover — if your pet causes an accident or damage to others
  • Cover for veterinary costs when abroad

5. Take steps to reduce pet insurance cost

As well as starting as early as possible, there are a few other steps you can take that may help bring down the cost of insuring your pet.

  • Keep your pet fit and healthy. A healthy pet is less likely to need the vet.
  • Make sure your pet is micro-chipped.
  • Stay up to date with annual vaccinations.
  • Consider having your pet neutered or spayed unless you intend to breed.
  • If you’ve got more than one pet, look out for multi-pet discounts.

Finally, don’t forget that no insurance policy will cover every possible eventuality. When looking for pet insurance be sure to check the exclusions and limitations of the policy, to see what isn’t covered.

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SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50s life insurance, funeral plans, life insurance, equity release, pet insurance, car insurance, home insurance, ISAs and Will writing services.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife? 

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Phoenix Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 110418). As part of SunLife’s commitment to quality service and security, telephone calls may be recorded.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

The funeral services are arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd. Golden Charter Ltd are not required to be authorised or regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority in relation to funeral plans but are registered providers with the Funeral Planning Authority.

If you choose to pay for your funeral in one go, with a single payment, you will have a contract with Golden Charter. The funeral services will be arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd.

If you choose to pay for your funeral with a life insurance policy, the policy will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife. The funeral services will be arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.