There was already a resistance to taking out cat and dog health insurance because it is not perceived as being good value for money by a significant section of British society, but it’s getting worse because the insurance companies are putting up the premiums quite significantly and some of the prices quoted are astonishing.
The Times reports that one in five cat and dog owners are worried about the rising cost of insurance premiums. Some providers charge £1,000 a year according to a Which? report. They did a survey of 1,200 of their members and they discovered that an annual lifetime pet insurance policy now costs £264 for cats and £420 for dogs. The dog insurance policy is the same as many car insurance policies.
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Some said they were paying more than £1,000 a year and almost 20% of the people surveyed said that they were having trouble meeting the costs. Seventy per cent of those surveyed said that their premiums had gone up in the past year by an average of £40 for cats and £84 for dogs. Also astonishingly, one third of dog owners had made a claim in the past year. I comment on this information at the bottom of the page. Twenty-five per cent of cat owners had made a claim.
About half of the people who had bought a cat or dog during the pandemic had taken out insurance. The ones who didn’t said that it was not good value for money and that it was too expensive. These people managed their own insurance policies by saving money and paying out of their own pocket.
We know that pet insurance costs rise as a companion animal ages. The cost of insuring an old cat or dog is much higher than for a young animal. Dog owners are paying 80% more if their dogs are aged between ten and twelve compared to those under four years old.
For cats, owners are paying 76% more if their companion animal is between the ages of ten and twelve compared to under three years old.
One person who fell foul of the increase in premiums is Jayne Hamilton from Northumberland. She was quoted premiums that were 25% higher than last year. She decided to pay an increased excess which reduced her insurance premiums for her two dogs to £90 a month.
She said that she had probably paid less when she took out the policy because that is how companies attract new customers, which is of course why the premiums went up substantially the following year.
The cost of insurance is the number one factor why people either take it out or object to doing so. People who are well funded and therefore less critical of pricing provide a higher rating to insurance companies.
Clearly the earlier you take out an insurance policy the better because the costs are less for younger animals. However, if you take out a policy which requires renewing annually the cost will go up as your dog ages. And there are a plethora of confusing different policy types. The better ones are obviously more expensive but the cheaper ones can go up so I’m not sure what the answer is.
Comment: a further thought is that there has been a surge in dog adoptions during the pandemic lockdowns. Often these are impulse purchases by people who are not truly committed to a lifetime of responsibility in looking after a companion animal. This leads to abandonments to shelters or to sell the animal online. The important aspect of these purchases is that sometimes these dogs have been bred poorly in unhygienic conditions abroad and shipped into the country. I would argue that it is these dogs who are fuelling the high number of insurance claims which in turn results in the premiums going up.
Accordingly, we can blame continental European scammers preying on gullible people who want to purchase a purebred dog, or people who don’t care where the dogs come from, for the increase in premiums.
SOME MORE ON INSURANCE: