If your cat is overweight disclose it to your pet insurer

Firstly you have got to decide whether your cat is overweight. A lot of people are normalizing their cat’s obesity to the point where they are unable to distinguish between a cat of normal weight and a cat who was obviously obese.

If your cat is overweight disclose it to your pet insurer

Clipart: free license. Words added.

There are many resources on the Internet including on this website to assess whether your cat is overweight. If your cat is overweight you must declare it to your pet health insurer. The news currently coming out online is that some pet insurers are taking a hardline approach and throwing out claims if they find that a cat or dog is not a healthy size and their owner did not declare it.

In short, if your cat is overweight it may invalidate parts of your pet health insurance policy. In my experience, this follows what is happening in the UK with respect to overweight people.

You will find that the NHS will not operate on such conditions as damaged knees or treat certain conditions if you are excessively obese and have type II diabetes. You’ve got to reduce your weight first and then seek the help of the National Health Service.

I am sure that this hardline approach from pet health insurers will affect very many people in the UK because an estimated 40% of cats are overweight in the country. It is a similar state of affairs in America in terms of overweight cats and dogs. Although, I have no news about American pet health insurers taking the same stance.

It is said that this approach by insurers may result in cat owners more often requesting that their cat be euthanized because they’ll be unable to pay their veterinarian’s bill privately.

It appears that insurers are going through a pet’s medical records to try to find enough evidence that the animal is overweight and use it as a reason why they have to reject a claim.

Some people regard this attitude as rejecting a claim on a technicality. I would, with respect, argue that they are incorrect. Pet obesity does lead to other health issues in the same way it does to humans. It’s obviously important to remove obesity as a cause of a particular a illness before treatments take place to cure the illness.

An example concerned a dog whose leg was injured in a collision with two other dogs. The insurance company refused the claim. They said that if the owner had declared that her dog was overweight they would have excluded leg disorders in the policy. That’s how it works.

One insurance company, Petplan, said: “Petplan does not automatically place exclusions on a policy if an owner tells us their pet is overweight”.

As a consequence of this change in policy, the Financial Ombudsman Service has seen an increase in the number of complaints about pet insurers including complaints about insurers rejecting cover because of overweight animals.

In the final quarter of 2017 there were 422 complaints. This is an increase from 347 in the previous quarter and 372 in the same quarter in 2016.

Allianz, an underwriter for Petplan insurance schemes states on its website: “Overweight animals are a major concern to owners, vets and insurers. One in three dogs, one in four cats and one in four rabbits are overweight”. They say that a pet’s weight should be monitored and managed. This would result in a saving on pet food, insurance premiums, and vet bills.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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2 Responses

  1. Jane says:

    How very sad that now pet insurers are taking the view that all health conditions & all injuries are due to obesity. Plainly a nonsense & yet another stick with which to beat the customer and still rake in a shed load of money

    Insurance companies, irrespective of previous practices should issue a definitive list of all the conditions that MUST be declared when initiating the policy. This should apply to human policies too.

    Currently there is no universal, recognised/followed gold standard for weight in humans or animals.

    Out of date BMI tables (incidentally they were compiled by an insurance clerk, employed by the Grand Metropolitan Insurance Company, no doctors or dieticians had any input. The chap who compiled them based the numbers & extrapolated data for females, adolescents & children on the number of very overweight, cigar smoking, junk eating, non exercising males bosses who had heart attacks by the age of 50) are about the only guide we use for humans.

    The vast genetic/environmental differences between humans is not even considered by the bmi charts. They have never been more than a very rough guide. No such table exists for animals and given the variety of breeds and crosses, no table could cope.

    Pet food manufacturers are such massive hypocrites. Look at the complex, deliberately confusing ingredient listed, if you are lucky the calorific content of the food will referred to in the thousands/kilo, 100g units would make it much easier for owners. Looks like no manufacturer has access to larger/readable fonts too!

    I’m digressing into a different & epic argument about pet food ingredients.

    I wouldn’t trust the statement from Petplan.

    At the end of the day we know that extra weight can put us in line for some grim health conditions, but the insurance companies rely on everyone accepting the statement that a particular condition is caused by obesity? Who has ever asked a vet or doctor for the actual evidence.

    For me, keeping a cat/vet account topped up & ready is the way I have chosen to go. It’s sometimes very, very hard but during our hardest times (serious illness, redundancy etc) that money stays untouched. The last thing I want to be doing if one of my cats is ill, is to haggle with a loss adjuster.

    1p on income tax would pay for an NHS for all of our pets and would partially do away with the need for these greed mongering insurance companies.

    • Michael Broad says:

      We can’t trust insurance companies of any kind! Thanks for your great comment by the way. Do you want to write an article for the site?

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