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Pet Insurance: Beware of the Policy Wording

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We are a nation of pet lovers and there is nothing we wouldn’t do for our additional family members and that includes paying expensive vet bills. As a result, pet insurance is becoming just as important to pet owners as car, home and life insurance to help ease the financial burden should your pet require veterinary treatment. However, as with any policy you take out, just as much attention should be paid to your pet insurance wording to avoid an expensive shock.

Pet insurance complaints

There is an increasing amount of complaints being brought forward to the financial watchdog regarding insurance companies refusing to pay out for claims. So if you don’t want to fall victim to the ever eagle eyed insurance companies, go through your policy wording with a fine tooth comb and watch out for the following kinds of issues:

There are very few if any, insurers that will cover your pet for pre-existing. This is a huge area of concern for pet owners as there is much ambiguity surrounding what might be pre-existing and whether if it’s not been treated before, that counts?

In a recent case brought to the financial ombudsman service, a pet owner claimed on his insurance for the removal of a tumour from his cat. The insurance company refused to pay out claiming that as the vet had found two lumps previously there was a pre-existing condition. However the owner said the insurer should have contacted the vet to get further information on the cats’ history. After listening to the recorded conversation between cat owner and insurance company, when asked whether there had been any signs of illness the owner had said ‘no’ and so the ombudsman ruled against the owner as the insurance policy had clearly stated that clinical signs of illness were excluded.

Does your pet have a pre-existing condition?

Even if your pet has pre-existing conditions that haven’t ever required treatment, many policies will excluded these from their terms. Another case which highlights this is when a dog owner claimed on her insurance policy when her dog had a dislocated knee. The problem had initially been diagnosed three years previously; however the vet told the ombudsman she hadn’t treated it as she didn’t expect it to be an issue. Unfortunately for the dog owner, as she knew that the problem existed and the policy defined pre-existing conditions as ‘any condition or symptoms or signs of injury, illness or disease, occurring or existing in any form prior to the start of this insurance’, the ombudsman rejected her claimed and ruled in favour of the insurance company.

Insure your petMany policies also include a benefit on the death of your pet, but this may not be a clear cut as you may expect. If for example your pet is suffering and in pain and you choose to have them put to sleep, many insurers will not pay out if there is still some form of treatment available. In cases like this, insurance companies would need to have specific evidence from the vet that the only option was to put your pet to sleep, before they pay out.

Double check the policy wording

It’s not always in favour of the insurer though and in cases where claimants can prove that certain conditions aren’t related to the claim, wording in the policy isn’t clear or when telephone conversations can’t be supplied, insurers can be forced to pay the claimants. But why not avoid any stressful battles with the courts and ensure you have a clear understanding of your policy from the start and if anything is unclear, ask.

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About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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