Pet Insurance Update
In the UK, pet insurance is widely available and there is plenty of choice.
Just as the veterinary profession is changing rapidly with the large veterinary corporates buying up veterinary practices at a pretty fast pace, so is the veterinary pet insurance industry changing drastically too.
The large veterinary corporates are run as franchises. The financial decisions, i.e. which vaccines to purchase, which medications to use, etc are made by the corporates’ big bosses who are not veterinary surgeons but business people.
The veterinary surgeons are running the day-to-day business with the medication/vaccines etc that have been made available to them. Quality of investment and care is left to non-professionals and those groups risk running into “group think” for everything is managed in-house, even vet training.
I don’t know in how far the changing face of the veterinary industry, away from independent practices run by veterinary surgeons to “big business”, has had an impact on the insurance industry.
There is also a change within the insurance industry with some big players in the pet industry market now “selecting” practices as “preferred” practices for veterinary referrals. If the referring vets/clients don’t “obey”, they could face a charge of around £200 when they refer to a specialist who is not on their “preferred” list.
Attached is a PDF I prepared for our clients with regards to pet insurance. Time and time again in practice we witness clients going through the heartache of finding out at the time of claiming that they’re aren’t sufficiently covered to treat their pet.
I’ll give you a personal example to go with the attached pdf. Ruby, my sweet little angel, collie by birth, has a foot tumour which has been checked/biopsied/rechecked/resampled and found to be inoperable as confirmed by two of my esteemed colleagues in 2011. The next step apparently, according to both my colleagues and my deepest fear confirmed, is amputation of that leg. We’re in 2016 and this has still not been necessary as the tumour isn’t growing fast at the moment.
Ruby is insured with Pet Plan Lifelong policy since she was a baby collie some 9 years ago. This means that all the investigations, running around to have my two colleagues confirm my suspicions, their fees, the initial treatments were all covered by PetPlan.
Now if let’s say this year, 2016, it’s the year for Ruby’s amputation (I sincerely hope it’s not!), then PetPlan Lifelong is going to pay the cost for me to bring in a colleague at the surgery, who specialises in orthopaedics, to do the surgery for me on Ruby’s leg. All I will need to pay is the excess of my policy and I can be with her whilst my colleague treats her.
If however, I had a “lifelong” policy (meaning that the company will cover my pet during her lifespan) with an “annual renewal”, all the initial costs of the investigations etc in 2011 would have been paid out. The difference is that on renewal of the policy in 2012, anything to do with treatment of her foot or related wouldn’t have been covered any more with the insurance. She would be covered for everything else still, but not for this!!! If then, totally disgusted and disgruntled with my “annual renewal” pet policy, I would knock on the door of PetPlan for example, they would insure Ruby. Her foot issues would end up being an exclusion to her policy. It would leave me totally “uninsured” for the subsequent years where I really could do with her “chronic” problem being covered.
For these reasons, I stand by PetPlan Lifelong in the practice I work at.
You get what you pay for. Cheap policies with annual renewal are great when you look at the cost you pay per month and they are really not so great when you start claiming for chronic conditions and find out that after one year, you’re out in the cold all by yourself to cover all the costs of your pet’s condition.