Pet insurance offers financial protection should your pet need veterinary treatment for an accident or illness. If you have a pet insurance policy and your pet has received urgent medical care you may be wondering how you can claim on your insurance to cover the cost. In this article, we take a look at what you can claim for, how you can make a claim and ways to prevent your pet insurance claim from being rejected.
What does pet insurance cover?
A typical pet insurance policy will cover you for the following:
Veterinary bills from an accident or illness
Loss or theft of your pet
Death by accident or illness
Public liability (dogs & horses only)
Some insurers may also cover you for emergency boarding should you fall ill and need to stay in the hospital, holiday cancellations if your pet becomes ill or injured and taking your pet abroad.
What isn't covered by pet insurance?
A typical pet insurance policy will not cover you for the following:
Birth or pregnancy
Routine dental treatment
How to claim on your pet insurance
It is best to notify your insurance company as soon as your pet becomes ill or injured and you are aware that they need treatment. Some insurers may also set a time limit regarding claiming on your pet insurance e.g.1 month from when the vet notifies you that treatment is required or no later than 3 months after treatment is received. Check your policy documents carefully to see how long you have to submit a claim.
How to make a pet insurance claim
1. Contact your pet insurance provider
As soon as your pet receives treatment you will need to notify your pet insurance provider. Have the following information to hand when contacting your provider - policy number, the reason for the claim, the condition or illness your pet has, the recommended treatment, the cost of treatment and any previous veterinary practice’s details.
2. Complete the pet insurance claims form
The first step is to complete a claims form. If your insurer is able to pay the vet directly they will provide you with a claim form to complete. If you have had to pay the vet bill yourself, keep all of the receipts and contact your insurer directly.
3. Send pet insurance claims form
Send the completed form and relevant paperwork to your insurer as quickly as possible to start the claims process. Once you have sent your claim form to the insurer they will contact the vet about the treatment your pet has received.
4. Pay your agreed excess
When making a pet insurance claim you will need to pay an excess amount that was agreed upon when you started your policy. If your pet insurance provider pays the claim money into your bank account the excess is usually automatically taken from the claim money. If your pet insurance provider pays the vet directly you will need to pay the excess separately.
How much can I claim on my pet insurance policy?
How much you can claim on your pet insurance policy depends on the policy you have and the level of cover selected. Before you buy pet insurance it is best to research the best policy for your pet to ensure you get the best policy that is right for your needs. We go into more detail about the types of pet insurance and cover in our article 'What are the different types of pet insurance?'.
How long does a pet insurance claim take?
You can expect to hear back from an insurer within a week after making a claim and you will be contacted if there are any problems. In some cases, you may need to chase your vet to ensure they have sent the relevant paperwork to your insurer to prevent any delays in payment. The pet insurance provider PetPlan claims it pays 90% of claims within 5 days of receiving the claims form from the vet.
Can my pet insurance pay my vet direct?
Some insurers (like PetPlan) will pay the vet directly for the treatment that your pet has received so it is best to check with both your vet and your insurer on how payment will be made. Some vets are unable to take payments directly from the insurer so you may be required to pay upfront and reclaim the costs.
How to prevent your pet insurance claim from being rejected
Veterinary treatment can be expensive and you want to maximise your chances of your claim being accepted so you are not out of pocket. Below are a few tips to reduce the risk of your pet insurance claim being rejected.
Is your pet insured with the right policy?
Have you checked the terms and conditions of your pet insurance policy and are you aware of what you are covered for? Some policies have limitations as to what they will cover. For example, a time-limited policy restricts cover to a 12 month period and after this time the condition you claimed for is no longer covered. If your pet is likely to develop a recurring/or has a recurring condition then this policy may not provide the best cover for your needs. For more information on the different pet insurance policies, read our article 'What are the different types of pet insurance?'
Does your pet have a pre-existing condition?
Most insurers do not cover pre-existing conditions and it is best to check with the insurer. Alternatively, some pet insurance providers have specialist policies for pre-existing conditions. For more information check out our article ‘Pet insurance for pre-existing conditions’.
When did the policy start?
Most pet insurance policies have a 14-day waiting period from the policy start date which means you cannot make a claim within the first two weeks. Some providers waive the 14-day waiting period if you are switching from an existing pet insurance policy.
Does your pet need dental treatment?
Most basic pet insurance policies do not offer cover for dental treatment and you may have to pay for this as an additional extra. Insurers that do cover dental treatment may require annual dental checkups with a vet.
How old is your pet?
Some pet insurance providers have an age limit on their policies. Check with the provider the minimum and maximum age limit for your pet. If your pet is older you may need to get a policy that specifically covers older pets. If your pet is older you can still get cover but you may have to pay more towards a claim. Find out more about 'The best pet insurance for older pets' in our article.
What to do if your pet insurance claim is rejected
If your pet insurance claim has been rejected and you believe that your claim is still valid you can make a complaint to your pet insurance provider. If they still do not pay out and you feel your claim is valid you can then complain to the Financial Ombudsman.
Will your pet insurance premium increase if you claim?
Some pet insurance providers such as PetPlan say that they will not increase your pet insurance premiums due to you making a claim. Other policies such as LV explain that if customers make a claim they can expect to see a higher increase to their policy at renewal than if they had not made a claim. Before buying a pet insurance policy it may be worthwhile checking with the provider if the premium is likely to increase should you make a claim. It is also worth considering that there may be other factors that can cause your pet insurance premium to rise such as vet fees, location and your pet’s age.
It is worth remembering that you can switch pet insurance providers when it comes to renewing your policy, meaning you may get a better deal elsewhere. However, a new pet insurance premium may not cover your pet for any previous claims so it is best to check what you are covered for before making the switch.