How to save money on cat and kitten insurance
Owning a cat or kitten can be a rewarding experience, but with the rising costs of vet bills pushing pet insurers to increase the price of their policies, it’s becoming more expensive to own a pet in the UK. We’ve created a guide to saving money on cat and kitten insurance policies.
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If you are paying over the odds for cat and kitten insurance, then you might have already found yourself asking how you can reduce your monthly costs. As a nation of animal lovers, most people in the UK will at some stage in their lives own a pet, especially cats and kittens, but with the rising costs of vet bills, it’s easy to spend at least £50 per month on pet insurance policies which can make owning your cat or kitten more of a financial concern.
We’ve created this handy guide to help you enjoy life with your feline friend by spending less on cat and kitten insurance. Discover the five ways that you can reduce your costs below.
What is cat and kitten insurance?
First thing’s first, before you learn how to reduce your monthly cat and kitten insurance costs, it’s important to know what cat and kitten insurance is and whether you need to take out an insurance policy. Having a cat or kitten insurance policy in place will help protect you financially should your kitty fall ill, go missing, get stolen or be involved in an accident.
Most insurers will provide cat and kitten insurance policies as cats are among the most common pets in the UK.
Cat and kitten insurance policies will typically cover the following*:
- In the event of your cat or kitten dying, the costs involved will be covered
- Vet’s fees (and some insurers might also cover complementary treatments)
- Lost and found cover – the cost of advertising should be covered
- Foreign travel cover – vet’s fees while abroad
- Boarding fees – cattery costs
- Holiday cancellation – e.g. cover should you have to cut short or cancel your holiday due to your cat's illness
- Outdoor and indoor cover – should your cat or kitten get stuck in a tree or have an accident in the home both scenarios should be covered
*This is a guide, always check policy details to understand what is and is not covered as this can vary considerably from provider to provider.
Types of cat insurance
There are a few common types of cat and kitten insurance policies available through insurance providers, these are listed below.
These insurance policies will typically cover your cat or kitten for a 12 month period and during this policy time, your cat or kitten will be covered for the areas that are detailed in the individual policy, so it’s a good idea to check the fine print to make sure you know exactly what is included. Remember, once the 12 month period expires, your cat or kitten won’t be covered unless you choose to renew your insurance policy.
These cat and kitten insurances will cover a specific condition with a time limit for the amount that you can claim. For instance, if the cost of treatment is greater than the capped cost on the insurance policy, then you will be required to make up the difference.
Most time limited cat and kitten insurance policies will typically last 12 months and once this period expires, you will be required to cover any costs relating to your cat or kitten’s condition unless you choose to renew the policy.
Lifetime cat and kitten insurance policies will cover longer-term illnesses like asthma or diabetes, which gives you the peace of mind that the cost of any treatment should be met by your insurance policy up to the annual limit. The only thing you need to be aware of when taking out these policies is that you will need to stay with the same insurer each year and renew your policy and they tend to be more costly.
Maximum benefit policies
These insurance policies will tend to cover a cat or kitten’s medical condition up to a set cost limit, say £5,000 in total. Once you have reached this limit, then the insurer will transfer any further costs for the continuation of treatment over to you, should you need to claim for the same condition later down the line.
Why can cat or kitten insurance be expensive?
The price of cat or kitten insurance, alongside other pet insurance, has risen steadily in recent years, as insurers respond to the rising costs of veterinary practices. On average, just 20 per cent of all veterinary fees goes towards the vet’s wages, the rest funds the staff working at the practice, the cost of stock and medicines and the building and business overheads. A further 20 per cent goes in taxes to the UK government.
Part of the reason for the higher costs in vet fees is the medical advances in treatment that were simply not available in the past. New technology and drugs have helped our cats and kittens live longer, healthier lives but this has had a financial impact on the veterinary practices that now offer these costly treatments – a cost which has been passed on to the pet owners via their pet insurers.
In 2017 alone, according to the Association of British Insurers, pet insurers paid out a whopping £775 million in pet insurance claims, which represents a daily average of £2 million. This is the highest figure on record and it shows an annual increase of 10 per cent in the costs that insurers pay out in claims.
How you can I save money on my cat and kitten insurance policy:
Get your cat or kitten spayed or neutered
One of the ways that you can keep down the costs of your cat or kitten insurance is to get your pet spayed or neutered. When you get your cat or kitten neutered or spayed, you will save yourself the costs involved with a pregnancy and they are also less likely to fall prey to certain illnesses and medical conditions complete cats are more prone to. It also reduces the risk of straying.
Insurers recognise when a cat or kitten has been spayed and they offer cheaper insurance policies for these cats when compared to entire cats or kittens.
Insure your cat when they’re young
When you take out cat insurance when your pet is young and in optimum health, you can help close the gap on the pre-existing condition clause that many pet insurers include in their policies.
This is an essential step to take when you have a pet kitten, as you will need to pick a policy when they are between six and eight weeks old. However, with kitten insurance policies, there are some areas that aren’t typically covered, such as castration, vaccines, spaying, flea control and worming tablets, so make sure you read your kitten insurance policy closely.
When you make a claim on your cat or kitten’s insurance policy, it is a legal requirement that you tell your insurer if your cat or kitten has an existing medical condition, which can increase the costs. The likelihood of this happening when your kitten is very young is dramatically reduced compared to when you take out a pet insurance policy when your cat is older.
Ensure your cat or kitten is microchipped or is identifiable
When you take the precaution of microchipping your cat or kitten, this can help to reduce the overall cost of your cat or kitten insurance policy, as some insurers will reduce the costs if they know that your pet has been microchipped.
Other tracking and identifiable devices, such as collars with name and address tags, can also be considered, but it’s advisable that you contact your cat or kitten insurer to clarify if this is the case.
Many people are also using cat tracker collars as well as microchipping their feline friends, so they are able to keep tabs on their tabby when they’re out and about. These incredible devices use satellite GPS similar to satnav for a car, to allow pet owners to track the exact route their cats take and the length of time they are gone.
Using the device can help you to build a map of the journeys your cat goes on.
Adjust your insurance policy’s excess
Another way cat or kitten owners can reduce the costs of their pet insurance policy is to adjust the excess listed on their policy. The excess stated in your policy will refer to the amount that you will have to cover for your pet’s medical treatment before your insurance kicks in, so any treatment for certain conditions will be covered by you when you need to take your cat or kitten to the vet.
At the start of the process, you will be asked by your pet insurer to set the amount of your excess from a range of options, which is in most cases between £50 and £250. Some will even offer policies with zero excess, which means that you won’t have to pay a thing when you make a claim.
The value of the excess that you choose when you first take out your insurance policy, will have an impact on the overall cost of your insurance policy. The higher the amount of excess that you choose, the cheaper your overall cat or kitten insurance policy will be each month.
Practice preventative healthcare for your cat or kitten
Taking steps to ensure that your cat or kitten has completed any relevant preventative healthcare treatment for its specific breed can help to reduce the overall cost of your pet insurance policy.
This can include, taking good care of your cat or kitten’s health from the first day you bring them home, paying attention to their teeth, ensuring they are up to date on their vaccinations and worm treatment, protecting them against fleas and regularly check them for ticks.
It may sound obvious, but as soon as you notice your cat or kitten is unwell or has had an accident, take them to the vet as soon as possible, in order to prevent their condition from getting worse. This will reduce the chances of a long and costly recovery period for you and your insurer.
Peter reports on a number of areas in the personal finance sector, with a particular interest in supporting businesses and individuals in the UK services industry. Read more